Ask April- Observational Wisdom- Escaping Heroin

Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting.  While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice,  that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.

Every other week, I answer a call for advice, and every other week, I share my views on something I observed- I call this Observational Wisdom.


Dear Readers,

I don’t know how wise this contribution is going to be.

I can’t really think right now.

There is an ongoing issue where I live, and I have finally, after a few years, thrown in the towel.

The issue is some of the other people who live here are involved with hard drugs. Specifically, heroin.

They are in and out of jail due to various things from theft, to distributing drugs that cause overdose and deaths, and driving so badly impaired, cars in our parking lot were totaled.

The police “can’t do anything” if they are only stoned. I guess it is legal to have the drugs in your system.

There are at least four people who are involved with these things, and they have friends in and out, sometimes living with them, others, just visiting. We watch them deal drugs in the parking lot, and they sit, as high as a kite, talking to themselves in plastic chairs in their parking spaces.

I don’t feel sorry for these people when they do eventually go to jail. They are criminals. I don’t believe it is inhumane to send people to jail for drug related crimes. When doing drugs makes people do dangerous things to other people, I don’t understand the people who beg to have drugs decriminalized.

They want more lenient sentences, and clinical treatment rather than punishment.

Let me tell you about these folks here. One in partucluar, who I will call Ty. Ty is 38, just three years younger than I am. A lot of guys Ty’s age have a career, a mortgage, a family, and maybe a little bit of grey hair forming.

Ty has a tax lien on his condo, the ire of neighbors, is as single as fuck, and loves to shoot up with heroin. He has been in and out of government funded rehab, and somehow pulls enough money in from dealing to buy a $25,000 truck he likes to smash into other cars when he’s too fucked up to function. His driver’s license is suspended due to all of this. Did I mention two people are dead because he gave them enough drugs to overdose on in his condo? He got eight years in the pokey, and was out, getting g high soon after.

He had a middle-class, white, suburban life, with every opportunity, and he somehow decided that rather than not being scary scrawny due to drugs eating alive the last bit of his life he had not ruined, THIS was the life for him.

He is not unlike the others in his building who also take the same drugs he does. They had white, middle class, suburban, privileged lives also.

Nobody put a gun to any of their heads and forced them to start this.

I’ve known people who took drugs, got clean, and live amazing lives. They are wonderful people who make the world a better place than they found it. These folks like some of the scum that lives nearby me- no I am not calling them neighbors- destroy everything they touch, go from crime to crime, and hit to hit, and everybody is better off when they go away.

There is a major difference between people who want to have a better life, and the people who truly enjoy a lousy life. While it is everybody’s right to choose their own life, it is not their right to choose other people’s.

Living here, for me, at this point, is horrible.

I resent the hell out of this. My husband bought our condo in 1999. He has redone both bathrooms, all drywall, the kitchen, all tiled floors, the ceilings, the electrical, and the plumbing. The air/heating is brand new, the water tank is new, and the air ducts have all been redone. The doorknobs and vents, as well as switch plates are all new, and the wood trim was even redone. All that needs replaced are the windows, sliding glass door, refrigerator, and new carpet for a second time. Then this place will be 100% brand new.

I moved in here in 2006, was away for a year and nine months, and came back in 2010. During the time I’ve been here, I’ve helped Ted with replacing things, repairing things, created a garden where there was none, and painted every room myself.

Our mortgage, taxes, and condo fees are up to date, and always paid on time. We are respectful of our neighbors, and we have self-respect.

Apparently , people like us do not belong here, unless we want to be robbed, have our property damaged, and wonder from day to day what will happen next.

Drugs have ruined this neighborhood. They are not going anyplace, and they bring in new drug users regularly.

So, because we don’t want to have to worry about our safety, or watch these people live this way, we have to move. I think THEY should move, but it’s not my decision.

I hate the language I use now to express how I feel about the neighborhood I once took pride in, and was happy to return to after leaving.

And I own a gun.

I wake up in the night, and go around, checking, and double checking doors, and windows, and wondering if I will panic, or defend myself properly if they break my door in. I wonder if next time Ty drives in, high, if one of the children playing will be killed. I wonder if we will return from grocery shopping, or visiting a friend, to find everything in our home taken, and the door wide open, with our pets running around, terrified because they don’t understand what is going on. I wonder if they will come in and kill our pets while we are gone. I wonder if they will come kill us in our sleep.

I miss falling asleep with windows open, and laughing because I had forgotten to lock my front door. I miss the feeling of letting my cats come in and out, and not worrying somebody might hurt them. I thought we would raise kids here, and they would be the second generation in this house.

This place was a dream come true.  I was moved in here by my first husband, so his girlfriend could move into our home instead. That Spring, I met my second husband, Ted, who lived three doors down. We broke up, and I sold my condo to move to Phoenix with somebody I became engaged to. The engagement fell through, and I came home to Ted- in his condo that was in the same building. I left for a short time, but again, came home to Ted. In 2014, we were married. This has been my home on and off for fifteen years.

During the time I lived in Phoenix, I had a dream about moving in to Ted’s home, which was a castle. I was not sure what the dream meant. It meant his home was his castle, and he wound up sharing it with me.

While this was a beautiful dream come true at one time, it’s now a nightmare.

We either dig in our heels, stubbornly refusing to leave “because this is our home, goddamnit!!!” , or we leave to be safe.

I am 41, and Ted is 52. We have more than fifteen years to go, and we want to live our remaining years safely. I lived other places for 25 years, and close to 15 years here. Ted has lived here eighteen years, and 34 years elsewhere. This place is where we have both lived the longest.

It hurts very badly to give this up, but we have made up our minds.

The only way to go is forward.

I will admit, when the drugs first started affecting us, we fought hard for our neighborhood. Since these are privately owned, nobody can be evicted. The management company told us to call police. We talked with the other neighbors who hated the drugs, and calls were made, and made, and made. What happens is these guys get a slap on the wrist, and come right back here, causing more trouble. They don’t care.

In Ohio, heroin use has been called “epidemic”, and it was estimated in 2016 the use kills 23 people in our state alone each week. More than just death, heroin destroys  families, and neighborhoods. Apparently, drug lords come to Central Ohio to test new drugs. Apparently, you try this once, and you are hooked. Some courts are trying to treat drug use as an illness rather than a crime, in hopes people will come clean, and live productive lives. The concern is that layering multiple felony counts on users will be overwhelming for them, and the record will keep them from meaningful job opportunities.  The belief is that when this happens, people will then give up, and resort back to a life of crime due to seeing no other options for themselves. Despite increased funding for drug rehabilitation programs, addiction is increasing, and the addition of fentanyl to heroin is responsible for even more overdose deaths. Deaths from Opioid overdose increased 25% in 2016, and it is estimated the use, and deaths from these drugs will increase this year as well.

Throwing people in  jail, and then tossing them back to the streets is not fixing the problem. Withholding criminal charges, and sending people to rehab instead is also not helping.

Some experts say the problem will eventually “sort itself out” by addicts dying from the drugs.

I don’t have the solution. I don’t even have any ideas. The only thing I can do is move to get away from this.

I have been told by some that there is no way on this green earth to escape the epidemic because it is just so prevalent. Yes, there is. You go someplace where there is not a heroin nest. And if one comes in? Move again.

We have research of what are desirable neighborhoods to do. We have the last of the remodeling to do, and then we will list this place. Perhaps it will become “somebody else’s problem.” Perhaps that somebody else will wind up being an individual with a bigger gun than mine, and they will move in and sort out the issues with this neighborhood I don’t have the energy to deal with any longer. Perhaps the junkies will “sort themselves out”, or do something major they wind up in the can long enough for that their units are foreclosed.

I’m not holding my breath on that one.


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