On top of a shopping cart no less. That’s what happened a week ago in Atlanta, GA. A homeless man, under I-85 North with two other homeless folks talked about smoking some crack. Allegedly, he smoked alone and decided to burn a sofa on top of a shopping cart. That sofa in turn ignited a bunch of PVC spools stored under the bridge by GDOT. In turn, the fire got so hot it melted the plastic Target shopping cart. Followed quickly by the rebar on the bridge and before you know it I-85 Northbound out of Atlanta fell to the ground.
I was picking up take-out at a Pizza place about a mile from the Brookhaven Marta station. It was supposed to rain later that evening. When I came outside I looked left and there was a large ominous black cloud in the sky. I thought to myself “Oh my that looks like one heck of storm cloud!” When I got to my destination I saw on the news that I-85 was burning. Within 45 minutes the bridge collapsed. Hence the black cloud. No one was injured. Unbelievable! 250,000 motorists were stranded.
It got me thinking. This homeless guy had been arrested 19 times since 2000. This includes drug charges, battery, assault and in 2014 for the sale and trafficking of cocaine.
How is it that this guy is still on the street? Does he even comprehend the sheer number of people affected by his actions?
I wanted to learn more about Crack Cocaine.
So, I consulted a friend of mine who way back in the day had an issue with Crack. Now recovered and a successful business owner I asked what does the drug do to you?
I learned the following:
-It is a major stimulant. It releases dopamine in your brain within eight seconds after inhaling it into your lungs. The high last 10-15 minutes, that’s all. It’s the best high you could ever experience. The person exhibits a false sense of confidence and power.
-One to three uses of Crack Cocaine and you’re addicted. It is one of the most addictive substances available. The high is intense and short lived followed by the opposite, intense depression, edginess and a craving for more.
-Intense paranoia, anger, hostility and anxiousness—even when you aren’t high. Smoking crack causes aggressive and paranoid behavior. Psychosis.
“Binge use of crack cocaine can result in a psychotic, over-stimulated state accompanied by paranoia and compulsive behavior. At the end of the binge, the person will normally crash, suffering exhaustion, agitation, depression and intense cravings.”
-It causes liver, lung and kidney damage. Malnutrition and weight loss.
-Risky behavior, disorientation, apathy.
The list goes on. You can buy it in $5, $10 and $20 rocks. It takes a lot of rocks to keep you high considering the high lasts 10-15 minutes. A 250 lb. person could use $500.00 per day to keep the high going.
Users turn to theft, prostitution, selling their possessions, dealing -anything to get their hands on the drug.
One interesting thing I learned is that if someone is a chronic user they actually believe they see people, see things, things that could hurt them. Translated this guy in Atlanta could have thought the PVC inside the fence was something he needed to destroy. Who knows? He could have thought “people” were hiding it there or in fact he could just be crazy.
When I see an event like this it gives me pause, because it highlights that we do in fact have a serious drug problem in the United States. Consider the meth labs in the NE. In Maine alone 56 Meth labs were busted in 2015. The problem is escalating rapidly. Meth and Crack use is prevalent throughout the country. The number one reason people take Meth or Crack is the high, the Euphoria.
Logic only leads me to one question—What is wrong in our society that we feel so isolated, depressed, forlorn and alone? Causing some of us to respond with drug use for a 10-minute-high only to watch our health deteriorate, families disintegrate and financial lives crumble.
Addiction has always been a part of society. The most common addictions include: Coffee, gambling, alcohol, compulsive shopping, sex, cannabis, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, ATS (meth) food, video games and the internet. Whatever it takes to get the edge off, right? This list doesn’t include other addictions like exercise, people, porn, cleaning, working or anything done in excess.
To self sooth we turn to our addictions. Once we go there many times we end up unhappy, unfulfilled, regretful and dissatisfied. Could we just start with moderation?
“Addiction can simply be defined as making short-term choices that have long-term negative consequences."
I don’t have the answers. I just know it’s worth thinking about.
It’s a fact that one homeless man’s actions quickly brought the city of Atlanta to its knees. We declared a State of Emergency the day it happened. The millions of commuters, visitors and truckers affected will go on for months. This man’s decisions most likely caused by his addiction, did not allow him to pause and consider the enormous ramifications of his actions.
Do we ever stop to ask ourselves if we have addictions? Do our addictions affect other people?
“The idea that everything is purposeful really changes the way you live. To think that everything that you do has a ripple effect, that every word that you speak, every action that you make affects other people and the planet.”
I am going to start with Do no harm. To myself or anyone else.
Until next time,