Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Am I Ever Going to Get Clearn?
Now Playing: Everybody Hurts
AM I EVER GOING TO GET CLEAN? Good question.
I somehow have this feeling my blog has become junkier & junkier these past few days. Dunno how; it's just a feeling.
Heroin has had me in its grip full-time since the last week in January, 2001. (Though I'd had a baby habit the year before.) I remember that date precisely. Because that is when my ex-ex flew back from India (we had to take separate flights: long story). I did my few days without her clean, though I certainly knew where to score. As soon as she came back: WHAM!! Back onnit.
Fighting a battle with heroin is fighting a battle with yourself. (I was going to put "like fighting with yourself"; but there's no "like" about it.) Heroin hooks its claws into its slaves well and truly. It is pharmacological superglue, bonding the average user for 14 years. It hijacks brain and body, forcing you to do its bidding. Of course, as a responsible adult, you answer for all you do. And there's the rub...
How can anyone fight a war on both sides? Good question. It's one drug counsellors ought to ask themselves a little bit more before they start playing their usual stuck-record loops. Because that's the situation opiate addicts are in. You love the very stuff that's destroying you.
Some people eventually get bored of heroin. Others, to coin a phrase heard many times at NA, "get sick and tired of being sick and tired".
Others stop because they simply can't go on.
I heard a story of a friend of a friend just turning down free gear brought in for him in hospital. He'd just lost a leg to it. He wasn't interested any more.
I know three people who've lost legs to heroin. (All, as far as I know, due to femoral injecting (in the "groin").)
Where I fit into all this, I just don't know.
If anyone out there is clean and can tell me how they did it, I'd most certainly like to hear from you.
Posted by gledwood
at 9:24 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007 9:53 PM GMT
Monday, 15 January 2007
Now Playing: With more caution than I did back then...
THIS IS THE (UNFINISHED) STORY OF MY DRASTIC OD SOME 7 YEARS AGO.
Okay well VERY briefly (bc to post this up as a proper story I have to properly think it through so's not to miss bits out) I knew the local junkies pretty well for a year or two before this happened. So I'd done crack with them etc. People had scored gear for me b4. No-one really knew whether I did or didn't have a habit, though I didn't realize this at the time.
I had £5 on me. The others had £15 between 2 of them. So I went back to a flat on a horrible housing estate with which is most famous for some riots a few years ago. I chipped in my £5 so we could get a £20 bag between 3.
They cooked up the gear. I had mine last. While waiting, not being used to handling a syringe I accidentally squirted a tiny bit out the end. Looking back I wonder whether this little bit was the difference between life and death...
1st guy took his. A big Irishman. He took £7 worth and ended up on the floor, crouched down "gauwching" out. (Nodding out unconscious.) I remember thinking "that's really good gear". Held out my arm, injection went straight in the mainline. I vaguely remember mumbling aloud confirmation of what I'd just thought: "That's really good gear" I remember it felt strong. Immediately I faded away. Literally next thing I remember is waking up under a striplight next afternoon. I had been asking What's wrong? What's happened in a dream, I do remember that. And being told (a little bluntly) you overdosed on heroin. I kept getting off the trolley looking for my bag. My bag was not with me. It had London A-Z (vital+it had all my friends' addresses in), addressbook etc etc and I felt literally lost without these 2 things. And you know how obsessive you can get on a high. Have you ever spent hours doing something half aware? High as a kite? That's what I was doing then.
They had given me narcan or naloxone (aren't they the same thing?) to bring me round but still I didn't wake up till next afternoon. They kept me in that night as well because of my breathing (aparently I'd totally stopped). I was covered in sensors...
I was very upset about this afterwards because despite having spent years depressed & having suicidal feelings now I'd come point blank to death not even trying— it messed me up BADLY in my head for quite a few weeks...
That's the crux of it... Oh and by the way when I was in hospital my "friends" robbed me (or more technically, my bank) by stealing and fraudulently signing against my card. I couldn't prove exactly who had done it. And anyway I got all the lost £200 back. But that's the kind of "friends" those people were.
So there you have it...
Posted by gledwood
at 8:49 PM GMT
Friday, 12 January 2007
Letter to those in Danger
Now Playing: at giving out serious WARNINGS
To Those On The Slope
An Open Letter To Chipper & All Those Many People Like Him
THIS IS MY HEARTFELT MESSAGE to all those of you who are dabbling with heroin. I know there are many of you. To use Chipper’s words (the title of his blog) you are playing with fire.
Heroin is not called a hard drug for nothing. “Hard drug” means an addictive one. Heroin feels remarkably soft and mild. And warm and friendly and strangely fulfilling. That’s where its deceptive nature lies. Hard drugs are hard precisely because they feel so soft. Because you can (in the beginning) use pretty much as frequently as you choose without feeling many ill-effects. This “use me, use me — use me more” should set off alarm bells. Life on heroin isn’t living. Heroin eventually replaces life.
If, say, you’re doing 2 days out of every 3 clean (my friend Chipper’s 72-hour rule) you’re living two-thirds of your life clean. Are these clean days any less valuable to you than the ones you use on? Are your clean days so very intolerable? If so, the heroin is getting to you already. Trust me, you don’t want it to get to you any more.
Until it truly “got” me, got right under my skin, hooked me with its formidable chemical bonds, I honestly had no idea quite how addictive this stuff really is.
Quit Smoking clinics often compare nicotine to heroin. Frankly, this is just to make tobacco smokers feel better about their habit. For there is no comparison. Ever seen someone with their head down the toilet because they need a cigarette?
Kicking heroin, well and truly stopping for good and turning your back on it, the world you took it in and everyone you know is just about the hardest thing anyone could ever achieve.
That is why that angry guy Jamie keeps shouting on your blog, Chipper. Because being “clean” is a hard-won state to be in. You’re two-thirds of the way there, yet you don’t seem to appreciate this.
There’s nothing glamorous about a helter-skelter ride that ends in the pits, believe me. An addiction to hard drugs is about as much fun as a bus ride along a main road — with a five year-old child at the wheel. You’re putting your most base and childish instincts in control. But the grown-up you must face the pain and the consequences and the wreckage this causes.
If you CAN stop now, you MUST.
If you CAN’T, you must at least admit that you do have a problem.
Otherwise you might just look back to this time and see this new direction you’re hurtling along in as the worst wrong turn you ever took in your life.
Posted by gledwood
at 11:18 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007 11:33 AM GMT
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
2B or not 2B that is the question...
Now Playing: ...Playing? ...Not playing? ...Who knows?
I AM IN ONE OF MY QUANDRIES. I want to score again. The money's in my pocket. I am trying to distract myself by listening to the radio quiz mentioned below as I type, but it just ain't working. The cash is ready and waiting. The man is no doubt close. I feel like I'm going to. Aaargh! I don't know what else to say. What's the point of posting this when the outcome feels like a foregone conclusion. Let me talk to this guy.
Okay, I spoke to him, he said Come straight out. I went direct to the specified street-corner, called back to rub in I'm here and waiting. "He'll be with you there in under seven minutes," the surly dealer intoned. Grrr. First time we spoke, he'd been making it sound the guy was right there already. But this is typical.
Sure enough, on time, guy appears on bike, produces blue lump. On eventual inspection it turns out to be a (plastic-wrapped) lump of heroin not much smaller than a small sugar cube with a corner crumbled off. Which is not bad for £10. You seriously cannot tell a substance's quality with just the naked eye; an experienced junkie, however, can make snap—usually accurate— judgements. And this to me looked okay quality (better than his usual rubbish; that's why I don't phone him that much).
So, having cooked my gear up, I cooked up some of the shopping I got earlier: Sainsbury's cod in parsley sauce with “seasonable” vegetables (who am I trying to kid? They were frozen “farmhouse” cauliflower, broccoli, peas etc) on a bed of fresh wholegrain tagliatelle (well worth the indulgence at £1.17 for 500g) all liberally sprinkled with Parmesan. Mmmm. Yumm-mmeee!! And a vein on the back of my right hand behaved well enough to add genuine bon appétit. (I've not 100% “recovered” from that heroin food “problem” I described a day or so ago.)
Now it's late and I'm dead tired. And I'm gonna try & not touch that bit of gear left over till morning...
Speak to yous L8R,
Posted by gledwood
at 10:25 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007 1:12 AM GMT
Saturday, 6 January 2007
The Meaning of Craving
The Meaning of Craving
THIS IS WHAT I WISH some of the smug people who work in the drugs services would understand when us junkies talk of “craving”. The tale I’m about to tell you illustrates the consequences of “craving” well enough. Don’t read on if you’re weak of stomach.
It was a dull Friday night. I had no money. I had no drugs. (I’d had my methadone, but as I’ve said, that doesn’t take away the urge to use 100% by any means.)
So I started a game I’m sure many people play; “hunt the dregs of drugs”.
This game involves closely examining all crack pipes, heroin spoons, whiskey bottles etc for any useable dregs of intoxicants. I was going through my top drawer (which isn’t so much full of underwear as tinopeners, playing cards, corkscrews, dead cockroaches, old photographs, mangled cassette tapes, paperclips… a bit of everything. At the back I found what would have appeared to the unwitting to be two enormous scabs of dried blood. (They were. But the blood was congealed around old heroin filters.)
In case you’re wondering how they got there, let me explain. When you inject drugs into a vein, you obviously load up a syringe, you need to stick the needle into where you hope the vein may be (after several years it does become guesswork) pulling back on the syringe all the time, so that when you do hit the vein, blood flows back into the syringe. This is how you know you’re “in”. (However, when the veins are tired, battered, old and collapsing, it’s quite easy to get blood into the syringe, enough to clot up your hit, however for various reasons the vein may misbehave, leaving you with a congealing (and potentially lost) hit of drugs). To get the drugs back you need to re-cook up your own blood (gross, I know) with citric acid to break down the scabs that have formed. And try again.
As I say, this is where craving can lead. Not every addict is lead to do every disgusting thing. But all of us are lead to do some of them... So anyway, I find my scabby filters. Pop them in a spoon. Add citric and loads of water. Cook up, crushing and stirring all the while. A smell of crackling pork hits my nose. Lovely. (No I’m being sarcastic. I hate pork.) Knowing from experience how to just about judge the strength of a dubious injection, I taste it. Yes, I taste heroin. Unmistakeable. And this has been scabbed up in my blood at the back of a dirty drawer for maybe two months or more. Okay…
I stick the needle in. Sod’s law means I get the hit on the outside of my elbow (I’ve used veins literally everywhere except my groin and neck. I had a hit next to my right nipple the other night.) The hit goes straight in. I wasn’t expecting to feel very much, but I do feel something. A slight and gratifying sense of warmth. No more special really than jumping into a slightly hotter than lukewarm bath, but it’s easy to be circumspect about it now.
About five minutes later I felt an odd coldness in my right arm (I’d injected in the left, so this made no sense to me). The coldness spread all over me, with weakness, dizziness, nausea. In fact all the symptoms of a pretty bad “viral” flu-type episode came on in about ten minutes, including a stonking migraine-type headache.
In short I’d given myself what we call here a “dirty hit”. Americans call it “cotton fever”. I was so sick all night I had no energy left from puking. Next morning I could barely walk. I won’t go on, but I really did feel bad by anyone’s standards. Dehydrated, yet not able to drink… all that.
Anyway walk I did to my friend’s house where (thanks to my good timing more than anything else) they were just scoring and gave me a nice clean hit.
My point being? Yes I was responsible. Yes I knew (as much as anyone does) what I was doing. But… that is what craving lead me to.
Posted by gledwood
at 11:19 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007 11:26 PM GMT
Thursday, 4 January 2007
Now Playing: 4am hard trance...
Funny, I had a flashback yesterday (just before I started getting harangued by all those nasties), a flashback not to drugs but to the 4am music at some of the Brixton Academy nights I used to go to...
Now I've got to keep this posting quick as I'm dying to go out and get a fag to smoke. Honestly I've only had two spindliest rollies since ... I dunno... 4am, actually!!
Well, I just "listened again" (because I missed it the 1st time) to a Radio 4 prog called "E Generation at 40":— one can find it at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml and select E Generation...blah blah.
One piece of rubbish they highlighted was a slide of a brain so corroded by MDMA ("E") it had holes in it. Bloody great big ones. That was shown on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This the Radio 4 programme's toxicologists debunked as absolute nonsense, ("media misinformation").
They came up with some interesting seeming findings ("seeming" bc the research is ongoing as the course of people's lives). Any cognitive deficits the E does give you seem to be permanent. One expert was even talking of a permanent 3-point IQ-loss. They also hinted that boys might get more messed up mentally by cannabis while with girls it's E that's more likely to do their heads in, which was interesting because the two people I've met who had panic attacks (ongoing) after experiencing E were both female. They said females might be more susceptible to adverse affects from psychostimulants. Which I found intriguing bc it's a fairly well known phenomenon that girls can take far more cocaine than boys... and they don't want to stop. I don't know why.
Lastly I'll tell you of an MDMA experiment on rats. The rodents had Es popped into their mouths (actually I'm assuming this; I don't know how the methylenedioxymethylamphetamine was actually administered) but anyway, once the rats, fitted with electric sensors "came up" they just plodded round and round and round and round and round the perimeter of their containers... whereas normal rats pinged about everywhere and rats on speed did the same as normal but twice as much in the time...
Right I'm going to go because nicotine (not to mention a certain other substance) is calling me...!
See yer later,
Posted by gledwood
at 11:13 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007 11:28 AM GMT
Monday, 1 January 2007
Now Playing: More Cautiously than I used to.
ON MY WAY TO A FRIEND’S place earlier (yesterday, on New Year’s Eve) I met a working girl I know who was after an early “punter” (it was only 4pm) but everyone down there knows her). She’s the one who gave me the Chinese-Indonesian-Vietnamese-Tagalog-Hindi-&-Thai-speaking mobile phone I’m using at the moment. She was off to a “crisis emergency detox” at the time.
Now I’m not going to name names as what I’m about to tell you did happen about 3 or 4 years ago. But there are facilities, open to all and London-wide for crisis intervention and drug detox. These are self-referral facilities. (“Intervention” doesn’t carry the more American sense of “verging on felony kidnapping-type affair”.) As I said this facility I applied of my own free will to go to takes drug addicts of all descriptions (in London, that means heroin and crack).
I was the only one in there (at the time) not addicted to crack (I did do it but infrequently, perhaps a couple of times a month) and I had the bad luck (as I saw it) to have to share a room with one guy coming off crack but not heroin (he slept like a baby the whole time) and another on both but I believed he was exaggerating his habit a the meagre methadone they gave out seemed to get him stoned. I had to get extra meds as the doses weren’t holding me. In both the places I’ve been I was prescribed extra meds. I’ve had the dubious honour of being “most clucking ‘client’” as they call us nowadays.
My best memory of the crisis detox was watching Gladiator on their wide-screen telly. All being in detox and feelings running high we watched the film in silence, in a darkened room. The hairs were prickling on the back of our necks…
My worst memory was the snotty psychiatric nurses from the “staff bank” (nursing agency). In hospital they dish out drugs like there’s no tomorrow. Anyone diagnosed bipolar or psychotic who gets wound up enough to lose his temper gets wrestled into a five-point restraint, has his trousers forcibly pulled down and is injected IM with haloperidol, flupenthixol or whatever the chemical cosh of the moment happens to be. These staff came here with, fair enough, its no caffeine at night policy. But they tipped lavender oil on our pillows and encouraged us to sip camomile tae as if these things, which only affect the impressionable (in my opinion) will have any effect at all on a system scrambled by heroin and crack. I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. The only effect herbal teas can possibly have on a withdrawing addict is a negative one — in that as I say they lack caffeine which can make an anxious person even more wound up. I found the “no meds except blind methadone” policy ridiculous. They could have given us chloral betane and zopiclone to sleep. And they could have given me something a little better than charcoal biscuits when, due to withdrawals, I was sick everywhere. Charcoal mops up toxins from the stomach. No toxins were there. I was detoxing from intravenous heroin. The charcoal just gave me black diarrhoea next morning.
Unwaware of their particular way of doing things I began to feel quite ill in the night. My eyes were running. Constant yawning. I felt not and cold all at once. I had the pouring sweats. Everyone told me I was in withdrawal (half the place was up at 3am because nobody could sleep) and at first I didn’t believe them because on a (then) £40 a day habit I’d taken about £7 worth of heroin at 7am and 50mg of methadone before coming in to the centre. These together, I hoped, would hold me till 9am 24 hours later. No such luck. By 4am the methadone was no longer holding me at all (heroin, which keeps you “straight” for 8-12 hours, had long worn off). Wanting to be direct and honest with the staff I had told them exactly what I used each day and what I’d taken. (Many addicts exaggerate up to get more meds, but what’s the point in that, I reasoned, if you’re there to come off?) The night staff refused to believe I was ill for quite some time. They even queried what I was talking about when I told them I was hot and cold at the same time (a classic withdrawal feature).
What had not been explained to me was that because this place is a self-referral crisis centre — “clients” arrive with no medical papers confirming their addict status — nobody can give medication until the “client” is in blatant withdrawal, which can mean feeling very uncomfortable indeed. People have died in prisons/etc having lied about their status hoping to get stoned on the meds for “an easier time.”
A couple of other events occurred during my 3-day stay to give me rather a low view of the place. I don’t want to slag the place off too much because, as I say, this all happened about 3-4 years ago and much could have changed since then.
What all this did show me was that I wasn’t “ready” to quit… If I do end up in rehab again, at least I know now what questions to ask about the regime…
Posted by gledwood
at 5:09 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 1 January 2007 5:16 PM GMT
Thursday, 21 December 2006
Now Playing: Better than I used to!
WHEN I TOOK UP BLOGGING I told myself I would be as completely frank and honest as I could. Which inevitably entails ’fessing up to my saddest innermost feelings. Drug addiction is sad. It’s inherently sad. Very sad indeed.
Before I post something I worry what the vulnerable and the impressionable might make of my words.
I’ve taken the drugs, crossed the bridges (burnt many of them), caused myself a lot of damage. For the time being I’m trapped in this addiction. So I see it as my duty to tell it as it is.
If this sounds like hypocrisy, well, I’m willing to make myself a hypocrite if in so doing I put one person off following me down into the morass.
The whole premise of my blog is hypocritical (“do as I say, not what I do”) — what else can it be? The fact is I do take drugs. I know I shouldn’t do, but I do take them. I’d rather be a hypocrite telling the truth than a lying fraud, or — perhaps worse still — a glamorizer of something I know to be a deadly trap. I think of the three options I’ve chosen the best one.
Before it “got” me, I had no idea just how cleverly heroin gets under your skin. Of course I knew the stuff was addictive, knew you got physically sick if you took it too frequently and then went without (I’d also heard a lot of lies, like only people who want to be junkies get addicted; I didn’t so I believed at one time I was safe…)
Nobody in history has ever killed their grandmother for a fix (as the cliché goes) I’m quite sure of that. The real “killer” is the million little miseries no novel or movie could ever adequately capture. The sulky afternoons without quite enough drugs. The slow crawl of time. The eternities of discontent. The pervasive sense of all not being well. Knowing, all the time that white rocks or strong drink or a lumpy brown powder that looks like mud could fix all that. Usually for a disappointingly temporary period of time…
This is the driving force that spurred me on, through hell and high water, to take drugs every day of my life.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner + snacks, the heroin was my food. Methadone has done away with that particular cycle (I no longer wake up desperately seeking a “hit”) And when I do use, I take a…“ or even ¼ of the dose I used to shoot in my veins too many times a day, every day...
Even if I got completely clean, that would only be the start. “Recovery”, as they call it at NA, is a long and winding road.
But, as the old proverb says, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…
Posted by gledwood
at 11:52 PM GMT
Wednesday, 20 December 2006
Rituals and Emotions
Now Playing: Ritualistically...
STARING AT MY SPOON, dregs of heroin remaining, knowing if I cook them up I will at least feel something…
They say heroin is a drug of rituals (and paraphernalia). During the heavy phase of my addiction I carried with me at all times a little tin box containing spoon, elastic tourniquet, “works” (my 1ml insulin needle-+-syringes), vitamin C, filters and a 50ml bottle of tap water, always fresh that day. Ready to go at all times!
One night, walking past an antiques shop I found a tiny silver jam spoon on the pavement. It seemed perfect for my uses. In fact, the handle was ready bent, junkie-style, so it would sit on a tabletop without spilling. I cooked up my gear in this spoon for several months, joking that I wished I had been born with it in my mouth.
I loved that silver spoon. Unfortunately during one of my botched detox attempts it got thrown away by a well-meaning person. (Not stolen, incidentally: this person was one of the very few I knew who didn’t touch drugs.)
During another of my get clean buzzes, I disposed of all my crack bottles no problem (I had been using crack too heavily at this particular time.) But on seeing my bent-handled spoons collection sitting there waiting to go my heart wrenched out.
Sad to say but I have loved heroin — and I do mean loved it — as nothing else on earth. It has been the be-all and the end all of my life. And as is so very often said, a life on heroin is in very many respects a life made simpler. Heroin is your medicine, your lover, your reason for being, your one-and-all. Life becomes a constant quest to ensure a steady supply.
Whereas with crack, I can always reason to myself that an hour or two later I won’t usually won’t usually feel any better for having taken it, an extra hit of heroin, or heroin on top of methadone would make me feel better all afternoon.
When I have attempted to take the opiates all away — ie to detox myself, as I have done several times over the years, I’ve rapidly become so very bereft without the drugs I couldn’t handle it. I came running back to the “gear” every time.
Trying to explain myself, knowing most of my readers have never had this problem, or at least don’t have it now, I’m confronted by just how very sad this emotional longing is. But addiction is a very emotional thing. Emotions are sad, sometimes. The irony (heroin is a rich source of contradictions) is that the stuff actually robs you, in the end, of the vividness of all feelings.
Right. And I’m stumped for something further to say.
It’s all about circles. Vicious, vicious things.
Posted by gledwood
at 1:07 AM GMT
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