Seminar explores drug addiction in African American community

Local News

Anita Muhammed is turning grief and guilt into good, bad as it may still feel. 

“I lost somebody I loved. From my standpoint because I ignored it for a long time thinking it would work itself out for a long time. Cut I didn’t realize the seriousness of it,” said Muhammed, fighting back tears. 

Though she never imagined or realized what was going on at first, just over two months ago, on September 23rd, her daughter Jasmine died of an overdose.  Anita said Jasmine had been battling an opioid addiction and eventually, when the Percocets she’d been abusing were mixed with fentanyl, the addiction won. 

“I felt like I could do a lot more. But there’s nothing I could do about that now but I can do a lot of good now to help parents and their children so that that doesn’t happen to them,” she said. 

For the first time, Anita is speaking publicly about Jasmine’s life and death to help others, particularly African Americans.

“In the black community it’s difficult to talk about,” she said. 

She joined others like Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts, 1 of a handful of speakers at the health department’s “Basics of drug addiction in the African American Community” seminar, said Muhammed’s story is an example of why it’s important to reach out to the black community, who often don’t ask for help because of stigma.  The problem’s worse for someone who doesn’t have insurance or relies on Medicaid, when there already aren’t enough rehab facilities and beds for treatment. Most addicts are then put on waiting lists and told to call back. 

“It’s like closing the door on them. Even though you’re telling them I can see you in 5-days, they’re ready today.  5-days they might not be here anymore,” said Roberts. 

To Anita Muhammed, the solution includes more hospital beds and more talking openly about addiction before it’s too late. 

“I would say at this new part of my life, she gave me a new assignment. And 1 that I’m gonna love doing in her honor,” she said. 

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