There is nothing on this planet more euphoric than sticking a needle into my vein, watching the blood register like a snake slithering quietly before it strikes its prey, slowly pushing down on the plunger, feeling the warmth moving up into my shoulder, exploding into a head-to-toe rush the instant the white liquid hits my heart.
I’m in love. Nothing can stop me from getting heroin. I will rob you. I will manipulate you. If my mouth is moving, I am lying. I don’t care who you are or what kind of history we had together. You are nothing to me. Heroin is my God.
But I wasn’t always a scumbag. I was a star athlete in high school. I graduated from a prep school near Boston. My parents were both teachers, and I grew up in the best section of town. We weren’t rich, but I had plenty of food, new clothes, access to my parents’ cars and girlfriends.
Then, I met Lady Heroin. Funny thing, I only made a choice to inject her into my vein once. After that, Lady Heroin chose me. She took me anyplace she wanted to. Nobody could save me.
That was 30 years ago. I beat it the hard way — cold turkey. Then, four years later, in the summer of 1991, I covered the war in Bosnia and recorded Serbian snipers systematically picking off women and children as they attempted to cross the Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia to fill jugs with drinking water.
That following winter, I witnessed the crimson-red snow on the streets of Sarajevo. But I have never seen anything that would compare to the deaths of American’s at the hands of Lady Heroin.
How did we get here?
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but a July 10, 2016, Los Angeles Times investigative report provided details to prove what I wrote about in the Huffington Post on October 2, 2015. Purdue Pharma, recklessly and without any regard for human life, orchestrated the heroin epidemic with its fraudulent and deceptive marketing of its wonder-drug OxyContin.
From there, the market was massive and the Mexican cartels capitalized by cutting the cost of a kilo of heroin in half and flooding the streets of America with cheap, powerful heroin. When I shot heroin, a bag cost 30 dollars. Today, in some American towns, heroin costs less than a six-pack of beer.
Can we stop the heroin epidemic?
Yes, but we all must accept our social responsibility in Making America Great Again and shatter the stigma of addiction. As a country with a history of compassion for others, we must steal the playbook of those great American’s who mobilized a nation to end the AIDS Epidemic of the 80s.
Granted, the answers for stopping the worst health crisis in the history of the United States are not simple. But letting addicts die on the street in not one of them. We cannot allow an Ohio city councilman to prevail in his mission to deny people access to Narcan, a life-saving treatment because he is concerned about the price of emergency services for opioid overdose victims.
Recently, Middletown council member Dan Picard asked the city to explore the legality of a proposal to refuse city-dispatched medical services to any overdose victim who has sought an intervention twice before. To be frank, three strikes and you’re dead.
Mr. Picard believes fear will prevail. He said,
I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life. We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.
Wrong. Fear will never be a deterrent for a dope-sick opioid addict. For those of you have never experienced opioid withdrawal, try to remember the worst case of the flu you ever had. Then amplify that sickness 50 times. Or if you have a good imagination, shut your eyes and let your brain feel every bone in your body on fire!
No Mr. Picard, fear will never stop us. In fact, I once ripped a Pepsi can in half and used the bottom as a spoon to cook my heroin. I was very sick, gagging, squeezing my sphincter muscles so I wouldn’t crap my pants as I concentrated on keeping my hands surgeon-steady so I wouldn’t spill the heroin or get an air bubble in my needle.
But I missed something; the store I bought the Pepsi had price marked the bottom of the can with purple ink. The instant I added water and cooked the heroin everything turned scarlet purple. I shot it directly into my bloodstream without a thought of peril.
Mr. Picard, people like you, are bad medicine. Opioid addiction is not a moral issue.
Every U.S. Senator and every U.S. Representative must unite and clear the way for “on-demand-recovery-centers” in states across this nation. If an opioid addict is dope-sick today and reaches out for help, they must be able to get immediate help. If not, they have only one option — to get high. That means robbing or stealing to acquire heroin.
Heroin addicts like me are bursting the seams of our prisons. The cost to keep us locked up has become a burden on society. The crime rate in cities across America is climbing every month due to the heroin epidemic.
From the West Coast to East Coast, from North to South, we must model recovery centers like the Megan House In Lowell, Massachusetts. A treatment center that excels because a single community shattered the stigma of addiction and accepted the greater good of social responsibility.
At the Megan House, regardless of ability to pay, female addicts can acquire a bed. It is an amazing example of what a compassionate America can do if we collectively make up our minds that all lives matter.
We must stop people like Dan Picard. We must never allow madness to prevail.
Mr. Picard, you are not God.
Ritchie Farrell is the author of I am a Heroin Addict.
Follow Ritchie Farrell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ritchiefarrell1
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.