It's Time To Talk About The Heroin Epidemic

It's Time To Talk About The Heroin Epidemic

Because it can't be ignored anymore.
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Most of us have a phobia, whether it’s spiders, heights, clowns, or loud noises. For as long as I can remember, my phobia has been hardcore drugs. Maybe it’s the taboo nature surrounding them, or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of “Drugs Inc.” on National Geographic. However, I can say that my phobia of hardcore drugs has made me extremely vigilant regarding their presence in society.

Just last month, I spotted a needle and syringe on a Worcester sidewalk while my boyfriend and I walked to our favorite breakfast place. It served as a cruel reminder of the issue of drug abuse across our nation. I’ve always noticed markings on arms or sunken-in eyes. I’ll never forget seeing the meth mouth of a Dunkin Donuts employee in a small town in Maine this past summer. She looked like someone out of the many documentaries I have watched. When I asked for a chocolate donut, she remarked how those were her daughter’s favorite. I smiled politely, paid for my order, and wondered what that little girl’s life must be like.

Perhaps it’s my fear of drugs that makes researching them so exciting. However, what’s not exciting is the fact that, according to The Boston Globe, in 2014, More than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and other opioids” in Massachusetts alone. Moreover, shocking statistics from U.S. News claim that, “The rate of heroin-related overdose deaths increased 286 percent between 2002 and 2013,” and, furthermore, “In 2002, 100 people per 100,000 were addicted to heroin but that number had doubled by 2013”.

After watching the first hour (which was frankly all I could handle), of the HBO documentary "Heroin Cape Cod," it’s obvious that, for a lot of users, heroin is not their first drug of choice. Rather, many users started with prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet. When they run out, or simply cannot afford these drugs anymore, they switch to something cheaper, and, often, more accessible: heroin.

The need to get high becomes the sole purpose for living; nothing, not even family, can come between the user and the drug. Heartbreaking, terrifying, and concerning is the spread of heroin from cities to suburbia. According to The New York Times, 125 people die a day from drug overdoses in the United States, and 78 of those deaths are heroin related.

As the heroin epidemic progresses, so too do the measures against overdosing. Narcan, a drug used to reverse a heroin overdose, has saved many users. The issue? Many users take this for granted. One user in "Heroin Cape Cod" boasted of her near death experiences and praised the use of Narcan, claiming that she knew that paramedics would simply “bring me back” if she overdosed again.

While it is in everyone’s best interest to save lives, to what extent can we reinforce the behavior of users? What can be done to ensure that users will not take this for granted? While some have suggested clean needle dispensers, as well as legal injection sites for users, there needs to be a clear focus on a way to stop the spread of the epidemic. While safe injection sites are seeking to limit the number of overdoses a year, I can’t help but note that this, too, reinforces the behavior of users. Supervised injection does not stop the injection.

While it’s easy to sit back and critique from the outside, the main goal of this article is to inform. Sweeping issues such as drug abuse under the rug does not solve them. As with all important issues: we need to talk about it. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come within the past few decades in regards to discussing and bringing about issues such as gender equality. Although that conversation is far from over, we have made positive steps in the right direction. I believe that we can take positive steps in drug abuse awareness as well. Have the conversation, brainstorm ideas, and rally our representatives. The heroin epidemic is real, and it’s time we talked about it.

Cover Image Credit: Newfield Press

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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