“Well, the drug-free honeymoon didn’t last. The trouble with NA meetings is there are often lots of using junkies there just looking for contacts—and new drug buddies. So she made a new friend named Hope, with a house, a car, and lots of heroin. If you were Angie, with enough remorse to sink a ship and equal amounts of shame, this would be just what the doctor ordered.
Hope’s house, I soon discovered, was a small, two-room dump right next to the beltway in Takoma Park, Maryland. I went to visit them before Gene and I left for a backpacking trip in California. I don’t know what it is about drug addicts. Do they need to be surrounded by chaos or are they just hopelessly oblivious? Angie grew up in a tidy home that was cleaned regularly. She never went to bed without a shower. Who was this person?
Two guard dogs, sentinels of this strange domicile, scared me half to death until my daughter pulled them away. There was no path to walk so I climbed over furniture and strewn clothes to find a place to squat.
“Where’s Hope, Angie? I’d like to meet your friend.”
“Oh, she doesn’t feel well, Mom. She needed to sleep this morning.”
This morning, this afternoon, probably all day, I thought to myself. I knew as I sat there in my daughter’s presence exactly where I was and what was going on: Angie and Hope were living in a drug den and they were using drugs. Such clarity—such utter powerlessness. I had a choice right then and there: drag her into my car and kidnap her; or leave her to the life she had chosen. It was 2006, five years into her addiction, and I knew that any intervention on my part would be nothing more than a band-aid on a serious wound unless she, heart and soul, wanted to recover and give up drugs. I was powerless to change her—I was powerless over her addiction.”