L-r: Mayor Tim Ryan; Kathleen Cannon, United Way of Broward; Sheriff Scott Israel, BSO; Dr. El Sanadi, Broward Health; Jim Hall, NSU; David Scharf, BSO.
From the Westside Gazette Editorial Board (WEB)
Last week we attended a community press conference at the Urban League of Broward County (ULBC), along with partners from law enforcement, the medical community, public schools, faith-based community, and the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse announced a collaborative initiative to take aim at the growing dangers of Flakka, a synthetic, highly addictive drug that is wreaking havoc throughout Broward County.
The panel consisted of a group of experts that by all means have the political clout and resources to rid us of this dreaded drug. What really caught our eyes was the fact that none of the experts look like the community in which this drug has taken root and spread.
We applaud the efforts; however it looks like the old missionary efforts, as if to say, “we know what is best for you guys.”
A picture is worth more than a 1,000 words when three deaths have occurred alone this month.
We know for a fact that we have here in our community Black people who are more than qualified to have been involved in this “press conference”.
There was a noticed absence of our Black School Superintendent, Black Police Chief, and our Black Doctors over drug treatment centers, our Black elected officials, some who were in the audiences as onlookers, and our noted Black experts in the field of drug dependences.
Where were the Black experts and the heads of systems that represent the county in which this press conference was held-even in the building?
Were they even asked?
Although Flakka has reached the flashpoint of explosion within the Black community, there was little evidence of it at the press conference held at the Urban League. There was no person of color representing the Black community on the line-up of speakers who could speak to and on behalf of the Black community.
“We’ve had 16 deaths since September from this drug alone and it’s killed three this month already. Flakka is by far the most dangerous and deadly drug in the bath salt category we’ve seen thus far,” stated Broward County’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Craig Mallak.
As with any occurrence in this county – when the general population is mildly ill from a current condition, the Black community is on life support from the same condition.
In addition, it seemed odd that there was a spokesperson on the panel of speakers from Holy Cross Hospital and not Broward Health. It would seem on the surface that Broward Health would have more experience/interaction with patients ill from Flakka overdose than Holy Cross; then again maybe not, with changes being constantly made from a business standpoint as opposed to getting the poor healthcare needs meet.
With the press conference being held in the heart of the 33311 zip code it would appear to be a slap in the face to the community not to include some statistical information specific to the immediate area.
It would have been a grand opportunity to solicit support – financial and otherwise – from the state level, particularly since both the area State Senator (Chris Smith) and the area House Representative (Bobby DuBose), who are also residents of the 33311 area, were present at the press conference. Why they were not included in the speakers’ line-up??
Indeed a missed opportunity for additional state support. Other than for an apparent photo opportunity, it seems as though little was accomplished in the press conference production.
If this drug has a minimal three year run, we have more than a problem.
It’s like a Shepherd’s tree; the roots are more than 68 feet deep, which creates an effect that can last for generations.
Where was the health department? HIV/AIDS, STDs, hepatitis – all this is being transmitted in a circle of Flakka users. True this is a crisis from a communicable disease impact.
Kids think this a joke. Here’s a scenario. …a young man just recovered from a major head trauma car accident. His so-called friends take him to the clubs to celebrate and someone slipped a few crystals in his drink. He goes ballistic and this started his downward spiral all because someone wanted to see his reaction to the drug, having a ‘good time’.
How about this young lady, 19 years old, who you have known since birth, sits across from you and looks in your eyes and tells you with every piece of intellect that one could gather, “I don’t want to go into treatment. They don’t know what to do; all they will do is put you in a crazy house,” her words were really ‘psychiatric ward’.
But long term treatment would be psych support and intensive counseling, plus hospitalization for a person to get the acute medical attention for the destruction done to kidneys, nervous system and the brain.
Where, what hospitals for the indigent? We would have an influx and beds would be filled. Where do we send our families who are sick on Flakka for treatment and long-term psychiatric care?
What’s our plan as a community? What do you suggest Broward Health (Broward General), Memorial Regional for acute inpatient detox because they are both equipped with psych wards and the acute medical capability? Long term will be an issue there are very few resources available.
So collectively, what will be our push?
The alarm will need to sound from every corner and in every home – this drug will not be tolerated in our community. Whatever we have to do we do it big. Every church, every organization needs to join hands in solidarity.
We need resources. We must quickly educate our community via all media and Black churches, etc. We must mobilize the recovery community, a powerful force. Also, use street triage teams to go through areas that are severely impacted. Allow clients to leave detox and go directly to a residential program. Once they leave residential, they can be placed in day treatment and then regular outpatient.
If a client goes to a psych unit, as demanded by the evaluation, try to transfer them to a residential unit upon release.
Although almost 50 percent of the people in our psych units are Black, it’s not the most effective tool; especially for drug addicts who have no mental health issues.
“A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks.” This is an eye-opener for us as a community to come together right now.
We find it very hard to effectively be a team player if we’re not in the huddle when the plays are being developed. At this stage of the game we score it FLAKKA 1, experts 0.