Drug abuse is a national epidemic, but it is more than facts, figures and statistics on arrests, rehab rates and overdoses. Drug abuse and its consequences have left an open wound in our nation, our city and our campus community.
This is a complicated issue; drug abuse intersects with conversations on mental health and addiction. There are no easy answers when dealing with drug abuse, addiction and deaths.
Dealing with this issue can also be incredibly personal, but we have an obligation to ourselves and our peers to truly confront the problem, however raw and painful it may be.
Last year, we lost two students to drug overdoses. Some of us are still grieving them today, in a process that cannot be rushed.
After our period of mourning, though, we must have a period of action; we must use our grief in a constructive way to affect change in our community; we must do better for one another.
We can take action in institutional ways. We can use resources such as Medical Amnesty and the Good Samaritan policy that allow students to call for medical help for either themselves or others without fear of disciplinary consequence.
We can engage with forums, such as “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” that seek to spark a dialogue between students, administration and health officials about opioid addiction.
We have myriad resources that we can take advantage of on campus.
Drug abuse is an issue that will never go away, no matter how many informational events we hold or how many flyers we pass out, but we can take steps to prevent the tragic consequences of drug use.
We can do this by reaffirming our commitment to caring for ourselves and each other on a personal level as well.
We need to watch out for one another and recognize when and where to get help, whether it’s using resources like university counseling or calling an emergency service when we see someone using drugs in a dangerous way. We have an obligation to educate ourselves and our friends on the real dangers of drug abuse if we are to prevent further tragedies.
Drug abuse is a complex issue to deal with, but it is an issue we can change together.