This post is part of a collaborative narrative series composed of my writing and Chris Arnade's photos exploring issues of addiction, poverty, prostitution and urban anthropology in Hunts Point, Bronx. For more on the series, look here.
The majority of both male and female heroin addicts entering a city treatment program were introduced to heroin by a male. But by contrast with the males, females were in many cases introduced to heroin by another woman, more often used drugs with persons of both sexes, and were more likely to be living with a current or former heroin user at intake. Encouragement to give up drugs was reported more frequently by both men and women than attempts to discourage their entry into treatment, but only the encouragement of the spouse or opposite-sexed partner was significantly related to treatment outcome.¹
Eric was committed by Rhode Island after his fiancee died on November 29, 2002.
They, the state, the public, thought he might kill himself.
He went a little insane and began raging at the world, shouting and shouting without semblance of stopping.
He was taken to a psychiatric ward on a large campus lush with trees, one bordered by a cove and a gently sweeping wide boulevard. Nearby homes consist of wide-set porches and green yards, patient buildings a medley of brick and modern, staffed by residents who pride themselves on program reputation.
There, Eric found abandoned puppies in the low brush to raise, ones with fox-like description.
He didn't stay too long, but long enough to raise his pets up and to let them go.
His fiancee, Kendall, was 27 when she died. Twenty-seven when she took too much heroin and he woke up to her.
Eric recounts this other life -- over a decade earlier -- in the car, driving away from Hunts Point, away from his felony drug warrant and years spent living addicted and homeless with his wife, Sonya.
Details of then sound like now: settings could be blurred. The women share likenesses.
"I found that Sonya was better than Kendall, and I fell more deeply in love. And what do I do? I introduced her to heroin. Tell me I'm not a sick fucking dude."
His self-distain halted and carried for minutes while Sonya sat silent, glassed eyes toward the moving scene out the window, her habit greater than his.
Together, always together, they continue.
Eric and Sonya: Their Last Hunts Point Home. Courtesy of Chris Arnade.