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Just try to get clean, Part 2 | by Chris Arnade
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Just try to get clean, Part 2

I arrived at 9:00 am with $10 dollars in my pocket and a sheet of phone numbers. Sonya was nowhere, her corner space a bundle of dirty blankets, broken needles, and a Bible. The kitten was gone, presumably given to a friend to watch.


I walked the stretch of the Bruckner, where she begs.


At 10:00 am I found her leaning against a pole. She smiled, “I just need to get straight before I go.”


Nobody had drugs this early; she had to call for a delivery that came an hour later.


Most of her veins dry, she struggled to hit her foot. I waited in the car, calling.


Her first choice was full. Her second choice full. Her third choice full.


I called a place nearby, “What is her Medicaid ID.” I repeated the numbers. “What is her drug of choice and when was the last time she used.” “Her drug is heroin and the last time is five minutes from now.”


They had a bed.


She slept in the van as I drove, overpowered by a bar of Xanax she neglected to tell me about.


She slept in the detox intake room, filled with others desperate to be clean.


Two college kids were giving a lecture on healthy eating, passing out flyers. They left one on Sonya’s lap.


An hour later she was turned down. Her Medicaid had expired.


I dropped her off. She collapsed into the blankets, the Bible under her head.


Read my Guardian article here: Just try to get clean



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Taken on September 26, 2013