These stories were written in a confidential family shelter program. The two women that participated were residents of the program. They participated in a two-day, 3-hours-a-day session with support to complete a finished project.
Heroin. The first time I tried it was 1987. A person who I thought was my friend gave it to me. I thought they were my friend because a friend would not give someone something so bad, right? Heroin. I took it. It was the best feeling I have felt. I think I was floating. I think I was swimming in warm waters. I did not know what I was feeling but I know it felt good. Instantly I was hooked. I used every day. Every hour of every day. It was good. It was fun then. I used so much that I realized that I needed heroin. If I did not have heroin I would get really sick. Sick. Sick. Throwing up. Skin crawling. Angry. Sick. Mood swings. Sick. Why would a friend give me something that changed everything about me? They were not my friend. I lost my kids. I lost my home. I lost family. I lost my memory. I could not think straight. My behavior was different. I started stealing, shoplifting, lying, but I kept using. I found myself in dark, dismal places and felt it was ok to be in dark dismal places.
Heroin. Now I am addicted and now I am stealing. Stealing from stores, cars, houses, people. I did not know about treatment. I kept doing heroin. I did not know about getting help. I did not know I was sick and suffering and I could get help. Oh no! I got arrested. My mom bailed me out. My mom was always there for me. She told me that this is the only time I bail you out! I promised that this would be the only time she would have to. I broke that promise but she kept hers. She did not come get me after the first time. She said that she was not going to love me to death by helping me not face the consequences. She left me there!!!! Did she know that was the best place for me?
Heroin. I used heroin for so long. I wanted to stop but did not know how. I did not know where to go to get help. I did not know about programs, let alone treatment. Getting arrested and going to Nassau County Correctional Facility again, I knew I had to make a change. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I went to Nassau University Medical Center and they sent me to Samaritan Village following my last arrest. I stayed with Samaritan Village and learned to love me. I have been clean since 2002. Heroin and addiction took most of my life and my family's lives but jail and incarceration saved my life.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan