TraumaAndDissociation / CC BY-ND 2.0

What do many adults who use heroin have in common? “Their childhoods were spent dealing with problems that would break most adults,” Chris Arnade, who spent the past five years intimately studying drug traps in U.S. neighborhoods and has never used heroin himself, writes at The Guardian.

The broader world, the TV shows they watched, the teachers, police officers, and politicians who offered up pathways to success, rarely painted a picture they could grasp. They learned to trust nobody, since everybody was out to take either their body or money from them.

Therapists call the feeling “dislocation”, on the street they call it being fucked over, and the solution to it is drugs, mostly heroin. The drugs don’t just provide a temporary escape from an ugly reality, they also provide a sense of belonging. In a drug trap it’s a way to relate to the others inside – the dealers, the pimps, and even some of the johns, since they are also running from something.

When Takeesha told me she was raped, her friend Carmela, sitting on a milk crate five feet away, commented without emotion, “You lucky you only had one family to fuck you over, I was in foster care, and got to be fucked over by a bunch of different families.”

And so drugs are popular, because drugs work. They allow people in pain, whom society has rejected, a way to integrate into a community that does work for them. How much someone uses drugs is often a measure of how much pain they have suffered, how isolated they are.

There is another reason I have not used heroin: I know I would like it too much. When things have gone wrong for me, I drink. It is a temporary escape, a way to numb my anxiety. It has never gotten out of control, because my friends, family, and colleagues temper me. That network of support, of people who surround me who see drugs as abnormal, are guardrails that keep me on the road. Those safe-keepers are largely absent from the streets.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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