When it comes to drugs in the African-American community, there’s probably nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. Since crack hit our community like wildfire in the 80’s, the black community has been heavily deteriorating. So, why is it that I feel the need to discuss the not so taboo topic? That’s easy! Being personally affected.

Yesterday, I saw I guy that I used to date some years back. I had always heard the rumors about him “out there getting high”, but he’d been locked up for a few years and I’d not witnessed his downfall at the time. But let me back up a little. When I was a pre-teen, he was the drug dealer with the nice clothes that everyone wanted him to notice. Fast forward to about ten years later, and I was the girl he was checking for. It was alluring and exciting.

Then, everything changed. His behavior became erratic and I wanted nothing else to do with him and hadn’t seen him, physically, until yesterday. Upon seeing him, my heart dropped to my feet and ached in pain. Who was this shell of a person standing in front of me? His beauty and allure had faded. The light had seemed to go out in his eyes.

I didn’t know who he was. And as we stood there, talking for God knows how long, he admitted that he was “f*****g with dust and sticks (smoking wocky)” since he was 13. He admitted, with tears streaming down his face, that he had a problem and wished to “kick it” but refused to go into treatment.

So, how do I help? I feel helpless and already defeated. How do I help the person that I used to know? That I still have love and compassion for? What can I do for him?

I don’t know the answers, and honestly, I’m fearful of him. Drugs make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. So, as much as I want to open my door to offer him a hot meal because he’s staying on the street. But, in the back of my mind, I’m scared of what he may do to me. And I know, all addicts don’t harm people– I know that firsthand.

My uncle succumbed to his addiction to heroin last year, and my favorite cousin is still out there, fighting her demons. I was never afraid of them, and they would never harm me, but I honestly didn’t/don’t want to be around them. It hurts too much to see what they’ve become and I work too hard for my valuables to walk out the door. It sounds cruel! I feel horrible! I’m a social worker, I should no how to deal with these things.

If it’s not my problem, then whose problem is it? How do we, as a community…as a Black people, help?

Share your thoughts with me below!


Shadress Denise
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