As a 15-year-old in Amsterdam (mid 90’ties), I remember seeing junkies lying against each other, sleeping, like sardines in a can to keep each other warm, behind the central station in the cold and rain. I asked my elder brother, who was then 21 years old at the time (we were playing in a band together, and we were on our way to the music rehearsal place), why do people live like this? Because it made a huge impression on me.
Then my brother answered non-judgemental: heroin. And then he explained to me about hard drugs and told me that even the strongest of men can not fight, or hold off, the addictiveness of these substances. He said the biggest mistake you can make is thinking it will not happen to you. So if you want to end up like this, he said cynically, you know what to do… So I never did hard drugs. This stuff was a red line for me, and believe me, I did enough partying… But it always intrigued me that being aware of the consequences, someone would put the first needle in his arm. Years later, I had a conversation with an ex-heroin addict, and I asked him about the first needle. He had a surprising answer: the moment you put the first needle into your arm is a conscious choice for this type of life. He said that most addicts regret it afterward, but the choice of starting heroin is mostly made with the full knowledge of the risks.
My conclusion is that most addicts had too much pride in that first moment, thinking they could resist the demon of addiction. Then I had to think back to the valuable advice my brother gave to me years before: that even the strongest of men can not fight, or hold off, the addictiveness of these substances. In other words, he told me to have an attitude of humility and watch out for pride. I pray for the poor souls, and I hope they find peace at some point in their life. Don’t forget: they are someone’s loved ones, children, mothers, and fathers.