Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction – Death Wish

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"Hmm? There doesn't seem to be anyone in room 618 by that name" said the hospital receptionist in response to my request for a visitor pass to see Shaggy. "Let me see if he might be in another room," she continued.

Heroin addict "Shaggy" struggles for his life due to his heroin addiction, and a blood infection.

Heroin addict "Shaggy" struggles for his life due to his heroin addiction, and a blood infection.

I immediately started thinking to myself, "he's left the hospital to go get dope." From what I had understood, Shaggy needed to stay in the hospital for at least two weeks if he wanted to keep his leg. The receptionist tapped on her keyboard as I anxiously waited to see if Shaggy was still in the hospital. "Aha yes, here he is, room 517" the receptionist finally responded as she handed me a visitor pass.

As I stepped onto the elevator, I started to wonder why Shaggy had been put into a different room. Maybe they switched him to conduct some testing, or maybe his condition had grown worse since the last time I was here - or...

The first thing that I noticed when I stepped into the room, was that Shaggy was wearing a red knit cap that he hadn't had before. That's when I first suspected he'd left the hospital in order to score some dope.

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Long-term Chicago area heroin addict, Shaggy, sleeps in the new room that he was assigned at Northwestern Hospital. Shaggy had left the hospital the previous day against doctor's orders, so he could buy and inject heroin.

"Hey Shaggy, wake up man, it's me. Chuck." Shaggy rolled over and immediately raised his foot for me to look at. "Hey man, how you doin'? Does my foot look any better since the last time you were here?" asked Shaggy in a drowsy voice.

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

As I looked, I could see deep down into the hole on the bottom of his foot. I also noticed strange green lines that looked like hiking trails on a forest map, that were spreading along his foot.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy displays the infected wound on the bottom of his foot while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a blood infection.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy displays the infected wound on the bottom of his foot while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a blood infection.

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

"Not really man," I replied. " If you want to know the truth, I'd say it actually looks a bit worse than it did before. Hey, what's with the hat and new clothes, bud? did you leave the hospital again?" Shaggy hesitated for a moment before he answered in an angry tone, "Yeah, I had to take care of some business. These fuckin' idiots keep cutting back on  my methadone, but they have me juiced up good now."

I still find it difficult getting my mind around the idea that someone would risk their life in such a way; that the pull of heroin addiction would be so strong as to make its victims seemingly wish for death.

Before I could say anything else, Shaggy reached for his backpack and started to prepare his rig for an injection of heroin. Shaggy had only left the hospital for several hours, but in that time he had managed to acquire enough dope to stave off dope-sickness for several days. But what he was doing now, was simply mixing the methadone the hospital was giving him along with his heroin, in order to get high, rather than to hold off being dopesick.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy prepares his rig for an injection of heroin while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a life-threatening blood infection.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy prepares his rig for an injection of heroin while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a life-threatening blood infection.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy prepares his rig for an injection of heroin while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a life-threatening blood infection.

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy prepares his rig for an injection of heroin while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a life-threatening blood infection.

"You know Shaggy," I began with disappointment in my voice, "at some point they're just going to throw your junkie ass out of here, and you're going to lose your fucking leg, or even worse, you're going to die. I just want to be clear - you do realize this, don't you?" Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Without answering, Shaggy immediately changed the topic as he rose out of his bed: "Hey, you wanna hear something cool? Check this out." Shaggy began to push-and-pull his open wound on the tile floor. As he pulled his foot up, it made a long sucking sound, followed by a loud 'pop!' much like that of a plunger releasing its grip from the bottom of a toilet bowl. "Isn't that fucking cool?" Shaggy joked as his attention returned to sticking the syringe into his groin area.  Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

"God damn dude! Do you realize how many germs are on this hospital floor? Man, you must have some sort of death wish. Not only that, just think about all the nasty germs you're adding to the mix. You're like a walking bio-hazard, Shaggy."

I couldn't believe his blatant disregard for his own health, nor the casualness in which he prepared, and then injected, heroin right in the hospital room. Shaggy has got to be one of the most self-destructive people that I've ever known.

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy injects heroin while undergoing treatment in a local Chicago hospital for a life-threatening blood infection.

"You're right man, I need to stop doing that. I don't want to lose my foot, I really don't," Shaggy sheepishly replied. "I'm ready to stick it out this time and stay in the hospital until this is taken care of."

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

CHICAGO IL. - JUNE 29, 2015 - Shaggy displays his blood soaked underwear after injecting heroin while undergoing treatment for a life-threatening blood infection in a local Chicago hospital

This all started about a year ago when Shaggy overdosed, but didn't die. He laid on the concrete floor unconscious for so long, that he ended up incurring permanent nerve damage. He has scars from that original surgery all up his leg, his back, and his left arm. But, this near-death experience didn't slow Shaggy down in the least when it comes to shooting dope.

Over time, the splint that he was wearing due to the surgery, produced an open sore on his foot.  Because Shaggy had no feeling in his leg, he didn't realize that he had an infection.

None of this has hindered his addiction. Now he's in the hospital not only with a serious infection in his leg, but with a blood infection as well. Even though Shaggy knows full well that he could lose his leg without proper treatment, his addiction takes precedence over all else - even his life.

I agreed to come back in two days to see him again. "Can you bring me another Mountain Dew?" Shaggy requested. "Sure thing man, no problem," I replied as I headed towards the door. As I was leaving, I turned one last time to say goodbye, but Shaggy was already busy with his next injection.

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

Against Doctor’s Orders: Heroin Addiction

The next day I received a text message from Shaggy. It simply read:

"They're throwing me out of the hospital. They're giving me some antibiotics, and throwing me out..."

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  • Devorah Kaye Goldstein

    He looks like such a little boy under that blanket. And he *is* a little boy, someone’s little boy. As a mother it breaks my heart. As a photographer I’m in awe of you being such a part of these boys’ lives.

  • This is my first time coming to your site. Found it via a google image search. Just read the story on Shaggy, really some riveting information and the photos that accompany are quite telling.

    • C. Jines

      Welcome! It is a sad, sad story…

  • Jason

    I am a westside junkie and I personally know shaggy. Life has not been fair to him. One reason he has such disregaurd for his life is he was dramatized when he was locked up in county. He was mistakenly put in the division with the homosexuals where he was gang rapped. When this happend he contracted HIV, HERPIES and HEPITAIS C. Of cource county denies this cause they would have a lawsuit to deal with. L

  • Jason

    Also shaggy did leave the hospital again and they had to cut off his leg.

  • Rob

    Yo jay, Rob here. That story about county aint true. You never notice shaggy getting into cars with old men and coming back to the park 3 hours latter. Then he says his friend just gave him a hundred bucks. Thats how he got aids. Turning tricks

    Thats shaggy for you always playing the victim.

  • Chris

    Rob just found the site. Shaggy is retarded. Your right about him turning tricks. Those stds are the reason he lost so much weight. I hit my groin area and my underwear dont look like that, i think the blood is from his herpie scabs. He aint haven that treated or taken meds for it.

    • C. Jines

      Ugh… the reason he lost weight, was because he had a raging blood infection. He has gained weight since then.

  • Saint stevo

    Oh,i hope shaggy reads this. Now that you lost your leg theres alot pf people that you have crossed you cocky bitch, when i see you im gonna knock the shit out of you. Leg or no leg. Ryan is gonna get you for drugging up his sister then raping her. She would never have slept with you sober. Who would. Look at yourself. She never would of touched heroin if not for you. You better get out off town. I think it would be more than fare to break your other leg.

  • Na

    Hello readers. This “shaggy” is my cousin. It’s hard to read this. I know how he is today and he did lose his leg. I hope his story helps someone instead of just giving someone a reason to bash another. I love the person I knew growing up and he’s different now but still a person like you and I. Cherish those you care for.

    • C. Jines

      I also hope that his story prevents someone from ever trying heroin. It’s a sad and hopeless story. Sorry for your pain in having to watch someone you love suffer. I wish him all the best.