I had heard all my life that people learn from their mistakes. That some people have to learn the hard way. There is a level of truth to these statements, but in some cases it is not true at all. One of the places it is definitely false is when it comes to addiction to drugs and alcohol.
What is true is that we have not learned the mistakes of others. I live in a community where there is an obvious drug issue. Drugs are so accessible to our youth that it is hard to believe that anything is illegal. Everyone knows someone who has an addiction problem. Everyone knows someone who had died from a drug or alcohol related issue. It is almost shocking the amount of deaths, let alone suffering, that have taken place even this year. Everyone knows the end result. Yet it doesn’t stop.
With drugs, come addiction, and this is why everyone can’t learn from their bad choices. Once addiction sets in, learning and understanding the consequences in greatly impaired. Addiction can be so strong that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Sometimes it is too late. Learning the hard way means death. For some issues, this may sound extreme or an exaggeration, but in this case it is not.
Drugs have killed too many of our youth. Andrew Edwards, was a friend, a son, brother, and an incredible young man. He had lots of dreams. He also had an addiction problem. Amazingly, he also wanted help and was reaching out to people. Yet, he was on the losing side of his battle though.
I have decided I don’t want to forget Andrew. It goes beyond us simply putting up a sign in a room and naming our Cafe after him. That in itself is important. I also want to remember his heart for others and all the good things. I also want to remember it was drugs that took him early. I want to tell others that as well.
I feel for his family who deals with their loss every day. I feel for all the other families in our community who are living with the same sorrow today. I feel for every household dealing with addiction in their homes which bring chaos to everything.
However, this needs to lead to some action. I want to encourage people to talk about it. We also need to work to prevent addiction. Those who are selling drugs to our children need to be stopped. While I know the addiction issue is complicated, we can’t get around the fact that our drug issues are staring with children and Jr Highs. In almost everyone of these cases these drugs are coming from adults.
Prevention is needed. I may not be an expert on many things but I will step out on a limb about this. I live in a community that has been in the grips of serious drug issue for a long time. For years I have been applying for every grant and funding opportunity that I have heard about for our youth centre and community. We have received funds for many things, recreation, equipment, etc many times over. However, when it comes to funds for running programs, crime prevention, actual staff, and real prevention programs it honestly should be embarrassing to our governments how little our community receives for these things.
It presently costs just under $100,000 to keep a youth in jail per year. The cost on taxpayer to deal with the mess drugs cause is unbelievable. My challenge to our governing officials, of every level, is to help us keep this generation out of addiction. I believe if we invested what it was costing to incarcerate one person into prevention we could keep many out of the system. Instead, at this point every group dealing with this has to fight to get minimal amounts. It is a broken system.
To the youth of my community, which many are my friends and great kids, learn from Andrew story. Don’t fall for the lie it can’t hurt you or that addiction can’t happen to you. If you need help, lets find help together.
To the adults of my community. Tell your councilors, your MPs, your MLA’s we need funding and programs for prevention in our communities. We have some great community leaders who will fight on our behalf, but let them know this needs to be a priority. Also, if you have the means to help, why not help fund a program for youth in your community. We have many great options here in Cape Breton.
Lets remember what is at stake. Our Kids. Our Future. The Andrews of our community.