So we are outside of Pittsburgh, Pa and I randomly asked a teen, “What is the biggest teen issue in this area?”
Her response, “Opioids. Some many of my friends use.”
I asked, “Why?”
“I don’t know. There’s nothing to do. We are stuck here and I don’t know. They start. Get addicted and the treatment doesn’t help.”
“I don’t know. But it doesn’t help. I lost a friend to it.”
“I was hospitalized a few times.”
“Yep. I know. I had to find other ways, too. Like hiking, running, just getting outside.”
“That other stuff. It just doesn’t help.”
“I get it.”
“What would you do differently to help?”
“I would talk to them. The medications don’t work. They need more. I don’t know. It has to change.”
“I know. The medications sometimes makes it worse.”
“It still really hurts. You know.”
“I can only imagine.”
“It was so sad. I just wish there was more.”
A man interrupts and we end our conversation.
Even miles away from home, the opioid crisis is present and effecting our kids. Actually on Friday before I left I met with an expert on the crisis and discussed the issues in our area.
Hmmm…after this brief talk, I quickly realized Allentown isn’t alone in this battle and other towns are battling out the crisis, too. I mean I knew that but when you talk face-to-face with others you truly hear the stories. The people and their stories become more real then a story written in the Atlantic or in a documentary on Netflix. You know. You can’t ignore them when they are in front of you sharing.
Now I am only on the western side of PA but this opioid crisis isn’t a state thing, this is a nationwide concern and is truly hitting this generation hard. And sadly, as I have heard before the mental health field is desperately trying help the addicts, but missing many. Even with Emergency rooms ready to response and parents are trying to help their kids, we are losing the fight against the addiction.
Somewhere there is a disconnect and our youth are dying and their friends are watching and this generation is feeling loss, pain and frustration with the current mental health system. 😦
Honestly, I am not sure how to fix this crisis. It’s not my field, but I feel it’s deeply rooted in the brain’s response, emotions, and that desire to feel nothing.
But why? They are so young, so full of opportunity, so ready to live.
Why? Maybe it’s the feeling of being stuck. Like the girl said. They feel hopeless. Nowhere to go. Stuck in their young life. That’s not just not addiction but depression….
Since I have experienced the depression and addiction, I have a few suggestions, but I am not promising any magical cures. These are just things that have helped me escape the thoughts.
First, find a someone to talk it out to. A therapist is preferable but
anyone is better than no one! Second, move. I suggest in nature, but any place is cool.
Third, value you! You are you so take time to love you. If you have trouble doing that, call friends and family and have them tell you what they love about you and write every word down. Then, photocopy the paper and hang the paper everywhere. So it reminds you how special you are.
Fourth, do something you love or used to love. Engaging in something that makes you feel good. Maybe something you enjoyed as a kid or even as a young adult. Those old feelings may come back and instead of going to the drug as a fix you will go to the activity. 🙂
Finally, surround yourself in nature. 20 minutes is all u need. Seriously! Nature is an amazing healer.
Okay, I totally side tracked but it felt right!
Back to the crisis…
Come to think of it I had a mom the other week suggest confidence classes for her daughter because she felt a class would help her feel stronger and resist the urge to use. Maybe that’s what these kids need. A confidence, self-love class. I don’t know.
Again, I am not sure. But a great suggestion.
As I travel, I hope to collect stories. Stories from parents, kids, youth and others to create a nationwide story on mental health and what’s going on so maybe just maybe I can help my city heal and the nation know that we are all in this together.