“You are remarkably lucid for being high,” I said, noticing her pupils.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I’m normal when I’m high. It’s when I’m not high, when I’m desperate for a fix, that I act crazed.”
She was a college student, home for the summer, in for a free pregnancy test and very concerned about the effects of heroin on a fetus.
We both let out a sigh of relief when the test turned out negative.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years,” I asked.
“Between the heroin and the Hepatitis C, I’ll be dead in ten years,” she answered.
“What’s so great about heroin that you are willing to die for it?”
“It’s not that the heroin is so great, it’s that the withdrawal is so horrible. It can take 18 months to get the effects out of your system. I’ve been in rehab three times and it’s just too hard. I won’t try again.”
She didn’t think she got the Hep C from a dirty heroin needle, she thought she contracted it from an unsanitary tattoo needle. Her plan was to stay high until she died. In the meantime she was in college studying interior design.
I asked her how a talented, intelligent girl from the ‘burbs, with a loving family, ended up addicted to heroin.
She said when she was in seventh grade she learned that marijuana is a gateway drug. She didn’t believe it. So she and her friends tried it. Before long they got ahold of some that was laced with LSD. From there it was a short progression to heroin. And heroin is a powerful addiction. (As I told you in I Still Break Her Heart, when I was a social worker I saw moms choose heroin over their children every time. Not because they loved heroin more, but because it takes that strong a hold.)
She said I could tell her story and I do. I tell it often.
I usually ask for feedback after I speak to a group of kids. What did you like? What did you learn? What was helpful?
Most of them say they liked the stories best.
True stories. Cautionary tales. From my years as a social worker and pregnancy center director.
It takes 25 years for the human brain to develop completely. The last thing to develop is the ability to look ahead and understand the long term consequences of your actions. That’s probably why they like the stories best. It helps to know how things play out.
And that’s why God gave them parents, teachers, pastors, principals, coaches, mentors, big brothers and big sisters.
So tell your cautionary tales. And if you don’t have any, tell mine.
Kids need to know.