Diary Of Dispair A Diary of Despair A Chronicle of Heroin Abuse As Seen through the Eyes Of a Mother Jennifer Bernstein Drug Use and Abuse Professor Santucci 4/26/99 Dear Diary, I think back, and I smile at the little girl I used to have, all pigtails and lace. I can still hear her laughter echoing through the hallways of our home; see her swinging on the swing set in our backyard, her long curly blonde hair, full of pink ribbons, sailing behind her like a pool of melted gold. When the sun hit her face, she just glowed, her green eyes sparkling, her red cheeks, full, lush and alive. What happened to that little girl? Where the hell did I go wrong?!? Why am I sitting in a cold empty room, where she used to laugh and play, clinging to a teddy bear she tossed away years ago, wondering where she is tonight? OH GOD, just bring her home safe, I’m begging you. Dear Diary, Today I found money, along with my credit card, missing from my purse (Beschner p.51). I also woke up missing a daughter.

I can only imagine where she is now. I don’t understand!! It’s like she’s like the girl in The Exorcist, she seems possessed, but by what, I don’t know! Just last week we had ourselves a “girls day out”. We treated ourselves to makeovers, had lunch, bought new outfits, even caught a matinee movie!! We had a great day; she was my little girl again. But now, I find myself alone again, wondering, worrying, and praying (Gustafson p.45-46). If only I knew what was going on.

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I know adolescence is a time of turmoil and rebellion, but this all doesn’t seem normal. She disappears for days, DAYS!! And when she finally comes home, it’s an all out battle. I threaten her, I scream at her, I plead with her, only to have the door slammed in my face! I’m nearly at my wits end. I wish her father was still here, I need help. I can’t go through this alone.

I’m scared. Dear Diary, I don’t know who she is anymore. I fear the little girl I once knew is gone forever now, never to be seen again. This person is unrecognizable to me. She went from being an honor-roll student to dropping out of high school. She’s emaciated, her clothes (if you want to call them that, they look like rags to me) hang on her; she looks like she hasn’t bathed in weeks.

Her face, once full of joy and hope, is emotionless now. When I do see her, she only has angry words for me, before stealing some of my money and storming out of the house (Gustafson p.48-49). I want to reach out to her, but I just don’t know how. I fear the worst. I don’t want to admit what my heart already knows. Dear Diary, My worst fears have finally been confirmed.

I found a needle in her drawer. I confronted her. My hands are shaking as I write this. GOD how could this happen to my little girl!?!?! WHY?? It didn’t go well. She admitted it.

She looked straight into my eyes, with a cold harsh stare I barely recognized (but somewhere, deep down in that gaze, I saw her, the child I once knew) and said “Yeah, I’m using. There’s nothing you can do about it”, and then walked away (Gustafson, p57-56). I stood frozen. I felt my soul ripped from my body. I feel as though I’ve lost her forever.

Dear Diary, It’s been about a month since I saw her last, the day I found the needle. I have no idea where she is. If I knew who her friends are, I’d call them, but she’s been so elusive and secretive (Gustafson, p52) during the past year, I have no idea who they may be. Who ever they are, they probably got her into all of this. How could I have let this get so out of control? Looking back, I should have seen this coming; I should have recognized the signs (Gustafson p.86).

I could have stopped this. NO! Stop it!! I can’t do this to myself. The past is the past and yes, mistakes were made, but the damage is done and I can’t dwell on things past! I have to take action, I have to get my daughter back! Dear Diary, I went to the library yesterday and checked out everything I could find about heroin abuse. I am determined to understand what my daughter is going through, that way I may be better prepared to find her and help her. These books are a godsend.

They help shed so much light on the whole situation. They’ve helped me realize that my daughter is under the physiological and psychological control of her brain. This drug (I like to call it poison) is what is driving my daughter’s every thought and action. It’s what she literally lives for. Her brain makes it so; once it tasted a little, it begged her for more and more and more, making her whole world heroin. That’s why she seemed so unrecognizable to me, and why (even if she gets treatment) a part of her will always remain foreign.

Her whole life now is going to be a battle because her brain is now conditioned to need heroin (Ruden, p 52-53). All these books seem to have one common theme, all of them mention something called the Nucleus Acumbens, a structure in the brain rich in something called Dopamine, a neurotransmitter (that’s a chemical in the brain that neurons, the cells that make up the nervous system, use to communicate information to another neuron (Levinthal p.62) ). Apparently, heroin (as do most drugs of abuse) enhances the release of dopamine in the Nucleus Acumbens. The Nucleus Acumbens plays a role in what one-book calls “incentive salience”. He said that “incentive salience is a psychological process that transforms how we perceive stimuli by making them more attractive and wanted” (Ruden, p.55).

Attractive and wanted. I just keep saying those words over and over in my mind. Attractive and wanted. My little girl was once attractive and she is still wanted, always will be. She used to crave school, lived for it even. She was a straight A student and was so happy.

But when her father died, something in her seemed to die too. She cut herself off and I wasn’t able to reach her. Now her only ambition in life is her next fix. Her brain is so conditioned, just the act of cooking the dope and drawing it up in the syringe can start that release of Dopamine; she can actually begin to feel high before she’s even plunged that garbage into her arm (Ruden, p.55) Then, once it’s injected she becomes overwhelmed with an immediate sense of tingling warmth; the book I read described it as an orgasm only tenfold, followed by a sense of tranquility, to the point of drowsiness. Her pupils become constricted and her body releases histamine making her itchy (looking back, if only I had recognized those symptoms, if only I had seen what was really going on!) (Levinthal, p.103) The scariest part of everything I’ve read is how easily heroin can kill you.

It acts on the respiratory regulator in our brains called the medulla (Levinthal, p103) it depresses breathing to such an extent, the first time user can overdose and die. Apparently the effective dose and the lethal dose of heroin are so close, overdose is accomplished with ease (Levinthal, p109-110). Knowing all this helps me understand what she’s going though, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. My little girl is out there. My little girl can die.

Dear Diary, I FOUND HER! OH GOD! It took me days, but I found her! I hit the streets determined to find her, asking everyone I saw if they “recognized the girl in the picture”. God, I must have said that a million times! But it worked!!! I did it! I won’t go through the miserable details, but I eventually found her sitting in an alleyway by a dumpster. I barely recognized her, and I don’t think she recognized me at …