Why Can’t Addicts Just Quit?

November 13, 2017
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SEATTLE—Mere blocks from the tourists swarming Pike Place Market, Stacy Lenny pointed out the tradecraft of some of her drug-dealing clients: “There’s Todd with a wheelchair—that’s good camo for a drug hustle,” she said, nodding toward one man sitting on the corner and dealing crack out of his motorized scooter. “Missy has a lot of drugs in that bag,” she said, about another woman passing by.

A 50-year-old mom with short, gray hair and bright-blue glasses, Lenny is a harm-reduction recovery specialist with a program called REACH. The job involves driving around Seattle finding homeless drug users, befriending them, and trying to help them with their health and housing problems.

Lenny and I drove south of the city together, down roads lined with RVs and strewn with trash. Seattle has lately been strained by both rising homelessnessand heroin addiction. Last year, a record 359 people died in Seattle from drug overdoses. The majority of them involved opioids—heroin or prescription painkillers.

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Image via Flickr Attribution Some rights reserved by Sarah G…

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