100 Heroin Addicts 100 Seconds- Wisdom on the Edge Pt. 1
Note: This will be a 10-12 part series
Traveling back in time to March 2016 I see myself greeted by M**** , my new co-worker (he would die a year later of an overdose himself).
It is early, before 7 am. It is cold. I see my breath.
My new co-worker is gruff and looks at me suspiciously. I sensed repressed anger.
I think to myself: ‘What in the hell did I get myself into?”
I am going to be with him all day and he is going to train me for the next several days.
I’m nervous as hell because it’s my first day on the job.
Not because however, I’m going to be in close proximity to users, dealers, con-artists, manipulators , and every level of criminal, from murderer to shoplifter.
The reason I wasn’t nervous about this was this: I had a superiority complex with people whom I thought were bad. I thought I was better than them. This false confidence I had, was quickly disavowed, and in many personal, and painful ways.
I had a superiority complex with people whom I thought were bad. I thought I was better than them. This false confidence I had, was quickly disavowed, and in many personal, and painful ways
This job, my new job, was one that put me in close proximity with many people, who were reentering society for a crime, had paid their debt, and were on the road to recovery.
If only that were true in reality.
What will really happen is this: Many will be repeat offenders, and relapse. They will re-enter the viscous cycle that doesn’t seem to have a solution. Lots of them are poorly educated, emotionally and logically retarded, and mentally sick- similar to a homeless person who won’t accept help or an offer to come inside on a freezing cold night.
In reality, many will be repeat offenders, and relapse. They will re-enter the viscous cycle that doesn’t seem to have a solution
Several months before I started my job, I had read in a book that said that since JFK had closed down a lot of the institutions for the mentally ill back in the early 60’s, these people would basically would end up in jail and prisons at some point.
In other words, prison (was de facto) the NEW mental institute.
This made sense.
And I believed it. (this is another subject that deserves a whole other series of posts)
I profiled these people through that lens.
Face to face though, I always accepted everyone as good from the start . Let them prove otherwise from there, is my motto.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Wendy Mass ―
What is my job?
The classified job ad was for a “Program Assistant” which sounded kind a of cool, but basically I drive IOP (intensive out patient) and OP (out patient) clients back and forth, to the program. I clean the building as much as I can, and do small things to be helpful. That’s it.
In other words, I was under the radar.
I sensed, most of the clients saw me as one of them, which is great for collecting data for this article.
Every person and conversation that takes place is completely anonymous for obvious reasons.
Every person interviewed I completely respected and handled with care.
My ultimate hope and goal for writing this post is to provide unique insights, that may be overlooked by those in the so called ivory tower, and have these insights be helpful and meaningful with this serious and life threatening problem.
My ultimate hope and goal, is to provide insights that others may find helpful
One side note: When I started interviewing them, I felt a deepening rapport that worried me. The questioning, deep listening, repeat back and clarifying process that takes place creates this. I felt vulnerable and exposed to people who had done bad and hurtful things and where for the most free in society, and that many would relapse, as the data tells us.
M*** is wily, tough and rough. Someone I wouldn’t want to tangle with in any situation. He is young, wide eyed and curious. He likes to talk. He’s lived in Vermont and South Carolina (fond memories of partying and can’t wait to go back) and all up and down the East coast (which I tend to doubt for some reason). He eagerly agrees to this interview and shrugs when I tell him that it will be completely anonymous, not giving a shit.
Me: If you could take a time machine back in time right before you used what would you tell yourself?
M***: Don’t do it.
(note: I am completely disappointed with this shit answer and consider quitting the article right then and there. Not his fault, but mine. My shit question.
Me: What else?
M***: You’ll regret it
Me: OK. Would advice would you give to something in the middle of using right now that would be helpful?
M***: Get some help before you die.
Me: Ok. What do loved ones and people close to you need to know when you are in the middle of this?
M***: They (speaking in third person which is understandable) chase the rush. That they are grateful that they where there because in active addiction they push everyone away. They see family and friends as enemies.
That they are grateful that they where there because in active addiction they push everyone away. They see family and friends as enemies
M*** goes on to tell me that the song Legend by MGK says it all, and he told his aunt to listen to it to understand how he feels. He brought this up several times and was adamant about this song saying it all.