Sixty-three year old Roxanne goes skiing in Aspen and on weekend getaways to Miami. That’s what she would like you to believe. Really she’s a heroin addict and has been for over a decade. I remember growing up and my mother tried to deter me from doing drugs through means of scare tactics. She warned that if I did drugs I would die immediately, “You’ll die the first time. Make no mistake. Instantly, after the first try”. So, as you might imagine Roxanne was somewhat of an enigma to me for lasting as long as she has.
The story of Roxanne although sad is not all unusual. Our world is bombarded by drug use televised through shows like Intervention and Celebrity Rehab. It seems as if you are part of the minority if you don’t have a drug problem. Yet, all the stories you hear never place the addict working at a high school. That is what makes Roxanne’s story special.
Yes, our district hires heroin addicts. Not recovering addicts, but those committed to their vice. Ones that leave for an hour at lunch and don’t just pick up a sandwich. I never believed that someone could function like this until I witnessed it first hand. Down in the office I see her sitting behind the desk one minute the next her eyes roll back in her head and she slams her forehead on the desk. I clap my hands to resuscitate her, “Roxanne, what are you doing? Wake up!” A few seconds later she comes to.
Roxanne get her heroin in the dumpster of the school. The custodians told Margie in the main office last week that her dealer drops off the dope and she jumps into the garbage heap to retrieve it. I thought they were making it up. I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself. One day I followed Roxanne outside during her break. I stayed far enough behind so that she wouldn’t detect me. Sure enough she walked towards the dumpster and disappeared. I crept closer and her head popped up from the debris. “Roxanne”, I asked, “What the hell are you doing in the dumpster? Are you out of your mind?” “I dropped a contact”, was her only response as she quickly climbed out of and headed back into the building.