I want to tell a story:
A story of a girl, less than 21 years old. She used heroin when she was on the streets for a year after getting kicked out from her house. She didn't like drugs, but a boyfriend pushed drugs on her and she'd been a victim to every man in her life so far, so she didn't fight back. But even using, she knew what she was doing, and she didn't want to throw her life away.
So she secretly tapered down, trying to finish studying for a GED and keeping her job on track. She managed to stop using heroin, finished getting her GED, and when she had the opportunity to break from her abusive relationship and find a new home, she did. She cut out the dope, got a better job as a restaurant assistant manager, and got her life on the track towards she always wanted: stable and free from the abuse that plagued her throughout her life.
And then she came into my ER. She was having problems breathing for the past few days and felt like things were getting much worse very quickly. She had a sky-high white blood cell count, her heart was beating a mile-a-minute just laying in bed, and she swore no matter how much she tried to relax, she couldn't catch her breath.
Her heart had enlarged significantly over what it should have been for someone her age. The lining of her heart was infected. She had pulmonary emboli (blood clots) in every branch of her pulmonary veins. And worst of all, the bases of her lungs were filling with pus, just like you see in the picture above.
She swore up-and-down she had used anything in months. All her drug screen test backed up her story. What little family she had left that cared came by and prayed. She cried a lot. The physicians on staff promised the antibiotics and clot-busting medications they would give her would make her all right. They said she was strong, and that she would live.
5 days later, she died in the hospital alone.
The heroin she injected so many months ago allowed some unspecified bacteria to colonize on her heart valves, and even though she stopped using, that bacteria kept growing, eventually taking her life.
Don't shoot up dope. Dope doesn't care if you stop using. Dope doesn't care if you turn your back on drugs and set your life straight. It will get you in the end, even if you do everything else right.
It's just not worth it.