The Multicultural Center hosts a lot of diversity events around campus. I was fortunate enough to attend the Advocates for Inclusion and Diversity through Education (AIDE) meeting. AIDE usually hosts meetings to talk about different social justice issues and this week it happened to be about the opioid epidemic. The presidents of AIDE decided the best way to understand this issue was to watch a documentary, Heroin(e).
Heroin(e) documented three women, a firefighter (Jan Rader), a missionary (Necia Freeman), and a judge (Patrica Keller). These three women decided to take charge and make their home town of Huntington, West VIrginia, better by rehabilitating anyone who is addicted to heroin. Although they have very different titles, they made the same impact in Huntington. Rader educated firefighters on the importance and uses of Naloxone, saving dozens of lives each year. Keller works as a judge in Drug Court. This court is more like a legal support system that brings previous addicts together as they work through rehab. Keller and Rader even build relationships among the Drug Court population. Usually, even after someone has graduated from Drug Court, Keller and Rader continue to be apart of their lives. Freeman works with the Brown Bag Ministry to help feed any prostitutes that are working or living on the Streets of Huntington. Many of these prostitutes are victims of opioid and domestic abuse, but Freeman makes sure they get the shelter and rehab they need to start a better life. These women were a trifecta of change for their community. They continue to tell their story in hope to inspire other cities with the same epidemic.
The documentary was almost life changing. It depicted how dangerous the opioid epidemic is and shows how there is a way to stop it. However, it takes an entire community to do so. The documentary also made a lot of people cry. Either the group we had was very emotional, or the documentary was just that good. It truly depicted how the epidemic is negatively affecting the lives of others.
After the documentary, we decided to discuss how the documentary made us feel or think differently about the opioid epidemic in America. To my surprise, many students felt that their should not be a limit on naloxone’s availability. This point was preached a lot by Rader in the documentary, so I wondered if seeing the film changed their minds or not. We also discussed a lot about legislation on naloxone and if there should be safe zones. Overall, we talked a lot about the opioid epidemic. It was also really nice because not everyone was on the same page, which made the discussion a lot more interesting. Also, because the discussion was so dynamic, it was very nice to see that everyone was willing to accept others opinions.
Honestly, this was probably one of the most rewarding events I have attended. It was a nice break from the life of STEM and also felt like a productive time. The opioid epidemic is obviously a problem within everyone’s community. We should spend more time fixing it and educating others.