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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Five Dollar Bill

It’s time for some reader participation…  Before reading any further, open your wallet or purse and find a five dollar bill. 

Hold it.  Feel it.  Smell it.  If it has any age to it and if it could talk, here’s what it may tell you on behalf of the five dollar bill that experienced the following today under the bridge.

I was stolen today.  I was the last piece of paper money owned by a heroin and crack addicted women.  She was going to use me for bus fare to a clinic to help her with her addictions.  I can’t help her with that anymore.  In the next few minutes, I will be walked to a house near “The Tracks” area and used to purchase heroin which may kill the person carrying me.

The lady from whom I was stolen is now terrified.  I was her last money.  She has no one from whom she can borrow another five.  Her only choice tonight to earn another five, and maybe a little bit more, is to find a “date” and do as that date wants her to do for the next hour or so.  That’s if she’s lucky.  She’s especially frightened tonight because of the “date” that never seemed to end down by the river where she was stuck for hours with a ‘man’ who never spoke to her.

This story is real (well, except for the animated five dollar bill) and played out in front of me tonight as tears flooded down this woman’s face with sobs from deep inside her soul.  This is the side of addiction and prostitution that seldom gets seen. 

As a non-drug user, I don’t know the inside story of addiction and it’s way of kidnapping a human being’s regular manner of conducting life.  There’s a mystery there for those of us who have not been down Addiction Road.  This mystery plays itself out in the lives of thousands of people, right now, as I type this and as you read this.

In the case above, this woman apart from her current addiction is a deep philosophical thinker who proposes profound questions about her life and society.  She cares deeply about the people around her.  She loves her family.  She is kind and courteous and thoughtful and understanding.  She has her personal plan for recovery well thought out.

And yet, she is trapped…

The part of her trap that should be easily remedied is to identify the resources around her that are failing her in her hour of truly wanting recovery.  She arrived mid day at a clinic to begin recovery only to be told that she needed to be there fifteen minutes earlier and now must wait three days to try again.

But it’s more than that and here’s the mystery for those of us who sit on the sidelines of addiction and wonder why people don’t just stop…

In just the short time that I’ve been involved at this depth with homeless addicted people, they’ve tried to explain the agony of withdraw that varies a bit from person to person but typically involves starting with something that resembles mild allergy at first which quickly turns to severe cold to severe flu to vomiting to legs and arms twitching uncontrollably to your skin wanting to jump off your body to unwittingly crapping your pants to fever all mixed together in a 24 hour a day, non-stop multi-day nightmare. 

Is it any wonder that addicted people do whatever they can to get their medicine?  Some will steal from family and friends to retrieve the money needed.  Others will steal five dollar bills from other addicts under a bridge.  Other’s will subject themselves to renting out their bodies to some guy who doesn’t understand the agony he’s causing in his landlord’s soul.

The next time you wonder why that addict doesn’t just stop, pull out your five dollar bill and ask it where it’s been recently.

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