When most people see a drug addict they see trouble. In some cases they would be right to be wary, but on the whole, apart from being annoying, they don’t mean any harm.
I see a lot of young addicts – or smackheads as they are affectionately known as in these parts- on a daily basis. The town where I work seems to have a disproportionate number of addicts; I’m sure it is the new drug capital of the world.
When you talk to addicts, you quickly realise that they are all different. The only thing that unites them is; they are all reliant on a substance to make their lives worthwhile. There is never a dull moment when we have some of them in the shop. Most aren’t regulars, they may pop in to keep warm, wait for a bus or just to have some company. If we are quiet, then I am the target for their company. This is when the reality of what they have done to themselves hits home, like punch drunk boxers, unable to speak properly, slow and deliberate, struggling to string a sentence together. I have to stop myself from finishing off sentences, as I usually guess incorrectly; making me sound more incoherent than they are.
When we are busy I watch and see others take a wide berth, it resembles a weird dance ritual with everybody going round in circuits: avoiding any sort of contact.
A young lad came in one night last winter; he was freezing. I bought him a cuppa and sat him by the radiator. He was filthy and stunk to high heaven, was very fidgety and ready for his next fix. He left without saying goodbye; one moment I was chatting and the next he was on his starting blocks and shot out of the shop. I never saw him again, and I often wonder what happened to him.
It is hard to admit that I would rather that these addicts didn’t frequent my premises, but as a mere human, I am on constant red alert and wary of what events might ensue.
There has been some scary moments and also some which have been funny. But in the main, the majority of addicts crave some kind of company and the trick is: try and see past prejudice and to regain the art of human kindness.