by Dwayne LeBlanc

We were snorting Vicodin off the back of a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony CD case. We were just having fun. No one told us that we were essentially doing heroin.

The Vicodin was replaced with OxyContin, and our aspirations were replaced with daily hustling to avoid being sick.

Then we started dying. Kids from my school. Kids I played baseball with. Kids I ran with and rode bikes in the streets with. Kids with great families. Kids who could have been anything.

It was no longer fun. It was now tragic.

We dealt with the trauma the best way we knew how — we stayed high. For years.

It wasn’t supposed to end up this way. Our guidance counselor used to talk to us about going to college. She never prepared us for what it was like to live as a heroin addict.

I got sober, but I will never forget my friends that didn’t. The ones that died. The ones in prison. The ones that are still walking amongst us, self-medicated like the living dead.

That’s why I never shut up about addiction. I want to make sure everyone hears the things that I needed to hear when I was 17.

Addiction is a disease. Anyone who says different is lost or doesn’t want to admit it because they’re too busy trying to act like they’re better than those of us who suffer from this powerful disease.

This shit doesn’t discriminate. Old, young, wealthy or poor. This shit will bring you down like nothing else in this world.

For all those who have beat this disease and are living a healthy, clean and sober life, you are a hero in my eyes. Keep fighting the good fight. NEVER turn your back on your Dark Passenger, because it’s always lurking in the shadows ready to snatch your ass up and make you its bitch again.

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