Needles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part Two

minister to the addictNeedles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part Two
In this article I am going to share one way to reduce syringes/needles/drug paraphernalia in public places. It is a way that does not cost a single dime, but does require ‘getting your hands dirty’. (Thankfully not literally.) It does require some time. It does require getting over stereotypes. It does require having compassion. It does require being patient. It does require having the right attitude. It does require boldness. It certainly helps doing this with someone with some experience, but not necessary. It certainly is not for everybody. It is not a solution that most individuals will want to do. Most will say, “It will make no difference.”  Others will say, “Great idea, go do it.”

If what I shared was followed by just a few of the residents of Burien, Burien would start to see a face lift in more than one way. I would go as far as to say that if what I share was implemented there would be less Needles in Parks, more addicts going into treatment, more mentally ill getting help, even homelessness being reduced. Dramatic changes? Absolutely not!!!!! I am not naive. I spent over seven years everyday around addicts on the street, certainly not naive. Realistic? Yes. Hopeful? Yes. Have faith? Yes. Why? If only one person stops living needles in public places; if only one son, daughter, brother sister, spouse no longer does drugs; if only one person implements what I share, then the effort is worth it. Anything good always starts with one. Now will you be the one?

Interact with Alcoholics/Addicts/Mentally Ill/Homeless in the Community
Before you immediately close this page, I beg of you, hear me out. I am socially, fiscally, morally, Biblically conservative-not a ‘bleeding heart liberal’. I am sharing from years of experience. I am sharing as one who has dealt with the worse of the worse. One who would rather never be around a single addict in active addiction. Never, ever. They are some of the most self-centered (actually an oxymoron, since if you care about yourself you don’t do drugs), selfish,  inconsiderate human beings you can meet. BUT, yes BUT!!!!

I have also meet some ‘great people’ who have gotten stuck in addiction. People who are gifted. People who are loving and kind. People who can be sensitive. People who have some of the worse stories you could ever hear. I have met HUMAN BEINGS. What you might be shocked by is that if you treat addicts as human beings instead of pieces of crap, some will actually act like human beings, not animals.

Want to reduce needles in public places? Talk in a kind way with an addict/homeless person. If they respond with hate, respond with love. Give them eye contact. Give them a handshake, a pat on the back. Listen to their story. Tell them your story (including how you have been hurt by addicts). Build rapport, trust. Guess what? If you do all this, you know what happens? They will start to respect you. Look forward to seeing you. (Now of course many will become manipulative, try to take advantage of you, etc. Use wisdom.)

What does this have to do with Needles in Parks? In the midst of all of the above, you can share with them the concern about needles/syringes in public places. You can let them know of the danger to children and animals. That will tug on their heart. You can ask them to be careful when using drugs. You can ask them to pass the word around to their friends that it is becoming dangerous to children. Let them know if they do not self-police that citizens are going to become more and more hateful towards addicts and the homeless and there will be less compassion. Ask them if they would dispose of their used needles instead of laying them on the ground. Ask them if they could get some friends to help pick up paraphernalia and throw it away, make it a routine that they do each day. There are homeless that are not addicts that don’t like what addicts do. Let them know it is going to be tougher on them if the needles don’t start going away. Start picking up needles around them (there is a safe way of doing that). They will help out.

In the midst of all of the above you know what will happen. Word will get out. Someone you talk to will take on the cause. More likely a meth addict with ‘extra time’ than a heroin addict nodding off. More likely someone mentally ill that is obsessive/compulsive and will take it on as a project. What may happen is that you are able to get someone into detox. treatment, connected with housing resources. You never know.

What if many residents did this? What if every time an addict homeless person started to feel like they had value and worth? They would start living as if they did. They would feel part of the community and would want their community safer. Don’t focus on the jerks.

Listen you don’t have to like them. I absolutely don’t like most addicts or any kind of dysfunctional people. You don’t have to like their behavior. Just try loving them. (I personally believe it takes God putting that kind of love in you. Pray for love.) Some you will never love. Some I refuse to be around. I acknowledge I have no love for them. i am tired of their games, manipulation, deception, etc. Each of us don’t have to reach all, just one.

I finish with this. Some people have a gifting to work with addicts. Some people seem to have the knack. I would not have to do any of the suggestions I mentioned to talk to an addict about needles. All I would have to do is say, “Hi, I am a pastor in town. Can I share something with you. It is becoming unsafe with needles and paraphernalia all over the place. Please pass the word around it would be nice if those using would consider the safety of children and dogs.” That’s it. Almost all would not be offended. They would hear my concern. They would know I am not judging them. But it takes more than a Pastor Rich. Come on if I guy who has a BS Degree in Criminal Justice to become a cop to lock up all the scum bag pieces of garbage can show some love, you can also.

Will needles in public places be solved? Absolutely Not! But it is start and again does not cost a dime.

Note: When addicts and homeless are educated, challenged to do their part to keep public places safe, and are held accountable, the argument that Safe injection Sites are needed to reduce drug paraphernalia in public places starts to become a mute point.

In the next article I will talk about other ways to reduce the danger of needles in public places and  thus even less of a need for Safe Injection Sites to ‘reduce needles in parks’.

Needles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part One
Needles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part Two
Needles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part Three
Needles in Parks, Minimal Cost Solutions: Part Four

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