The only people in town who harbor no illusions are her classmates

May last year saw three drug-related deaths in two weeks. That’s when the Association Against Addiction was formed. Its president, T. Andronikidis, has a child who uses drugs, and that prompted him to talk to the newspapers. He wants the state to provide a facility where the parents of drug users can meet and consult a specialist. The members are not asking for a methadone program or psychological support for their children. Since summer seven young people have lost their lives to drugs in Ptolemaida, which has a population of 45,000. There are only three names on the police list since the other parents declared different causes of death because they felt ashamed. That says a lot about how the town deals with narcotics. When Andronikidis hears that a child is doing drugs, he visits the parents. Asked why, he replied, «If I don’t, nobody will.» The only people in Ptolemaida who harbor no illusions are the classmates of the 14-year-old girl at the town’s Fourth Junior High School. Lately she had been absent so often and so indifferent to her schoolwork that even her teachers realized something was wrong. They asked her parents to come to the school. «They told us,» the teachers recalled later, «that their child was going through a difficult phase but that everything would be all right.» Police files record the girl’s name three times over the past four months, when her parents reported her missing, only to see her return two or three days later. Since summer her classmates had seen the girl hanging around with the 32-year-old, nicknamed Buffalo, who allegedly provided her with drugs. The nickname alludes to his appearance, which is possibly why nobody at school believed that she had fallen in love with him. Her fellow pupils suspected some time ago what the senior police officer in charge of the investigation now says: «You don’t give a minor drugs to get her hooked, but to stimulate her,» meaning that you can them pimp her without her feeling any inhibitions. Another slightly older girl was present when Buffalo allegedly supplied the last fix. On that Sunday at dawn, in a local nightspot, the friend gave the girl some cocaine from the 32-year-old and said, «Let’s snort some of this.» At 14 years old, in a bar at dawn where everyone is older than you, what chance do you have of saying no? Users say that cocaine creates a psychological addiction. You feel so good that you think you can escape from everything. Unfortunately, in the end that is what happens. And at 14, escaping just might seem more attractive than facing life.