05 February 2014

“HEROIN IN THE MIRROR” Mainstream Media Misses the Mark

                           Karen J. Stuart 1957 - 1987

An Original Collection of Provocative and Powerful Essay's by R. B. STUART. Her Work Begins and Ends at the Crux of Truth, Sorrow and Humor---Capable of Slicing Through Your Psyche and Piercing Your Heart.

Part Thirty

It was disturbing to hear Dr. Oz, who has become mainstream America’s Doctor say, that the attraction to Heroin is “its purity.” And ABC World News Tonight reported the telltale signs to watch for is, “paraphernalia, tracks, and pinned pupils.” I am certain that the average American does not know what a track is, never mind pinned pupils. And while we have the attention of the world on this soul-taking addiction, as the great actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman succumbed to the need to be psychologically transported into the ethers, until he went so far he could never return…
Let the misjudgment on Hoffman’s behalf, by his agent or manager to propose the 2007 Sidney Lumet project, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” of a Heroin addict to a former Heroin addict---be partially to blame. As being back in the mire of Heroin’s accoutrements contributed to him acquiring the taste to get high once again.     

Allow his mistaken death be the voice that reaches the families and loved ones struggling with the addiction---because ultimately the person addicted isn’t trying to kill them self, just be temporarily removed from the world that is causing him or her so much pain.

Watching my sister become an addict after her introduction to methamphetamines and cocaine at the age of 16 by a hustler/pimp ten years her senior, he knew that if she wasn’t persuaded into becoming a prostitute for a black man sober---then being high she would be. By becoming the source of what made her feel euphoric, and needing the mighty dollar to buy the drugs that made them both feel unstoppable and immortal, he’d convince her they’d have all the resources they needed if she went to work in Boston’s Combat Zone as a nude model.

After two years of physical violence and psychological abuse, she left him to seek me out in New York City. That’s where she met those new “friends,” that would show her New York’s underbelly and street scene.

No longer was CB-GB’s and Max’s Kansas City her hang outs---but shooting galleries throughout the Village. Cocaine and methamphetamines became speed balls (shooting up a blend of speed and downs), then graduated to the un-watered down high---straight Heroin.

Fast forward to the age of 29, as she laid in a Florida Hospital bed in 1987 diagnosed with AIDS. She blamed the shooting galleries in NYC and sharing needles with other junkies the culprit of her dire diagnosis. She died three weeks after she was diagnosed. Her death became a gift to transform my life, and I stopped smoking, drinking, doing recreational drugs and having casual sex.

It wasn’t only her that I watched dance with the needle, between consciousness and unconsciousness, Heaven and Hell, but a handful of other friends and acquaintance’s. My first injection at 20, guided by her hand, gave me the depiction of the high after vomiting, “I feel dead inside….nothingness. No thoughts or feelings.” She retorted, “Yes, that’s what I love about it.” I never shot Heroin again, but skin popped Dalaudids, which she complained was a waste of good drugs if you’re not going to hit a vein.

The definitions of Heroin usage for the unsuspecting public to detect in a loved one is broken-down:

 + Skin popping; injecting in the fat of the arm and not a vein.

+ Tracks; permanent black /pencil colored pin marks along a vein where an injection site is used repeatedly for shooting up the Heroin. The areas on the body can vary from the crook of the arm, to veins in the hands, behind the knees, and the feet.

+ Pinned pupils; when the black pupil of the eye becomes constricted.

+ Paraphernalia; works i.e. hypodermic needle, rubber band/bandana/belt to tie off the vein to make it protrude for injection, a piece of foil/silverware/table spoons to cook the Heroin into liquid form, cigarette lighters to hold the flame under the spoon to cook-it (the flame will leave a black soot on the bottom of the spoon), mirror used as a surface to crush the Heroin if it’s not in a powder consistency, a razor blade is used for that purpose.  

+ Vomiting within minutes after an injection.

+ Physical symptoms; a dry mouth, nodding off, scratching, slurring speech, not bathing, cluttered/unkempt living quarters, losing weight, lying, stealing (if money is a problem to buy the drug), burn holes (if a smoker) in clothes/rugs/furniture, uninterested in food, horse sounding voice, loss of concentration, skin abscesses in areas that are used repeatedly to shoot-up, swollen feet/legs/arms, sweet cravings, excessive “sleeping.”   

The quilt-work of my family and friends that became drug addicts and Heroin users during a 20-year period from 1980 to 2002, four others besides my sister would die from AIDS, one other was a Heroin overdose. And while I couldn’t grasp the reasons for the severity of their addiction during their lifetime… I found a correlation between my sister and five other friends as I became more self-aware: the common denominator was the secret of being sexually abused as a child; by a family member, Uncle or step-parent.

Twenty years ago we couldn’t comprehend childhood sexual abuse, never mind discuss it. I heard each friend’s declaration during glimpses of sobriety, but being unfamiliar with the damaging effects molestation has on the child as they reach adult hood, those intimate stories of their childhood was meant with silence on my behalf. I wish that I could have been receptive to their inner turmoil, suffering and pain, brought on by their abuser. I later realized that the only thing capable of drowning out the emotional and psychological childhood trauma---that was running on a loop in their psyche every waking hour---was Heroin. It became their savior, and later their Angel of Death. It may have temporarily eradicated the suffering---but without help, therapy, and understanding---the addiction compounded the shame and suffering, and ultimately became impossible to escape. Whether AIDS or overdose…. death was only one needle away.  
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