Monday, April 16, 2007


The following is from an editorial in a Massachusettes newspaper:

As I started to type this week's editorial, about the recent forum about heroin and other addictive drugs, I found myself stumbling over words, typing and erasing, and staring at a blank screen for long periods of time.

You see for me, like more and more local residents, heroin isn't just somebody else's problem. It's not just something I read about in the newspaper, or in the police blotter. It's affected my life in a way that I will never be able to forget.

About a year ago, I lost a very dear friend to a heroin overdose. It was sudden, unexpected. His friends knew he had struggled with drugs, but we all thought he had put it behind him. At his funeral, most of his friends stood outside the temple for a long time before we went in. We just didn't know what to do. You're not supposed to be attending funerals for 26-year-olds. It just isn't supposed to happen.

When your life has been touched by the violence of drugs, it's not something you put in a scrapbook or only reflect upon from a distance. It's with you constantly, and memories and sadness can surface suddenly and intensely. Last summer, a few months after my friend passed away, I was coming out of Fenway Park with my father-in-law after a Red Sox game. We were laughing and talking about the game, and I looked up onto the balcony of the Avalon. Instantly, I remembered a night when my friend had done promotional shots for the club, and how we'd sat around his apartment afterwards laughing at the foibles of the Landsdowne Street set. I couldn't move, I just stood there, staring up into the night as the baseball crowd flooded around me.

My friend was a talented artist, an aspiring photographer with a flair for creative techniques and a great eye for action. The background of my laptop computer (which I'm glued to about 10 hours a day) is one of my favorite pictures: a time-lapse shot of the traffic on Comm. Ave. in Boston. It's a way to keep him always with me, to remember his talents and the good things about his life as well as the senseless way it ended.

What I've learned from all the publicity of the heroin problem is that I'm not alone -- there are many people out there on the South Shore who've had loved ones ripped away from them by heroin. It's a problem we need to address on all levels: public safety, government, schools, and in the community at large. Recognizing the epidemic for what it is is a start. Now we need to take action, before anyone else has to bury a friend, child, or spouse.

-- Justin Graeber

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