My friend is a heroin addict – should I have her arrested if it could save her life?
(Atlantic City NJ)
A friend of mine is addicted to heroin, and refuses all help. She came to this country from Russia ten years ago, and after working “normal” jobs became a stripper. Because of her drug addiction she’s lost every job as a stripper in Southern New Jersey. It is alleged that when she was highest, or drunkest, she was offering oral sex to customers.
At first, she “only” had a drinking problem (about a pint of vodka a day), but escalated to pills, and then snorting heroin (about 3 years now). Her work visa expired, and now she’s in the country illegally, with no health insurance.
She frequently wanders the unsafe streets of Atlantic City, NJ, alone, at night. About two months ago, she accepted a ride from a stranger who tied her up (possibly with duct or electrical tape) and may have raped her. He choked her, hit her in the mouth, and cut off a piece of her hair with a knife for a souvenir.
Atlantic City has a serial killer of prostitutes on the loose, and if this is the man she’s lucky to be alive! And she still accepts rides from total strangers! In October, she was rushed to the hospital from the strip club where she worked and hospitalized for five days. No one knew where she was, and she later laughed off her stay in the hospital as “relaxing.”
She later told me it was to detox, but she went right back to drinking and drugging when she got out. A “friend” visited her in the hospital, and I believe may have brought drugs to her.
She frequently goes missing for days, and contacts no one, not even her roommates. Up until last month, she was living with another female heroin addict (who is trying to enter rehab) and her boyfriend who gets high, in a rundown motel.
After disappearing without a trace for about six days, it is believed she moved into a luxury apartment with a man she’s been seeing on the weekends. She too met him after accepting a ride, perhaps around the time she was attacked.
She’s no longer stripping, yet has more cash than normal, and although no longer permanently staying at the motel pays her share of the rent, sometimes in advance, which is something she could never afford to do in the past. It’s obvious that she’s turned to prostitution, and the man she’s living with, most likely, is her pimp and is supplying her with drugs.
Her roommates at the motel have given up on her, and won’t discuss her, or her whereabouts, with me. I know two of her friends, and after dealing with her and her addictions for years, too have given up on her. Since Christmas (it’s now January 11th) my text messages have gone unanswered (I text once or twice a day). She never picks up when I call (which I do almost daily).
In the past, she had a habit of forgetting to charge her phone, but now it’s always on, perhaps so she doesn’t miss a call from a potential client? From the day I met her, nearly seven months ago, she’s been very secretive, and doesn’t tell her closest friends (if she really has any) abut her comings and goings.
I care very much about this woman (she’s 29 years old) and have reached out to her in every way possible: I’ve offered to move her to a warmer climate, tried to scare her into changing her ways before she’s dead, told her I love her and would never abandon her, offered her a place to stay with a family-like atmosphere (she hasn’t spoken to her mother or brother in a year), lied that I was in the hospital, that I was suicidal, etc. Nothing would elicit a response from her. And yes, as far as I know she’s still alive, and still receiving my messages.
I feel like my last resort is to try to have her arrested if that’s what it will take to save her life. New Jersey has very strict heroin laws, and the thought of deportation terrifies her. I know the name of the high rise building where she is staying, but not the room or even floor number. In confidentiality a friend told me the name of the building, so I can’t quite just show up, or start stalking her there. I know nothing about the man she’s staying with (age, race, physical description).
Deep down inside I think she wants help. In one of her Christmas texts again she said “just need to get my shit together.” However, she will never discuss her drug addiction with me. I guess she feels she has it under control, or that it’s none of my business.
She’s the quintessential heroin addict and frequently lies, asks for small amounts of money, and doesn’t care about herself, or how much she hurts others.
I won’t give up on her, but I am at my wits end. If incarceration and deportation will save her life so be it. If I rat her out to the police there’s a chance she might know I’m the one who tipped them off. More than anything, I want to take down her pimp.
I’ve checked Backpage and other escort sites hoping to set her up that way, but don’t see her listed. Next, I’ll probably go to areas of prostitution in Atlantic City to see if she’s walking the streets, but, most likely, she’s doing in call.
If you were in my shoes what would you do?