Atlanta, GA

BW: What was it like growing up in Ohio?

Mark: Poor… The economy there was really poor. My dad was in the military. My grandma raised me. My mom passed away in my arms at fourteen. She had this medication that would almost immediately stop seizures. She locked her jaw and she wouldn’t let me put it in her mouth and that was it. She didn’t want it. She wanted to go. 

She had renal cell cancer but it was the seizure that killed her. She went through almost two years of chemo. That’s when I started dibble dabbling with pain pills. That’s how I started on heroin. 

Then my brother committed suicide two years later. He was only twenty-one. Then my grandpa passed away two years after that and he was like my best friend. All my grandma’s got left is me and my sister. 

BW: Do you ever talk to her?

Mark: I talk to her almost every day. I’m the only person who talks to her. 

BW: You ever think about getting back to Ohio?

Mark: Ah yeah. I’d love to get back to Ohio. I’m not going now because it’s getting cold. It’s freezing up there. I’m fighting with the VA right now for my benefits. Once I start getting my benefits, then yeah I’ll shoot back up to Ohio. 

BW: Do you have any regrets?

Mark: Using drugs for starters. I wish I’d never touched a needle in my life. 

My dad just passed away this year and I was in jail when he passed away. That’s a big regret.

BW: I’m sorry, man. 

Part of these collections: Opiate Addiction