Life. Damn.

Saturday night my upstairs neighbor died from an overdose of heroin with fentanyl. His mom and girlfriend had spent the afternoon and evening trying to locate him and then, that night, found him dead in the apartment. Absolutely tragic. Our landlord is a neighbor and friend and we ended up spending about two hours outside on the sidewalk drifting between stoops with one of the other upstairs neighbors, and the next-door neighbors. The conversation ranged from the trivial, as we tried to take our minds off of things, to the immediate. Turns out my landlord’s sister died from an overdose and my other neighbor’s brother had serious abuse issues (thankfully still alive). We all thought about family and friends as we watched the mom deal with the sudden (although clearly not unexpected) loss of her son. I thought about how grateful I am that I have not had to deal with this level of addiction in my own family.

Drugs are obviously life-altering in ways both good and bad. Good drugs can cure cancers, overcome diseases, wipe out diseases and allow millions of people to go about their daily lives unencumbered. Bad drugs send people into imagined utopias of no pain and no problems, provide unimaginable highs that require ever higher doses to achieve and maintain all while destroying the brain and body. Drugs and their life-altering affects are often the subject of science fiction stories with outcomes alternating between relieving a dystopian existence or bringing down a utopian one. In the end, all the stories return to the theme that yes, indeed, too much of a good thing can become bad. As with all mind- and body-altering substances there is a required balance. Medical people will often say, the line between cure and poison lies in the dose. But heroin? I’m not sure there is anything but poison there.

Other drugs remind me of snake-oils sold throughout history. Right now, a friend is becoming involved in an MLM selling extremely diluted human growth hormone gel on the argument that it helps you lose weight and repairs a number of other issues associated with aging, etc. She gave me a bottle (which I discovered retails for about $170!!) for me to try. I am extremely leery of anything like that and did a quick bit of research on the active ingredients. My conclusion? Uh, no thanks. Not even going to try it. The attraction of no-work weight loss and getting in shape is huge for many people. The quick fix with no sweat. I want to keep living my life exactly as I do now, just without the belly fat. Well, I would too. However, I know that there is work involved in getting rid of the unwanted belly fat. But, I am unwilling to risk my near- and long-term health for the quick fix. The bottle and a warning about what I found is going back to my friend. I’m hoping she gives this up.

I have a couple stories floating around in my head that involve the sort of “cure-all” drugs that are found in science-fiction and in our current world. What happens when too many people get hooked on the idea that a simple drug can provide the answer to all their problems? What happens when potentially debilitating or even fatal side-effects are ignored or not discovered until much later? Quick weight loss fixes that don’t stop even when you stop taking the drug? Mental and energy enhancements that propel a person beyond human endurance and capabilities? The warnings came as early as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. We need to heed those warnings still.

My apologies for rambling, but this weekend’s activities have put me a bit on edge. The roommate of the late upstairs neighbor has not yet returned from the beach (she does know what happened), and it’s not clear what will happen in the near future for her. I don’t know about you guys, but no way could I continue to live there. It’s been a weird few days. I sincerely hope my late neighbor has found peace.

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay