I went to a Heroin addiction awareness program at the high school back in 2012, and was not very impressed with the content, or the number of parents who showed up (maybe 15). The general impression I left with was “not my kid” expressed the attitude of most parents in Grandview. I attended a drug addiction program last night that was very different.
The program was titled “Not Our Kids, Not In Grandview!”. This program acknowledged right from the start that shifting the attitude of “not my kid” was needed, and they laid out the facts for why this is true. The parents of Grandview Heights were more responsive to this version of drug awareness programs, more than 75 parents attended a standing room filled presentation on November 14. The facts that were presented, and the heartfelt speech given by a Grandview grad who had become a heroin addict while living here, felt more real and helpful for confronting the issue of drugs in the community.
How not to do drug programs
Please read the older post on the 2012 drug program for a more detailed take. The least helpful part was the police presentation, which stuck to the Dare program lines like “smoking pot will lead to heroin addiction”. That correlation might be true, but the fact that the majority of people don’t make that progression rendered the argument as a false statement. Correlation is not causation.
The featured speaker at the 2012 program was a parent who’s kid had died of a heroin overdose just weeks before. I don’t doubt the sincerity of a grieving parent, but the message of “you need to test your kid for drugs all the time” felt unhelpful to me. Last night’s program with the Grandview grad who spoke of how he became a heroin addict was better at piercing the attitude of “not my kid”.
I ended my post in 2012 with the guess that deaths from heroin use inside Grandview would be needed to bring parents to conclude that heroin use is an issue here. The deaths have happened, and the turnout showed that parents are ready to listen.
Speaking to the youth of Grandview Heights
I’m not sure where the group that presented the speakers – Start talking Grandview – will go from here. They have a speaker who felt honest and relatable for young people in the community. My suggestion would be for the group to drop all the old people and cops from the program, and just feature speakers like Essig. His story of party drug use, then Oxy, leading to heroin, then jail and homelessness, felt like it would engage young people who are armored with the bravado of “not me”.
I would also suggest that the group tone down the fixation on anti-vaping messages on its Facebook page. Vaping may be hazardous, but it doesn’t approach the level of danger of heroin use. The group is flirting with the mistake of previous “reefer madness” attitudes from the Dare programs.
Channel 6 news story on the program.