Queen: My addiction is heroin. It brings me down. I can’t move or operate without it. My body has become dependent on it. I’ve been doing it for eight years.

BW: How did you get started?

Queen: I was in a car accident in Miami and I started getting roxys (prescription pain meds) for the pain. When I moved to Atlanta, I couldn’t get the roxys anymore so I switched to heroin. Basically they are the same thing. 

BW: What’s the longest you’ve gone without heroin in the last eight years?

Queen: Two weeks, when I was in jail.

BW: What was that like, coming off of that stuff in jail? It must have been hell.

Queen: Well yeah but they can’t not help you in jail now cause someone died, so now it’s a law that if you have a heroin or alcohol addiction they have to detox you the right way. They eventually got me on methadone, but the first two days were hell because they had to get it approved by a doctor. I was sick as a dog. The third day, they gave me the methadone and I stopped hurting instantly. 

BW: I’ve never taken methadone. Do you still get high?

Queen: Yes, exactly. It’s just another drug. 

BW: I don’t understand. What’s the point?

Queen: I don’t even know, baby cause there’s a lot of people addicted to methadone now. They’re still opiates. 

— — —

Queen: My mom passed when I was 9. She was really sick, She had been addicted to crack cocaine, but she got her life together. The last three years of her life, she spent with us, clean. She had always been sick. She had lupus, arthritis, enlarged heart and sickle cell. She always tried to hide it from us, cause she didn’t want us to see her hurting and stuff, but I always was the one that knew and that took care of her.

When she passed, I wasn’t that sad because I didn’t want my mom to hurt no more. I know now that she’s in a better place.

BW: Do you think you’d be out here if she were still alive?

Queen: No, I wouldn’t. For sure, I know that. 

BW: Why?

Queen: Because, whether she was on drugs or not, she took good care of us. We always had the finest things, nice, clean, new clothes. She was on drugs but, like I said, we were never neglected or abused. We went out to eat and skating. She was never like a crackhead mom. 

BW: Who did you go with after she passed?

Queen: Foster family. They were abusive to me. They used to beat me and pull my hair. I ran away and was sent to another foster home where I was raped by the dad. I was eleven then. 

When I was thirteen I ran away and never looked back.

BW: How did you survive?

Queen: I went to my aunt’s house, my mother’s sister, in the middle of the night. I found out where she was at. She started crying when she opened the door and said that the people wouldn’t tell her where I was at. She said, “you don’t have to go back never,” so I never went back.

BW: So, she kind of saved your life.

Queen: Yeah, she put me in school and bought me clothes and stuff. She had her own kids but she always made time for me.