Heroin has a grip on my town, a town that pretends it happens in other places. A town where we have an activist who talks about being drug free, but not much else. An activist who ran for office with someone who declared us drug free, despite being a heroin hotbed.
Heroin has permeated my town, a town in which members of our Board of Education have claimed our schools are drug free. A town in which the school district ignores the crisis. A town that believes it happens to bad kids, broken families.
A town where kids are dying.
A town where kids have been in rehab. Multiple times.
A town where kids have been arrested over and over again.
The school district has it right in some ways.
My family is broken. Not because I’m a single mother.
No. My family is broken because one out of three of my children is an addict. Thankfully in recovery, but still an addict.
My family is broken because I have kids who have a sibling that will never be able to live with them again.
My kids have a sibling that will always live far away. As in from them, from their future partners, from the kids they will one day have.
It is a permanent separation.
Their sibling coming back could be life or death.
What does that look like for my family? It looks like a lot of birthdays, Christmas, Easters, holidays where there is an empty seat at the table, a seat we desperately wish was filled, a seat that is a constant reminder of a loss that so many don’t understand yet so many experience.
Heroin has broken my family. In a way that would break your heart.
Heroin has a hold on my town, even if my town pretends that it is a problem happening somewhere else.
I don’t know the answers. If I did, I’d tell you. What I do know is that the recent arrests are not the solution. I do know that we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem, even if our police department forgets that, even if our local social service agencies pretend that the arrests are part of a partnership.
All I can do is speak to you as a mother who desperately longs for all of my kids to be under the same roof, a mother who has driven my kid to rehab in the midst of withdrawals, a mother who would gladly take the blame if you could tell me what I did to cause this.
I’ve been to too many funerals of kids I have loved.
I have seen too many kids I love in jail.
Heroin has a grip on my town. I don’t believe the answers are easy, but I believe the first step is to stop pretending this is happening somewhere else.
I call on the local activist, the school district, the BOE, the parents in my town, all of us.
Heroin is holding our town hostage. We can’t take it back until we realize that we are all in this together.