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Drug and Painkiller Addiction Adding to Woes of Immigrants

July 26, 2016
Plain English Version

By Matthew Heptinstall via Getty Images

Going from one culture to another is not always easy. Ask an immigrant. Like children everywhere, the children of immigrants are different than their parents.

Two different immigrant groups in New York City are facing the same problems. They are Arab and Russian families. They are dealing with the drug addiction of their children.

Peer pressure plays a big role. Immigrant children are trying to fit in. They may play football. They may suffer injuries. Like many others, they use painkillers. Sometimes, when they cannot get painkillers, they turn to heroin.

It is the same spiral that faces many American children. There is one large difference.  Immigrant families do not know how to help their at-risk children. Some of the young people are now dying. In Arab families, it is shameful to die by drug addiction. It is like suicide.

When addiction occurs, most families will act to find treatment for their youngster. That need for help is slowly becoming clear to the Arab community. New programs are starting in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. It is home to the biggest Arab community in the city.

Drugs also are happening to Russian families in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. The families are often well educated and close. Some youngsters start using drugs with their school friends.

As with Arab families, drug use is a taboo subject within Russian families. A counselor said, “Once you are a drug user, you are disowned.” Outreach to drug users only began last year.

Arab and Russian families are starting to learn how to cope with the addiction of their children. But it is hard. Support systems can be difficult to understand and to access. Some parents blame doctors for starting their children on painkillers.

American culture is powerful, both for good and for bad.

Source: The New York Times July 21, 2016

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