48th Anniversary Easy Reader Story Contest – honorable mention, Heroin and Poet Homer’s Siren Song
“Heroin and Poet Homer’s Siren Song”
by Spiros H. Mikelatos
Beloved poet Homer, I adore your Iliad and your Odyssey.
Among your beautiful, lyric expressions I often recall and admire the story of Ulysses and the Siren Song.
I am a medical practitioner who tries to help heroin addicts.
As I listen to the story of these addicts, I vividly recall the story of the Siren Song in the Odyssey.
Heroin addiction and the Siren Song have definite similarities. They may have a sweet beginning but a disastrous end.
The Siren Song is a sweet and irresistible melody by mermaids on the seashore. The sweet melody lures sailors to come closer to the shore to enjoy the beautiful melody. As the sailors go closer to the shore, they meet a disastrous fate.
Such is the invitation of Ulysses and his sailors by the Siren Song:
“Great Ulysses, Pride of the Greeks, and your glorious sailors come closer to the shore. Come closer to hear the beautiful melody with honey-sweet voices from our lips…”
Heroin does not sing. However, before the person tries heroin he or she hears sweet words of praise from friends and others around the potential user.
Heroin is comes from a flower, the poppy flower. Shortly after the substance is injected into a vein or a muscle the person feels a euphoric pleasure, an ecstasy, a “heroin high.” The feeling of euphoria is sweet but brief.
In the addicted person, some hours after the “heroin high,” begin the bothersome and painful symptoms of withdrawal. Addicts complain of anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, tears, stuffy nose, sweating, upset stomach, goosebumps, and craving to use heroin.
Such symptoms are related to the response to heroin of the brain and the autonomic nervous system. There are, of course, other side effects of heroin use. There are skin and soft tissue abscesses, Hepatitis C, HIV, endocarditis.
There is the ever present risk of cessation of breathing and death due to heroin overdose. Among those who have died are fairly young and renowned singers and artists who leave behind a loving family and many loving fans.
Beloved poet Homer, how can a flower, the poppy flower produce a “heroin high”? How can the same flower bring the agony of withdrawal symptoms and even death?
A heroin addict needs another injection of heroin to feel another “heroin high.” As a bonus, the same injection also relieves the bothersome withdrawal symptoms. The frequency of expensive injections, of course, increases the risk of side effects and premature death from an overdose.
Beloved poet Homer, it took the legendary Ulysses and his ingenious scheme to prevent his sailors from hearing the Siren Song. Ulysses saved his sailors and himself.
My patients have already felt the “heroin high,” they have heard the Siren Song.
As a medical practitioner I am doing my best to remove patients from heroin use. I am doing my best to help these addicts become “clean / clean” from heroin and other opiates. It is a happy day for me to see an addict become “clean / clean.”
Even if a heroin addict becomes “clean / clean,” he still retains a weakness, an Achilles heel, that may lead a former addict to relapse. I and others use support to prevent a relapse.
Beloved poet Homer, legendary Ulysses used prevention and did not allow his sailors to hear the Siren Song even once. He saved his sailors by prevention. My work with treatment is good. Prevention to never use heroin would be better.
Ulysses is no longer around. However, we have the good parents, teachers, doctors, pastors, politicians who can advise and command protective measures against heroin use not even one time.
Beloved poet Homer, as I finish this writing I have one more question: someday a mother may come to me with tears in her eyes because she has lost a son or a daughter due to heroin overdose. How do I dry the tears in her eyes? How do I relieve the pain in her heart? Beloved poet, how do I find strength and tenderness to talk with his mother?