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“The Epidemic”

  I’ve heard a lot of different things about the heroin epidemic in the streets of Kensington. More than 40 dead so far; 11 died in one weekend.

    The figure no one knows, though, is the number of OD’s prevented by having the police carry the death-preventive substance called Narcan. However, someone told me that some of the cops are tired of bringing back the same person over and over.

  There is a lot of talk and inquisitiveness about why people buy drugs they knew were killing others.

  “Are these people crazy?”, “do they have a suicide/death wish?”

  For the most part I do not think they want to die, they just want to get very, very high.

   One weekend, the Daily News printed the ages, gender and location of each body found dead. Most were in abandoned cars or houses and a surprising amount (more than half) were more than 30 years of age.

   I do suspect that for some of them, going out in a proverbial ‘blaze of a glorious high’ was why they shot the dope cut with the fentanyl, or rat poison or whatever. Word on the street that the dope was killing people made it very popular. Knowing the super powerful stuff was available had the users looking for that and that only. They know they might die, but what is so tragic about the cessation of an existence that is pretty much shit to begin with; at least there will be no more scrambling, hustling or tricking to get that one to make the pain go away.

  One can assume the hand was dealt as follows:

The percocets started to cost too much, so I graduate to heroin.

Higher doses are needed as the dope tolerance ratchets up and I have to have it.

I need some dope so I won’t be sick.

There is some super shit being sold — it is killing folk so it must be great.

If I do this shit, I might die, but I’ll get nice and  high first.

If I don’t die, I can get me some more… or…

Maybe I can try detox, or rehab, or methadone, or suboxone, or the Last Stop…


   It hurts more when you know the person who died. Two weeks ago,  a beautiful 24-year-old girl was laid out over in Jersey. She had a two-parent family and a positive upbringing. Tonight, I heard of a 23-year-old overdose who used to go to a lot of the same meetings I did. If I recall, she was clean for around a year. She was cheerful and grateful and seemed on the right path. Her dad is also in recovery and, needless to say, he is near-inconsolable. Then there was the 30-year-old I knew from a long time ago who hung himself last week.

   So the beat goes on. I haven’t heard too much about the goings on down Kensington/Somerset way lately. The epidemic may be over and the streets and the patrons will return to less frenetic paces of life. The police’s massive bust of drugs, money and weapons a while back will serve as an inconvenience and nothing more. The demand remains, ergo the supply will surely replenish.

   The rule of the marketplace. Maybe Marx had it right…

  Jim McGovern is a local writer who can be reached at batesius33@gmail.com

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