Editor's Viewpoint: Drugs find in shopping centre truly disturbing
In today's world there are so many stories about the use and abuse of hard drugs, that people may become less easily shocked about such behaviour.
However, there is something truly disturbing about the story we publish in today's newspaper about the mother who discovered a cache of drug-associated objects in the CastleCourt Centre in the heart of Belfast.
The lady was in CastleCourt with her daughter when she found in a toilet area all the paraphernalia of objects linked to heroin use. These included syringes, tubes and cutlery to heat drugs over a flame.
The fact that toilet facilities in a major shopping centre in Belfast are being used by heroin addicts is truly shocking, even in a society inured to such things.
There is much talk about the effect of so-called "recreational drugs", whatever that term means, but Class A drugs such as heroin are not remotely recreational. On the contrary, they are ultimately lethal.
These woes experienced by other major cities including Dublin and Glasgow show what a dystopian future we can expect if these acute social problems are not taken on board and dealt with properly.
That is no easy task, but the challenge must be faced. It may be tempting to conclude, either cynically or despairingly, that people have a human right to do what they want with their own lives, even to the point of death.
The reality is that the use of heroin is not simply a matter of personal choice. In fact it is an illicit and multi-million pound business which is fed by greed and sustained by violence - all of which threatens the fabric of our society.
It is daunting and depressing to realise that this appalling and life-endangering behaviour is continuing in the centre of our capital city which is thronged by Christmas shoppers.
There is also a great sadness that many people are wasting their lives in this way, while the vast majority of others are getting on with whatever challenges they face from day to day.
The authorities must continue to do all they can to deal with the drug menace and they need our moral and practical support.
The curtailment of drug abuse may not seem to matter if it affects the sons and daughters of somebody else, but it matters to all of us who value, and wish to protect, the standards and behaviour of a normal and law-abiding society.