Brittany Spears, Amy Winehouse, and Lindsay Lohan are just a few of the names who grace our newspapers with drug riddled stories and pictures of them visibly high off of controlled substances. The media has been extremely reckless in their portrayal of these people who actually have serious problems that need to be addressed. A close friend of mine inspired me to write the piece “Our forgotten family” about reclaiming our people who are lost to drugs and substance abuse. I challenge the media to start tackling the issues of drug abuse in our society in a much more responsible manner. Whether it’s a celebrity or the local garbage man, the horrifying reality of drug abuse needs to be discussed responsibly. R.I.P. to the saxaphonist of Haggist Horns, Jason Rae, the husband of Corrine Bailey Rae; he recently died of an alleged drug overdose. This is not a white issue or a black issue, this is a people issue, let’s reclaim our forgotten family.
Our forgotten family
“What’s going on”, these are the words sang by the late great Marvin Gaye in the 1970’s. Here in 2008 this question still needs to be addressed and this time we need to move toward solving the many ills that face our communities. I had a conversation the other day with a close friend of mine and we were discussing substance abuse in our society. Drugs are raping and ravaging our communities of our brightest and most beautiful minds at a rate that leaves us dazed and confused and desperately searching for a resolution.
I thought about the negative images that are bestowed upon drug abusers, the disrespect that they face daily. Everyone has a vice, but these people are treated as if they are sub-human. Do we not all know someone who may be addicted to drugs or someone who may have had a problem with substance abuse in the past? What’s even more amazing is how we turn our backs on our own people in a time when they need us most. Is a crack head, or junkie not someone’s mother, father, sister, brother or maybe just a friend? Why do we leave our people at their weakest times and allow them to fall even deeper into their despair, helping them sink to even more desperate measures to obtain that “high”.
I started off this piece with adults in mind, I thought about all of the adults that I see in urban areas addicted to drugs looking for their next fix. But then I looked at some startling statistics and to my dismay I saw the increasing numbers of young teenagers who are smoking crack. No longer can we push drug abusers to the outskirts of the community and the abandoned houses in the neighborhood. Drugs are infecting the brilliant minds of tomorrow at record numbers and if we continue to ignore this problem we may be looking at the destruction of our communities as we know it.
Of course it is not our fault that people resort to drug abuse, however what we forget is it is often not their fault either. We all handle hardships and pain differently. Some feel the need to escape using alcohol; others resort to hard drugs, while some of us use promiscuity as a way to alleviate our stressful lives. None of these vices are correct but we have no right to neither judge nor condemn these people. In fact our judgment becomes a part of the problem rather than the solution.
Imagine it is your own mother who’s abusing drugs, or your little brother. Because these people are somebody’s brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts and so on and so on. The first step in helping to solve this situation is to embrace those with drug problems, perhaps volunteering your time at a local rehabilitation center. The effects of drug abuse are very dark; when people feel abandoned they only crawl deeper into a space where no one can see them. It is in this space that addicts become violent stopping at nothing to reach their high because that high is where they feel comfortable amongst others who feel just as lonely. We need to reclaim our brothers and sisters who have fallen by the waist side. If not for them and their benefit, then for the benefit of our children who see this lifestyle and attempt to emulate it. It happens more often than we would like to believe.
Our approach to drugs can no longer be to sweep this taboo under the rug because it is seeping into our living rooms like a poison and killing entire families in our communities. Besides volunteering and drug rehabilitation programs, the way that we address people who have substance addictions needs to change. Drug user or not these people are human beings who deserve to be treated respectfully and encouraged to get back on the right track. A simple hello, can I get you something to eat never hurt anyone, in fact it may save someone’s life. Lets take the lid off of this problem that is so drastically raping our communities and be proactive in speaking the message of drug prevention. Let us volunteer at programs, and if they do not exist create programs that help to teach job skills, programs that address the depression issues that may have started someone down the path to illegal drug use in the first place. Let’s reclaim Our Forgotten Family, let’s Make It Happen!