“Let’s just ban Narcan altogether,” I once heard someone say; “we should just let Darwin do his thing and let all the junkies die off.”

“Junkie.” What an ugly word that is. It brings to mind a dirty emaciated human being, maybe resembling Christian Bale from The Fighter a few years back. They might be wearing tattered Salvation Army clothes. Maybe they live in one of the countless tent cities that stud towns like Brockton and Lowell like pimples on a high school freshman. Worthless, disposable, leeching off our precious taxpayer dollars…a junkie.

This concept, above all others, pisses me off the most about the avalanche of cheap heroin flooding the Northeast. You cannot reduce a person to this level. Yes, actions have consequences. Yes, the only way for an addict to begin recovery is for themselves to be ready to tackle their habit.

And in my time working in a downtown ER in a city that has been in an opiate-induced chokehold for the last few years, I’ve met my fair share of unrepentant addicts. The ones who yell and scream because the Narcan ruined their high. The ones who try and hustle doctors into prescribing them a bottle of Percocet. I’ve even had one patient laugh in my face and tell me that he can OD as many times as he wants and we’ll just keep bringing him back for free.

And when I first started out, I was the most cynical jerk you’d ever meet. I’d rail on and on about how my time was being wasted “saving people from their own stupidity.” I’d grouse about how my less-equipped ER was “cleaning up after the riff-raff” as opposed the more state-of-the-art hospitals in the area. While they dealt with trauma patients and life or death situations, I was holding a basin under someone’s chin as the post-Narcan vomiting set in. They had all of the challenging cases while I was handling overdose after overdose, kowtowing to “those junkies.”

Then one night, a call came in from one of our paramedic trucks. They were bringing in a young man in his 20’s, a victim of a heroin overdose that a friend had found too late. When he passed through the ambulance bay doors he was unresponsive, had a breathing tube down his throat and surrounded swarm of EMTs and paramedics. His face was blue, his skin the color of your fingernails when you squeeze them. We set him up in our trauma bay and went to work transferring him onto a stretcher, hooking him up to our monitor and ventilator, and furiously pounding on this kid’s chest hoping against hope to see some blips on the heart monitor.

Then his father walked in.I’ve never seen more anguish and sadness in a person’s face before or since. I’ve been present for many deaths in the ER, and seeing the family is often the worst part. You do your best, cleaning the patient up, turning town the lights, bringing the family a box of tissues or offering them some water.

But none of that happened – we all were giving 110% trying to bring him back. I was performing CPR with my partner when he walked in, and I wish I’d never looked up. I watched him lay eyes on his son, with wires and tubes in every orifice and a faint trail of blood-tinged froth running up the ventilator hose. He ran over to the side of the bed, his face awash in tears, grabbing his little boy’s hand.

Amidst the clamor of ringing monitors, the puffing of the ventilator and the calls by the doctor to give doses of this or that drug, I heard the father quietly whispering to his son “Come on, ______. Just wake up please. You can do it.” I could tell he’d been preparing for this. I could see it in his eyes that what he had pictured this scenario a thousand times. And that’s what killed me the most.

This is what those would-be evolutionists are calling for. Having someone’s loved one die.

Even typing these words makes my eyes well up a little bit. I know that working in an environment so rife with sadness. I need to be able to detach and push through, and I certainly have. But I’ll be forever haunted by what I saw that night. Occasionally I dream about it, dropping right back into that trauma bay, every detail permanently scorched into my memory.

But there is an upside to all this – I will never call someone a “junkie. I’ll never write a person off because they made a bad choice in life.

“Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps people from seeking detox. “Junkie.” It’s this word that can make even the most compassionate and seasoned professional roll their eyes and mentally tune out. “Junkie.” It’s this word that keeps kids from confessing to their parents that they have a problem.

“Junkie.” This word kills people just as much as the needle itself.

So if you ever want to reduce someone’s kid, someone’s dad, someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend to “a worthless junkie,” you’d better say it out of earshot of me. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna have to deal with me. And I promise you I’ll go as easy on you as you go on them.

~ Anonymous ~

Author: Recovery Reports


20 thoughts on “Junkie”

  1. This post smacked me between the eyes, and in case you’re wondering if that’s a compliment or an insult, it’s a compliment. Of the best kind.
    I wish your posts had a larger circulation. They deserve it, and the world and its children need to read what you have to say. You have both experience and a clear, accessable voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. New Haven CT was in a state of emergency this past weekend due to bad heroin. I am in the process of redoing my blog and I am going to redo the section on social justice issues. I will be reposting you again soon. Thank you for your words.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Can you email me when you have a chance. I’d like to get your opinion on the best way I can post on my wall, not being a user but having one now in extended (sons young lady) family. My blog email is letthelightinreflections@outlook.com One of the reasons I pulled so many topics off is, I never expected to have so many followers or reads. I was kind of sounding off on things in my life (and God). I realize now I need to put more thought into the style of which I am posting, especially it it may help people. I would really appreciate you input. I am working all day but hope you consider emailing. Thank you for considering.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You wrote the sad truth in someways. I do not agree with your words about what a junkie looked like from a tent city especially Brockton. Not every person that lived there was an addict or alcoholic. They wern’t dirty looking, emancipated, wearing tattered clothes. I know because I had been done there many times for one reaon or anothet whether to bring food, clothes or just visit. But, people who have their opinions about “tent city” need not to worry or wite about the Brockton one since yesterday it was bulldozed over by the city. People could only take their backpack type stuff and had to leave the rest of their stuff like tents, sleeping bags or camp equipment so they didn’t have them to start somewhere else, for now anyways. Some people lived there due to their low ssi income and couldnt afford a apt or room, etc. So yes, we all need to stop the stigma. Some did have drug addictions, mental health issues and some where vets that had no other place to go. Yes, we must all stop the stigma. So in my eyes, I see close to 50 or more human beings walking around the city since they have no other place to go days and now nights, so sad!!


    1. I am so sorry to hear this. I guess I was stigmatizing the people from tent cities and I am sorry I did that. That is terrible that they did that to those poor people and it is wrong. I am going to try and get more information about this. Someone needs to do something about that.


  4. I am a mother grieving for her son – who is currently in prison due a drug induced crime. My son was (and still is) a beautiful human being who succumbed to the ravages of ice. He is not a junkie, and he is not a criminal. Thank you for addressing the ‘junkie stigma’ that exists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading my article. I am sorry about your son. You are right, your son is a beautiful human being. Addicts are some of the most forgiving, and wonderful people I have ever met. The majority would give you the shirt off of their backs. Thank you writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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