Hope to Die a Dope Fiend

Essay Excerpt

Scotty injected his last drops of heroin into a scarred vein running along his outer forearm. On this chilly, late winter afternoon, I had been watching him, his street partner Jim, and another homeless heroin addict, Leo, share a $20 bag of black tar heroin in their homeless encampment/shooting gallery. For the past year, as part of an HIV-AIDS prevention study, I have been spending much of my time with a network of heroin addicts who live under a stretch of San Francisco's downtown freeways. As I was walking toward the back of the camp where another four men were fixing heroin, out of the corner of my eye I saw Scotty fall to the ground. As he jerked in the dirt, his eyes rolled back and asphyxiated gasps rattled from inside his throat. "Oh my God," I thought as I ran to his convulsing body, "he's gonna die!" (587)

Pearson, C. and Bourgois, P. "Hope to Die a Dope Fiend." Cultural Anthropology 10.4(1995): 587–593.

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