Thursday, February 6, 2014

Heroin is like a visit to the Nexus

In one of the best Star Trek episodes, we were introduced to the Nexus, a heavenly ribbon passing by in space. If you're lucky enough to catch a ride on the Nexus, you will experience perfect happiness for all eternity. Here's Wikipedia's explanation, in case this isn't jogging your brain:
The Nexus is an extradimensional realm in which one's thoughts and desires shape reality. Inside the Nexus, time has no meaning, allowing one to visit any time and any place that one can imagine.
You never want to leave the Nexus. Never. Nothing can compare with the ecstasy it provides. I always thought the episode was a parable about heroin use.

See, that's the thing no one understands -- except people who have tried or are addicted to heroin. The high is the most wonderful feeling a human being can experience. In other words, there's a damn good reason people seek this high. In the pantheon of human pleasures, nothing compares to a heroin high.

That's why Philip Seymour Hoffman could relapse after 23 years. It's why any of us could. I know because I was a heroin addict when I was young. Getting off heroin was the hardest thing I ever did. It's not that withdrawal from heroin is so painful; it's not. The problem is that it calls to you. It knows you, it knows exactly what you want. And unless you mount some powerful juju against it, it will win in the end. The siren calls never stop, no matter how many years you stay away from it. It's always just a shot away.

TV coverage of Hoffman's death, and the endless stories about heroin addiction's resurgence in America, have been difficult for me to watch. See, the way I've managed to stay off heroin for about 45 years is simple: I never let myself think about it. Because if I did, I'd start to want it again. So I avoid the topic like the plague. I even change channels when a movie shows someone shooting up. It's too damn appealing -- and that will never change.

In the future, when you think of heroin and wonder why so many people are addicted to it, try to recall the Nexus. That's why they do it. I hope the news stories will diminish in the coming days. Because I have to avoid thinking about this drug. I really do.