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Tag: addiction

Doing the Math

“I can’t do it—I’ll die!”

Veronica is in tears.

I’m a family physician, working in a pain-management clinic in the Bronx. As Veronica’s doctor, I’ve asked her to see me to discuss coming off her opioid medications. It’s part of a clinic-wide initiative to reassess using these medications long-term with patients who have chronic pain.

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Cracked Up

Carlos Downell ~

They say that to write well, you should write about what you know. I’m a homeless drug addict. This essay is not about me, although I’ll figure in it. It’s about drug abuse among the homeless, a subject I’m very well acquainted with.

I have a dual diagnosis–substance-abuse issues and psychiatric dysfunction. Double trouble. If I can’t get meth, I’ll smoke crack, and if I can’t get crack, I’ll smoke

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A Stranger Comes to Town

Syed M. Ahmed ~

Twenty-five years ago, having completed my family-medicine residency, I left Houston to start a two-year stint practicing in a remote village of fewer than 2,000 souls in the Appalachian Mountains of Ohio.

The day I arrived at my new workplace (a two-person practice in the only clinic for fifty miles), my new colleague Dr. Jones told me that she was leaving the next day on a two-week vacation.

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Tough Love

Maria Gervits

I miss Alba. I don’t know why, but I do. She was the most challenging patient I’ve ever had. I dreaded seeing her in the office–and yet, somehow, she won me over.

Alba was fifty-nine, with short, silver hair, a deep, gravelly voice from decades of smoking, and an attitude. She had lung disease, heart disease, depression, arthritis and HIV. She also had a complicated social situation. She’d used cocaine and

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Jerry Stockton



Jonathan Stockton

About the contributor: 

Jonathan is completing his MFA in photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He photographs in areas where communities form around addiction and documents how these communities change over time. His thesis show will be on view May 11-23 at MassArt’s Bakalar Gallery in Boston,

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On the Road

Josephine Ensign

As a community health nurse, I work with homeless and street-involved teenagers. In almost thirty years of doing this work on both coasts, and in Thailand and Venezuela, I’ve gotten to know thousands of young people living on the margins of society.

I love working with them; they challenge me to see the world–and myself–in a broader way, one that opens up vistas of hope for positive change and a better future.


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House Call

Kendra Peterson

I approached my father in the yard of his most recent home, a small, run-down duplex shack. His hair was whiter than I remembered, his old blue sweater shaggy. He was clipping the hedge in his careless but enthusiastic way; when finished, it wouldn’t look good, but it would look clipped. 

One of his eyes was red

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Mother And Son

Adnan Hussain

I judge. Even though I’m not supposed to, even though I try my best to stop myself, I still judge. Fundamentally, I guess, I’m a creature of habit, caught up in an endless current of seemingly instinctive behaviors. As a first-year medical resident, I sometimes feel acutely aware of this in my dealings with patients.

I stand at the bedside of Sharon Weathers, an unassuming woman in her mid-thirties for whom I’ve been

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Benjamin Ostro with Boris D Veysman

Back when I was a premedical student, I didn’t devote much time to community service. I cared about helping others, and yet, feeling as driven as I did to excel in my academic and extracurricular commitments, I had little time for volunteering. 

It’s been my sense that most physicians don’t do much community

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Just This Once

Majid Khan

It’s a rainy Thursday evening in our small inner-city practice. Today is the receptionist’s birthday, and I’ve been cordially invited to attend a small party prepared by her coworkers.

As I descend the green carpeted steps to the lounge, my aching muscles remind me about the torture session (otherwise known as “boxercise”) that I attended last night

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Confessions of a 75-Year-Old Drug Addict

Arlene Silverman

The physician, a slim, young man with a shaved head and intense, dark eyes, reaches out to shake hands. I fumble to extend one hand while the other clutches a questionnaire that I haven’t finished filling out. 

“That’s okay,” Dr. Gordon says. “You can finish later.”

He can tell that I’m nervous, but seems to understand. He knows that I’ve had to sign in at a window surrounded by other

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The Emaciated Infant

Paula Lyons

The police had been called to the house by a neighbor who said she heard children crying and hadn’t seen the mother in two days. It was the middle of a night in July, and the children’s wails would have traveled through the project windows left open to catch cooling breezes.

Paramedics provided transport to the hospital, but the normally cynical and well-defended police were so outraged that they also came to

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