Walk Down Misery Street


I considered my American brother, Peter, as my first teacher in the first grade or even kindergarten of my addiction studies. Liza became my second teacher of this difficult subject of substance abuse. She tried to convey information on the subject that wasn’t printed in books. Much of what formerly appeared unimportant to me actually deserved special attention. Some things I never even knew existed.

Once, after watching Goodfellas, a famous film starring Robert De Niro about the Italian Mafia in America, I asked:

“Why would the Mafia family abandon one of the characters once he started dealing drugs? How is it any worse than racketeering?”

Liza expounded: “The problem isn’t that he started to sell, but that he sold heroin specifically, and he began dipping and dabbing.”

It turns out that the Italian Mafia holds an extremely negative attitude about heroin. They believe that anyone who touches heroin becomes unreliable and easily breaks with tradition. It is ill-advised to have either a business or a personal relationship with such a person.

“But why heroin in particular?” I asked, perplexed. “What’s the difference? Is someone who snorts coke or drinks any more reliable?”

“Pete, what are you talking about? Of course, there’s a huge difference!” answered Liza. “The idea of ‘your drug of choice’ is not for nothing. A person doesn’t pick a specific drug by accident.”

Having covered the window in the door of our office with a piece of cardboard reading “Session in progress. Don’t disturb!” Liza introduced me to the intricacies of this complicated subject, “Your Drug of Choice.”

She was a true professor in this area. Of course, a quarter-century of use! Moreover, she was multifaceted: She’d snorted coke, smoked weed, and popped pills. But her true love was heroin.