This is your vein on drugs

I remember as a kid seeing those scared-straight commercials on after-school TV. You know, the “this-is-your-brain-on-drugs” commercials with the egg and the frying pan. They were part of the Reagan-era War on Drugs that many people now consider an epic fail.

Since the egg-in-the-frying-pan thing didn’t work so well, maybe this anecdote will help get the message across.

Last night my partner and I were called to Insite to deal with a man who had assaulted a staff member.┬áHe’s a hardcore drug addict who now has several medical and mental health issues due to his drug abuse. He claims Satan tells him not to shower, and not long ago I watched as he tore off all his clothes and masturbated in the middle of Main and Hastings Street, then did a hood slide across a police car before getting arrested.

Tonight, he was arrested and sent to jail, then later to hospital due to a medical issue. My partner and I were sent to guard him, at a combined $80 an hour.

I sat at the end of the hospital bed and watched as nurse after nurse tried to draw blood from his veins. They tried his arms, then his legs, then his feet. They couldn’t draw blood, because after nearly a decade of drug abuse, all of the veins on this man’s body had hardened, collapsed and disappeared.

All but one — the vein in his penis.

That’s right. The only vein left on this man’s body is on his appendage. And it’s that vein he jabs with a needle three, four, five times a day. Just to get high. He’d happily do it more, if only he could find more dope.

As she was searching for a vein, the nurse asked him if he was wanted to go into treatment.

“Drug treatment?” he asked.

“Yeah,” said the nurse.

He pretended to doze off and didn’t answer.

I bet he never thought it would turn out like this the first time he tried drugs.

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13 Responses to This is your vein on drugs

  1. Jordan says:

    Couldn’t agree more – the old ads’ use of analogy loses the harsh reality of drug use. I personally love these ads and hope they make it to Canada soon:

  2. DC says:

    The issue of personal responsibility is a tough one. Every person who is a drug addict today at some point had to make the choice, free from addiction, to start taking drugs. Some probably started for kicks, some probably started as a form of escape without understanding that far greater horrors awaited them. Some probably have brains wired for addiction, and some probably have deficient social networks to save themselves from themselves.

    This isn’t to make excuses. After all, becoming so drunk as to impair your judgement is not an excuse for driving drunk. And as philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris says “if we could incarcerate earthquakes and hurricanes for their crimes, we would build prisons for them as well.”

    I hope some day we strike the right balance of liberty, treatment, personal responsibility and safety.

  3. chelci says:


    That’s all I can say. That’s rock bottom.

  4. Sparky says:

    I can’t remember which comedian made the point, but he asked why the mentally ill always claim they are instructed by God or Satan or whomever to kill their parents or burn their children or not shower, but are never instructed to help old ladies across the street, or clean an animal shelter or be very polite.

    • Raingurl says:

      I think if there was good mental illness it wouldn’t be such a problem. I dunno! It’s not like the ill wake up and start singing. It’s all sadness, all day, all year.

  5. Paramed student says:

    For some reason, I have a sudden craving for a big, greasy breakfast.

    • Raingurl says:

      Someone ad a “LIKE” button. LOL. T his commercial always made me want bacon -n- eggs.

  6. jtblue3recon says:

    Ronnie’s War is epic failure at least,$660 million+,29 years,and nothing is working out too well. Reminds me back abit when Air America was hauling out of the Golden Triangle for the CIA. Kinda defeats the purpose now,don’t it? Let’s not forget the Commie Drive-out of Ronnie when the Conteras and Sandinetras were going at it also. These war were paid by drugs for weapons and goverments were happy to be involved to prove a point on political lines and people died because of it. Too much money and political mayhem here,just won’t win anything.

  7. Anndi says:

    Excuse my confusion, but how is he still alive if he has virtually no veins? I’m no doctor, but I always thought that while arteries take blood from the heart and distribute it throughout the body, veins were to take the blood back to the heart… am I wrong about this? How can one survive with no veins? Very sad state of affairs, anyway…

    • saddison says:

      Like you, I’m no doctor. So I asked the nurse who was trying to take blood from this poor fellow to explain it to me. She had to dumb it down a bit, but essentially she explained that through prolonged and consistent drug use, a person’s veins will harden and collapse, causing the veins that we see on the surface of our skin to disappear. The nurse told me that the body — wonder that it is — begins to recirculate blood much further below the skin. These new circulatory systems aren’t easily tapped from the surface of the skin.
      That’s my very basic understanding. If there’s a doctor in the house, please feel free to correct or elaborate.

  8. Rose says:

    First time visitor making my way through a few of your entries and this one is making me cringe like crazy!! Ahhhh!

  9. Raingurl says:

    If anyone told me NOT to do something as a teenager, I was right in there doing it! The Regan’s obviously didn’t remember what it was like to be a teenager.

    This story is sad. I’m so glad I never tried the big “H”