It happened in Chatham County, North Carolina, less than an hour from my house. On Saturday, in various places from Bear Creek to Siler City, people looking for an early morning high loaded up on cocaine.

Did they know that their ride from reality was also laced with Fentanyl, a narcotic many times more powerful than heroin? Officials don’t yet know whether the deadly concoction was intentional or not, but some of the users will never find out: three men died soon after, according to Raleigh’s News & Observer and Durham’s ABC11 News.  The trio who took their last ride on the cocaine train were 42, 23, and 22. Seven other people, as yet unidentified, were sickened enough to require medical treatment, with one reportedly in critical condition.

Law enforcement officials were trying to trace the source of the tainted drugs before they imperil others.

I don’t understand.

I’ve tried. I imagine what it might be like to be in such a low place in life that one might seek to escape through scrambling his or her brain with heavy doses of alcohol or mind-altering drugs, but I can’t grasp it. I’ve been miserable before. I know what it’s like to suffer loss and face really hard days, but never once have I had any desire to try masking misery by tripping out.

I don’t claim to be mentally or emotionally stronger than anyone else: it just makes no sense to me. Maybe if I’d ever experienced some sort of euphoric high from being totally drunk, stoned, or spaced out, maybe then I’d understand why people might be drawn to have the experience again. I have some basic understanding of how addiction works, about how every chemical high jiggers the dopamine-powered rewards system and makes users crave a return engagement, but still …

I just can’t grasp why anyone would surrender that much of themselves the first time. It’s hard enough for me to let professional folk in medical scrubs put me under. Knowing that drug-induced behavior could endanger others as well as myself, I can’t imagine turning my consciousness over to a pusher’s chemical cocktail of any description.

I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied not to understand.


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