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The suppression of Drug abuse is arguably one of the most pressing concerns of governments and communities all over the world. In United States, the number of people involved in drug abuse is constantly rising at an alarming rate. The mere existence of such habits in America is shocking since its states are characterized by having elaborate law enforcement, above average education and healthcare systems which are in place to ensure that majority of the population have access to these social amenities when they need them.
However, the inequitable distribution and inefficiency of such facilities has contributed highly to the moral decadence being experienced in most parts of America. In a bid to explore the various impacts that are brought about by drug abuse, I took it upon myself to investigate the various aspects that could have contributed to drug abuse in my neighborhood (Flushing, New York).
The data utilized in this research is quantitative in nature and I collected it through various interviews that I carried out in different parts of the neighborhood. The questions asked during the interviews were formulated in such a way that they could help establish the reasons as to how the targeted participants got caught up in drug abuse, why they did it, the effects that developed from their habits and how they managed to recover from their addiction.
This paper shall therefore bring to light the causes and effects of drug abuse in Flushing, New York as portrayed through the interviews. The underlying factors that have contributed to this vice shall be uncovered and recommendations on possible solutions offered.
Flushing is among the largest neighborhoods in New York City. Founded in 1645, the neighborhood has grown and today, it is the most diversified area in New York. As such, it is home to numerous people with different ethnical backgrounds.
It is well maintained and has all the necessary social amenities such as schools, hospitals and recreational centers. However, just like any other neighborhood, Flushing is characterized by incidences of crime, gang related feuds, drug abuse and gross misconduct especially among the youth. These immoral attributes makes this neighborhood a force to reckon with.
Drug abuse in Flushing
Drug abuse in Flushing is relatively high due to the large number of people living within the neighborhood. Most of the people living in the area lead an average life with little to no money to spend. Unemployment rates are high especially among the Youth and low incomes are common in a considerable percentage of the people who dwell in this constituency. Siegel & Welsh (2008) reiterates that the constant use of drugs have been linked to psychological factors that affect the individuals.
These factors include: stress, depression and anxiety. The fact that life is becoming harder each day has been used by many abusers in this community as an excuse to drug abuse. Many claim that the use of drugs presents them with an effective coping mechanism in times of hardships. In the course of my research about drug abuse in my neighborhood, I managed to meet and interview different people who had experienced the effects of drug at some point in their lives.
I targeted individuals who were recovering or had recovered from drug abuse. My decision was based on the fact that such individuals were more than willing to share their experiences with other people as a means of redemption and personal healing. As such, the testimonials used in the compilation of this study were consensual and directly recorded through the interviews.
My first interview was on the 21st of April 2010. On this day, I interviewed an alcoholic who had suffered greatly under the influence of cheap liquor and drugs. He sadly narrated how he had a strong family, a stable job and was respected by many in the neighborhood. However, things turned for the worst after he got retrenched from his office. He claimed that he had been unemployed for five years after loosing his job as an architect. In addition to this, he had three children and a nagging housewife.
During the interview, he stated that: “I normally left the house early in the morning and went to a local bar where I spent the whole day with my new friends”, he says. “I became such a regular that I often drunk on credit, borrowed money from friends and paid back the debt. The thought of going back home was such a stressor that I opted to spend more time at the pub.
When I finally got back home, I always took some sleeping pills to help calm my nerves.” His wife recalls how for seven years that her husband came home drunk, moody and soaked in urine. “At times, he beat me so violently that I had to be hospitalized”, she says. She further acclaims that their children were afraid of him and despised him for his actions.
Research has it that children brought up in an environment where alcohol consumption is common, end up using it too (McKenzie, 2007). For example, a child brought up in a family where the father is a drunkard is more likely to start drinking than a child brought up in a home where the parents do not drink.
On the 24th of April 2010, I had another interview with yet another alcoholic. Her testimonial was a clear revelation on how parental negligence may be detrimental to the social and psychological welfare of the children.
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During the interview, she had this to say; “both my parents were alcoholics throughout my childhood. They were never concerned about how my brother and I spend our day nor the activities that we were involved in. we started by stealing small amounts of alcohol from their stash. It seemed like harmless fun at first but it got worse as we joined high school.
Our parents had such a large pile of alcoholic beverages that we could afford to steal some and sell to other students at school”, says a young girl in Flushing whose brother died of a drug overdose three years ago. “We were out on a party at a friends place. I had no idea that my brother was doing hard drugs. Late at night, I heard someone scream from upstairs. I ran up the stairs only to find my brother lying down on the floor stiff, his lips all dried up and foam was oozing off his mouth”, she laments.
After the burial, she ran away from home and joined her friends on the streets. However, life on the street was not any better. Since she had no income, she resulted into prostitution as a means of survival on the streets as well as a way to sustain her habits. “I once had an abortion and still went back to the profession. A few months later, I was pregnant yet again but I went through with the pregnancy and gave birth to a baby girl.
I ran out of the hospital after three days leaving the kid behind”, she says. It took her two years to sober up after a near death experience while using heroine. “I was taken to a rehab where I recovered from my drug problem. Up to date, I blame my parents for what happened to us. I have lost my child due to mistakes that could have been prevented; if only my parents took their responsibility accordingly”, she adds.
Evidently, environmental factors do play a pivotal role towards molding our character. From this interview, it was clear that the environment through which these children grew up provided them with an avenue through which they got involved in drug abuse. In addition to this, lack of money and other basic necessities out in the streets worsened the situation.
Peer pressure and poverty have also played a pivotal role in the emergence of drug abuse in Flushing. On the 27th of April 2010, I headed down to ‘Kissena’ street where I had a chance to interview a member of the “Bloods” gang.
During the interview, he narrated that: “I dropped out of school in high school because my mom claimed that she could not afford to feed us and pay for our tuition fees. With nothing much to do in the neighborhood, I started hanging out with my friends on the blocks and I finally got recruited into one of the most notorious gangs in the neighborhood”, he asserts.
It was so cool; I had money trickling in from the robberies and drug sales, a constant supply of drugs and girls. Also, I was told to oversee the drug supply and deals that went down in my neighborhood and our territories in other places’, he claims. He confesses that as a marketing strategy, he would sell drugs to kids in school and coarse people in the community forcing them to fear and respect him.
This went on for a while until he was shot on his way home at night. “I was so high that I never felt the bullet hit me. After waking up the following morning, I realized that I was in the hospital handcuffed to my bed. The cop claimed that he found drugs in my jacket and I had to go down for that”, he narrated.
After three weeks in jail, he was let out and went back to the street where his gang members were armed to the tooth ready for retaliation against the rival gang responsible for his shooting. He further asserts that the use of drugs made them feel invincible and fueled their anger.
He insists that if he were sober, he never would have signed up for that suicide mission which saw five of his friends die in the shootout. In addition to this, he claims that poverty, greed and peer pressure are the core reasons as to why most of the youth in Flushing indulge themselves in drug abuse and gang violence.
On the same day, another girl involved with a gang claimed that lack of education and proper guidance on matters pertaining to drugs were among the reasons she became a junkie. “I never finished school and my boyfriend at times took me out to parties where I was introduced to marijuana.
The feeling was so relaxing and at times helped me relax and think clearly. I was later introduced to Heroine which I was told was better than anything else I had ever used. Thinking that I would stop if I didn’t like it, I got hooked. After a while, my boyfriend dumped me for another girl.
I had to do what I had to do to get a fix”, she comments. She quit using and went to a rehab recently when her daughter was taken by child protection services as a result of child neglect. She told me that she is reforming her life so that she can have her baby back.
Low self esteem and alienation especially among the youth has also played a part in the promotion of drug abuse (Siegel & Welsh, 2008). In an interview with a girl from a private high school in Flushing, I realized that some girls end up abusing prescription drugs so that they can fit in with the popular crowd. The truth to this statement was further strengthened by an interview I conducted on the 28th of April 2010.
The victim who is a young girl in high school had this to say; “I was recently released from a rehab where I spent four weeks recovering from my addiction. I was hooked up on dietary pills which I used to check on my weight. Life in high school is so tough and the only way you can get through those years is by being at par with the current trends and being recognized by the popular kids.
I started taking the pills a while back when my friends advised me that they were the best in handling my weight. After a while, I could take them even without eating and I started passing out on a regular basis. My mom took me to the hospital where she was told that drug treatments were not advisable and I had to be rehabilitated in order to detoxify”’ said the patient.
On the same note, the availability of illicit drugs has increased tremendously. Dale & Marsh (2000) assert that the number of establishments licensed to sell alcohol in New York is very high. In addition to this, the low prices at which these drugs are being sold makes them affordable even to the younger generations a fact that further facilitates the continual abuse of drugs in Flushing.
Additionally, the authors suggests that the indulgence of alcohol and drug abuse by underage individuals is brought about by the fact that they can easily buy these drinks at the stores or have other people buy for them. Also, opportunities to use have been increased in school settings through keg parties and other social events which encourage the individuals to use freely without fear of consequences.
However, the local law enforcement agencies in conjunction with the concerned community members have put forward efforts which aim at educating, minimizing and prosecuting drug abuse offenders. In addition to this, non governmental organizations have also stepped into the campaign against drug abuse and have helped in establishing more schools, rehab centers and recreational areas where the youth can get assistance or avoid the chances of being drawn into the vice.
In addition o this, the police in Flushing are working extra hard to ensure that all gangs are eliminated and those responsible for drug peddling face justice. If more initiatives are implemented, then Flushing will go back to be an iconic neighborhood viewed with admiration by other neighborhoods within New York.
There is dire need for the mitigation of drug abuse in our communities. The vice not only threatens our future but also our ability to be more productive in our societies. From the research findings, it is evident that this vice is targeting the youth who are ignorant and more susceptible to its influences.
The various factors that have contributed to its prevalence in Flushing, New York have been identified and their effects analyzed. Recommendations have also been made on how best this problem can be countered. If more efforts are put by the authorities responsible, this neighborhood will yet again be a safe and drug free zone for the generations to come.
Dale, A. & Marsh, A. (2000) Evidenced Based Practice Indicators for Alcohol and Other Drug Interventions: Literature Review. Perth: Best Practice in Alcohol and Other Drug Interventions Working Group.
McKenzie, J. (2007). An Introduction to Community Health. USA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Siegel, L, J & Welsh, B, C. (2008). Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. USA: Cengage Learning.