BY QUENTIN GRIFFIN
Wadsworth is no stranger to the drug epidemic that is strangling our nation. This epidemic has taken root within our community and is a reality we must face together.
The school district has decided to combat this epidemic by targeting learning to students. They have done this by bringing in numerous speakers and holding many assemblies to push a drug-free image upon its students.
The county has also taken a strong stance against the drug epidemic. Through the creation of rehabilitation center called Robby’s Voice in Medina, the county has united itself in its fight.
In recent history, Ohio has also been referred to as the heroin capital of the United States. In particular, Medina County has had a startling amount of heroin overdoses in the past years.
Wadsworth High School students are just as affected by addiction and drug use as adults. The damage it can cause to a young body and mind is astounding. This damage is not short-term. Rather than believing in this rare occasion, our writers carried out a survey within our school to find the true amount of drugs that are abused by our students. The results are staggering.
Our writers also propose solutions to this plague that inflicts our community. These solutions, while not perfect, provide a student’s perspective on how to solve this difficult situation. These solutions further the mission of unifying the community to find a solution to this growing issue.
In this issue of The Bruin, we tackle the drug epidemic that plagues our community. To do this, we looked deep within our community. We were able to find people who were willing to talk about this issue in order to illuminate the epidemic to the community and provide solutions from a student’s perspective. We hope that this will be the beginning of the discussion that solves this issue within our community.
An In Depth look at drugs in Wadsworth
OPINION BY ADAM DARWICH
“In terms of the opioid epidemic, since 2012 there have been 23 deaths in Wadsworth attributed to drug overdoses,” stated Matt Hiscock, Director of Public Safety for Wadsworth, in response to a questioning about the drug issue in Wadsworth. With the release of several recent neuroscience and developmental studies, it has become common knowledge that teenagers are suspect to making rash decisions based off of emotion, rather than reason.
This might help explain why so many Wadsworth teenagers are struggling with drugs. To gain a better understanding of the drug epidemic in Wadsworth, specifically regarding high school teenagers, the Bruin staff released a voluntary, non-scientific survey that was answered by nearly 700 students. This survey, with the results below, shows several important items pertaining to this issue and Wadsworth High School students.
“To date, the U.S. has not found an effective strategy to end illegal drugs and until we do the problem of illegal drugs will be of an individual, familial and societal nature and lives will be continued to be negatively affected,” describes Hiscock on the issue of today’s society’s inability to solve this problem. Wadsworth does not escape this. HUDDLE and STAMP, although valiant in their effort, simply do not do enough. This is not the members fault. As students continue to find out about illegal drugs at early ages and find ways to ignore anti-drug messages, as Dylan Miller stated, “I feel like the kids in our HUDDLE and STAMP classes just don’t understand the gravity of the situation. It seems like it all goes in one ear and out the other.”
The Wadsworth Drug Free Community Coalition, a group of community members committed to stopping illegal drug usage in our town, recognizes the need for help against this problem.
We need more education in more grade levels, not just fourth through sixth graders. Specifically, the survey results from the senior class of 2018 severely skews the data for the whole school. The school needs to recognize the weakness of the current punishments and methods. We need prevention methods that focuses on the risks of our eldest students. Examples need to be made. The problem is front and center of us. We need to make the consequences be as such, as well. Let us endeavor to teach kids that the potential consequences of drug usage is not just a headache and a phobia of light the next day, but rather their lives.
Robby’s Place: the first step in recovery
BY MARRAYA YOUNGBLOOD
With a total of 67 overdose cases within our town and 258 cases in all of Medina County just in 2016, it is clear there is a need for intervention and support. Robby’s Place in Medina is doing just that, catering to the needs of our county in a new and innovative way.
Robby’s Place is not a treatment center, rather it is a recovery center focused on sober support, healthy socialization, and reintegration into society for individuals struggling with addiction. Robby’s Place plays a major role in assisting individuals to get back into society after they have been isolated due to substance abuse. The center opened its’ doors on July 17th and is the first and only of its kind in Medina County.
Two years ago, Wadsworth High School hosted an assembly by Robby’s Voice, an organization that seeks to “break the silence” on the issue of drug addiction. Founder Rob Brandt shared the story of his son who died of a drug overdose in 2011, urging students to engage in conversation. Today, Robby’s Place stands as a physical example of the message Brandt and his team are focused on spreading.
One way the employees of Robby’s Place believe the drug usage among teenagers can decrease is by discussion. An open conversation on topics deemed taboo by older generations can promote knowledge on the drastic effects of drug usage.
“This is a place for people that are struggling with drugs or alcohol. Lots of recovering heroin addicts, lots of alcoholics, people who are using other drugs that are popping up around here as well,” says Stephanie Robinson, the director of Robby’s Place. “It’s a place for people who are struggling with all addictions and their family members to come. They can come, socialize, get sober support, get vocational training. The idea is a safe place for them to re-engage in a new way of life, which is recovery.”
The center offers a welcoming atmosphere to those who need an escape from the temptations of their addiction. The “social parlor” is family friendly, and all are welcome to spend time there. Since its opening, over 3,000 people have walked through the doors according to Robinson.
The center is focused on helping people recover and tries to paint a picture of what it is like to go through the aftermath of addiction.
“[The center] gives people a good idea of what recovery looks like. I think people see what’s on T.V., but that’s not really what recovery looks like in Medina County,” says Robinson.
The renovated steak house still features its rustic diner setting with shelves of books and games for their visitors. They do their best to make everyone comfortable as well as featuring fun, festive decorations for the holidays. Events such as open mic night and trivia night are held at the old diner and they even offer a free meal on Saturday nights.
When the center first appeared, “There was a lot of ‘not in our backyard,’ ‘not here,’ but forget about your backyard or front yard. It’s happening in your basement,” says Robinson. However, the community has come to love and appreciate Robby’s Place for all it has done.
The center is currently funded by a grant that is projected to run out late next year. However, Robinson hopes that the people of Medina County are ready to step up and make sure that doors can remain open at the center.
“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Where would all these people go if you close your doors?’ But it’s a question you have to ask yourself. We’ve got the answer and it’s here, but it’s not cheap,” says Robinson.
For the future, the center has many long-term goals. Robby’s Place is seeking to incorporate a culinary curriculum in early 2018. Their plan is based upon Edwin’s, a re-entry program for felons trying to integrate back into society. They plan to offer programs like financial planning, Narcan classes, general life skills and wellness programs.
“It is one thing to stop doing drugs and alcohol, but if you don’t take care of the rest of that stuff, it makes it hard to stay clean,” said Robinson, who is nine years clean.
The center retains a positive outlook on life after the detrimental effects of drugs and they will continue to work towards helping their visitors progress and adapt to the ways of society.
Their doors are open to the public and they are ready, with welcoming arms, for all who visit.
A mother’s heartbreaking story on her son’s drug abuse
BY KYLEE BARANEK
“People tell us it’s not our fault, but you still feel like it is your fault,” said Jane.
Normally drug usage, addiction, and overdose are only seen in statistics. However, when talking to someone about their loved one who has an addiction, it becomes clear that the statistics are more than just paper.
A mother, we will call her “Jane” in order to protect her privacy, shared her story about her son. We will call him “Joe”, someone who grappled with drug abuse and addiction throughout his early adult years.
“We thought something was up when he was in high school,” Jane confessed when asked when the possible addiction had first started.
These suspicions had nothing to do with Joe’s grades. Throughout his high school career, he had straight A’s, maintained above a 4.0 GPA, and was active in baseball and football. Joe had never gotten into any trouble at school, and Jane had never heard any rumors about her son.
“He was really starting to get distant. He would not want to do things with us. He was gone a lot, which at first didn’t bother us too much. We just assumed that it because It was his last year of high school, and he wanted to go and do things,” Jane said.
Toward the end of Joe’s senior year, his mom started to notice the changes in her son.
“I was trying not to invade his privacy, but I started looking for things, not really even knowing what I was looking for,” Jane mentioned briefly. She had never found anything drug related in her son’s possession when she would go through his things.
By the end of his senior year, Joe continued to be distant but he was accepted into a local college on a baseball scholarship. Once he was settled, Jane noticed an alarming change in not only in her son’s demeanor but his actions as well.
“The first month in college, he would call, and I could tell he was very stressed. He wasn’t liking baseball anymore and he wanted to quit,” Jane commented, “Throughout October and November, Joe called a lot. He told us how much he hated school, and begged to come home. He would call ten or fifteen times a day which was very unusual,” Jane said.
After speaking with counselors, Jane tried to convince her son into staying, but commented, “I just had a weird feeling that this was more than him not liking school.”
Finally, towards the end of November, his parents let him quit after they realized how bad his grades were suffering. Everything was going well until Jane’s perception of her son was altered when she found a large amount of marijuana in his car in December. That night, they sat down to discuss what was going on. At the time, Joe admitted to using marijuana for stress relief.
Believing that their son had just made a mistake they decided to moved on.
Soon after, Joe expressed a desire to return to school, and he was accepted to another college. However, a few weeks later an officer found marijuana in Joe’s possession when he was pulled over for speeding.
“I was so angry and disappointed when I went to pick him up,” said his mother.
The family once again sat down to discuss Joe’s actions. They feared that if Joe returned to school, he would revert back into his habits. Still, Joe went away to college.
Joe seemed to be doing well for a while until his roommate informed campus police that Joe was in possession of drugs. Joe was kicked out.
Before he left campus, Jane received a truly heartbreaking call from her son. During this call, Joe sobbed uncontrollably, barely making any sense as he told Jane repeatedly that he loved her.
“It was really a strange feeling because I thought something was wrong. He sounded like he was saying goodbye,” Jane recalled.
Her son had taken a fatal amount of pills because he did not want to get caught with the other pills. Campus Police took him to the hospital, and his parents drove up to see him. That was when their world was shattered.
“It was at that point that we found out he was using everything and anything. Cocaine, Heroin, painkillers – just everything you can imagine,” Jane said when she spoke of the incident.
After Joe returned home from being discharged from the hospital and expelled from his second college he still continued to abuse drugs. Joe was then kicked out of his own home.
For around six months, Joe attempted rehab but was unfortunately kicked out for bringing drugs into the home he was staying at.
As of now, Joe is back in his hometown.
“I’d like to believe that he has learned his lesson, but in the back of my mind I remember that we have been through this hell for two years,” Jane mentioned.
The family has suffered greatly now and then. The parents are now seeking therapy and are both on antidepressants.
“For me to describe how I felt… It was like when you get that awful sinking feeling in your stomach when something bad happens, and you get to the point where you cry so much, you just can’t cry about it anymore. There aren’t any tears left. You just don’t know what to do as a parent, you try everything that you know to do, or that people suggest, but you still feel like a complete failure, to be honest,” Jane commented.
This story is a reality for far too many people. If you or someone you love is going through a similar situation, the school has resources. All you need to do is ask.