Walk Down Misery Street

Where are you, cranes and nightingales? Where did you fly? Have you abandoned us forever? Has life changed so dramatically that a reader can no longer enjoy literary tales of nightingales or smell the scent of roses, and instead—at the decree of the author—must enter (forgive me) a common bathroom and read about how someone will pee. O tempora, o mores! Oh times, Oh customs!

No, this is definitely not a theme for a literary work. Art should concern itself with the soul of man and nothing else. However, this work isn’t fiction and the subject of our interest is specific. Our character is a person with a drug problem, and we are trying to discern the incomprehensible and frightening phenomenon of drug addiction.

A toxicology test or, simply put, a urine screening, was, is, and will always be one of the important parts of treating a drug user. “Pee-pee time.” That’s what patients jokingly call the test.

One could even say that the treatment of drug and alcohol dependence takes place not only in a counselor’s office, at AA/NA (Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous) meetings, or in a church or synagogue if the addict is a religious person. The toilet is no less important a location, where the truth is often revealed, where the future will be determined, where the mask falls from one’s face, and where all kept in darkness will come to light. We can even say that “clean” or “dirty” urine is the indicator of how successful the treatment is.

No way! This is all deeper and more complex, and we shouldn’t relegate the inner conflicts of a man to such a point of view. His internal spiritual struggles, his ups and downs, should not be evaluated so primitively with the formulaic phrase: “Is his urine clean or dirty?”

But, alas, the reality is such that it often all comes down to this. What is the value of words? We know that many active drug users are master bullshit artists—they take oaths and offer convoluted speeches. They have violated these sworn oaths so many times as to make what they say worthless. Hence, we believe only in the “pee-pee” test. The test doesn’t lie.

There are many different kinds of toxicology test kits: white plastic sticks, special cups with panel markings, paper strips to place on a tongue. The test results are determined in those special laboratories that receive the plastic cups from many different clinics on a daily basis.