This comment from Greenwich Free Press reader Will was submitted in response to last week’s feature “GHS Grads Break Silence on Drugs from Marijuana to Heroin.”
The piece focused on the story of Mark Pelazza, who shared this story of addiction and recovery during a parent seminar hosted by the YMCA of Greenwich and Liberation Programs. The story was widely shared, drawing 397 likes on the GFP Facebook page and thousands of views.
“Certain drugs are easier to access and more readily used in Greenwich, and other places in the area such as Rye and Harrison, because of the affluence of the town and lack of activities available to teenagers. These towns are built for 30- and 40-somethings with families who still want to work in New York City but have a safer environment to raise their children.
Unfortunately a byproduct is a lack of entertainment available on the weekends: Concerts are expensive and often 21+, non-alcoholic dance clubs are 18+, the beach closes at 3pm in the winter, Arch Street has turned into a middle school ritual, GHS rarely has weekend events, etc. Add to this the grueling early-morning wake-up of 5:30 or 6am every day for students 15-18 and it’s amazing not every student is smoking up. There needs to be change; legislation and traditional brainwashing isn’t going to work in the 21st century.
Pelazza was completely correct when he felt cheated out of his GHS public education diploma. His heroin use should’ve had no relation to his academic standing. This is akin to saying if you cheat in the bedroom punishment can be expected in the office. To rip someone’s diploma from their hands and throw them in jail is a guaranteed method to completely screw up a young person’s life. That’s not heroin causing those consequences, it’s society’s reaction to heroin.
The biggest hindrance to a drug user’s rehabilitation is the War on Drugs and society’s continued reluctance to critically analyze the issues. We don’t need to crush any chance of a young drug addict leading a normal life, instead we need to provide a flood of help, remove the legal implications to allow for easier access of treatment, and force them to continue their studies even if on a limited basis.
Abandonment is not the answer. Jail time is not the answer. We need to seriously re-evaluate how we react to drug use.”
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