Walk Down Misery Street

Some lucky ones, having been on this street for a while, sooner or later managed to get off, while others stayed there forever.

In time I understood one law: the longer a person remains on this street and the further along it he walks, the more chronically ill he becomes and the harder it is to get out of there.

I called this street Misery Street. I first heard this name from a patient; he was a gifted poet, and one of his poems was called “Misery Street.”

Misery is one of the most common words in the lexicon of the addict: “misery loves company,” “misery is my comfort zone,” “misery seeks out the weak,” and so on. The word “misery” remarkably reflects both the state of mind of the person who is on this street, and the direction of his path on it.

The fact is that any substance abuse treatment setting happens to be on Misery Street. As a substance abuse counselor, I got the opportunity to walk down this endless dark street. Who did I bump into there and what did I see?

There are youth gangs, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, homelessness, the gun trade, prostitution, and prison—all of these are woven into the lives of the majority of patients in one way or another.

All moral vices flourish on Misery Street.

Very seldom can you meet a drug addict who does not have psychiatric illness in addition to addiction. 8

Death is always looming around this Street.

Up until now, I considered myself a believer, a Christian. God has always been tantamount to Goodness, Truth, and Beauty for me. But now I doubted the powers of this Beauty and Fairness. I doubted the power and goodness of God because I realized that evil is entrenched and ineradicable and will exist forever as long as this world exists. Human interventions, hospitals, and medicine are limited and can only reduce the stream of suffering, but not extinguish it.