Heroin. I never really got what the attraction of this stealthy killer was. Yet here in this city’s music scene, and really worldwide, it’s claimed so many people that you think someone would be really fucking angry. Count me in.

Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of puking and nodding out, but it’s what it does to people’s souls that gets me riled up. They get scabs on their face. They lie to people they claim to love. They steal from their grandmas. They fake a break in to the jam space and sell off their mates gear. They are a dangerous house guest if you keep your rent money in cash, in a drawer.

Some of the friends that drugs claim are still alive. They have lost everything and are pushing a shopping cart full of shit for sale around in the mean streets of the downtown eastside. Others are gone. Tried the clean up yet went back and did that one last shot that was enough to take their life. They had just posted a beautiful picture of themselves looking healthy on Facebook the week before. I clicked like. I regret not commenting how radiant they looked compared to all the other usual party hardy pictures they posted. Then we mourn. Then we all promise not to let it happen again. Yet, it does.

I lost a longtime friendship last week because of this shit. There is no such thing as a casual heroin user in my eyes. When I’m that person’s friend and find out that they’ve been doing heroin, I react. Badly. That may not be the best approach but what the fuck is wrong with people who claim to care about the drug user, and just stand by, saying nothing and watch people destroy themselves. I at least gave confrontation a try. I won’t go the intervention route again. My involvement in that unsuccessful one in the summer was crushing to my psyche. I don’t like to fail at things. When someone is in denial about their drug use, you are no match for the experienced liar.

So you wait. You watch their lives slip away. You feel depressed and helpless.

Another person I’ve known since they were a teenager is gripped by Crystal Meth. I am saddened to see what once was an intelligent, funny, witty person turn into an lashing out, abusive, paranoid, nonsensical mess. They are so far gone that they were mistaken for a homeless person in a Walmart parking lot and given a hygiene care package by a random woman. People can only take so much shit from someone before you start avoiding them as they lock themselves in their bedroom with their drugs.

Maybe after 16 years working in the DTES, I’ve become a bit jaded and cynical. You see the ramifications of varying forms and degrees of addiction everyday. I understand that having too much empathy is dangerous for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve had too many heartbreaking experiences over the years that it’s really hard to go there again. Another funeral. Another fucked up peer. Another talented, promising artist’s life wasted.

Every time I see the Facebook feed light up with R.I.P. lamentations over a rock star celebrity that has destroyed their lives with drugs, I get really angry. Have that persons loved ones given up to the point that they’re dying alone on a tour bus as their heart stops because they’ve gone one spin too many on the wheel of cocaine. I guess their kin are as apathetic as the rest of us who just stand by watching the shitshow play out. It hurts. That is truth. But I also think that if enough people had expressed concern over someone’s downward spiral it may have changed the outcome. That you can only hope. Say something. Before it’s too late.