Home Pop Culture How I learned to love the needle.

How I learned to love the needle.

heroin addiction
A violent account of heroin addiction. Stock image of 'female' junkie shooting up.
heroin addiction
A violent account of heroin addiction. Stock image of ‘female’ junkie shooting up.

A violent account of heroin addiction: How I came to love the needle. Stories of infection, dope sickness, overdose and mental illness.

##Editor Update: since the author penned this over 13 years ago, they have sought help for their heroin addiction and continue to live a life of sobriety. 

A violent account of heroin addiction: Sweating, shaking and vomiting this is the way I showed up at home today. So sick I fear I wet the one bag that I have scored from my neighbor. My roommate is laughing but for me this is no joke. This is my life and has been on and off since I was eleven years old. I am by all accounts an outgoing, friendly and funny person who happens to have a small if long lasting heroin habit.

As a matter of straight economics I rarely get high because it would cost between $80 and $120 just to get my head ‘nodding’ and feeling a little loose. Instead I inject a small amount 3 or 4 times a day or I should say what I consider to be a small amount though it would probably kill you. Half cc syringes are all over everything in my apartment. I use such a small syringe so as not to blowout my vein. To do so would be most unpleasant as I have only been able to use this one vein for the past two years.

I have had horror stories of infection, dope sickness, overdose and whatever else I have had to go through to get my fix. In terms of infection I had a Staph infection so bad that I now have a permanent scar that covers the entire back of my hand as well as the resultant nerve damage. In fact when the wound was fresh I could see all the way to the muscle. I now have arthritis in all the joints of that hand.

With regards to dope sickness: in one week I overdosed no less than four times. It was the great New York blackout of 2003 when all the lights went out and all the cell phones also went out. At the time I had a 4 bundle a day habit (READ 40 bags) and with the cellphones being inoperative it made it virtually impossible for me to cop so I went without for 3 days. I was in such a sorry shape that I could barely stand up. When the lights finally came back I was dismayed to learn that the closest my dealer could come was fifteen miles from my house. So I gathered my sad self up and got on the subway for the hour long ride .The ride was excruciating, propping myself up and trying to keep my bowels from loosing became a major exercise. When I arrived somewhere in Borough park I was then forced to wait three hours before the dope man finally came.  I needed to shoot up so desperately that I considered shooting up in public because no one would let me use a public restroom given the condition I was in. Instead with a heavy heart I boarded the train for the hour long ride home. Needless to say it was the longest train ride of my life.

When it comes to overdose I know a thing or four. In one week I managed to overdose no less than four separate times. Our tale begins when I bought some bulk scag from a dealer I have been using for fifteen years . He warned me of the overdose potential but at this point I felt quite invulnerable and besides dealers talk up their product all the time and usually it doesn’t even merit a child safety warning but I think this one time he might have understated the case. Compounding the problem was the massive quantity I bought. The first day I was cautious but as I got higher as is often the case I got bolder, taking shots that would floor ‘Secretairiat’ mixed with cocaine and chased with xannax bars- trouble was sure to follow. And follow it did, by the third day I was swimming or should I say drowning.

heroin addiction
A violent account of heroin addiction: How I came to love the needle.

It was at this point I felt it might be prudent to take a nap so as to steele myself for the rest of my bender. The next thing I remember I was being attend to by E.M.T. and my room mate screaming “YOU WERE BLUE.” As much as this shook me I refused further medical treatment and continued on my binge. Wisely I secured several doses of narcan (a drug which immediately reverses opioid overdose) from a doctor friend. Within time all the narcan was put to good use, but by the time I ran out I overdosed a further three times.

On my last overdose I was discovered unconscious by my mother with the needle still stuck in my arm and me clutching an assortment of pills and baggies. Even though I knew what I was risking I tried to get more ‘Narcan’ and was genuinely displeased when my supposed doctor friend told me there was no more available. As for my mother I don’t think she ever recovered from the shock of finding me in her bathroom half dead…but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t since forgiven me.

Now comes the hardest part; documenting the things I have done to keep myself in gear…I have lied, cheated, stolen and committed violence against stranger, friend and family alike, the latter being the easiest because family is unlikely to press charges. I have forged checks from my mother, stolen pills from sick and elderly relatives- things that at this point turn my stomach but in terms of junkie behavior are relatively mild and inoffensive. Things which I’ll probably never completely forgive myself for doing…

So why do I continue to use in the face of these horrors and how much longer will i continue to do it?

The answer is that I continue to use because it feels great. Nothing quite simply beats the feeling when you are on dope. To the uninitiated this may sound trite but it is only trite because it is true. The good times are so wonderful as to totally erase the terrors of the bad times. It makes the boring everyday activities not just bearable but downright pleasant. Fun activities are amazing, making out, watching a good movie or having sex become epiphanies not so much because it changes the experience but pulls back the curtains and slows down the action so that all the joy you might normally associate with these actions is drawn out so as to be totally observable. Pleasant emotion is at your command so falling in love is as easy as falling asleep.

The world is as it should be and it makes everything alright even when nothing is. It gives the unique sensation of being able to forget tomorrow forget yesterday and just be right now and right now is OK cause I am HIGH.

Yet the question always remains-when will I ever stop? Tomorrow? In a decade? Never? How long can I continue to hang on like this? It’s like a doomed love affair that you can’t resist because the lovemaking is so good even though deep in your heart you know one day one of you is going to leave the other…

Conversations with a dope user.