Life in the Atlanta suburbs may seem pretty cushy. From the state’s top schools to drool-worthy shopping, we seem to have everything one could ever desire.
We live up to our southern hospitality reputation by helping our neighbors whenever they may be in need.
When a teenager commits suicide, we immediately start fundraising for prevention.
When a mother of three becomes homeless, we offer shelter, food and training to get her back on her feet.
When an animal is abused, we rally around it and seek justice for the innocent, furry creature.
So why is it that when our community members, neighbors, children die from drug overdoses, we seem to turn a blind eye?
We are so busy adding to our list of achievements that we also are letting a serious problem go unnoticed.
It’s a rarely mentioned, but mostly well-known secret that our community has a drug problem. We tend to avoid it because it’s taboo and uncomfortable to talk about. When someone dies, we talk about what a shame it is, but then we move on.
Why have we decided that every other crisis or need is more important than fixing the drug problem?
Growing up in Alpharetta, I knew people who abused drugs. Not all high schoolers do this.
I watched a boy I attended kindergarten with grow up to become a well-known local drug dealer. And while I didn’t run in the token druggie crowd, I was still aware of what was going on around me. But it wasn’t talked about like it should have been.
We knew drugs were bad. We participated in drug awareness programs and in an annual red ribbon week promotion. I remember having our lockers searched for drugs once in my four years of high school. But that was about the extent of it.
So when I went to college and started hearing about kids I’ve known since we were 5-years-old dying from drug overdoses, it shook me. I didn’t realize our perfect little manicured suburban community could possibly produce people who were so enthralled by drugs that it would one day take their lives.
Just two weeks ago, four Forsyth County residents overdosed and two died. When will we say enough is enough?
It’s like we just pretended it didn’t happen or it would go away if we ignored it.
But it’s gone too far. Clearly, ignorance is not bliss in this scenario.
When will we wake up and realize enough is enough? We need to start a conversation and let it be known that as a community we will rally to help in whatever way we can.
It needs to be known that this is a community problem, and we will not let addicts suffer alone.
And if we are unable to help fight this, our community could soon be overtaken by it.
As much as I love being able to brag about all the good things we are known for, we also need to be known for helping each other and putting a stop to the drug crisis. Just as our kids are worthy of making top grades, they are worthy of getting the help they need.