The Hardest Part of Addiction Medicine


I just heard the news a client I met ten days ago has died. I am stunned and saddened.  I see so many patients in an average work day that I have a tendency to blur names and faces.  But not this girl.

I remembered her so alive, happy to be in recovery, looking forward to the future. She smiled as she told me she was thankful for second chances. She had almost died not too long ago from a complication of her heroin addiction.  But she survived. Her glance into death’s eyes changed her.

She vowed to get clean. To make amends.

To live.

Not everyone gets a second chance. She died in her sleep. There was no way she could have used in her tightly supervised setting.  She said goodnight and…..died.

Heroin addiction is a horrifying thing and has snuffed out another beautiful light.  The practitioner in me knows the disease of addiction, the organic complications and expects morbidity and mortality in this patient population that I work with.  Yet my heart trumps my knowledge and clinical experience.  My heart hurts.

I close my eyes and shake my head baffled.

The last time, this time, the next time, it will always be sad.