Nice Girls Don’t Use Needles

How a junkie saved my life when I didn’t think it was worth saving

Remington Write
8 min readMar 27, 2019


Courtesy of Philipp von Ostau — WikiCommons

George was always very clear: the only thing that made him feel right was heroin. When I met him, he was just out of the penitentiary after doing seven years of a nine-year bit for trafficking heroin. He was quiet. Solid. Steady. He wasn’t like what I thought a junkie would be. He liked to read and still had good friends from back in the day.

One of those friends was my future ex-husband who invited him to live with us in the massive old four bedroom heap we were renting on the west side of Cleveland. George would get up at 4:30 every morning to go down to the union hall and wait to see if any of the drivers would pick him to go out as an assistant on the beer trucks (if you’ve read this story; that’s where it comes from).

I’d been with my husband for twelve years, convinced that no one else would ever love me. Every so often he’d give a good pop in the face, but would always apologize and point out that if I hadn’t said that, looked at him that way, done that, he wouldn’t have hit me. I’d apologize, too, and would try to do better. My entire sense of self worth was based on how that man saw me. But twelve years in, I looked around and saw another way to go: with George.

I upgraded and didn’t look back. We left together and moved to a fourth floor walk up above the laundromat by the freeway. It was filled with cockroaches and the plumbing was probably from the 1950’s. When you’d hear the pressure change in the shower it was time to move fast or get scalded or frozen. You could never tell which. Our new landlord left a haunch of goat in a bag by the front door to welcome us when we moved in.

To George, I was a nice girl

I was not an upgrade for George. Not when I stole his dope. Not when I stole his friends’ dope and let him take the blame. Not when I got busted for trying to shoplift diluted vodka from the grocery store so he had to do the shopping. Not when…