- Published on Friday, 09 March 2012 09:03
- Category: Grand Central Stories
Prescription pill abuse is a growing epidemic among teens in southwest Brooklyn, especially in the Arab population. Since the beginning of 2012, at least four young adults have died from OxyContin overdoses.
To tackle this serious issue, the Egyptian American Community Foundation hosted a meeting on March 1, led by NYPD’s Muslim Community Liaison Detective Ahmed Nasser. Nasser came to the United States 26 years ago from Yemen and is familiar with the struggles of being a new immigrant.
Nasser said he moved to Bay Ridge recently and doesn’t like what he sees on the streets.
“I am seeing young people brazenly [using drugs] like no one is watching,” he said. “They go into the street and sell, but I don’t want to give them a ticket or lock them up – how is that going to help?”
Nasser said his goal is to reach out and educate young adults about drugs. If you show them how they will end up in jail and have difficulty finding a job, they will be less likely to use. He feels if you arrest them and put them through the system, no lessons are learned.
Nasser recalled stopping a young teen that he knew, making a sale in the street. He told him, “I want you to understand where I am coming from. I am not going to lock you up today, but this needs to stop.”
Nasser said he never saw the kid again.
“Watch what you’re getting into,” Nasser told a crowd of about a dozen teens. “It’s easy to get in, but hard to get out.”
Youths were encouraged to look at police and other adults as friends. “As a community, we need to face this problem and help each other,” Nasser said.
There was much discussion on what the best way to get the message across is. Young adults felt that school was the best avenue, rather than a mosque or other religious institution. “If you keep repeating, they will stop themselves,” one young woman said, adding that those with addictions will only stop unless they want to.
Some also said to make events “more fun” and possibly “tricking” someone with a problem into coming to a talk such as this one.
To make matters worse, the drug problem goes even less detected among new immigrant families much of the time. “The mom doesn’t speak the language and tends to have another baby and the dad is busy with work,” Nasser said. “They were born in a different world, their mentality is different than yours.”
As the evening ended, teens agreed to speak with their friends more candidly about the issue, because it could literally save a life.
Check back next week for more on Detective Nasser and what he has to say about the NYPD surveillance scandal.By Denise Romano, Aslan Media Columnist
About the Columnist: Denise Romano
Denise is a freelance reporter extraordinaire. She is Brooklyn born and raised with a Print Journalism degree from Brooklyn College. Though not of Middle Eastern descent, she started a blog to tell the stories of Iranians and Iranian-Americans after the 2009 election fallout. Ever since, she has been dedicated to giving voice to those who are marginalized by the mainstream media. When she is not writing, Denise spends time with her husband, sings in a barbershop chorus, cooks Italian food, and watches Saturday Night Live. Because she is in tune with the beat of the Big Apple, she launched this blog to share the everyday concerns of New York's Middle Eastern diaspora communities exclusively with Aslan Media.