Boston’s Methadone Mile

Methadone Mile is a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue where methadone clinics brush up against an open air drug market. This is where people come to get high and sober. Recovery, relapse, danger, grief, and hope all fill people’s daily lives. This year, Boston Globe photographer Keith Bedford and two Globe reporters spent time on Methadone Mile, gaining people’s trust and telling their stories. In Sunday’s Globe, learn more about who they met.
Kenny, who has been homeless off and on over the years, walked wrapped in a blanket on a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue nicknamed Methadone Mile. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A man lit a cigarette while another put on a shirt as they left a homeless shelter frequented by drug users. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun (right) watched as his friend Chris injected heroin behind a house. After a night in the shelter both were feeling the symptoms of heroin withdrawal and felt the urge to get high. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A homeless man held his prosthetic leg in his wheelchair on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Albany St. Fearing he could lose the prosthetic, he clutches it as he nods off. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun kissed his wife, Donna, in the parking lot of a mall near Mass. Ave. The two have been heroin users for several years and are working to kick their habits. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun stood on a corner near Methadone Mile. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Lexi sat under a highway overpass where she sleeps. Lexi, who had been an opioid user, has been homeless for nearly nine years. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Leonardo wore a Batman mask as he walked along the road. “I want to be able to work here,” he says. “I’m not asking for a free check; I’m not asking for SSI or any of that. I’m asking for a job and a place to live and to be part of society here.” (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Boston police and a security guard chased an alleged drug dealer on Mass. Ave. after he ran away while being questioned. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Boston police officers arrested the alleged drug dealer as a Longwood private security officer (right) watched. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
People slept wrapped in blankets on Melnea Cass Blvd. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shirley panhandles along a stretch of Methadone Mile. If there is more than one person in the same spot panhandling, members of the homeless community take turns walking along the rows of cars, asking for money. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Sherry, a homeless woman, stands on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Albany Street. The location is a place where people gather to buy or sell drugs. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Craig, who says he’s been homeless for 20 years, smoked a cigarette on the street. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Lexi reached out for her coffee one morning among her blankets. She had been out late the night before, panhandling until well past midnight. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Andrew cooled his head off in the sink at his mother’s Abington home as he deals with the effects of going a few days without heroin. Andrew has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for several years and is trying to stay sober. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Andrew hugged his mother, Barbara, in the kitchen of her home in Abington. She regularly takes him in, feeds him, and gives him rides to work during his periods of sobriety.
(Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun threw a used needle into a drain after shooting up heroin near Methadone Mile. He began using again after being kicked out of a methadone program. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Diane closed her eyes after talking about being abused on the streets. She said someone she shares a sleeping space with on Melnea Cass Boulevard stole her K2, synthetic marijuana. After spending an hour looking for it, she was resigned to the fact that it was gone for good. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A man who calls himself Bodie, getting high on synthetic marijuana cigarettes. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
High on a series of drugs known as the cocktail, Lexi leaned on a shopping cart that she carries her belongings in. Lexi is a former heroin user now on methadone. The cocktail is a cheap combination of pills taken by methadone and Suboxone users to get high. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Chris hugged Diane after getting high on a synthetic marijuana cigarette in front of a gas station along Mass. Ave. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Lexi sits in the median of a busy street as she takes a break from panhandling. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Dave sat on a corner of Mass. Ave. with a black eye he received after getting in an altercation with a security guard in Boston. Dave, who is homeless, says he uses various drugs. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A discarded sign sat on the ground near a stretch of Mass. Ave. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun changed his shirt as he waited to board a van that takes homeless men to a shelter. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Barbara, Andrew’s mother, watched her son from the dining room of their home in Abington. She has struggled for years with Andrew’s off-and-on drug use. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Andrew sat with his girlfriend, Briana, after getting high on marijuana at Ames Nowell State Park in Abington. The two have struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for several years after meeting at a rehab program in Florida. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun and his wife, Donna, looked for warm-weather clothing in their storage unit. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun holds a needle in his teeth before shooting up heroin. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Robert Morgan handed out clothes, food, and toiletries to members of the homeless community in the area. Morgan and his wife live nearby and try to hand out donations twice a week. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun counts the change he made panhandling. He says many homeless people discard pennies, but he saves them until he has enough to bring to a Coinstar machine. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Mark, an opioid user, has been homeless for eight years. He said the first time he tried panhandling, “the lady locked the door. I was so humiliated I walked away. I said, ‘I can’t do this.’ People said, ‘Listen, it’s going to happen..’” Minutes later, a motorist gave him $5. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
People sleep along a fence on Melnea Cass Boulevard, near Mass. Ave. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
A security officer encouraged people to move along from in front of the Cumberland Farms store on Mass. Ave.. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Lexi put her hands in her jacket sleeves as she smoked a cigarette under the highway overpass where she sleeps. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Shaun hugged his wife, Donna, as she headed for a job interview. Donna has since been in recovery and living in a halfway house. Shaun is still living on the streets and has been in and out of detox. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Terrance, who calls himself Delicious, cried as he talked about his time living on the streets. “All I could ask for was to be loved, and I could never get it. The hardest thing you can do in this world is to live in it.” (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
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