Even now my insides kind of die thinking about it... truly one of the most powerful films of my lifetime and many others.
What can I say? Was I a Suboxone success story? Have I been a "success story"? To those who follow a certain strict abstinence-based path... perhaps not... I of course disagree, and thank God for the lovely people of San Francisco and other progressive cities working to further the harm reduction movement. I actually weaned off three years ago. I do enjoy some alcohol from time to time. Mostly it really is the "glass or two of wine", but I have been blackout drunk a couple of times. Hey, I'm bipolar. I simply don't like pot. No opiates, benzos, coke, etc. for almost three years. I weaned off suboxone maintenance in January 2010. There were a couple of very short term binges but.... I just didn't have it in me. I am a nursing student, almost done. Nursing and medicine is my absolute favorite thing in the world. It has been in my life before and after drugs (and no I didn't do it do get drugs!) The nursing textbooks will tell you that most opiate addicts will "mature out" of their addiction in their mid to late thirties.
Well, that was me.
It was either my age or Black Tar Heroin.
I have absolutely no idea how I found the documentary. And really? Why should I? Do you remember much of life under the influence of an oxycodone and Soma cocktail? I only pray that you weren't as foolish as me. If you are reading this you have most likely seen the film. I was living in Santa Fe, chugging along in my prerequisites for school, working at a grocery store, actually a perfect life for an addict. Northern New Mexico has had the highest rate of heroin overdoses in the country for decades- or did before everyone started carrying naloxone in their car- and the local culture was very amenable to addiction. While we didn't coddle each other, we didn't ask questions of each other either.
The life of a junkie. I was blessed. I would give anything to have the beautiful 2 bedroom duplex with the little yard in Santa Fe again. I live with my Mom and stepfather in DC now. But I will. I just gotta finish school. Anyway, I digress. My point is, it wasn't exactly the San Francisco SROs or streets... it was both where I was headed and where I was. I felt intense love for all five of the film's "protagonists." Also like many, I figured most were no longer alive. I know that Tracey has spoken of feeling disappointed that the film never mentioned her eventual recovery in any way...but when I googled her that first time seeing the film back in 2008, for some reason I wasn't all that surprised to see that she was alive and doing very very well for herself. Despite everything I saw a sturdy individual....and DEFINITELY a smart one! Jessica truly brought some of the most horrifying moments of the film for many of this I think. I watched my uncle die of AIDS before the new medications of 1996. I cannot imagine the horror of coming off a nod in jail, detox, oh you're positive... As an aspiring RN I know the virus can be extremely unpredictable. The most pivotal movement of the film?
Jessica lying on Turk Street. In broad daylight. Was it Turk Street? I don't know San Francisco all that well. Of all the homeless people you pass every day, you don't always know that their grandfather raped them as children. That their mother allowed it. That that could be your next stop on the heroin- or opiate- express.
I made an appointment with a Suboxone doctor the next day.