My Danish grandma mailed me a box once a month when I was off at college. It contained homemade brownies and a note with a $5.00 bill. I lived in a dorm. This was required of all incoming freshmen. My roommate had an older cousin. She was almost always with her. My suite mates had boyfriends that they were always with. I liked being basically alone in my corner suite and on my own.

Just down the hall were some friendly girls from the Rio Grand Valley. I was born there too. They always had lots of people coming and going from their rooms. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the fragrant smell of marijuana. I didn’t smoke it but I had been around it plenty. Everyone I knew who smoked pot in the 70’s got the serious munchies.

First they just wanted a taste of my brownies. I shared. Then they tried to get me to spend my $5.00 on their weed. They were crafty business people.

Close to our dorm was a convenience store. I walked down and spent my 5 dollars. I bought three tubes of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; the refrigerator kind. I brought it back to my room.

My granddad (from the other side of my genetic equation) had given me a toaster oven. I baked my first batch of dorm chocolate chip cookies. That smell wafted down the hall.

Soon I had a room full of girls with the munchies. They had money. They wanted warm chocolate chip cookies. It didn’t start out to be a business but it turned into a big deal. I saved enough money to help put myself through college.

After the toaster oven got confiscated, I just sold raw dough. They liked it raw just as much. I never sold my grandma’s brownies. That seemed wrong; practically sacrilegious.

There were four girls. Early on, they realized their pot selling days in the dorm were numbered. They petitioned to move off campus at the end of the first semester. They moved into one side of a duplex. On the other side of the duplex lived a young recently married couple.

My friends asked me to water their house plants while they went home for spring break. There was big patio area between the two units where some of their taller plants were.

The husband of the couple was lying on a lawn chair. I called his name. He didn’t answer, I thought maybe he was asleep. I walked closer, then I saw the needle.

He was dead at twenty. He had overdosed. I did not know he used heroin. I’d seen one other person overdose from heroin when I was still in high school. He was only 18.

Death by an overdose of drugs; what a tragic waste of  life. That was 40 years ago.

Now, four decades later, our nation is experiencing a serious opioid overdose epidemic.

I don’t sell cookies anymore. My job is in the field of improving public health; primarily through outreach and education of addiction prevention. Learn about recognizing hidden addiction; it really is a big deal.