“You know when you’re underwater, and you need to come up for a breath? And it’s taking too long to get to the surface? That feeling, of having no oxygen left, your whole body feeling like fire, salty and aching with the desperate need to breathe? That’s it, only not exactly, because it’s worse.”
Those were the words of a former heroin addict describing on the XOJane website what it is like to go through withdrawal from the drug. She went on to describe her similarly addicted boyfriend …
“… all six feet, two inches of him, tattooed and scarred up and tough as hell, having lived through one of the most astonishingly hard lives I’d ever heard of, curled up in the bottom of a tiny, filthy shower stall like a little escargot, sobbing and shivering in desolate agony.”
It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
And yet heroin use and deaths from it have steadily — if not spectacularly — risen over the last few decades. The latest celebrity to fall victim was Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment Sunday with a syringe in his left arm.
By all accounts, Hoffman, 46, was as nice as he was talented, a father of three who took time to spend with his kids and be involved in community issues. But nice people fall prey to addiction, too.
“Heroin doesn’t discriminate,” Justin Thalheimer, a social worker and program manager at Otsego County Community Services’ chemical dependency clinic, told The Daily Star. “… It’s a drug that affects really good people, shifting their values and making them do things they normally wouldn’t, like lie to their families.”
At least once a week, the emergency room at A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta treats someone who has overdosed on heroin, according to Dr. Kelly A. Robinson, medical director of the hospital’s emergency department.