my father had A long-term addiction to heroin that began in 1939 in New York City and ended when he overdosed and died in 1963, at age 42. He tried all the ways known at the time for treating his addiction—cold turkey, psychotherapy, shock treatment, and methadone. None of these treatments kept him away from mainlining heroin, which he did because he believed he needed it in order to function in the world. He often said he wished that heroin were legal, so that he didn’t have to find illegal, black market ways to score, either by purchasing the narcotic clandestinely from pushers whom he knew in Greenwich Village and Harlem, or by buying it on the streets of the Bronx or Manhattan from someone he would meet by chance in the “right” neighborhoods.

As it was, my father had to keep his problem...

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