At this week’s meeting, the healthcare center led a discussion on potent heroin and what the rise in deaths from overdoses tell us about the state of stigma, and preventive drug use programs in the United States.
People raised several sides of the issue of how to address the larger question of drug abuse in the United States. Many voiced the opinion that mental health must be de-stigmatized as asking for help should be socially acceptable. This is in light of the fact that many drug users also have preexisting mental health issues. On another angle, culture was examined; both how a culture of glamour that surrounds drugs promotes use and how the criminalization of drug use in culture has led to decreased access to rehabilitation clinics and help for drug addicts. Health insurance limits access by denying extended coverage of time in rehabilitation and methadone clinics leading people to go back to abusing drugs. Education was one of the solutions proposed; that education in schools would address the negative effects of drugs, and the benefits of asking for help both as a drug addict and as someone with mental health issues. Other ideas brought up were the establishment of clinics in central communal locations so that everyone could have easy access to help. The majority came to an agreement that the first step in addressing the increasing rates of drug abuse and over doses that the recent potent heroin problem has brought to light would be de-stigmatizing mental health.