Last summer, an old high school friend’s 21 year old daughter died of a heroin overdose. Her father’s honest & public response made national news. You might have seen it. This winter it took the life of another friends 25 year old daughter. There were three deaths impacting our small town of fewer than 7,000 people in the past three weeks. Nine children lost a parent.
A recent tough discussion demonizing users on a town forum got me thinking.
“It’s important to remember while we struggle with how to turn this around, that we have a lot of people that are hurting in this community. For every person struggling with addiction, there are parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and neighbors who are concerned about them – afraid their loved one won’t make it. Every young person we lose to overdose tears at the fabric of our community.
We ask – how did this happen? Being the parent of two twenty-somethings, I ask you to consider the unique circumstances this generation came of age in that set the stage for an explosion of addiction: doctors routinely prescribing addictive opioids for dental procedures, injuries, surgeries (this didn’t happen when we were kids); the difficulty of living through the great recession (parents losing jobs, kids kicked out of homes where parents couldn’t afford to pay the bills, young adults with part time service jobs – if they were lucky (even if they went to college) and an explosion in the availability of cheap heroin.
And with the great recession prevention & treatment budgets were slashed with many programs closing down that in the past could have helped people get back on track before their situation got out of control. I’m sure my understanding of “why” isn’t the whole story but I believe seeking to understand before we judge can help us figure out how to move forward.”
What are your thoughts? How is this effecting your community? Your circle of family and friends?