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The Truth About Heroin

Originally Published September 2009

Author: Pete Baggs | Published: Saturday, July 30, 2011
Heroin
Heroin


I remember shooting up in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, my decaying Buick parked in a lot of 5th Street on the Brooklyn side. My friend Eddie sat in the passenger seat, sharing bottled water with my syringe. He flinched each time I stabbed my veins, piercing scar tissue and drawing blood as I tried to get a hit.

Eddie said snorting dope separated him from real intravenous addicts and street junkies. I used to agree, but that pretense had long since evaporated. Poking holes in my flesh had become routine, more so than bathing.

On heroin, I believed my life was a dark and beautiful mess, a unique outlaw’s story waiting to be told in a Vintage paperback. Instead, I wasted years hammering at my veins and painting over my soul just to become a statistic and a cliché––one more recovering junky lost in the sprawl of Long Island.

It could happen to anyone.

That fact was made all too clear in June 2008 when an18-year-old honor student from Massapequa, Natalie Ciappa, took a fatal dose of heroin at a summer party. Her death grabbed the attention of local parents, law enforcement, government officials and media, all of them asking, “What’s happening to our kids?”

Ciappa was young, smart and attractive. She sang in her church choir and was headed for college at SUNY Old Westbury in the fall. Because of heroin, she died in a garage in Seaford.

Recovering teen heroin addict Ash Cavallaro, who shares memories of Ciappa in a memorial on DrugFree.org, said she had thought her friend was clean. “She always looked so well put together and always had a smile on her face,” Cavallaro said of Ciappa, proving that addiction can be hard to spot, even for the initiated, and heroin does not discriminate.

The drug slithers in without prejudice. It welcomes stockbrokers, teachers, soccer moms, honor students, politicians, cops, doctors, lawyers, grandmothers, fathers, athletes, priests and anyone else in need of sweet relief.

As a boy, I was never molested, beat up or emotionally abused by a trusted adult. I wasn’t born into poverty, nor was I cursed with the insatiable appetites of the spoiled rich, bored to tears with life and wanting for nothing. I never witnessed a horrific incident, battled repressed homosexuality, fought back suicidal urges or spent my childhood choking on some painful secret that required the blissful escape only opiates provide.

I’m a normal, 30-something man of respectable intelligence, some talent and slightly above average looks. Aside from my parents’ relatively-amicable divorce and a few dead pets and grandparents I barely knew, I have no major disappointments or tragedies in my past. I didn’t grow up as a child star, fighting my way out of the crushing pressure of the pageant circuit or under the whip of maniacal coaches in a bid for Olympic gold.

imageLike most hardcore drug addicts, I started with my parents’ booze at a very young age. I moved up to pot, then LSD, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms in high school before slowly navigating my course toward ecstasy, pills, powders, syringes and speedballs. I didn’t turn to crime, I never sold my body and I’ve always had a home. Most assume heroin addicts are a tragic bunch, fighting to silence their long-lived suffering, but sometimes people just make poor choices.

I don’t know what went on in the dark corners of Natalie Ciappa’s past or what drove Ash Cavallaro to become an addict at 16, drop out of school, overdose four times and “die” twice in the hospital, only to be revived. I do know that heroin—for all the carnage and pain it inflicts—feels good. It feels really fucking good.
And that’s reason enough for some to fall willingly into its grasp.

Two stints in rehab, dozens of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, outpatient care, counselors, monthly doctor visits and a lot of reflection have done little to help me find the root of my addiction. The drug was around me, friends were using it and I wanted in on the adventure. I snorted one tiny line and fell in love.

Heroin filled a hole in me I never knew existed. I immediately felt complete, at ease and bursting with energy and a flood of creativity all at once.

Fast forward five years and I’m parked at a Bronx Getty station with 120 bags of dope hidden in my center console. I still lived with my mother in eastern Suffolk and spent my days selling heroin at overly inflated prices to other young, middle class suburban addicts. I had customers waiting back home, but my needs always came first.

The Getty bathroom was a filthy Hollywood stereotype, perfectly designed for addicts, prostitutes and degenerates of all stripes. The walls were a mosaic of crumbling tiles, dark stains, graffiti and exposed building materials. But I reveled in the seedy things, the desperation and grit my homogenized upbringing failed to include.

I ripped the tops off two bags of dope and dumped the brownish white powder into my blackened spoon, which teetered precariously on the edge of the sink. I tried to twist the faucet on, but no water came out. I needed to make my injection solution and with no other water source in sight, I headed for the toilet.

The bowl contained a putrid soup of disintegrating paper, cigarette butts and brown muck. Above it, the tank’s porcelain cover had been broken or removed, and a thick layer of dust and oil floated on the surface of the exposed water. I submerged my syringe to avoid the grime and pulled in a half cc of Bronx toilet water.

That incident in the Getty bathroom was a minor blip in what seemed to be an eternity of degradation, but it was my Alamo, my last stand, and the final moment before my dignity slipped completely away.

Maybe the growing number of kids getting high in Smithtown, Port Jefferson, Massapequa, Seaford, Levittown, and all the other towns in Nassau and Suffolk are like I was—attracted to the low life until there’s no way out of it. Maybe their well-to-do upbringing and loving parents, so often described in the wake of a fatal overdose, are exactly why teens and twenty-somethings turn to the blackness of addiction. Maybe it’s an escape from their politically correct world, a rebellion from years wrapped in the safety of video games, rumpus rooms, backyard pools, dance classes, swimming lessons, student government and after school sports.

It’s possible they didn’t get to climb trees, explore abandoned buildings or wander off in search of mad adventure, but there are so many reasons, what ifs and could’ve beens. The neglected kids are far more likely to use, but there are no certainties with this drug or any other, really.

Dr. Robert Z. Goldstein, one of Long Island’s foremost addiction experts, said that heroin and opiate painkillers have become a “major problem” in the region. He said the drug has gotten cheaper, more potent, plentiful and easier to use. “You can smoke it, you can snort it, you can shoot it, you can eat it––what more do you want?”
The doctor said his addiction patients are mostly upper or middle class people and many of them found heroin after getting strung out on painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. “It’s all around us,” Dr. Goldstein said, noting, “Everybody is susceptible to this.”

I didn’t take a lot of pills during my darkest days, but I followed a trail of them to my last relapse. A pharmacopoeia of opiates, benzodiazepines and amphetamines is available in most medicine cabinets, and I never had a problem stealing them from family, friends, clients and even strangers. Unfortunately, once you’ve tasted heroin—the true forbidden fruit—Lortab, Darvon and even Percocet are small potatoes, and I needed handfuls of them to catch a buzz.

I moved on to pulverizing decorative poppy pods and boiling them into opium tea—a surprisingly potent and physical high—but it wasn’t long before I bought some dope.

For most, especially young teens and unsuspecting adults, pills can be deadly. Moms and dads get them after dental surgery or a broken leg, and their recovery becomes a little too enjoyable. The reprieve from crying kids, housework or a soul-crushing job makes their return to real life that much harder to take. Pretty soon, mom gets a refill, dad grabs a few pills from a coworker and their daily grind begins to feel a little less Sisyphean.

Opium inspired some of our greatest artists and poets, but for centuries the dark nectar has also helped legions of the working class battle fatigue and depression. The image of the listless junky is mostly a false one. Work is easy when the body feels no pain and the mind is blanketed from the hard edge of reality. An addict can be the most prolific worker in a crew, held back only by covert lunchtime trips to meet dealers and periodic sick days when supply runs dry. I used to call in with the “flu” or some kind of vague food poisoning whenever my withdrawals were too much to bear.

My charade of normalcy depended on a complex web of my lies, other people’s denial and the pervasive, uninformed image of how a drug addict appears.

For kids, pills facilitate the transition from pot and Budweiser to powdered narcotics. Heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription painkillers, and new users don’t have to inject it.

I started out snorting dope recreationally, but in time I needed it just to feel normal and keep from getting sick. Most addicts spend years chasing that first, amazing high and the pursuit led me to inject the drug. Before long, I added cocaine to the mix and the deadly rush is still something I find difficult to resist.

No matter how hard they tried, no one could stop me from running back to my drug. All the rehab, therapy, ultimatums and interventions were fruitless. No addict will stop until he’s ready. I’d stop or cut down when money ran low or my habit got crazy, but dope is a patient and welcoming mistress and I always returned to her embrace.

I’m not sure exactly how or why I stopped, but I found love and purpose in my life and the rest fell into place. No matter how good a speedball or a shot of dope felt, addiction was a painful, exhausting existence and I’d had enough. I saw a glimmer of light through the fog and I became determined to reach it.

My habit never landed me in jail and I’m still alive, but heroin took its toll. The world was a bleak place after I stopped using. It took months before I believed life wasn’t a boring and insignificant endeavor, and I still struggle to pay bills and manage adult responsibilities.

Young addicts do go to jail and die every day, but there are more subtle and certain consequences. Survivors of this malady are left as faded shadows of their former selves. An old-timer in Alcoholics Anonymous once told me, “If you walk five years into the jungle, you need to walk five years to come out.”

I used to wear my track marks and, later, my long healed scars as a badge of honor. I used to recount war stories from the frontlines in Bushwick, the Bronx and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. My memories of buying bags from nine-year-old kids, dodging cops in burnt-out buildings and buying methadone from vagrants used to seem cool, but today they’re well-guarded secrets.

I joke around with in-laws and coworkers, talking politics, cell phone plans, mortgage rates and careers. No one in my office could imagine that I regularly shot cocaine until I vomited bile or picked my face until it was a mask of bloody sores. My boss doesn’t know that I’ve lived through two interventions or that I take medicine every day to ensure I never do dope again.

My old life is more foreign every day, but part of me will always recall that time with fondness, like an ex-smoker running his fingers along each familiar dent and scratch on his battered Zippo lighter.

Sometimes I feel like I’m an interloper in the straight world, smiling like a fool, fumbling through the motions and waiting for the other shoe to drop, but life gets better with each passing day. Now, the line between performance and reality is blurred and I don’t think I’m acting anymore.

I’ve regained the trust of family and friends, and they now assume the best from me instead of fearing the worst. I have a wife, a nice place to live, a good job, health insurance, cash in the bank, and I’m working toward attainable goals and a real future rather than rambling about pipe dreams.

Everything has improved for me, but I’m hearing about more and more addicted kids, overdose victims and massive heroin busts on Long Island. Suffolk County police recently seized 17 pounds of nearly pure heroin in Melville and they said it could be cut into 500,000 doses.

The barbarians are at the gate and the noose is tightening. Odds are that the next big shipment will make it to the street and this blight could continue to spread to every high school, park, local bar, gas station and hidden corner of the Island. Our police may be powerless to stop it and eventually I’ll stand face to face with my former master.

Worse still is that I may be looking forward to it.


How to Spot an Addict

Pinprick pupils is a BIG one. Heroin constricts the pupils.

Weight loss

Constipation

Cut straws, cd cases with lots of scratches and maybe powder residue (lots of people sniff drugs off jewel cases)

Falling asleep at inappropriate times

Leaving suddenly or at odd times to run “errands” or disappearing for periods of time

Gravelly voice

Wearing long sleeves in summer

Picking at skin

Becomes removed from family and friends

Finding little cotton balls, spoons, blood stained clothes or napkins, rags-whatever

Need Help?
Getting Help for Addiction–Inpatient or Outpatient

Behavioral Health Services, Brookhaven Hospital, East Patchogue
Inpatient: (631) 687-4357
Outpatient: (631) 854-1222
http://www.bmhmc.org

Quannacut Rehabilitation And Detoxification, Eastern Long Island Hospital, Greenport
Inpatient: (631) 477-8877
Outpatient: (631) 369-8966
http://www.elih.org

Behavioral Health Services, Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson
Inpatient: (631) 473-1320, ext. 4360
Partial Hospitalization: (631) 473-3877, ext. 27
Outpatient: (631) 331-8200
http://www.matherhospital.org

Long Beach Medical Center, Long Beach
Counseling Center: (516) 897-1270
Family Alcoholism Counseling and Treatment Services: (516) 897-1250
Methadone Therapy Program: (516) 897-1330
http://www.lbmc.org

Department of Psychiatry, Community Health Center, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset:
(516) 562-3051
http://www.lij.edu

Behavioral Health Services, Mercy Medical Center, Rockville Centre
Crisis: (516) 705-2248
Inpatient: (516) 565-0215
Partial Hospitalization/Outpatient: (516) 705-3419
http://www.mercymedicalcenter.chsli.org

Psychiatric Services, South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside
Inpatient: (516) 632-3937
Outpatient: (516) 377-5400
Substance Abuse Counseling Center: (516) 766-6283
http://www.southnassau.org

South Oaks Hospital, Amityville
Inpatient: (631) 608-5610
Outpatient: (631) 608-5028
http://www.south-oaks.org

Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation, St. Charles Hospital, Port Jefferson:
(631) 474-6233
http://www.stcharles.org

Psychiatry Department, Nassau University Medical Center, East Meadow
Inpatient Detoxification: (516) 572-6394
Inpatient Substance Rehabilitation: (516) 572-9419
Outpatient: (516) 572-6822
http://www.numc.edu

Pederson-Krag Center
Huntington: (631) 920-8000
Smithtown: (631) 920-8300
Coram: (631) 920-8500
Wyandanch: (631) 920-8250
http://www.pederson-krag.org

Seafield Center
Inpatient Westhampton: (631) 288-1122
Outpatient:
Amityville: (631) 424-2900
Medford: (631) 451-6007
Mineola: (516) 747-5644
Patchogue: (631) 363-2001
Riverhead: (631) 369-7800
Yaphank: (631) 369-7800
http://www.seafieldcenter.com

Goldstein Addiction Services, Hicksville
Outpatient: (516) 935-1312
http://www.addictionlongisland.com

New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services Help Line:
1(877) 846-7369
http://www.oasas.state.ny.us

Nassau County Drug & Alcohol Hotline:
(516) 481-4000
http://www.longislandcrisiscenter.org

Crisis Response of Suffolk County:
631-751-7500

Narcotics Anonymous: (for the addict)
(818) 773-9999
http://www.na.org

Nar-Anon: (for the families of addicts)
http://www.nar-anon.org

Pete Baggs
Author: Pete Baggs

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Reader Comments | read reactions to this article

Peter wrote on March 11, 2014

Joye Brown’s articles about the poor families of the heroin addicts always made me want to puke. I emailed her one day and her reply was some crap about working on an article about the impact on the neighbors. Recently my neighbor’s and I have been treated to a four month long parade of junkies coming to score making 3 minute stops at an apartment in the home of Abraham and Erica Feinblum at 11 Tanglewood Dr. Smithtown, NY 11787 as well as in front of my neighbor’s homes through car windows. They were probably buying heroin from Matthew Armanno and his friend Lee Colfin who were under an active investigation by Narcotics Detectives. Matthew Armanno was arrested on SR 347 for DUI and heroin possession as well as a host of traffic infractions on 02-09-2014 after a two day stake-out. The Detectives came back later with a search warrant and raided the apartment. This was the subject of a Smithtown News article on 02-27-2014. It was bad enough the Feinblum’s didn’t use due diligence by doing a background check before renting an apartment to a man with a easily discoverable criminal history. They allowed this situation to continue for months after they were informed of drug dealing like activities that occurring from their apartment and around the neighborhood.

Nicole wrote on August 28, 2013

Hi I’m Jeanmarie’s older sons ex- girlfriend. Mother of his middle daughter. Jeanmarie’s granddaughter the one the she hasn’t seen in over 5 years. Stop using your childrens names on the internet. You vent your issues on here because all the real people in your life see right through your bullshit. Your children used drugs because of your abuse and neglect. I am so outraged by what I just read I don’t even know what to say I am disgusted that I’m even coming down to your level to comment on a public forum, but ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Your not the victim, your the abuser. And your son aren’t innocent, but you need to stop blaming these men for there inherited abuse issues. You didn’t let your son come home from the hospital when he first left, MY FAMILY took him in and until he was out of the wheelchair and had ss checks coming in would you let him back him. If you would stop victimizing yourself and take responsibility for your role in all of this, the odds of things getting better would triple. I’m going to calm down and try and watch what I say, but your granddaughter is now 7. I bet you didnt even know that. I can’t believe you had the nerve to say that your children are the same element of people you tried to protect them from.???? Your are crazy! Your children atleast admit there roles, there issues and address it! You won’t do anything for free, and I’m not talking about money. Unless you get some sort of phony recognition and get to show off you don’t do anything. If you treated your children, anything like the way you neglect your grandchildren the why??? that you keep looking for is right in the mirror.

Pete Baggs wrote on March 02, 2012

JD-

I will also add: Just because what you say is true, doesn’t diminish the fact that Natalie C was a tragic and sad case. Pain is pain is pain, no matter what your color or background.

Pete Baggs wrote on March 02, 2012

John Doe-

I can’t say I disagree with you, though I’m not sure what you think is phony…

My story is true. Sadly, so is your point.

john doe wrote on March 02, 2012

Who gives Shit About Natalie ciappa? Why is only when a pretty White girl dies people start to take action? It’s so phoney an transparent it makes me sick

t wrote on February 15, 2012

And only a psychopath would put someone in that much physical pain in rehab. You’ve never been there & you don’t understand the pain. A competent doctor would have told you to p*** off..
I’m sorry but reading this is hard, you’re just so off.. You’re approach is so horribly wrong. You’re using 100% negative judgment. Frankly I think your sons are going to keep using to spite you. I know I did when my psychotic (paranoid schizophrenic & highly abusive) mother interfered…I’m still using, now I just don’t talk to her as her methods showed me she cared only for how her friends viewed her, not about me or my life. That’s the image I’m getting here. You need to use Positive re enforcement. But at this point I doubt your sons can trust you. I wouldn’t.

t wrote on February 15, 2012

Jean marie: you’re blaming your son for a crime you see in your head. You’re blaming him for something HE"S INNOCENT OF and this will drive him to start using again (for real, not taking some damn Percs to not be in agony). He needs pain meds. Don’t yell at him because he’s injured and he’s following medical advice.
Buy a damn safe and let your son come home before he gets arrested on the streets. Again, you’re using negative re-enforcement, which only makes us want to use more. Don’t abandon your kids and then claim you’re the victim. You make me sick.
The issue of opiate addiction is one of having reason to live a normal life. If one does not enjoy theirs, they will escape it. The key is giving addicts a REASON NOT to want to not all day. You don’t cure someone by just berating them you make it worse.
BTW I’m addicted to rxs related to an injury, not to diesel. But that’s probably because seeing your friends od has a way of scaring you off needles for good…

katie wrote on January 27, 2012

well, ive been an addict for 4 years. I’ve lost my brother to it almost 3 years ago, and last summer my daughter was taken away. I will never be the same. I have watched my friends die all around me. It’s an epidemic, and our youth needs help. I vow to be that person to reach out to them…I want to change lives…one kid and story at a time…

LIGirl wrote on February 09, 2011

your story is basically my story, well minus the toilet water but
I had my own shameful use of rain water and boyfriend’s needles.  Thankfully I did not contract HIV or Hep C.  That said I know numerous people in there late teens early 20’s who have already tested positive for Hep C.  This drug can take so much more than your dignity, it can take your life.  Luckily, like you. I have been clean from shooting dope for 5 years.  I am prescribed an alternative treatment at an oasas approved office yet I am alive in school have regained many of my former friend, trust of my family a loving fiance etc.  Rich who are you to judge?  If something takes someone off the streets, saves others from being victims of their crimes, and saves families a load of heartache; who are you to say its not right?  It may not be right for you-but don’t try and talk about something you obviously don’t understand- or are judging based on the rumors of those talking second/third hand or who’ve been unsuccessful. If I didn’t have the time, this medication afforded me, to get my life straight, and build relationships with non-addict friends and my family; I would have never been able to conquer withdrawing.  Now I am withdrawing at my own pace, and successfully. If I didn’t get so much back in my life I would have never been able to do it.  Now it is that much easier, because I have that much more to lose if I go back to heroin.  I owe my life to that which you knock.

michelle wrote on August 20, 2010

I had lost my husband to a Heroin overdose when my son way 18 months old. It was a horrible time for me and my family who loved him. Although I did everything to avoid this curse from affecting my son, he fell into the arms of the demon. He was into sports, music, we lived in the same home for 10 years of his life, and he was supervised and supported in his life like any other kid. But the beast has reared his ugly face again, and my son has been in about four different facilities at a tremendous financial cost to me. He left my home when he was 17, and returned briefly after his first rehab experience(he left the program after 2 months). When he started using again I could not let him remain in my home because of the stealing and lying. He was in 3 more programs since then and is now living in Florida trying to survive. Alanon is really my saving grace, but I pray for him everyday and I try not to let his actions effect me but it is a struggle everyday to live without the beautiful boy I knew. My son is 20 years old now and I know that I cant help him stop using so I give him love and trust that God has a plan for him. This article give me hope that he could come out of the darkness. Thanks for the hope!

Paula wrote on May 27, 2010

I admire you for talking about your addiction experience, few people would dare to tell others about their past addiction problems. You are right when you are saying that an addict won’t stop taking drugs unless he truly wants this to happen, no one can force him to get cured and even though he might seem to be on the right path, it is very likely for him to abuse drugs again once the treatment stops. You are lucky to come out of that mess, you should consider sharing your story with those who are receiving addiction treatment at the moment, perhaps you could inspire them to get better.

Danna wrote on April 28, 2010

Do we still need to learn the truth about heroin? We were supposed to be all warned already about the drug, heroine is part of the hard drugs category, you can figure out the results it spans on human body. Heroin is bad news, that’s the truth about it. This post is very educative, I hope the right people will read it.

ashley cavallaro wrote on April 27, 2010

thank you for reading the memorial. it felt really good that my words were heard. please add me on facebook or shoot me an email if youd ever like to talk. your story was very vivid and real. thank you for your brave words.

sweetheart wrote on March 12, 2010

how dare anyone say that a drug addict that is using medication prescribed by a dr or a detox as to not let an addict go through the withdrawals that may kill one if not treated . richie come on man . be serious , why on earth did you want to get that girl help last night , stop judgeing an addict that is using medication from a rehab or detox that is speaking to the specialists in this field is clean ,  talk like that will make an addict say , see i am getting help and i am still not considered clean , i bet you any amount of compassion that that dad would have rather have had his daughter on detox meds than bury his baby . we are taught we are not drs . so please man stop . live and let live reach out the hand of AA or NA . just be a power of example . thats is all we can be . and anyone reading this we are not drs , so if you or someone you know your child there friend yourself your friend NA = NEVER ALONE ~AA = ALWAYS AVAILABLE ~PLEASE THE ROOMS ARE OPEN TO ANYONE WHO HAS THE DESIRE TO STOP~ DOES NOT SAY MUST BE STOPPED . ONE NEEDS TO HAVE THE DESIRE IT IS WRITTEN IN THE TRADITIONS OF AA ~NA ALL A’S

SWEETHEART wrote on March 12, 2010

are you people all living in the dark ages . how many more young bodies do we need to walk over in this town before we say hey everybody heroin is here right here in long beach , kids are getting it from the streets from lido beach all the way to the west end .  look go after the real criminals the drs. that start the kids off on pain meds , than parents if you need pain meds ,  my lord go to stables and get a safe. STOP BLAMING THE KIDS FOR AN ADDICTION THEY HAVE NO IDEA OF WHAT THEY ARE GETTING INTO . OH SORRY THE RIGHT MINORITY HAS BEEN AFFECTED . THAT MEETING AT THE HIGH SCHOOL WAS A JOKE , NO SOLUTIONS A LOT OF PROTECTION   , PROTECT THE REAL ESTATE PRICE. SO I ASK HOW MUCH IS YOUR CHILD’S LIFE WORTH , FOR ME THERE IS NO PRICE THAT CAN EVER REPLACE MY CHILDREN EVER NOT EVER . AND GO DOWN WEST AND START GOING AFTER THE BAR OWNERS SUE THEM , FINE THEM A LOT OF MONEY AND GUESS WHAT UNDERAGE DRINKING WILL GO DOWN FOR NO BAR OWNER THAT I KNOW WOULD WANT TO COUGH UP 10,000 A CHILD THAT THEY SERVE THAT ARE UNDERAGE . WE NEED TO WORK AS A TEAM , TOGETHER EVERYONE ACCOMPLISHES MORE . LOSE THE DENIAL PEOPLE OR MORE KIDS WILL DIE , AND DIE AND DIE .  FROM WHAT I HEAR FROM THE AT RISK STUDENTS I WORK WITH ,  LYNBROOK IS WHERE A LOT OF THE HEROIN IS . SPELL LYNBROOK BACKWARDS OR CHANGE THE WAY THE WAY THE LETTERS ARE GUESS WHAT IT SPELLS . DA BROOKLYN ., WAKE UP LONG BEACH JUST WAKE UP. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH .

rich D wrote on March 10, 2010

MY NAME IS RICH D, I AM IN RECOVERY FROM HEROIN ADDICTION FOR NEARLY 33 YEARS(CONTINUOUSLY)I FIND YOUR ARTICLE VERY POWERFUL AND CERTAINLY WRITTEN BEAUTIFULLY. I AM THE INNER CITY ADDICT WITH MANY ISSUES TO HAVE JUSTIFIED MY MEDICATING MY SELF FOR. NO EDUCATION, ADDICTED PARENTS, POVERTY AND ALL THE OTHER CONTRIBUTING FACTORS INNER CITY KIDS ARE SUBJECT TO. SOBRIETY IS ABSTINENCE FROM EVERYTHING IN MY WORLD, AN ADDICT IS AN ADDICT IS AN ADDICT. IF YOU ARE TAKING SABOXYN, METHADONE OR ANY OTHER DRUGS TO SUBSTITUTE YOUR DRUG OF CHOICE YOU ARE STILL USING. I HATE TO BURST ANY ONES BUBBLE BUT IF YOU ARE NOT TOTALLY “CLEAN”  THAT MONSTER CALLED ADDICTION LIKE YOU SAID IS “PATIENT” AND SIMPLY WAITING FOR YOU TO FIND A GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO OPEN THE GATES ONCE AGAIN AND ABANDON ALL YOUR REASON FOR LIVING AND RENDER YOU ONCE AGAIN “IN THE GETTY STATION IN THE BRONX”. THIS DISEASE IS A SOUL DISEASE, VERY LITTLE IS PHYSICAL, WHAT YOU DO TO YOUR BODY CONSEQUENTLY IS THE RESULT OF YOUR THINKING AND DESPERATION TO GET ANOTHER SHOT. ONCE YOU HAVE HIT “BOTTOM” YOUR SOUL HAS SENT YOUR BODY A MESSAGE THAT STATES: THERE CAN BE NO MORE INTOXICANTS PUT INTO THIS BODY ANY LONGER, PERIOD! YOUNG KIDS NEED TO KNOW THERE IS INSIDE OF THEM EVERY INGREDIENT NEEDED TO FIND TRUE RECOVERY. I DON’T EVEN WANT TO TOUCH ON THE BUSINESS THIS DISEASE HAS BECOME OR TELL THESE KIDS THAT THEY ARE:CHA CHING, CHA CHING. REHABS AND DETOXES ARE MAKING BIG MONEY ON THEM. REHABS TO ME ARE A CROCK OF SHIT AND ONLY BUY TIME FOR THE ADDICT TO REGAIN SOME STRENGTH AND MOMENTUM TO GO OUT AND BLOW THEM SELVES UP AGAIN. I AM AN ACTIVIST IN THIS FIGHT AND RELENTLESS IN THE PURSUIT OF RECOVERY FOR EVERYONE ANYWHERE. I HAVE WRITTEN BOOKS ON MY LIFE AND HAVE SPOKEN ON THIS ADDICTION SINCE 1978 IN COLLEGES, JAILS AND EVERYWHERE ELSE POSSIBLE. I AM HERE LIKE YOU TO HELP WHERE AND WHEN EVER POSSIBLE. YOU’LL BE HARING MORE FROM ME SONN. SHOULD YOU WANT TO DIALOGUE ON THE TOPIC I AM HERE 24/7/365 ANYTIME NIGHT OR DAY.

I LIVE HERE IN LONG BEACH, I AM ORIGINALLY FROM BROOKLYN&QUEENS; AND DID MOST MY COPPING UP IN “HARLEM” DOWN IN “ALPHABET CITY” “CHINA TOWN” AND WHERE EVER ELSE TO GET THE BEST BAG.

THERE IS A MEETING IN LONG BEACH HIGH SCHOOL TONIGHT I BELIEVE AT 7:00 ON HEROIN ON LONG ISLAND, BE THERE.
RICH D

Richie wrote on January 28, 2010

In the list of community resources you have listed the telephone and web site information for Narcotics Anonymous World Services. I would like to provide local contact information for Narcotics Anonymous.

Suffolk (631) 884-9500
http://www.sasna.org
Nassau (516) 827-9500
http://www.nassauna.org
Queens (718) 962-6244
http://www.nanewyork.org
 
Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island (718) 962-6244
Manhattan and the Greater NY Region (212) 929-6262

Some basic information about Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous is a 12 step self help fellowship. It is the second oldest such fellowship in the world having been formed 57 years ago. We are active in over 125 countries.

Membership is open to all drug addicts, regardless of the particular drug or combination of drugs used. Even those who are not sure if they have a drug problem are welcome. Attending a few meetings may help to draw an accurate conclusion about one’s own drug use.

There are no social, religious, economic, racial, ethnic, national, genders, or class-status membership restrictions. There are no dues or fees for membership. Attendance is voluntary.

One of the keys to NA’s success is the therapeutic value of recovering addicts working with other addicts.  Members share their successes and challenges in overcoming active addiction and living drug-free, productive lives.

Narcotics Anonymous is not affiliated with other organizations, including other twelve step programs, treatment centers, or correctional facilities. As an organization, NA does not employ professional counselors or therapists, nor does it provide residential facilities or clinics. Additionally, the fellowship does not provide vocational, legal, financial, psychiatric, or medical services. NA has only one mission: to provide an environment in which addicts can help one another stop using drugs and find a new way to live.  In Narcotics Anonymous, members are encouraged to comply with complete abstinence from all drugs including alcohol

For more information or to arrange an for Informational Presentation in your facility or for your organization please contact the Public Information and Information officer at
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pete Baggs wrote on January 14, 2010

jeanmarie-

I’m so sorry to hear about all the horrors in your life, but as I finished your note, I was pleased to see that you got the boys out and are going to Alanon and taking care of YOU!

Their behavior is outrageous and they sound very angry. Whatever is going on sounds like it goes a lot deeper than a drug problem.

My family went the “tough love” rout on me years ago and kicked me out of their respective homes when I was using years ago. It turned out to be one of the major events that led to get clean. I relapsed several times after that, but they stopped enabling me, which is exactly what they needed to do for my health and their sanity.

I’m sure Alanon helps you work out all those issues and teaches you to take care of yourself, rather than get caught up in your loved ones’ illness.

Thanks for writing and keeping this comments thread alive. I’m glad you’ve found it to be a place where you can come to vent.

All the best in this new year.

-PB

jeanmarie missale wrote on January 11, 2010

Hi!Here I am again,another New Year has passed I hope this year is better! I wrote about both my sons being addicted to “HERION”.I had to put both my sons out of my house just before Chrstmas.MY 20 year old denies his drug use.He was coming home late at night high,asleep in his car.I’d have to wake him up so he would’t die from carbon monoxide poisoning or aggravate my neighbors. He would come in very angry and indignant,follow me with his finger in my face.One night he pulled his pants down and mooned my neighbors,and said this is what I think of your neighbors.He would be constantly be falling forward asleep and then wake up and do it again.He’d fall asleep in my mud room with a cigarette in his hand and the cigarette would burn his clothing or my carpet. I couldn’t sleep because I was always worried for my safty or his.He overdosed twice.I would tell him to leave ,he would tell me he would burn my house down or destroy my car so I couldn’t go to work.I always lived in fear!My older son came home from the hospital after the motorcycle accident and physically he is doing well now. He was hurt very bad ,On life support spent many months in the hospital.I let him come home,hes not using herion now or methadone but is on alot of prescription drugs oxy’s,morphine etc!He says he’s clean we argued he got angry put a hole in my wall.I told him he had to leave my house!He came down the hall and said he was going to kill me because I confronted him on his drug use in my home.He threw his walker at me across the kitchen and split my eye open under my left brow,he said it was my fault I made him do this.It’s the second time he hurt me in 8 months before the accident he split my lip open again said it was my fault.I put both my sons out of my house the same day.I’ve been going to alnon since Christmas!I love both my sons and worry about both of them every day.But I couldn’t let their behavior affect me any more.I didn’t cause their drug problem ,can’t controll their behavior,they have to help themselves.I feel they have become the element of people I tried to protect them from!

Roger wrote on November 06, 2009

It is scary but true…Heroin has affected so many people young, old, rich, poor, professional or not…right here on our little island.

Chris wrote on November 03, 2009

Thank you so much for that story. As I read it, I almost felt as if I was reading my own story. I too, live on long island, come from a totally normal loving family, was raised with good morals and values, had no great emotional blows in my life… And at 26, found myself hopelessly addicted to IV heroin. My life was turned into a web of lies, theivery, self-degredation, just pure insanity… All to insure that I got my next fix. I got clean for a while,and thought I was fine because I had quit the drug.. But eventually relapsed, causing me to almost destroy my brand new marriage, and lose everything. I consider that point to be my true bottom. I began attending NA every day, got a sponsor, and learned there is so much more to getting sober than just stopping using the drug. You must fix your brain, And now I finally feel like I’m winning this battle. The abundance of heroin on long island is absolutely absurd.. And the stigma the drug once held is becoming less and less, making it much less “scary” to kids considering giving it a try. Anyone that wants out of this terrible existance of addiction, I implore you, make meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps… THEY WORK. You’ll be amazed. You never have to use again. God bless natalies family.. though I did not know her,I unfortunately knew mutual people involved in the “game”, which I have put far far behind me. And finally, a prayer for anyone on the island thinking of picking up for the first time.

jeanmarie missale wrote on October 06, 2009

my name is jeanmarie missale you can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote the article about my older son and my younger son both addicted to herion.If anyone wants to contact me they can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Pete Baggs wrote on October 05, 2009

Lucille, your email is not visible in your post. I would definitely consider joining you and Dr. Goldstein if it might help some kids, but my anonymity is very important, so we’ll have to discuss.

You can send your information along to the LI Pulse editor and I will contact you.

Thanks for your interest and response.

-PB

Lucille Buergers wrote on September 24, 2009

A very sobering article…literally. I am a prevention professional working with counselors that are placed in the schools to do prevention and early intervention work.  Your article tells it like it is in suburbia and makes it very clear that this can happen to anyone.  I have invited Dr.Goldstein, as a result of reading your article, to address our staff of 35 social workers/student assistance counselors at a staff meeting in November.  I am wondering if you would be interested in attending and sharing your insight as well.  I can be reached at Eastern Suffolk BOCES through the e-mail address that I provided.Look forward to hearing from you.

Mason wrote on September 23, 2009

Firstly I’d like to thank you Peter Baggs for being blunt and honest in your words. Giving us the words of someone not standing at a distance looking on, but the purist words of someone who was once in the shoes of this demon.

It was until two years ago I was blissfully ignorant about the heroin epidemic on Long Island, that was until I was torn from my ignorance when it was discovered my older cousin and role model growing up was discovered to be using heroin and coke. I watched helplessly over the months that followed as he fled home, lived on the streets, was arrested multiple times, tried rehabs and was unsuccessful. To this day I do not know where or how he is, last I heard he still holds a needle and has now added alcoholism to his resume.

Ever since the day I heard of his addiction I’ve wanted to sit down at a table and look him in the eyes as he tore apart his immediate family and ruined the lives of those once closest to him more then he may ever know, and ask him the most basic but unanswerable questions, “Why?”. No answer he could give me would ever justify or even satisfy me. I’ll also never get that moment, I don’t believe I’ll ever see him again.

I would like to thank you, as your story and words were the words I felt would be straight from his mouth if I ever got that moment to speak to him. You offered me just some, closure in a weird sense.

Since this epidemic reaches more and more people on LI I have made it my goal to get into law enforcement and potentially narcotics unit. I hope I can prevent even one person from meeting the demons unfortunately many have..

Congratulations on your success with repressing your demons, and thanks for your words that offered me the only closure I’ll ever get.

Erika wrote on September 23, 2009

Thank you so much for this article…it was a complete awakining.  My oldest son just turned 19.  He is the oldest of my five boys. I’d love to be able to say like so many other parents, that he was this great kid and he changed.  But the truth is we never had a good relationship.  His father and I divorced when he was 12, and he’s always blamed me.  I feel alot of blame for how he went wrong….but now….He started out doing pot, then moved to shrooms…and now?  I think he’s doing heroin…especially after reading your article and seeing some signs.  How can I help him?  I love my boy sooo much.  Everyone thinks because I have five boys…but I pray to god every night ...I need All my boys safe!

Nancy wrote on September 22, 2009

Nancy wrote on September 05, 2009
Thank you for your brutal honesty. The cloak of denial regarding addiction is beyond belief. My two sons battled it, my husband had to be legally removed from my home and so many of my friends and their families walk this dark road every day. Again I am involved with someone with this inclination. I am not an addict, but s fear there is no respite for me. Thank God for Naranon. My fellowship has been there for me during my darkest moments.?Addiction affects everyone.

joseph wrote on September 21, 2009

thanks for sharing bro

Ryan wrote on September 19, 2009

I know where your coming from. i was a smoker and the grasp of the want of something intices us and pushed me to the limit. I have survived and i will live on. peace to all!

Pete Baggs wrote on September 18, 2009

Doreen-

Thanks for the note. I’m so sorry about your daughter. It’s incredibly difficult and painful to hear all these stories, but I hope you can help others with her cautionary tale.

-PB

T. Burroughs wrote on September 18, 2009

Very good! I loved this article… Been there too many times, shooting myself to the moon, by the street lights of Brooklyn. Spent thousands of dollars over the years on H and all I got as a return on my investment was scarred up veins, a few tears, became a liar, and utterly destroyed my life. No truer words then those of Pete Baggs “No one quits till they are ready to quit.”. Its not “Where is the problem?” but “Where is there not a problem!?!” Here on L.I. its everywhere,and none escape the demon that is heroin. If we dont wake up soon,and keep kids away from this raper of dreams. Im worried that our L.I. paradise will fall like Rome.

Long Island Pulse wrote on September 14, 2009

Thank you so much to Jean Marie and Natalie’s mom for leaving these comments. We really appreciate and value your honesty.

jeanmarie missale wrote on September 11, 2009

I read your article and was inspired. I had two sons 13 years apart. My older son was add and had always had a behavior problem. His father was a alcholic never lived with us. my son was addicted to herion. my younger son became addicted in his senior year at commack high school.his first serious girlfriend introduced him to vicodin,oxys,and they became sick and started doing herion. he was always a good student made county for wrestling in his junior year.he was put in drug court ,in a sober house out in aquebogue.i suspected he was using on the weekend, called his probation officer i also had him arrested he spent four months in riverhead.hes been clean since the day after thanksgiving until last week. theres another problem going around long island and the country and its not drugs. the young boys and girls are doing stunt bike riding in parking lots at night some in stunt groups. kawasaki motorcyclesand other stunt bikes.they are doing wheelies and other stunts for the thrill.kids are dying and being mamed from this. my older son daniel taylor 33 had a bad motorcycle accident may 24th on harned rd in commack .he bought the bike to save money on insurance and gas he was on life support for over 2 weeks. he broke his orbital socket,collar bone sternam,ribs left femar, right knee,both tibias, his calcanius left anckle 2 verterbrae,took a chunk out of his left foot had a wound vack for a month and skin graft. they said he would be brain dead or paralyzed, he’s neither. he’s now in rehab. his younger brother got a trick racing bike. just this past friday he broke his collar bone doing stunts. he says to me either i do drugs or stunt bikes which is it. i tell him either he dies of a drug overdose or gets killed on a bike. everywhere i go i find another young boy buying a stunt bike. go on stunt riders on the internet. my son goes off with his video camera. its being glorified to these young boys everything is for the thrill, the same thing with the drugs. they’re trading one high for another. it’s becoming an epedemic.

Jeffrey Reynolds wrote on September 11, 2009

Great article…if folks out there are struggling with drug and alcohol issues, the L.I. Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence can help you! Call us at 516-747-2606, or log onto our website at http://licadd.org

Doreen Ciappa wrote on September 11, 2009

Thank you for sharing your past with us.  Natalie told me that the first time she used heroin, she thought she was snorting coke.  One line and her future, the one where her dreams may have come true, was snatched from her grasp.  She smiled brightly on the outside, but Natalie was filled with shame about her addiction and hid her addiction from everyone, even friends.  I once told her that most adults made mistakes during their teen years and had regrets about their past. I tried to explain that she could move on and beyond her addiction if she got help, that her dreams were still attainable.  I still believe that if she’d had more time, she might have beaten her addiction and faced a bright future.  And we would still have her beautiful smile brightening our days.
Natalie’s mom.

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