Shane Stoner’s addiction began in 2008. He lost a factory job, his parents divorced, his father died—and then a relative introduced him to heroin. “I felt like heroin gave me confidence,” Stoner says. “I could get out of bed in the morning and do the day. No matter what happened, it made me feel like it was going to be all right.” It erased his constant anxiety.
The new label came as a relief. It explained Stoner’s sensitivity to things such as tags on his t-shirts, and his succession of obsessive interests. It clarified why he had such a difficult time fitting in as a child, his problems with roommates in college—and why he continued to struggle with social connections as an adult. “I can’t believe nobody ever mentioned it before, because I started thinking back and there’s pictures of me, like, 3 years old, and I’m honestly flapping my hands.”