Pubdate: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Website: http://www.mountainx.com/
Address: PO Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802
Contact:  2000 Mountain Xpress
Fax: (828) 251 1311
Author: name withheld

YOU DON'T TELL A JUNKIE TO WAIT

I've had a long-term problem with drug addiction, but what has seemed to
cause an even worse problem is: Where do you get help in Asheville? ... When
I called the Blue Ridge Mental Health methadone clinic, I asked, "Can I
please have help today?" The reply: No. [There is a] one- to two-week
[waiting period].

They don't understand: When someone calls and wants help and is told they're
going to have to wait one to two weeks, that's enough to send some of us
over the edge.

When someone with a drug problem calls wanting help, you don't put them off.
They are either in so much pain, as I was, that I could have killed myself
just to get out of pain, [or go] to the street, to get anything to get out
of pain.

Everybody's situation is different. I do have to take meds for four back
surgeries, and, at times, [my] tolerance gets too high. It takes more to
keep from hurting  and then you're on the street doing things you should
not have to do, if there was some help around here.

I am sure there are people out there who care enough to take this problem
more seriously than what I have found. ... And I know there are people out
there in a lot worse shape than me, and I want to be able to help.

You don't tell a junkie, "You're going to have to wait"; that can be a
matter of life or death.

I was on the street, paying outrageous prices [for drugs] just to be able to
feel normal. Sooner rather than later, it's going to turn real bad.

As bad as I wanted help today, I did find some [relief on the streets]. If I
was still in that pain, I would be thinking of dying. That's what makes me
think of people [who] might not be as lucky as I was today.

Then there's tomorrow.

name withheld, Black Mountain
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