Shuffle Bored –
October 14, 2019 – In February, 2017, I stepped off a plane in Tampa, drunk and dope-sick. I was twenty-four, and for the past eight years I had been shooting up heroin, cocaine, and all manner of pills: Dilaudid, Opana, OxyContin, Desoxyn, Ritalin. Now I was on my way to River Oaks, an addiction-treatment center, where I would spend the next forty-five days. River Oaks was on a gated campus, surrounded by a small forest with trails running through it. I was withdrawing from heroin and benzodiazepines at the time, and mornings were the worst: I woke in the dark at 6 a.m., the pain of withdrawal not yet mediated by the day’s first dose of Suboxone or Librium. I promised anyone who met me that I would die, simply die, of withdrawal; when, on day twenty-three, I had a seizure, I thought, Yes, I am really dying, but then I lived. I made a few friends there, but we soon dispersed, some to Baltimore, others to New Jersey, one to wake up in the morning to find that his girlfriend had died beside him in the night, high on heroin, having aspirated her vomit. The rest of us—those without jobs, school, or families calling us home—moved into sober homes in South Florida.