Last week, when Michael Walker of Beckley, West Virginia, read in his local paper that high-potency heroin—or opioids sold as or cut with heroin—caused an outbreak of 27 overdoses in just four hours in the nearby city of Huntington, he thought of his 19-year-old son, Matthew, who has been off of opiates for three months, the longest he’s been without the drug in years.
'I Should Be Among the Dead': Young, White and Economically Advantaged, I Was Hungry for Meaning and Found Heroin Instead
My last shot was at my parents’ place in the suburbs of Chicago. That morning I was scheduled to board a plane to Minneapolis for a long stint of rehab. Naturally, I wanted to retain a long high, which is in fact part of the virus’ composition: Every next shot will be the forever rush; chasing the chimera. Though in the end, you end up chasing away everything, even yourself.
Sam Quinones’ Dream Land marks the timely end of heroin’s romanticism. Where you once imagined the netherworld of junk through ‘50s jazz musicians and the literati shooting up in the Bowery, you now have cheerleaders and football players who have “shape-shifted into lying, thieving slaves to an unseen molecule,” writes Quinones.
In San Francisco, during the dot-com boom of the '90s, homeless drug users were dispersed and dislocated throughout the city due to gentrification. The 2009 book, Righteous Dopefiend by Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg (who gets credit for all photos here), is an urban anthropological project that took place over the course of 12 years. The results force us to confront those people, the ones in the street that we walk past everyday. We see their bodies—dirty fingernails, teeth stained and crooked, skin scarred and ashen like the surface of the moon—but what we fail to realize is that most of the time we don’t see these people as people. It can be easier for us to keep walking so long as we neglect a basic fact, that these people are human beings who belong to and inhabit a world not all that different from ours. We are all of the same species.