Once upon a time there were three kids who were raised in the heart of suburbia in the Midwest. We went to church every Sunday. We had a mother and father in the home. We participated in scouts and after-school sports. We kneeled to pray and hugged each other good night. We ate dinner at the table and had conversations about our days. We all loved to read. Then one day we all grew up and one of us decided to start shooting up heroin. She was the youngest and had some issues fitting in as a teenager. The bullying in high school took its toll and she decided the best way to mask the pain of not being in the “in” crowd was to begin taking drugs and drinking. As she got older, marijuana and wine coolers were not enough to ease the anxiety. She moved on up to heroin and began to sell herself as a way to pay for the drug. The drug was the only thing that kept her motivated. It put her to bed at night and gave her a reason to wake up in the morning. She had two children and lost them both because she was a slave to the needle and the poison held within. As heartbreaking as it was to lose my niece and nephew, that wasn’t the worst thing that she could have done to me and my family.
My brother was a carpenter and built half a million dollar homes in affluent cities in our state. He was taking prescription pain pills to alleviate the pain in his back. One day they were hanging out and she decided to share with him the magical pain reliever that is heroin. He was scared, but he needed to be able to get through the pain and work 12 hours building homes. So he allowed her to wrap a rubber band around his arm and shoot a needle full of heroin into his arm. All it takes is once and you are hooked. The drug is a jealous bitch and she does not allow you to think about anything but her all day and all night. I am not a doctor, just a teacher, but they tell us the warning signs to look for in our adolescent students and I could tell that my kind, generous, jovial brother was gone. I confronted him. When he admitted that he had been hooked for months I could barely breathe. He lost his apartment and was living in a Days Inn with my sister. He lost his job building homes and was busy doing odd jobs to pay for his drug. They both would do $20 of heroin to numb themselves and follow it with $20 worth of crack to stay awake and pretend to be functioning members of society.
You cannot predict who this drug will lay claim to. In my circle of friends more than half of us know someone who has become addicted and is unable to let go and move on without heroin as their trusty sidekick. Siblings, children, parents, best friends, co-workers. Heroin does not discriminate. Heroin does not leave anyone out of the fun. It destroys families, friendships, jobs, and trust. It stole my sister and brother from me. Despite several attempts at rehab, neither of them are clean right now and they will never again be the little kids I climbed trees and went sledding with. They are people I used to know and miss terribly.