I went to rehab for alcohol addiction in 2006, after which I made contact with an online recovery community scattered all over the world, and I remember a specific blog I read, written by the mother of a heroin addicted son. She shared her life of his daily struggle against the addiction to heroin, going to one rehab centre after the other, the frustration at the ineffectiveness of these programmes, including the methadone treatment for heroin addicts to facilitate the detox period, with methadone itself being a highly addictive drug. She wrote about how it tore her family apart, the financial losses suffered as he stole from the family to support his habit, the Tough Love approach, and the ultimate confrontation with helplessness in being unable to help her own son!, the lifting periods where he was not using and trying to resume his life (invariably these addicts have police records making employment difficult), only to fall again when he turned to the only god know to the users of heroin.
This morning I watched an interview addressing the drug zone in San Francisco, how junkies live in tents on the pavements, shoot up in broad daylight and die on their streets from overdose, all in full view of San Francisco residents and law enforcement. The City thence deemed it prudent to alleviate this problem by creating ‘safe spaces’ for these addicts, where they are provided with new/clean needles and have even made nurses available to inject these addicts, if they so choose. We are talking about a drug called Heroin, the one and only instantly addictive drug, a drug with a recovery rate of as low as 20%, a drug that almost always ends in overdose, in death, this drug offers very few second chances.
I grew up in an alcoholic home, and around the age of 15 I went on a ‘quest’ to escape what felt like hell. Everything available to me was tried, used, abused. Alcohol wasn’t strong enough to quell my rebellion, I wanted drugs. I researched drugs, the effects of various drugs, I was not interested in finding a pleasurable escape from reality, I aimed to numb every feeling I ever had, I wanted to numb my memories, my daily life, my existence. Fortunately I was young during a time in our history where drugs were not tolerated as they are today, a time when drugs were considered criminal. Laws were in place that discouraged the use of drugs and lawmen were vigilant in applying these laws.
Looking back 30 years, I shudder to think where I would be today, were such ‘safe spaces’ available to me at that time. I don’t know whether I’d be here to write these words, because as hurt and full of pain as I was then, I needed to be numb, I was chasing oblivion, I was seeking self-destruction. I pray for all the damaged and hurt children, in San Francisco, in America, who have these avenues open to them, who do not have a chance because the Fathers of the City believe they can treat this problem by making it easier for the addict to take drugs and I pray for some sanity to return to this bleeding world of ours.