Now I am not entirely sure that heroin is a bio-medically recognized illness or what that even means exactly, but I do know that addiction to a substance that potent is a grave public health issue and one that requires aggressive medical intervention. Intravenous drug spreads infections like HIV quicker than any form of transmission. In many ways the needle is more deadly as a vessel than the drug itself. In this sense it is not only appropriate but also responsible to treat heroin addiction as a medical illness. The narrative used by all of the episode’s characters was chaos. It is a tough one to watch. In the throes of addiction, not one of them expected to recover. The high school student told the interviewer that it was only a matter of time before his addiction got “out of hand.” I would argue that it already was, considering he was shooting up in his room before having breakfast with his family. A woman named chloe did a prison bid for credit card fraud after she stole money to buy heroin. The first thing she did upon her release was head to a wal-mart parking lot to beg for change so she could get high. The subjects of this documentary had no hope, and you can’t really blame them for that, as opiate addictions are some of the most difficult to overcome. The social stigmas tied to this drug (illegality, etc.) make support systems hard to come by. Nobody wants a dope head hanging around the house, so some of the subjects got kicked out. Rehab resources were not available for Chloe while she was locked up. Not much is afforded to these people because it seems to me that they are looked down upon. One of our characters had to have open heart and lung surgery after an infection from a dirty needle spread throughout her body. Stigmas tied to heroin use probably prevented her from seeking treatment before her illness got as bad as it was. Unfortunately, the narratives of these individuals dont seem to help them too much. Their stories seem like lost causes, and a lot of ways they are. The lecture mentioned that it is difficult to coherently explain your condition when you feel submerged in chaos. A heroin addiction is a constant struggle, and it is difficult to step outside of that box to find a path to getting clean.
Lecture. “4.2 Illness Narratives.”