This story was originally published November 10, 1999.
The story of Nina H. belies the impression that heroin is a new phenomenon in Vermont. It’s been here at least 20 years. One thing is different, though: “In 1994 you couldn’t buy heroin in City Hall Park in Burlington,” says Nina. “Now you can.”
Her friend Michael M. agrees. The street availability of heroin, he says, “has increased exponentially.” Not only that, he adds, but “the kind of people involved with it has changed.”
Nina hopes that her story will be a cautionary tale to potential users, or those who have flirted with heroin but are not yet hooked. She knows that she glamorized drugs herself in the beginning, and believes that young users in, for instance, Burlington’s City Hall Park think it’s “cool” to be a dealer. “There’s nothing cool about it,” she declares flatly. “There’s nothing cool about jail.”
As a peer educator, Nina says, “I try to share my experience about romanticizing drugs. You know, the suffering, tortured artist. That’s just bullshit. When you’re in the backseat of a car with a redneck and you’re forced to have sex with him for drugs, there’s nothing romantic about that.”