Pubdate: Sun, 03 Dec 2006
Source: Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV)
Copyright: 2006 Nevada Appeal
Author: Cassandra Gonzales
Bookmark: (Heroin)



Editor's note: The following is an essay Cassandra Gonzales, 16, 
wrote for school about her older sister Raquel, now 18. Raquel, who 
had been living with her father in Dallas, overdosed on heroin at age 
15 then ran away to live on the streets where she became a 
prostitute. After being arrested and sent to rehab, she returned to 
Carson City to live with her mother and sisters. This is Cassandra's 
account, beginning when they picked up Raquel from the airport:

There she was. A ghost. She had on some dirty, men's clothing with a 
hat that had her name spray-painted on it. She was very pale. Her 
eyes had big blue bags, and they seemed to have sunk in. She was very 
skinny, and her face looked as if it had been burned by cigarettes.

I smiled at her.

Hundreds of thoughts and memories raced into my mind. I tried hard 
not to cry. I was in shock to see her, and I felt if I said anything 
to her she wouldn't understand me.

But then she said, "Could you help me?" She had a lot of luggage.

My hopes and feelings went away. For some reason, I felt like she 
wasn't happy to see her family, but happy to be out of rehab.

During our way home, she talked about her so-called friends, and she 
talked as if she were black. I tried not to cry. I was feeling so sad 
because she didn't hug me or even say she missed me or was happy to see me.

It's strong enough to break a friendship, to break a family, to break 
my family.

She's not herself and she even looks different. She hears but doesn't 
listen. I know what's going on but if I tell, she won't trust me.

My sister Raquel slowly grows apart from me and becomes a stranger. 
She's in and out of the Carson City Juvenile Center. She doesn't stay home.

She found people that share her addiction. She's a runaway once 
again, but this time she let me know where she's at. She comes home 
when no one's there. She changes clothes, maybe eats, then leaves again.

One day when I came home, the door to my bedroom was locked. It 
happened before, so it didn't take long for me to open it. I saw that 
my TV, VCR, and DVD player were missing.

It didn't take long for me to realize who it was.

It was her. Raquel.

It was shocking. I knew that she stole, but I never believed that she 
would do it to me. When she got home, she tried to talk to me, but I 
ignored her. I didn't say anything to her. I tried to look at her and 
show her how she hurt me.

Raquel, more than anyone knows how I look when I am upset. She 
brought back the things later on in the day, but I never forgot what 
she tried to do.

Now I realized that she needs help, and I will no longer help her.

A couple of weeks later, she was caught. This time they weren't going 
to let her out. They put her in a rehab where only her family could 
visit every other Thursday. I don't think my mom ever missed a day.

We went to help her - we encouraged her to do well. We quickly saw 
the change. She started to gain weight. She looked healthy, and she 
was acting differently.

I was always happy to see her. The one thing I liked the most about 
visiting her was when we hugged. When we got there and when we left, 
we hugged. To me, that was the one thing I was expecting when I saw 
her. It meant so much to me.

Every now and then, they let her out for a couple of hours in which 
we went out and tried to have the most fun we could. It was weird at 
first because she was like a baby bird exploring what she never saw. 
But after a while she got used to it.

She quickly began to change. The old Raquel was coming back, and soon 
enough they let her out.

She's changed a lot. I try not to think about what happened in the 
past. I get emotional. But I am really happy that she is alive and 
safe. I know that she won't ever go back to her addiction.

She is no longer a stranger. She is now my friend, and best of all, my sister.