When my kids were young one of the most enjoyable activities for them was going to the park. They would beg and plead for me to take them and then when it was time to leave they would beg and plead to stay ‘just one more ride on the swings…or slide…’ There really wasn’t anything better than spending the day at the park under the warm sun, listening to the kids laugh and play. Today I have a different view of parks. I think about what happens at parks when the sun sets and the families are tucked away in their homes. I know that when my daughter was active in her addiction parks were a familiar place. She has since told me that you can buy drugs at just about any park. The dealers are lurking around waiting for a buyer. Sometimes it is someone they know; many times it is someone who just knows that the park is the place to go.
There is a park in a not too distant community that is nick named ‘Pill Park’. It is the place that everyone knows they can go and buy illegal prescription drugs. I’ve heard of statistics that it takes a teenager 5 minutes to seek and buy drugs – hearing of Pill Park makes me believe this is most likely true. Although I’ve always known parks can be a place for troubled kids to hang out, this sounds like a whole new level of access for substance abuse. As a parent we want our kids to be able to ride their bikes to the park, play and come home as innocent as they left. I hang on to the hope that we as parents become savvy and aware to be able to protect our children and grandchildren from the harms. I am grateful that my daughter is now clean and sober and at the same time I am fearful of the environment that kids are exposed to in our own neighborhoods. Education and awareness at a young age is vital to preventing more teens from falling into addiction.
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