22 Jul

I waited a long time for the connection to finally be made between mine and Jess’s mobile, and then it rang for a long time before Claude answered.

“Hi Kyle, sorry, I didn’t want to wake Jess, she’s sleeping so peacefully.”

I asked him what the next steps were for Jess.  He was waiting for the psychologist to discuss it with her. On her previous visit to the clinic, Jess had not been as bad as this time so he wasn’t sure what to expect. He was just relieved that she was calm and sleeping now. He had been terrified that she had fatally overdosed this time. The paramedics said it was a miracle that she came around from the way they found her. Her heart had stopped and she was ice cold. The Naloxone did part of the job and the ventilator did the rest.

“What’s Naloxone?” I asked

Claude explained that it was an opioid reversal drug that saved the lives of many opioid addicts, of which Jess was one that had been saved twice. It wasn’t just taking too much of the drug, in this case, heroin that caused the overdose symptoms, it was also what was added to the heroin that caused the negative reactions.

“What was added, like what and what for?” my ignorance leading to more questions.

Jess had been the reason for Claude’s research into the subject and he explained that the producers added all kinds of fillers to the heroin. This was not only to enhance the narcotic effect but also to make bigger profits using cheap fillers. It was hard to tell which of these caused her overdose reaction.  The last time was six months ago after a weekend bender from being clean and sober for two years.

“When can I see her?”

“Definitely not today Kyle. Let me talk to the psych first and also the medics. The drugs have calmed her for now, but when they wear off I don’t know how she will be. I think it was a once off shoot up, so there won’t be a long withdrawal from repetitive using. Fortunately, this place is a combined clinic and rehab facility so she doesn’t have to be moved. I will let you know as soon as I have an answer.”

I thanked him and asked him to keep me in the loop if there was any change in her condition. As I cut the call I felt an emotion that had silently crept up on me without invitation. I was developing feelings of more than a platonic friendship for this girl. I had to check myself and ask the question whether they were coming from an attitude of pity for her circumstances or not. I wasn’t going to get caught in an emotional whirlwind that spewed me out again like Milly, my long-time partner from varsity days. The pain of that breakup almost led me to drugs.

Leaning back in my chair I wondered how I had made it through school and varsity without getting sucked into the drug and alcohol culture. I had my fair share of partying, drinking and the odd joint which never really impressed me. In fact, I still don’t like not having full control of all of my faculties. I guess it could be because of my strong desire to be in control of everything, including other people. Another warning sign emerging in the emotional popcorn going on in my life right now.

A message popped up on my laptop to tell me I had received a new email. I was about to open it when a message alert sounded on my phone from Jess. It was from Claude to give me his contact number for future comms and to say that he was about to meet with the psychologist. I saved his number and sent a ‘Thank you.’ I got a thumb’s up and got back to my emails. It was going to be difficult to stay focused on work, but I needed something to distract me right now so I didn’t get consumed with saving Jess. The email was from Josh and wasn’t work-related. It was a link to a website about supporting people in addiction. This was not helping with the distraction I needed. Of course, I chose to read it right away.

The homepage had an interesting option besides the normal ‘About’, ‘Contact’ and the like. I clicked on ‘Meetings’. The drop-down revealed two options; ‘Addiction Support’ and ‘Supporters of Addicts’. I chose the second one and saw a picture of a big red broken heart with the question ‘Do you need to heal your broken heart?’ Well, I hadn’t invested too much of my heart yet, but it felt like there was some pain there, so I read on. It went on to explain that supporting an addict was not about agreeing with them, or encouraging their addiction, but rather about loving somebody who was caught in the horrible trap of addiction. I literally put my hand up towards the screen as the word love sank in. I did not love the addict. I felt a twinge of guilt when I continued reading and they explained that this love varied from paternal to simple concern for a friend. I realised that I was being too sensitive about this love thing. It brought to mind a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet that my father used to quote when he felt that it was appropriate. ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’.

Continuing to read, they explained that supporters needed recovery too from the chaos and hurt caused in the relationship with the addict. They provided tools to understand and ‘support’ the addict while learning how to heal from your own harm and hurt. There was a list of venues, days and times of the meetings. I was surprised to see that there was one very close to home on a Wednesday night at 7 pm. I had no idea that the venue was being used for any kind of meetings. I wasn’t convinced yet that I should be there. What if Jess never wanted to see me again because of her shame?

Another email receipt popped up. Josh simply saying; ‘There’s a meeting near you tonight!’

* The email will not be published on the website.