Back in the late 80's, the worst drug offenders in my high school were the pot smokers who dabbled with Cocaine once in awhile. Heroin was a drug only shown in movies and used by unknown street junkies and criminals. I don't know what happened since then but I can't believe the number of teenagers and young adults I've come across who are Heroin addicts.
Some of them have told me it's cheaper and easier to get than ever and the terrible stigma it used to have has gone away.
This 21 kid started using it shortly after the attacks of 911. He and a bunch of his high school friends thought they would just "experiment" with it in a recreational way.
Six years later, he lies dead on the floor of an apartment. The apartment owner was the kid's friend and former drug counselor and had let him spend the night there.
As I completed my investigation of the scene, the boy's family began to arrive. His father came in and pulled back the towel covering his face. He put his hand on his son's bare chest and just held it there. He then sat in the recliner, let out a long sigh, and just stared at his dead son. Mom was still outside trembling and crying -unsure if she had the strength to see her eldest son like this. After a few minutes, she came in and knelt down on the floor near his head. She immediately turned to me and asked if there was any way he could be revived. I shook my head (no) and explained the paramedics had already responded and confirmed he was gone.
She caressed his color-faded cheeks and ran her fingers through his hair. Dad shook his head in and muttered words like, "damn shame", "only 21", "what could I have done", and "my son".
A few more family members came and said their final goodbyes. I could tell this kid was loved and cherished. His father told me about his son's depression, stints in rehab, counseling sessions, and the inevitable relapses. He was not surprised by the death but felt defeated and helpless. He told me of a neighbor kid who shot up with his son and how his arm is nearly useless and will require amputation. He told me about his son's best friend who died of a heroin overdose a few months ago. He had talked to his boy that morning over the phone and everything sounded normal.
He then got up, walked over to his son's body and stood over him. He wants others to know what could happen, how lives are ruined, how families are broken. He talks of years of anguish, fear, helplessness, anger, despair, and dashed hopes. He then turns to me, points to his son's lifeless and expressionless face and says,
"I wish you could show this to others so they could see what heroin does-and maybe stop somebody else from even trying it."
Well, Dad, I'll show what I can and join you in your wish: