“Jordan does hard drugs. I would stay away from him,” my friend said to me one night about a kid from our high school. I saw Jordan walking around the city all the time with his girlfriend around one arm and a cigarette in his mouth. He was a known drug dealer and a known thief. I had never actually spoken to him before and yet I was still scared of him for some reason. He was a tall and skinny black kid. Dark-skinned. Piercing eyes. I wasn’t scared of him because he was black, I knew that for certain. I had grown up in a community that was about 90% Haitian. Black people did not scare me. But why was I scared of him then? Was it the fact that he did cocaine, xanax, heroin, and a million other drugs that scared me away from him?
I don’t understand why someone like me would be scared of someone who took hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. I’ve done drugs, I’ve spent nights hanging out and drinking with the homeless, I’ve done questionable and illegal things. I’m human. So why aren’t these people who do harder drugs also considered human?
The problem with our society is that we see these people as the drugs they take. Someone who is addicted to marijuana is considered lazy, but not a delinquent. They do no damage to the community. They do not harm themselves or people around them. Someone who is addicted to heroin is seen as dangerous and someone who should be avoided. They are thieves and liars. They are not to be trusted. What society fails to do is see the differences between the consequential effects of each of these drugs. Marijuana may make a person more lazy and less productive and insightful. Heroin can do the same thing, but also comes with health risks and the deterioration of self. Marijuana is slightly to rarely addictive while heroin is a near death sentence on the addiction scale. Heroin users don’t plan on harming people; it is their need to feed their desire for opiates that results in their dangerous and irrational behavior.
We should treat addicts with the same respect no matter what drug they are addicted to. It is our job to help them fight their addiction or at least control it. I understand that harder drugs have more negative effects and should be taken more seriously, but drugs should not be a qualifying factor in judging a person’s personality.