It’s 8pm and I’m just coming on shift. I walk through the gates, past the security desk and into the medical office. I hear the voices of my patients echoing down the halls.
For the past 6months I have worked the night shift in an elementary school turned drug and alcohol detox clinic. I have seen so many faces come and go, and a frustrating few return again and again. I have an open door policy: You can come sit and talk with me, or come sit and I will listen.
I have seen so many men break down and cry, sobbing about the lives they threw away because they didn’t know how else to deal. Women with mascara streaming down their faces as they remember the rape, the accident, the moment that changed their lives forever.
When I started here, I didn’t think much of addicts. I thought they were pathetic and weak and incredibly selfish. But, I was wrong. Yes, they become selfish. That’s part of the deal if we’re being honest. But they don’t start out like that.
It starts, they’ve told me, when they get their heart broken or their trust ripped away. When they feel lonely and isolated and don’t know what else to do. So, they do whatever fixes it. Even if only for a moment, an hour, a day. And then it’s gone again, and the pain comes. And so they fix it…again and again and again. Until it can’t be ‘fixed’ anymore.
I’ve been a medic for 10 years. I’ve seen dozens of addicts come into my ambulance. They probably think I look down on them, they probably think I am brash because I hate them. The truth though, is that I am angry that I cannot make them see who they are. I am angry that I cannot fix them for real. And one day, I may be called too late and I won’t have a chance to fix anything at all….