On July 16th, The Northfield Union of Youth (The Key) held an open community meeting to discuss the issues of drug use in our community. The meeting was youth-run and consisted of dividing attendees into four intergenerational groups which discussed the issues of 1) perceptions/reasons for drug use, 2) misconceptions about drug use and users, etc., and 3) actions/solutions/suggestions for dealing with the problem. Each group reported on its discussion to the larger group. The evening culminated in an open mic opportunity for comments and further suggestions. The following is a list of notes compiled from the individual group discussions and the open mic comments. Click here for more photos.
1) Common Perceptions/Possible Reasons for drug use:
Boredom – Rebellion – Escape – Curiosity Lack of Education (dropouts) – Poor Drug Education
Misperception of Common Usage – Desensitization – Environment – Consumer Culture/Drugs Glorified
Lack of Fear – Feeling Neglected – Availability – Different Generational Mindset – Prescription Drug Culture
Gateway Drugs – Societal Pressure/ Need to Self-Medicate – Peer Acceptance/Habit – Money – Low Self-Esteem
2) Misconceptions about Drugs/Users/Reasons for Use:
All Users are Addicts
Can Control Addiction
Heroine (and other drugs) are Expensive/Rich Kids Drug
Only Lower Class People Use
You Can Know Someone is High by Looking at Them
You Can Know an Addict by Looking at Them
â€œMy Kid Wouldnâ€™t Do Thisâ€/ â€œPeople I Know Wouldnâ€™t Do Thisâ€
Youth are the Source of Drug Problem/Majority of Users
â€œGateway Drugsâ€ lead straight to more Hardcore Drugs
Drug Education is Effective
Heroine is â€œInstantly Addictiveâ€
All Drugs are Equally Bad/Addictive (Tobacco/Alcohol as bad as Meth/Heroine)
Colleges Influence Drug Use/Abuse
Colleges Do Not Influence Drug/Abuse
Athletes are Addicted to Pain Killers
Societal Pressure Causes Abuse
Smart/Good People Donâ€™t Get Depressed
All People Have the Same Reactions to All Drugs
Most Drug Users Have Low Self-Esteem
Drugs are the #1 Problem in Northfield (instead of a symptom of other problems)
Turning in Abusers=Getting Them Help
Other Comments Included:
Questioning whether this is a â€œCapital Pâ€ Community Problem, or if this is a problem with a small number of individuals which the community can help.
General disbelief of the numbers quoted in the Northfield News (both population of users and cost of heroine use).
Drug Education is a â€œjoke,â€ is unrealistic, leads to mistrust.
Northfielders feel a sense of security, were in denial of the ongoing problem.
Improving Drug Education
More Accurate: Abuse Education ignores the large percentage of drug use that does not constitute abuse. It promotes a â€œblack and whiteâ€ picture of drug use that leaves out ways to deal with recreational use, etc.
Less Scare Tactics
More Education Available for Parents and Other Adults
Drug Education, resources, options, etc.
More money for alternativesâ€”after school, weekend, summer
Peer Solutionsâ€”Peer Pressure to NOT do drugs
More Open Communication between Parents/Youth
Youth feel mistrusted
Youth are afraid to confide in parents
Discussions, not rules
More Caring, Trusting Adults as Resources
Youth want to be approached more delicately, not criminalized
Be a Mentor/ Get a Mentor
Treat the Individualâ€”no single problem leads to a drug problem
Break Down the Misconceptions to Discover How to Treat the Problem
More Law Enforcement or Judge Involvement
Youth need to know what is going to happen (in treatment, in court, etc.)
More Solutions Not Involving Law Enforcement
Developing a Better Relationship Between Youth and Police
Hold a Key/Youth and Police Officer Baseball Game
More Treatment Options in Northfield
A confidential support center where youth and adults can go to get help/advice without fear of being turned in or having to give their real name.
An in-patient treatment center in town so youth donâ€™t feel they are being â€œsent awayâ€
Changing the Stigma of Treatment
Treatment is currently seen as punishment
Mindset should shift from â€œCriminalâ€ to â€œVictim
Drug Users/Abusers are not bad people, they made bad choices
Support for those who return from treatmentâ€”peers could offer support, take part in preventing relapse
Youth and Adults Need to Know Resources in the Schools and Community
Where/who are the resources
What should a person expect when contacting a resource
Northfield needs to work on Prevention AND solutions for those who are using drugs.