PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The opioid epidemic is a growing problem in Philadelphia and many cities across the country and today Philadelphia launched a new task force to search for solutions. One man at today’s hearing has experienced both sides of the drug culture. He told our Bill Anderson that after contributing to the darkness of addiction in his neighborhood he now dedicates his life to helping others avoid his mistakes and find the light. For Goodness Sake
“All of the sudden a couple years ago the opioid epidemic hit the suburbs and there were congressional hearings. People started talking about it."
It's clear drugs are no longer a they problem that some ignore. It's a WE problem.
“The opioid related overdoses are now one of the leading causes of preventable death in our city. Lives are being cut short. Families are being destroyed and we simply cannot let this continue to happen."
On Wednesday, while the mayor's first meeting of the opioid task force was taking place a panel of experts discussed the growing problem. But FOX 29's Bill Anderson wanted a different perspective. He met Ramon Cruz who has personal experience with drugs in our city.
“Everybody wanted to be a drug dealer back then in my neighborhood because of the notoriety the money and certain things that come with that," he explained.
What came with that was nearly 20 years of dealing drugs in Kensington
“What someone could make in a year, I could make in month," he explained.
But what wasn’t discussed among dealers and users and what ultimately turned Ramon’s life around is that you rarely if ever see anyone his age involved with drugs. They’re either in jail or dead.
"I was shot in the streets and left for dead, through the grace of God I learned how to walk and use my arm again. I’ve been through a lot," Cruz said.
Nearly killed, likely one arrest from a life jail sentence and Ramon still doesn’t know the exact moment he decided no more. But he’s glad he did.
“I’m not miserable anymore, I don’t have to look behind my back no more, I don’t have to worry about somebody kicking in my door trying to rob me. Today I walk freely knowing my purpose in life is being done now."
The change was a complete turnaround. He went from drug dealer to drug prevention worker. The same neighborhoods where he sold drugs, he now warns young people about his path.
Ramon thankfully turned his life around and still has the commitment to help others. Speaking with him and today’s hearing serves as a reminder that this drug problem can and will effect your neighborhood too until we all acknowledge the issue and together try to address it for goodness sake…..