Crossing the Tracks: One Drug Addict's Dark Journey in to Hell
How some of us survive our choices in life has always baffled me. As a child of the 70's, I have always been somewhat of a rebel, and by the time I was grown, many of the causes that inspired passion in me had begun to dwindle. At the time, using drugs was a generational statement. I showed little resistance when I decided to give them a try, fitting in with people around me-not my forte even now-became a personal cause. And so years ago, after happily dabbling in virtually every substance known to man, I ended up a self-destructive, self-loathing drunk and drug addict often close to death. Against all odds, I survived. My experiences with addiction actually shock me today, my personality and behavior were transformed by multiple chemicals-as you can imagine, I was terribly lost.
If anyone told me I would actually turn 55, I would never have believed it; I can hear my cynical laugh even now. Living beyond the age of 25 was a stretch. And although there is no way to accurately describe my personal journey, I will try to take you, descriptively, into the darkness.
South Central Los Angeles
Scoring crack cocaine on the streets of Los Angeles can be problematic if you look like me. A middle-class white woman around 30 years old with good teeth and dressed well doesn't have much of a chance at getting drugs from street dealers. So an acquaintance of mine, a homeless con-artist familiar with this underworld, escorted me on the hunt. How did a nice girl like me meet such a low-life? He is my brother-in-law.
How John got to this point in his life was typical of an addict; he had discovered cocaine while gainfully employed, and as a result, lost everything. He had been a successful, good-looking man who owned a slew of motorcycles, a boat, his own home, and had a great job.
My excuse? Aside from my rebellious nature, I've always been attracted to the shadowy side of life. Abnormal psychology was one of my favorite courses in college. Reading 'true crime' stories is one of my guilty reading pleasures. Rather than wearing black mascara, I chose purple. Yep, that would be me. While these may be charming attributes, they can also be devastatingly dangerous.
An Anonymous Poll
Have you ever tried illegal drugs?
- Legalize Drugs Now
Drugs are bad. The war on drugs is worse. Those two sentences encapsulate my feelings pretty well, and if you think about them long enough, you can understand my position without me having to go into a lengthy...
Crossing the Tracks
Since I was the one financing this venture, John was unable to convince me to stay home one particular night. I was extremely curious about the 'other side of the tracks' and full of bravado. As an educated sociologist, I had been trained to insert myself flawlessly into strange new worlds. This chameleon-like persona had become an almost palpable part of my existence. Yet this hunt did give me pause, given the track record of guns, gangs and murder in the area, not to mention the cops; How was I to blend in successfully without losing my life or going to jail?
In my essentially twisted perception-addicted at the time to crack and later methamphetamine-I felt little fear. I imagined John could and would protect me. My husband, his brother, had insisted I be taken care of. John was part of their world, after all, no longer a reputable member of the society I still knew. And of course, I was already in the grips of cocaine addiction and my need for it had to be satisfied.
We walked purposefully from my rented house toward the South Central area-not known for its affluence. If there had been any police around, I am certain they would have considered us suspicious characters. As a duo, we bordered on the ridiculous; I was wearing sensible shoes and John looked like the homeless man he was.
The Long and Winding Road
We headed for places and people John was familiar with, but were met with rejection time after time. It seemed that my presence virtually guaranteed failure. Though many people knew John, I was a liability.
Frustrated and growing exhausted, we decided to head home-with nothing to show for our efforts. But rather than walk back home completely empty-handed, we stopped by a local liquor store and bought 3 bottles of Cisco, a sickly sweet but cheap wine. After this purchase, we began the last leg of our journey only to spot a dealer on the block corner. John was familiar with this man and we followed him to an alley nearby. Cash exchanged hands and we were in business. Street etiquette demanded we share a pipeful with the dealer, and as the crack pipe was passed around, I eagerly took my first hit, burning my lips-a tell-tale sign of crack smokers.
As I recall this episode, I'm horrified to realize that I shared this pipe with total strangers, with questionable hygienic habits and a myriad of possible illnesses. I simply did not care.
And in the End
We arrived home after 3 hours and shared the booty with my hubby. We enjoyed around 4 passes of the pipe, then started the whole process again.