The book contains eight true stories of addiction, particularly heroin, all from Western Massachusetts. They are deeply personal accounts, told from the first-person point of view.
A Mom’s 15 year Nightmare It was after midnight and something woke me from a sound sleep. It wasn’t the sound, but more like a weird sensation that stirred me awake. I opened my eyes slowly without moving a muscle. Through the darkness I saw Joe on his stomach, creeping along in slow motion, like a trained navy seal crawling undetected through a swamp in enemy territory. It seemed surreal until I saw him slowly extend his arms to my dresser, where my pocketbook was. Then it hit me like a lightning bolt, and I jumped out of bed and shouted, “Joe!”
Following in Dad’s Footsteps I was alone in our now barren apartment with our dog Bones, and even he was fed up with me. Pouring myself a drink, I locked eyes with Bones as he looked at me in disgust, and I swear I heard him say: Look at you, you’re nothing but a big loser. And I looked back at him and said out loud, “Well, you can go to hell too!” I sat in the folding metal chair in my kitchen with the lights off and melted into the darkness. Everything around me vanished, and the still silence squeezed me, as if physically compressing my chest. My senses shut down until I felt nothing but the electricity humming through the walls of the house, and even my blood pulsing through my veins. I was shrinking, collapsing into a hole I wished would suck me in. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, and nothing to do but sink deeper into misery. One thought consumed me – I was going to die of an overdose or kill myself.
Introducing Jack Jonah The pills calmed me down, but hindered my art. I felt flat, uncreative, humorless, like a zombie. We continued with counseling and my relationship with my family improved. We had some breakthroughs, and I felt the constraints break loose, little by little. I no longer sensed I was disappointing my dad, and he accepted my interests, hobbies, and friends, even if they didn’t fall into the box he’d set aside. I was making my own box. We had monumental discoveries and revelations, and I felt like a suddenly untethered hot air balloon guided only by the spirited winds of my imagination and ambitions. I felt loved for who I was and all I wanted to be. I stopped taking the prescribed drugs and eventually weaned off the therapy sessions. I found much more clarity when those damn pills weren’t in my system. They made me sluggish and inhibited my creativity. Smoking weed, on the other hand, soothed me, and I never felt compromised.
Breaking the Chains of Trauma The decision was made. The note written. It was time to go. I ran out the door in a hurry, holding the handwritten letter containing a few cryptic goodbyes and lyrics to a song that summed up my wasted life. I placed the letter in my jacket pocket, hoping whoever discovered my body would find it. I drove off in a drunken stupor, regretting the many times before I thought about suicide but failed at that too. Now things were so much worse, without a chance in hell of anything changing. I had never known life without being in total fear or utter depression. I battled it my whole life, while it ruined my relationships, my social life, and any chance of a productive career. It’s no wonder I welcomed drugs and alcohol into my twisted world.
A Fatal Secret We tried to overcome it on our own but it wasn’t working. Whatever Fred and I did, we did it together – we used together, and we were going to quit together. That was our pact. We looked for a detox center as we didn’t want to confide in anyone for fear of letting out our secret. My friend Kathy kept asking me if I was using, but I denied it. She was on to me, and I knew I couldn’t fool her, of all people. It was our personal issue, and we’d work through it privately. That’s what we thought back then. God knows, it was a massive mistake.
From Super Dad to Fugitive Living in the woods in a tattered tent, scrounging for food and water to survive, a middle-aged man was being hunted by police. He was eventually caught and sent to jail. A mere few weeks later, he was arrested again - while in jail – for breaking a strict rule in the attempt to celebrate his 50th birthday in his cell. He might not have been there in the first place, or found himself in double trouble, if he wasn’t drawn to the one thing he could not do without. A 54-year-old two-time ex-convict conspired to commit a murder with his gang member girlfriend, who was an admitted killer. And despite knowing this fact, he casually shrugged it off, and planned to marry her and raise a child together anyway. They both shared another dangerous habit too, one that consumed virtually every waking hour. What could possibly go wrong?
The Little Devil Man The piercing cold stabbed me like steel icicles shooting through my veins. Lying there paralyzed, I didn’t know what was happening. Just seconds before, a calming warmth flowed into my blood the instant the syringe was pressed. My eyes fell shut and my body filled with a sense of relief, and for a moment, I was going to that wonderful place I found the first time I used heroin. That was always the moment I liked best – anticipating the ecstasy, watching it enter my body. But instead, it deceived me, and the feeling went from numb to terrifyingly cold. My body quivered uncontrollably, and I closed my eyes, hoping for it all to end. The sharp biting pain wouldn’t go away, and I thought I had died. It was the last thing I remembered.
This is MY problem, not YOURS With the syringe prepared, I rolled up my sleeve, put the band on my bicep, and inserted the needle. I pressed down, and watched the mixture disappear into my vein. A quick tug and the needle dropped to the floor as my eyes rolled back into my head. I was out, with no sense of light or darkness. Entirely departed from all existence. The sound of heavy breathing was the first thing I remembered, like an amplified ventilator machine, pulling air in and pushing back out. With my eyes still closed, the only sensation I had was my chest forcefully expanding and contracting, getting louder with each labored breath. My eyes opened slowly until the blurry images came into focus. I sat motionless, not knowing if I was dead or alive. I had no sense of time, and didn’t know where I was or how I got there.