VOICES FROM THE STREET: Why the bridge to Long Island blew up

When Victory Program, which runs a variety of types of care for addicts in different stages of recovery, took out a mortgage on a building on Boston’s Long Island, they had no idea that the bridge leading to their drug recovery program would be demolished without warning.

So now Victory Program must pay a mortgage on a building they can’t use. Not only that, but because there is a mortgage on the building, they have to pay the Philadelphia Insurance Company a giant lump of insurance premiums.

According to the Boston Globe, the Victory Program tried to cancel both the mortgage and insurance under the business interruption clause of their policy. However, due to the unusual circumstances, these “morally responsible” companies ruled that Victory Program was required to keep paying both the mortgage and the insurance.

This money could have gone toward the purchase or rent of other buildings so Victory Program could open desperately needed beds to help heroin addicts, especially providing shelter for those who have no place to go after they get out of detox.

These people, in need of a place to stay while still sick, often relapse on purpose so they can get back into detox- the only kind of drug program available to them. Mayor Marty Walsh didn’t cause this problem; it was ignored by previous administrations. It’s not good to speak ill of the dead but do you know what I “Menino” when I say this.

Unfortunately most of the beds in the recovery programs were women’s beds so now our most vulnerable people are rotating in the “spin-dry” cycle. That’s what we used to call the detox/using to get into detox cycle, before I found a way to stay abstinent.

I was a heroin addict for over three decades. I took my first shot in 1963 and didn’t really enter the recovery trail until 1994, when I was working steadily as a vendor for Spare Change News

To build a new bridge to the Long Island homeless and drug program areas would cost over $80 million, not counting the hidden costs of the dead and the dying while the bridge is being built.

Instead of a physical bridge, an alternative is to build a new approach toward drug control. I just finished reading a wonderful book called Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari, put out by the Bloomsbury Publishing Company that tells the story about the war on drugs and the truth behind it.

Chasing The Scream tells the story of how we were conned into making drugs illegal.

At the end of alcohol prohibition, agency head Harry Anslinger was in charge of a giant organization that’s sole purpose was to chase down bootleggers and arrest people dealing in alcohol.

Anslinger always hated drugs for personal reasons so he began telling tall tales about the evils of various drugs: weed, heroin, cocaine, and speed. Ironically Bayer Aspirin named the opiate derivative Bayer Heroin and said that it was wonderful as a cure all for everything, even morphine addiction.

Well, what a surprise!

Before these drugs became illegal, they actually caused very little in the way of destruction. The hell really began when the drugs were criminalized. Anslinger was a powerful manipulator and scared the hell out of the American public and drug prohibition was born. The giant machine that Harry Anslinger was in charge of had a new purpose.

Anslinger played the race card and blamed the use of drugs on Asian and Black people. He literally drove Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz singers in the world, who also used opiates, to her grave by stalking her and throwing her in jail every chance he could.

Not only that but, the prohibition of drugs created a giant criminal network to supply the drugs at greatly inflated costs to those who needed them. That caused a crime wave in itself by making it necessary to break the law to get the money for drugs that were once dirt cheap.

The broken bridge to Long Island is but a symbol of our incompetent and ill-advised war on drugs. If drugs were legalized and controlled, the criminal underworld that supplies them would be out of business. Drug use could be treated and controlled. Not only that but the excitement of the chase to get drugs would now become a boring trip to the medical clinic that supplied the drugs and gave people a safe place to shoot up with clean needles and supervision.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, please pick up a copy of Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari and read it from end to end. You will not be bored; you will be enlightened by the truth. If America listened and stopped the war on drugs, not only addicts, but many homeless people will be able to get safe housing and treatment for their problems because drugs would be legal and cheap and the gang-bangers would be out of work.

It’s time to build a new type of bridge, a bridge that leads to the recovery of our society and the creation of a sane drug policy.







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