An addict speaks

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 One particular man in Rockaway, he said, demands cash for opiate prescriptions. “He’s the only one I ever saw do this,” Randy said. “You go in there and you say, ‘I have this script [for OxyContin]’ and he’ll look at you and laugh and say, ‘We don’t accept insurance.’”

The road to recovery
Randy said that legal measures like the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) have definitely made prescription pills harder to find. He speculates that this might stem the increase in new addicts, but also drive more people into heroin abuse. “Now that there’s not enough pills around,” he said, “everyone’s just going to heroin.”  This will be a difficult and harmful path for addicts to follow, he said. He lasted more than four years on prescription pills, but hit a personal low after only a year and a half on heroin.

“Heroin brings you to your knees a lot more,” he said. “When I look back at it, the OxyContin stage was, like, the funner stage. But when you do heroin … I don’t know. I lost all motivation. My face got all sucked in. The heroin was cheaper, but I still wasn’t able to support it.”

Randy and his mother struggle to name all the rehabilitation centers he has been through. They mention Phoenix House, NUMC, Mercy Crisis Center, Talbot House and CK Post, but there’s still a sense that some are unaccounted for. Whatever the final tally might be, however, the two share a sense that Randy is really on the mend this time.

Oddly, it was the lowest-end rehab clinic Randy went to that was the most effective. “I was going to nice rehabs at first, when we had insurance,” he said. “But it was just a break. I’d be able to get higher [after] than I could before I went there. But I went to a state-run facility this last time. It was horrible. They had these horrible rubber beds. And that’s when I woke up one day. I said, ‘I don’t ever want to be back here. I wasn’t built for this.’”

Now 80 days clean, Randy was believable when he said he was taking a shot at sobriety. But he was also edgy — teetering, it seemed, one tablet away from his old self. This is clearly a battle he will be fighting for the rest of his life. But he appears to have finally found the courage to fight it.

Randy has some things going for him: a drug-free girlfriend and a mother who doesn’t give up. He also recently took a test to join a labor union, and is hoping to work his way up the ranks. But even as he and his loved ones revel in the first genuine hope they’ve felt in half a decade, there is always melancholy in the air about how much they’ve already lost.

“It’s sad,” Kerri Murphy said. “There’s all these beautiful little kids from around here, and they’re all junkies.”

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