Columnist: Wasted souls in a dark world of drugs
Three o'clock on a sunny midweek afternoon and I'm looking out of my office into the Old Kirk graveyard watching four folk injecting drugs.
It’s a pitiful, harrowing sight – one that ought to shock to the core.
But it doesn’t.
I’ve seen it so often I might as well be watching them share a picnic.
The kirk’s historic doorway is a glorious suntrap and a lovely place to sit – students use it daily, visitors stop off to take pictures, and occasionally someone relaxes with a book.
But they are outnumbered by the lost and the wasted – people whose lives have been consumed by drugs.
It’s not an Old Kirk problem – every graveyard, park and garden that has corners hidden from view experiences the same problems.
Patrols have been stepped up, but you cannot monitor a drugs haunt 24/7 – so the same faces still return for a quick fix or furtive deal.
Last month one guy was so off his face he couldn’t stand up.
He swayed from side to side, back and forth until his balance buckled and he smacked head first into the stone wall. The mate who came to his aid and got him upright also took the opportunity to rob him.
Last year a couple turned up. She needed a pee, so he kindly shielded her modesty before handing her a tissue – the same tissue he then took to sterilise the needle he sunk into her veins just minutes later.
It was horrible to watch someone simply disappear into a dark world.
Until the last year or so, I’d only ever encountered one addict shooting up and that was while walking through the streets of Amsterdam some 25 years ago.
Drugs seem to be everywhere – from folk sharing a joint at a stadium gig I was at this summer, to the hollowed-out, shambling wrecks turned into near zombies by legal highs.
The pills, thrills and bellyache mantra seems stronger than ever among some sections of society.
In 2012 Scotland was top of the European table for illegal drug use, and in 2015 the death rate was at an all-time high.
The folk who use cocaine “recreationally” – and you’d be surprised at how many fall into that category – as if it was no more harmful than dipping into a bowl of crisps would baulk at being put together with the junkie with a needle sticking out of their arm.
But they’re two sides of the same coin.
They’re part of that life-same destroying supply chain that leads back to. Their cash goes to the same dealers and hustlers who bring misery and death to families in this and every other town in Scotland.
I thought I’d seen enough of a glimpse into the dark underbelly of this town’s drugs culture.
And then I read the log of every incident in and around the Old Kirk.
Every wasted, incoherent soul, every addict found crumpled on a gravestone, every vulnerable, strung-out youngster is in there.
Your kids. Your brother. Possibly even your dad.
All lost to drugs.