The World of the Junkie
By Bernadette Noble
James K. Baxter is a poet, a rebel, a philanthropist. He neither drinks nor takes drugs. His aim is the natural ‘high’ – by which he means happiness. He has lived among the ‘junkies’ in Auckland for several months, written a poem about and for them. He called it ‘The Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz’ and dedicated it to ‘Hoani’. We have been able to use only part of the poem – but we feel these excerpts are a graphic illustration of the world of the Junkie.
James Baxter is an intelligent, aware man. He is totally concerned for the young people he has learnt to understand (and I suspect that he rejoices in their rebellion). He has founded a society to try and bring some practical help to the drug addicts and users in this city, which is named Narcotics Anonymous.
‘The only way to help an addict – and there are only a handful in this city, the rest are “users” – is to let him talk with others who have overcome their dependence,’ he said. ‘That is what we do at Narcotics Anonymous.’
I attended a meeting of the group (at the Quaker Hall, Mt Eden Road), and that was exactly what happened. One by one the young people (and a few not so young) told of their own problems, and what they thought would happen to them in the future. One boy produced a bottle of tablets and handed them to the doctor who was present.
‘I don’t need these,’ he said.
He probably did not need them the next day, or the day after. But perhaps simple communication did help him resist getting more.
James Baxter believes that the system – similar to that used by Alcoholics Anonymous – is a good one and applicable to people using drugs. His ultimate ambition is to see communal centres where people who want to get off drugs and stay off them – can live.
‘At present,’ he said, ‘they come out of hospital – and that’s it. There’s nowhere to go, they haven’t got a job. More problems, so they turn to drugs again. The junkie belongs to a very close social group. When he breaks with drugs he also loses his friends, everything.’
At present James Baxter is ‘out of town’. He was planning, he said, to arrange a communal centre somewhere in the country, based on the Maori pa system.
‘They are basically good people, these young ones,’ he said. ‘The drug problem is just a part of our technological development.’