I knew there were drugs around when I was in Somersworth, but it wasn’t until I went to Hyde that I knew people that were former and recovering addicts, in high school. And while thankfully I believe the majority learned the tools and attitudes necessary to keep themselves clean, whatever that meant to them. Sadly there were still a lot of people who couldn’t bounce back because their drug of choice had taken them too far already, whether overdose, incarceration, gang life, homelessness or cyclical poverty. And it wasn’t just city kids- New England had their fair share of students, New Hampshire included.
When I was at the Keene Public Library working with kids after school. You could feel the drugs, and the teen pregnancy and the dropout culture seep into these kids lives as the months go by. Any young, bright eyed, happy kid, could just get dealt some shitty cards and they’d fall into habits that relegated them to second class citizens in the eyes of their peers, their parents, their environment. And nobody cared to give them the tools necessary to succeed, to bounce back, to work out their problems, or to explore themselves instead of escaping. Sure there is some help, but we were mostly band-aids.
Having lived in big cities, it’s more apparent than anywhere. NYC, LA. drugs are so ubiquitous, it’s not just villified but accepted and ignored on a daily basis. Once someone let you on to it, it didn’t matter how kind a soul you were, you didn’t talk to them, because you “knew” they only wanted money for drugs, and you were a fool or reckless for giving them a snippet of recognition that maybe these were real people who were just having hard time, harder maybe than you could ever know. And they were stuck in the mud and needed help. We’ve all done it, we’ve all passed by, conveniently forgetting our humanity for just long enough to avoid eye contact, because you just can’t deal with it right now, you can’t deal with America today.
I understand how addiction can twist a person from superhero to supervillain, I’ve seen it. But I don’t think they’ve arrived at that juncture merely because their drug of choice was just that bad. And obviously there are some very terrible drugs out there. But, It’s the illegality of their substance of choice that helps to force these people into these lifestyles and villified by our community. I would argue that this would be a safer, and a happier country, if every drug was legal, albeit regulated, with mental healthcare and rehabilitation free and available to the public. Perhaps with a compulsory clause for addiction similar to that of the mental health institution (IE: committing a friend or loved one). I don’t care if you do heroin, I just don’t want you to ruin your own life over it and I don’t think the government has the right to ruin it either, they’re supposed to help.
Interesting article awhile back from Rolling Stone