It usually starts like this: A friend, co-worker or relative approaches you with a desperate plea for money. Tearfully they will tell you that they are running a bit short this month due an unexpected car repair or their kid's school trip. They will grab hold of your arm and explain that their power, water or gas will be shut off if they don't come up with fill-in-the-blank amount of cash.
A sucker for mankind and its frailties, plus you know they have kids at home, you lend them the specified amount. It's always an odd amount of cash they seek, rarely an even $20 or $50. They thank you and beg you not to tell anyone. And, of course, they will pay you back on payday.
Then you get a call from a mutual acquaintance who asks if you know what's going on as he, too, was approached by the same person in need of cash. As your acquaintance repeats his story, your throat goes dry and the anger spreads up your neck until you feel you are going to be ill. You know you will never see your money returned.
After a little investigation, it becomes clear that the person who borrowed money from you has tapped just about everyone she works with and even some of her business clients. Then you take another look and realize what you should have seen all along. You have been taken in by a drug addict.
Their addiction has caused them to do things that no person in their right mind would do if not for the drugs. I'm not talking about marijuana or diet pill addictions. This time it's hardcore stuff including prescription pills, heroin and this new and deadly bath salts junk.
These addictions know no boundaries. They prey on the poor and the wealthy alike. The difference is whether the user has to steal or commit other crimes to support his or her habit or simply deplete their bank accounts and their friends' and families' wallets.
That's the commonality of these drugs. Both will eventually bring the user to ruin. They don't realize that their weight is dwindling down to scarecrow proportions or that their teeth and hair are beginning to fall out. It doesn't matter that they forgot to pick up their kids from school or that the repo man is hooking up the family van for lack of payment.
The only thing that matters is the next high. That's when it becomes our problem. The number of burglaries, petty crimes and even bank robberies will rise along with the level and amount of users. Shootings are a constant occurrence among drug pushers marking their territories with bullets.
Addiction does not dictate common sense in a user. They steal from the elderly and weak to support their habits. They drive under the influence of drugs and hurt or kill others.
Be a real friend, co-worker or relative and say no to the borrower. And pray that something will change, soon.
Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.