It is reasonable to assume that drug use will never impact you as long as you stray from participating in this kind of behavior, but that isn’t always the case. On Feb. 29, I lost a friend to a drug overdose — a demon that only he could try and conquer, but was unable to overcome. I don’t blame him; I don’t blame his close friends, his parents or anyone for that matter, because the problem lies, not within the people surrounding a drug user, but with the lack of information and resources available to impact the outlook of the drug user.
Ryan was a dear friend of mine. He was a motivated, kind and passionate kid who lost himself at the hands of heroin.
I’ve always heard comments that blame addicts for their addition, such as: “People who do heroin are losers,” “They need to get their life together” and “Why would anyone do that to themselves?” But the truth is that drug use is being fueled partly by a lack of discretion in our medical system.
Ryan had surgery on his foot and was prescribed strong painkillers in order to assist his healing process. Living in an isolated area in New York, with access to strong drugs and an immense amount of drug users in the area, he was left at the hands of a possible addiction. While I am not a doctor, I understand the dangers of prescribing an 18-year-old boy strong pills with a high dependence rate. It appears to me that this was not a thought that Ryan’s doctors had.
It is easy to say that this sort of drug dependency could never find its way into your home, but it can and it did for me.
I fear for my friends and my community, as the number of drug users, heroin users in particular, sweep our state and Bergen County, especially.
There was a 61 percent increase in heroin-related deaths from 2013 to 2014, according to The Patch in 2014. These numbers are startling and the solutions being offered by local government and law enforcement are particularly questionable.
The use of Narcan, a drug that temporarily “blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose,” for example, promotes other issues despite aiding the problem of drug-related deaths.
Police have been subject to criticism because the use of Narcan is seen as a “safety net” for drug users, according to The Patch. It seems that a sort of haphazard approach is being implemented instead of reaching to the core of the issue.
These drugs are being brought into our suburban communities from larger cities such as Jersey City, Camden and Paterson. These three cities topped the charts of the largest amount of drug use reports as of 2015, according to The Patch. These three cities are also located no more than an hour away in any direction from our Ramapo College campus.
In addition, the same report states that young adults ages 18 to 25 have had an alarming increase in drug-related deaths since 2013. I feel that in order to save our communities and generation, it is imperative that our local government infiltrates these areas and puts a stop to the spread of these life ruining toxins.
These drugs are cheap and available, which makes it all too easy to fall into the lifestyle.
As we approach spring break, I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yourselves and your friends to ensure the safety and prosperity of our promising futures. I implore you all to take my story and learn from it because life is too beautiful to let it be cut short.
If you are struggling with addiction or know someone who is, there are resources such as addiction recovery program hotlines and medical treatment center hotlines that you can contact. Do not be afraid to reach out because you never know if the next time will be the last time.