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Sunday, May 9, 2010


image by hans op de beeck
Hearts gone astray
Deep in her when they go
I went away,
 just when you needed me so
You won't regret
I'll come back begging you
Won't you forget
Welcome love we once knew

i met him about 3 years ago as i finished up a long stint working as an advocate. i was co-facilitating a support group for poz people w/substance use disorders. somehow he stood apart from the rest. he was not the best looking nor the friendliest, but he seemed probably one of the most intelligent men i had encountered there and one of the most intricately entangled too.

his drug of choice had been meth. probably always meth. but that was coupled with a gambling obsession that fueled and encircled his addiction. he was a dealer at the the casinos in the foothills for years, but had lost his position(s) due to ramifications of heavy IV meth use. he had drifted back to the city to find work and was dealing cards again in underground parties to get by. as it usually goes, one party got busted and he was arrested. a tox-screen displayed evidence of meth use and treatment was ordered as part of his probation. this is when and where he first became known to me.

he had gone from making 70 grand a year dealing cards to 70 dollars a night waiting tables. in addition to his obvious ability to grasp concepts and themes in group, it was apparent that he was complicated and quite guarded in what he would bring forth. he seemed very private and more likely ambivalent about what was necessary and what he preferred. this is all so recognizable to most people with a substance use issue. there is a vast chasm between what we know we should do and what we are compelled to do. i drifted from that position after only a month or so of encountering him and charged through my life as is my way.

about 2 years later i encountered him again, this time in a different venue. he had finally finished his probation which had begun as 18 months and had dragged on for 3 years. he had quit injecting meth, had been working steadily, and gotten his hiv issues mostly under control. we discussed the idea of smoking cessation, but he was in precontemplation mostly. i was able to catch up with his journey a bit. he seemed much more open and at peace than i remembered, and i got a pretty good feeling about it all.

he stopped in once every few months and all seemed well. but there was a syphilis diagnosis and he had to come in for a series of shots over 3 weeks and the picture shifted somewhat. he no longer seemed as grounded. he started talking about changing his situation. he said he was tired of his restaurant job and was going to move to dallas to live with his best friend and her husband. he didn't have a job prospect, but really needed a change. that was on february 4th. one month later, he was removed from his apartment after injecting an extremely large amount of methamphetamine.

he died fairly instantly and it was not a well publicized story. i didn't find out until 2 weeks ago. there had been a very small service and it was reported to be quite sweet. his ex-partner had to identify the body and has been traumatized since, although this particular situation may bring some some necessary change to the latter's life that he hasn't been able to create on his own.

i have been a bit stunned and very sad. it reminds me again of the impotence i can feel when working with others. there will be no change until change is desired. yes someone may have to hit their bottom in order to find motivation to do something different, but i think it is definitely worth using intervention and treatment to keep that bottom from being as far down as it was for seth... that damn bitch tina seems to be working overtime, all the time, every which way and loose.

may peace be with you my friend, and with those of us left behind...

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Java said...

This is a sad story. I'm sure it's fairly common, too. And there are success stories. It's a hard thing, life. What makes the difference between the successes and the failures? Is this man's story considered a failure? In a way, sure, but totally? I don't know. There's a lot of "I don't know" going around.

TheHeronKing said...

Breaks my heart.

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