Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The epicenter of disease and decay

Many people ask me what it was like to be a young drug addict in San Francisco. It is important to realize that I came to SF in April of 1992 when people were dying daily from AIDS. I think that clean needles and drug education are some how taken for granted now. For a young addicted with limited options, a used syringe was a frequent companion. We had to clean our needles with bleach, if you were willing to take the time. Many were not. I also personally have had the experience of accidentally laying bleach on the dope thinking it was water then shooting it anyway because I was that dope sick.

I lived in the Ambassador Hotel in 93-94. At the time, it was a place that rented weekly rooms and doubled as housing for people with HIV and Aids. I've seen people smoking crack in a diaper in their hospital bed. I've seen people use with enormous open wounds. I've seen people get their rooms emptied out while they lay there dying only to survive. Horrors beyond the imagination. 

The long term impact of the hotel for me and my peer group was that as young people came to the city in search of a high, many of them contracted HIV behind closed doors there. HIV is not a death sentence but it was in 1993 for many. Young people would trust there drugs to others, have dangerous sex, get raped after too much speed, or accidentally use the wrong syringe. The rest of your life changed in pursuit of a high. 

In 1994, I had a bad case of thrush which was one of the nine illnesses commonly linked to AIDS. Until the test came back, they thought I had the virus. I know for a fact, I slept with three people with HIV and accidentally used dirty needles multiple times. Finding out I was negative should have changed me but I just did not want to stop using. 

We all have our "bottoms". The bottom is where you stop digging. You may never go to the depths of despair that I have but you have your own pain. Crawl out of your misery and live today. Rejoice at our survival. I am not sure why I am alive while others have perished but surely it is to help you. I love you today. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNmx1r0Cx8M Including one of my favorite songs ever

2 comments:

  1. Lots of love to you Tracey

    Hanna.<3

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    1. Thanks for reading. have a great day

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