In the eighth grade I signed up to be a part of a group that was meeting with another group of other students about their feelings on the opioid crisis and how it affected them and their school. I didn’t really know what to expect. My Civics teacher asked me to sign up and I did because Civics was one of my favorite classes. My Civics teacher was one of those teachers who always informed me on opportunities so I took this chance and went.
The meeting was located at a school that had a history of having needles and alcohol bottles being found on its property. At the school, me and my classmates sat in a circle with other students and discussed the history the school has pertaining to how substance abuse has affected their community.
On the day of the meeting me and four other classmates were getting questions prepared for the meeting. Some questions that came up were, “How has the abuse of drugs affected school property” and “How has the usage of drugs affect you personally?”
In the circle we discussed how kids can’t even enjoy recess or enjoy their own schools property in general. The school staff has to take their time to make sure school property is clean. Sometimes parents are worried to send their young ones to school.
Many of us wondered what the city was doing about this problem. The red box was even created for substance abusers to throw away their needles. But even with that solution, the problems were still occurring within the school. One student even told me it had gotten to the point where another kid picked up a needle and ended up in the hospital.
In the city of Boston, homeless people aren’t a rare thing to see. I was born and raised in the city and see people in this state every day so it wasn’t a foreign thing for me. In Civics class one of the subjects that was being taught was the opioid crisis and how it had affected others, and I knew around the city there was a great number of people who struggled with addictions. I knew people personally who had struggled with it. I also knew that a good percentage of the homeless struggle from addictions themselves. There have been days where I would find used needles on the floor and the health risks behind that is huge.
After the discussion I noticed how substance abuse is a really serious issue, especially when it is tied to homelessness. Before this meeting, I too had this perception that those who end up in the streets due to substance are fully at fault and many still think this to be true. But would they feel the same way if someone has a good job and still struggle with substance abuse? Of course not. Everyone perceives this idea that if you don’t have a job, you are useless to this society and especially if you’re struggling with something as low as drugs.
Addiction is a mental illness. If It wasn’t we wouldn’t hear all these stories and see so many people struggling on the streets. Many people are ignorant on how drugs affect people and judge someone’s situation instead. Kicking these people out of places won’t solve the problem, educating ourselves and providing resources is how we can help decrease this problem.