Art Imitates Life and Breaks Your Heart

You know I work with homeless addicts. Sometimes the work is frustrating, or funny, or heartwarming, but one day last week it was truly harrowing: One of our clients was detoxing from heroin.

Oh guys, it was bad. I’d never seen anything like this before. She was fine, and then suddenly, curled up, her stomach killing her, throwing up, diarrhea, had the chills, couldn’t walk… And there was nothing anyone could do. Going to the hospital was pointless, she just had to get through it. We didn’t have any other place to put her, so she was in the office next to mine, on the floor and moaning for several hours. I felt like crying and fervently wished that my Wee One never has to endure pain like that.

Thankfully, she recovered quickly, and seems to be doing better, though I don’t know if she’s back to using.

Last Sunday in the U.S. was the Super Bowl, the biggest game of American football, a ritual I recently read described as akin to gladiator fights during the Roman empire. No matter how bad the game (sometimes) is, every year, people watch for the commercials. Given that the Super Bowl is such a popular event, having a commercial during the game guarantees people will see about your product, and the ads compete with each other to be the one most people talk about.

There were some stupid “tearjerking” ones, and there was another commercial about domestic violence run by the National Football League that was good, but really, a pitiful gesture in light of how many of their players have unpunished for abusing their partners.

Probably the one that had the most impact, at least in St. Louis, was a 60 second spot run by the local National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse office. A crunchy upbeat vocalist and guitar sing a little ditty as we watch mom come home and discover that her son has overdosed in his bedroom, a spoon and needle right next to him. “And that’s hoooooow, how you OD’ed on heroin.” The singer croons.

The juxtaposition of both the upbeat melody and the dark images were so jarring they made an immediate impact, in just 60-seconds. I believe it’s going to start to run nationally, it was so powerful. It was an excellent use of simple things – simple images, simple melody – for something really powerful.

Admittedly, it may have been a little more powerful because of my earlier experience, but still.

One thought on “Art Imitates Life and Breaks Your Heart

  1. Yes, there was something more gladiatorial than most about the Superbowl this year… The terrible truth, though I wish it could be otherwise, is that she will go back for that fix, and begin the whole awful cycle again. There is no suffering more acute than that we impose upon ourselves. But I wish her well, and give you my admiration for the help you give her – it’s more than I could do.

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