As a country, we have many ignorances about heroin and opiate addiction. We are just now seeing that those we should trust the most (doctors) may play a hand in this, we have also learned that no one is immune to this disease.
Race, class, sex, it does not matter. Heroin does not discriminate.
The image of a troubled teen, slumped in a dark alley with a needle in his arm is no longer accurate.
Heroin has snuck into our suburbs, it has claimed the lives of popular cheerleaders, jocks and young, creative souls. So why has the past rhetoric stuck?
I believe that when we reduce this problem to some random, strung out kid in an alley, we lose ownership of this disease. It’s a lot easier to say, “Oh, this could never happen HERE.” “Not, my kid!” Or, “They’re way too happy to use drugs.”
When we reduce drug addiction to something foreign that cannot reach us, we give the disease more power.
We need to accept the fact that heroin and other opiates are here, and they are not going anywhere soon. The longer it takes us to accept that this is our problem, the longer it will take to fix it.
So yes, it can be your kid. It can be your best friend. It can be your boss, teacher, even your doctor. But, we need to be vigilant. Having Narcan with you, being trained in how to respond to an overdose and knowing the warning signs of a brewing addiction are important steps in making sure this problem does not reach the ones you love.
AMIRF puts on The Cop the Kids and the Convict presentations where those attending can arm themselves with computer monitoring systems and drug-testing kits. Tim Ryan also runs opiate support group programs where attendees can receive FREE Narcan and Narcan training.
Just because drug addiction can reach anyone, does not mean it has too.
Arm yourself, get educated and take ownership of this disease. We will be here to help.