of Cost

March 22, 2011

If you have a moment, I’d offer my thoughts on addicts and addiction.

I’ll endeavour not to seem sanctimonious or patronizing but chances are…

I’ll begin with Jeremy. His tale is short, tragically.
I’ll begin with Jeremy because I imagine all of us have or do know him.
Jeremy was possibly the smartest, funniest, most compassionate and loyal friend I’ve ever known. Jeremy was my friend, heroin was his and Jeremy is dead.
When I was told of his predictable end I don’t believe I even blinked. Heroin had defined his life and it seemed fitting that it had also defined his death. It was a relief. Not so much for me as I had abandoned worry for him after the fifth time he had OD’d or possibly the third time he violated his parole, having pissed dirty or actually committing crime to fix. I think why I never abandoned him otherwise is because Jeremy NEVER made excuses for himself.
Once, when he had robbed a Subway shop on Castro, with the cab he was driving idling out front and then dropping his cabbie badge in his haste to get away, leading to his arrest, I went to put money on his books at the jail. As he sat across from me, he told me something that has always stayed with me and in large part defined my future perspective on addicts and addiction.
“I wasn’t high…when I got high”.
Jeremy made no excuses for his abhorrent behavior. He never whined about his addiction and how he was a victim of his circumstance or the circumstances beyond his control. He, when not high, decided to get high. Anything from that point on, the robberies committed or getting turned out by a trio of transvestites in the Tenderloin because he was too high to resist, or his ultimate demise, was borne of conscience, lucid decision.
I don’t drink. I don’t or have ever, because I know, fortunately, that if I did, I would never stop.
I know this because of other behaviors of compulsion I struggle with. Because it runs in my Family. Because it would be easy and I’ve learned, at great cost, that there is no free lunch. Everything has a price.
The cost of addiction, unfortunately, is often carried by those who care or love the addicted. That is the crime, that is the inexcusable burden that addicts expect or are too self-absorbed to even consider, the rest of us to assume.
That they may continue their selfish pattern of behavior as if they are the only one affected, as if they are the victims.
The human cost is incalculable. The broken homes, the crime, the violence, collateral death by drunk drivers, the billions spent on fruitless attempts at rehab only to be repeated again and again.
Costs, incalculable, but derived of calculation. The calculated decision to use.

I’ve another friend. Many years ago he woke to find himself a drunk and, while lucid, decided to not drink again.
I know the theme, the mantra, “Once a drunk…” but I also know this… he doesn’t drink. I know he could. He knows he may, but he hasn’t, by calculation.
I hope for his sake but more for the sake of the rest of us, that he never does.

2 Responses to “of Cost”

  1. K8 said

    It seems so simple.

    • ofreh said

      It really is. For some.
      It really is not. For most.
      I don’t think needle exchange makes it any simpler though.
      I don’t think the war on drugs is at all winnable either.
      I think we need instill more confidence and self reliance in our youth.
      Taking the scoring out of competition, hasn’t really had that affect.

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