This past weekend, a City of Norwich man died after injecting himself with an overdose of heroin. I donít know the poor soul from the Bibleís Adam, and I donít know anything about what really happened.
What I do know is heís younger than me (I turn 27 tomorrow) and that no matter what walk of life youíve strayed apart from, any family would be left desolate.
A couple months ago following a heroin raid in Norwich, I began educating myself about the drug, which before this year I canít ever recall speaking of seriously.
The police blotter now routinely trickles out the possession arrest of a local user. The police tell me that they havenít seen this kind of resurgence in the drug since the 1970s, which to me, and unfortunately another this past weekend, is an entire lifetime.
Iíve been around the police beat for a few years now and a tragic death is not a rare occurrence, but Iíve never heard of anyone dying due to an accidental, illegal, drug overdose until now and certainly not heroin. There are suicides and accidental prescription mix ups, but this was not either of those.
To have a life disappear inside some dark syringe tucked along our neighborhood streets is something new to me and no doubt to others.
In the last couple days, Iíve struggled to find a compassionate way to bring this tragedy into the public spotlight. Honestly, Iím not sure if there is one. There are two good cases to argue, the side of the community needing to be aware that its young adults are now dying on the streets, and offering sympathy for the privacy of a bereaved family.
A part of me feels that silence over the loss would only add to the complacency.
Almost a month ago (Nov. 17), The Evening Sun published an article on the dangers of the drug and its recent rise in our community. During the course of writing it, I spoke with drug treatment counselors, police, attorneys and even former addicts.
Parents need to educate themselves; no one else is going to do it for you. Neighbors need to take note and call the police when they notice strange activity Ė late-night car stops making fast visits at suspicious places.
Basically the danger of heroin is not too different than a few other drugs in that it is so unpredictable. The substance has a wide range of purity and buying from dealer to dealer is tossing the dice. You roll a one on Wednesday and shoot up to get a weak high, so you shoot up or increase the dose to make up the difference.
Then on Thursday, you roll a six and after injecting the very pure substance in the same proportions as the day before, you die. You see as heroin travels through the drug trade, each person along its route to Norwich cuts the drug up into smaller portions. In order to make more money, dealers add filler to the heroin powder and sell the watered-down substance at a higher profit. So heroin following a long chain of hands is often far less potent than the stuff fresh to the market.
Heroin is also said to be a very addictive substance, even in the world of narcotics. Itís cheaper now than it has been and as a result itís more accessible on the street. Using needles brings a whole host of other health issues to the equation, like contracting HIV and other diseases.
I canít imagine anything more ironically appalling in the drug world than a spent heroin needle cast aside in some bar bathroom or run down apartment. These are scenes now found within walking distance of where Iím writing this.
A far worse sight was seen this weekend. Will it soon be seen again?