At 42, former FDNY firefighter David Gonzalez is, tragically, already in the grips of addiction. But New York City’s liberal policies are pushing him toward the grave.
On Thursday, The Post profiled Gonzalez, who spends half his day shooting up heroin. He spends the other half shoplifting enough stuff to sell and feed his 10-baggie-a-day addiction. Then he beds down at a taxpayer-funded shelter that could care less what he does, day or night.
Daily, David is dancing with his generation’s deadliest devil. In the same 12-month period in 2020-21 that COVID-19 killed 53,000 Americans ages 18-45, drugs killed nearly 79,000.
Did I say drugs? I meant drug, singular. One narcotic outpaced the death toll among young and reasonably young adults by almost 50%. Its name is fentanyl, and it is driving the latest wave of America’s protracted opioid epidemic.
The leading cause of death for Americans in David Gonzalez’s age range, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid some 50 to 100 times stronger than street heroin. It is cheaply made and overpoweringly potent, a killer combo that has led to its rapid poisoning of North America’s illicit narcotics stream.
While the nation struggled with COVID, fentanyl proliferated — especially in the heroin stream. Today, it is the hot dose waiting for every heroin addict who chooses substance abuse over sobriety for just one more day.
It is the death stalking David Gonzalez. And far from doing anything to prevent this, New York City seems to be actively encouraging it.
Instead of steering David toward rehab, New York City steers him toward Safe Haven, a form of transitional housing run by the city that allows him to check in every three days instead of each day, like a traditional homeless shelter. Indicative of our progressive paradise, Safe Haven doesn’t force anyone to stay off drugs, or even stop shoplifting, as a stipulation for providing shelter. How forward-thinking!
David shoots up in public view near Times Square, but since criminalizing substance abuse and even shoplifting seem to be nonstarters in a growing number of Democrat-controlled cities, he is left to terrorize store employees, rob bandwidth from already-inundated paramedics and, most importantly, inject away until he finds that final, fentanyl-spiked dose.
As an addict, I know full well the stark difference between shaming an addict and enabling him. David Gonzalez should not be ashamed to be suffering from addiction. But for his own sake, nor should he be enabled to continue along this perilous path indefinitely.
In coddling addicts to the extreme, progressives in charge are confusing a reasonable “wait until he’s ready” mindset with a warped “let’s help him use (and steal) indefinitely.” The former is aiding David’s need to take ownership of his life; the latter is abetting his unwillingness to do so. The former provides agency; the latter projects an agenda that risks tolerating addicts to death.
We need to do better than this. Safe Haven should not mean Safe Space. David should be free from physical danger there, yes, but not free to steal and shoot up with no consequences. In the age of fentanyl, eschewing consequences now only increases the likelihood of the ultimate consequence: death by overdose.
New York City’s “progressive” attitude toward addiction doesn’t just do shopkeepers and first responders and taxpayers a disservice. They do addicts a disservice, as well.
In a city where addicts’ feelings are far more important than their fates, the next thing you’ll likely read about David Gonzalez is his obituary. That’s not progressive. That’s an outrage.
Christopher Dale is the author of the forthcoming book “Better Halves,” which explores marriage in addiction and recovery.