November 3, 2017

The Story of Sam and Joe

What demographics are more in jeopardy of heroin dependence?

People who are addicted to opiate painkillers, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol are high up on the list. Usually when addicts are already hooked on one or two other chemical substances, transitioning to heroin is not a far-fetched idea. Sometimes making a choice to try dope is not made with a clear mind, especially is a person is stoned or intoxicated. And once a person is hooked on dope, death is not an implausible concept.

As illustrated by the tale below, heroin kills.

Sam, a young, attractive woman is at a house party in Park Slope with Joe, a cute blonde guy she met a week ago at an Alpha Chi Honor Society gathering in the city. Both drink Long Island Iced teas, and soon enough, she is completely drunk. So is he. Laughing, he leads her by the hand to a bedroom, where a group of young attractive men and women, all in their early twenties, sit on the carpeted floor. David Bowie’s Space Oddity plays. One good-looking man with long dark hair shoots up heroin, while the others nod off, with weird smiles on their faces. One young woman, lies on the floor in a fetal position. Sam looks at the door, and then at her date, as he cleans his right arm off with an alcohol swab, and then ties a tourniquet around his arm, using his fist to thump the bend. Another guy, who looks like Brad Pitt, heats up a plastic spoon filled with water and a small rock-like chunk, which is black like an opal crystal. Then, the Pitt look-a-like takes a cotton ball, soaks it in the spoon, and the ball fills up with the fluid like a wet squeegee. Joe puts the needle tip into the cotton ball, pulls the plunger up, and the liquid gets sucked up into the needle.

While Sam is a little freaked out by the needle, she is fascinated as if she is seeing a scene about heroin in a movie. Should she leave? Or stay? Well, she is too drunk to go home and Joe picked her up in his car. Taking the subway late at night, and then a bus to go back to Riverdale is more dangerous than this!

Plus Joe is a sweetheart. Not only is he nice, and looks like Johnny Depp, but he is an honors student at NYU. If she goes home, to her house in Riverdale, chances are her mom is nursing a glass of White Zinfandel while her dad is asleep. Besides, she would rather listen to Bowie instead of that awful show on HBO that her mom watches. And everyone here is in college. She is not sure whom the brownstone belongs to but it’s really nice and clean.

Sam plops down on the floor next to Joe, smiles at him, and watches as the needle goes into his vein.

“Want a hit?” he asks, with a smile that slowly forms on his face, like molasses pouring on a pancake.

Just this one time, she thinks.

She nods, and cuddles up next to him. When the needle touches her arm, she is nervous, but 10 seconds later, she feels euphoria rush over her like a wave. And she feels safe, like she used to, when she was a little girl and her father read Goodnight Moon to her, before he tucked her into bed.

She has never felt so happy before in her entire life.

Six months later, Sam is a heroin addict, who dropped out of Fordham. Suddenly, school didn’t matter anymore. All she wants is her fix. Her parents keep calling her, but unless she needs money, she doesn’t answer her cell phone.

She lives with Joe in his small apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Until recently, Joe’s parents, who live in Palos Verdes in California, sent him money on a monthly basis. After they found out that he had dropped out of NYU, they cut him off. Joe and Sam got served with an eviction notice, filed for bankruptcy, and are squatting in their apartment. The car? It’s gone.

Joe’s parents stopped making payments.

The repo man picked up the Mustang, where it was parked inside a Manhattan garage.

Joe also owed parking fees, so he couldn’t move his car.

The couple recycles cans, metal, shoplift, borrow money from Sam’s parents, and go to any lengths to support their heroin and nicotine habit. They used to shoot up at least three times a day, and now they are down to once a day, and it’s a living nightmare.

She wants to stop, but can’t because when she is not doped up, she gets really sick. Usually, Joe gets their dope from a local dealer, a really cool guy, but the dealer got caught and is serving time. Luckily, they got hooked up with a new guy, because if they don’t get their daily fix, they hit each other and throw things around the apartment. She gets the shakes and throws up, and he turns into Dr. Hyde.

Their heat gets turned off.

It’s the dead of winter.

One night Joe comes home with a plastic baggie filled with small pieces of paper that look like Trident gum wrappers. They shoot up, and fall asleep. After Joe wakes up, he touches Sam. She is not moving, but she is still warm.

Her eyes are wide open.  

The tip of the needle is in her vein.

Sam’s cellphone, lying on the floor, rings.

It’s her mom.

 Sam’s autopsy revealed that there were traces of fentanyl in the dope. Joe ends up in a county jail, which doesn’t offer medical detox. In jail, he withdraws cold turkey and almost dies. He calls his father and asks if his parents can get him into a good drug rehab in California, but his father hangs up. Later, the criminal justice system sends him to a long-term residential treatment program. The drug rehab uses a therapeutic community (TC) model. Joe suffers from PTSD and depression, and the rehab doesn’t seem to care. Plus, there are no 12-step meetings. It’s a work-oriented, peer support program, but the support doesn’t feel like support, it feels more like his peers are stoning him with criticism. Joe works as a dishwasher inside the kitchen. He has cravings, so the staff doctor gives him methadone. After Joe gets out, he relapses. A few months later, his body is found by a dumpster in the East Village. His death?

Heroin overdose.

What’s scary about this fictional scenario is the simplicity in which young people become heroin addicts and then, end up as statistics.

While both Joe and Sam die of fatal drug overdoses, Joe asks for help. His parents, who are completely overwhelmed and ashamed, don’t know what to do, so they turn their backs on him. They have other children, and are afraid of Joe going back to California, as if his heroin addiction is a contagious virus.

After Joe is found dead, his parents are devastated, and beat themselves up, because their son had asked for help.

The solution to heroin addiction is clinical, evidence-based residential treatment that offers dual diagnosis support, along with a 12-step approach.  Treatment is not about shaming or blaming addicts.

It’s about focusing on the solution.

It’s about compassion and care.

At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we offer comprehensive evidence-based treatment, which offers dual diagnosis support. Our 12-step approach helps newly clean and sober addicts realize that they are not alone, and that the words, SHAME, BLAME and other derogatory verbiage do not belong in the vocabulary of RECOVERY.

Instead, we help addicts learn about AA/NA through processing workshops, along with attendance at 12-step meetings. Our licensed professionals, many who are in recovery themselves, guide our clients through the steps, so that they learn that recovery is about letting go of the past, taking it one day at a time, and having hope for the future.

Our clients live inside beautiful gender-specific homes that have Zen-like interior décors and outdoor tiled patios, which include swimming pools and water fountains that light up at night.

The Antelope Valley Desert is home to Joshua Trees, desert quail, roadrunners, colorful sunsets and purple wildflowers. At night, stars fill up the sky. The desert backdrop offers our clients an opportunity to discover and connect with their Higher Powers.

If you or a loved one is struggling from heroin addiction, we are here for you.

We look forward to your call.

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