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Archive for the ‘Heroin’ Category

Where the Druggophile Blows It

Outlaw Anodyne is obviously a pro-drug blog, but I realise that since it’s been resurrected, I’ve not managed to balance some of my bloviations of profound and/or silly recommendations of ‘the life’ with the Other Side of the Sword.

Maybe it’s time to do that. I can sum up the following in a single sentence if you haven’t the time or urge to read on: However much bullshit the Government and Church people spew about ‘drugs’ nonspecifically, or about certain substances that have proven to so many people the lack of merit that this bullshit has, ‘they’ got the whole heroin thing right.  Everything bad you ever heard about heroin is true.  (Which makes the bullshit about other substances even more dangerous, obviously.)

So how does someone otherwise gifted with fairly good judgment – perhaps not the best, but surely not the worst – end up doing the Stupid Thing, and why? To get into heroin and henceforth become an addict, which is the fate of 99% of people who do get involved with it, is to do something that strikes me as being the expectation of every drug-fearing or ignorant blind follower of ‘the propaganda’.

I won’t lay all the blame for what happened in 1990 on the fact that obviously since the Acceptable Use Policy in ‘normal’ society for any “drug” – i.e any medicine that makes you feel good or interesting – is to avoid using it, since it is ALWAYS wrong to do so – and there’s a great deal of evidence that this policy, upon which laws leading to serious jailtime are based, is riddled with bullshit and half-truths, and sometimes so much so as to be outrightly confusing and mostly meaningless to people who “understand” (read: have used drugs themselves or know people who use them that don’t fit the evil profile).

I will point out that some of the seeds of it were there.

But the blame belongs to me, and me alone.  It was my decision, and I made the wrong one.

This “acceptable use policy” is mostly no “acceptable” period. Kids were brought up in my day – and are still brought up being taught this way – that “marijuana makes you schizophrenic” or even “addicts” a user to it. Now that a couple of generations have noticed the lies about pot, the laws and attitudes are slowly beginning to change.

But one idea persists – the “gateway drug” notion, which insists using pot or psychedelics will lead a harmless pot toker on a road inevitably leading to heroin. The fact that this happened to me is the greatest shame of my life.  But it surely didn’t happen to most pot smokers in the sixties and it’s not happening now.  I’m probably one in several thousands that it did happen to. Would it have happened had I not been lied to about weed, would it have happened if it had been legal and thus I hadn’t had to deal with dealers selling multiple substances, telling lies of their own? Just something to ponder.

The “gateway” thing exists whenever someone has a liking for a particular anti-social practice, I think – there’s a subconscious desire to take it to the top (or in this case, bottom) floor of the whole thing.  But does a child who likes playing football feel automatically drawn to participate in ‘extreme’ (dangerous, death-defying) sports? I think the gateway theory is just a way of arranging data to make all drug users look bad, but consider this: does it also in some way ‘write the script’ for their progression in advance, before they even GET into altering their consciousnesses?

I followed the script and made a shitty example of myself.  Don’t let this happen to you, because this little adventure cost me a whole, whole lot of living (it gave me hepatitis C, for starters) and it could have easily cost me far more.  I was one of the luckier ones. But the luckiest are the ones who keep to the pot and the psychedelics and leave the rest alone.  So help me, Gods.

Heroin can put you here very quickly.

Surely I knew better – especially after seeing what the small group of junkies that started forming in the co-op that cured my cibophobia (see prior post) went through when they went into withdrawals.  I never took heroin at the co-op.

I took it after the co-op was no longer where I could go on living, after graduation, after a smaller cooperative in San Francisco I went on to live in also disbanded, a few months after me and the spoiled trust-funder that owned it kicked me out since I had to pay my rent with public assistance one month after losing a job. Looking back, I was more confused than I realised I was at the time. A five year relationship more or less ended by mutual consent after a lot of dishonesty and power games on both our parts.  And I ended up being taken in by someone who, at the time, seemed to be giving me the miracle break I needed.

I will call her Susan. It wasn’t the name she went by.  I have looked all over the net for her since we last saw one another in 1991.  I looked for her at least seven years.  This year, on New Years’ Day, I discovered she died of an overdose only two months earlier.

She was a person who could be your best friend one minute and in a flash turn on you so fast you were left bewildered and asking senseless questions which she’d never let you finish because it was HER apartment.  It was HER domain.  And it was HER friendship with me that led me to become an escort, which we all know is a fancy sort of expensive prostitute, for the spring and summer of 1990.

It was she who gave me my second taste of heroin.  My first had been in 1989, smoking it on a piece of foil, swearing to myself to never tell a soul.  I did it because I’d been fired from a job I loved.  I did it because I had gone to get some pot but lacking a connection, I made the fatal error of running into a ‘street hook’, someone who is paid in dope by a heroin dealer to find fresh meat for his or her business.  But I never went back there.  Frankly, I had not found it very interesting high – my thing being drugs that opened horizons, not drugs that narrowed them.

But Susan could be really, really persuasive.  She’d been grooming me to be a girl who would take over calls she couldn’t get to, in exchange for a cut of what I made.  I ought to have been smart enough to see that.

But it’s hard to be smart when you’re on opiates and making your living independently by simply lying there letting men project their fantasies onto the blank screen of your face and body.  You could get to feeling idiotic superiority to the working stiffs who would take half a year to make what you made in a week.  In addition, she had a deal going with her connect and she’d send me out to pick up dope, for SEVENTY DOLLARS a quarter, which silly newbie-junkie me thought was the going price for ‘opium’.

I didn’t seem to have any way of being aware that this was not a job I could do for the rest of my life, that in only a few years I’d be too old to pull in clients, and by the time I was addicted enough to be ill without my dope – a TERRIFYING experience which in every way matches the dumbass health-class filmstrips–Susan had a new angle in her life, no longer needed me, and discarded me like old news.  After two completely useless attempts to clean up via inpatient rehabs, spending thousands of dollars of my dear family’s money, I decided to get on methadone.

I’m still on it.

Susan never got on methadone, for the usual reasons – not wanting to surrender to a lifetime of medication, and a government-stored record of addiction.

She did evil things to me, but my own foibles caused me to not resist them. I had just as many good times with her – she had a side of herself that was beautiful, and to her credit, she did manage to stay off opiates for 12 years, apparently, something I have not done.

But she is dead and I am still alive, and though my mom, who supported my decision is now gone leaving my remaining family only my younger brother who quite assiduously does not – I realised this year I made the right choice.  Some people have stronger roots than I – and whether my malnutritive childhood, some accident of genetics, or parents who had me late in life and lacked the energy to resist me when I wouldn’t accept their guidance (I refer to my younger childhood here rather than my adolescence, though the same was true of those times, it would have been too little too late) I just knew I would fall into the heroin sink hole again unless I plugged those blasted opiate receptors with the methadone that has saved more than just this one life.

In some future post I’ll go into all the chemical and other differences that make it an entirely different creature than heroin, not merely a legal fix but a DRUG THAT PREVENTS THE BODY FROM CRAVING THE OPIATE LASSITUDE.

For now, though, this is my message to the next generation of druggonauts.  Believe me, the bloody propaganda got it right on this substance, even if it has lied so much about other ones, and those lies don’t make this truth any less true.

Be a better credit to your subculture than I was, and be the person who says ‘no, thanks’ when they should, and thus a far better spokesperson for drug legalisation than I will ever be.  Please do this for me so I can die some day not having completely failed at certain missions.

And if you are shooting heroin – or smoking it – and have been doing so for more than a couple of years, run, don’t walk, to the nearest methadone clinic.
If you’ve only been using for a year or less, I’d recommend suboxone, from everything I’ve heard and seen, though have not got the personal experience to relate.

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Most of the heroin dealers in my ‘hood leave me alone since they’ve already seen me going into the methadone clinic, or have gotten the “no thanks, I’m on methadone” answer when offering chiva to me.

Yesterday someone came up to me while I was waiting for a bus and offered to sell me Phenergan.  It’s been a while since someone’s done that.  I laughed sardonically, shaking my head, and since the girl who was hawking them didn’t seem to be in a hurry, I told her why I didn’t want anything to do with Phenergan.

Phenergan – generic name Promethazine – is prescribed as an antihistamine.  The reason it sometimes gets peddled in areas known to be open-air pharmaceutical markets for the opiately-bent–like San Francisco’s Tenderloin– is that some people like to take them for potentiating the effects of heroin, morphine or methadone.

I only took it once in my life.  It was before I got on methadone, back in the days when I was still drowning in the spoon.

It was September of 1991 when I met someone who’d offered one to me since I looked a little dope-sick, and instructed me to take one the next time I had a fix.  I thought she had called them “Finnegans”.  In fact, until the internet came along and showed me the pill’s true name, I always thought “Finnegans” were a street name and that it had something to do with the obtuse, abstruse James Joyce novel  “Finnegan’s Wake”.

Of course, I had a fairly good reason to think this after the night I took one of those pernicious pink pills and what had turned out to be a large dose of heroin. Phenergan is more befuddling than Joyce, and not in a good way.

I’d been a call girl at the time and was headed out in a taxi  to the person I was going to be seeing.  I got into the back seat of a De Soto cab and THAT is the LAST thing I remember…at least in any stable sort of way.

I faintly recall some dreamlike impressions of being thrown down some stairs and then wandering around Mission Street in the area between First and Third, Fourth, maybe further downwards, and back.

I kept thinking I saw Byron, who’d been my “junk buddy” at the time. I kept wandering around calling for him.  A “junk buddy” is someone a junkie prostitute splits rent with, who helps her with the needle business and gives her a measure of safety just by being around she wouldn’t have otherwise…in return, he gets some of her dope.  However, he  is also definitely not a pimp of any sort. Byron and I had been friends who had sex occasionally, but he’d really wanted me to be in love with him, and I wasn’t. But he did look out for me.  And I thought I was supposed to be meeting him on Mission Street…

I was wandering around in the dark, calling his name.  I recall walking into a fast-food outlet and getting kicked out immediately.  I didn’t understand why.

I think I was on two distinctly separate Muni buses that night and ended up around Kearny Street at the foot of Market by dawn.  I was missing my purse and one boot. This, of course, must have been why the Mc Burger King or whatever had kicked me out. I wondered how it had taken me this long to notice that.

By the time I got back to the place Byron and I had been living I asked him “WHERE WERE YOU?!” but he was too busy asking me “WHERE WERE YOU ALL NIGHT?” to answer.  I had gotten it in my head I was supposed to meet him down on Mission Street but at no particular time for any particular purpose.  And I had never bothered to call him.

As for whatever else happened that night, there”s a damned good chance it’s a good thing I couldn’t remember it.  All things considered.

Phenergan and opiates  are a really, REALLY bad combination.  They put me on a full-blown fugue experience, the only time that has ever happened to me.

When I finished telling the girl the story, she said, “No wonder no one wants these” and tossed them down the storm drain.  It relieves me to see that apparently, the addict community is catching on to the truth about those damn things.  It’s one thing to be on drugs – whatever problems that whole mess is going to cause – but it becomes a whole new set of bad circumstances when you don’t know what you’re doing at all because of them.  That’s really hardly ever the case–most people on drugs have a sapient awareness that whatever mess they’re into, it’s drug-related when it is, and isn’t when it’s related to some other thing.  With Phenergan, that’s all out the window.

So if you’re a drug user, and you have any of them, that’s where you ought to toss them, too.

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The Danish Drug User Union site makes me wonder for the fifty-umpteenth time if there is any hope of leaving the United States with its conservative conspiracies and con-jobs, and emigrating to Europe (or Canada) some day. It seems like the users there have allowed themselves to come out of the shadows and ask to be treated like human beings.

I think that it is when people begin to listen to the inner critic that runs a shame routine on them about being drug users – no matter what sorts of drugs they’re using – that they begin not to bother to take care of themselves. They’re assuming that no matter what else they do, if they’re drug users–or even ex-users–they are part of the lowest rung of society there can possibly be, and will never be trusted or admired by anyone.

I wonder how much of the mass psychology of the “drug problem” is actually connected in various ways to this never-ending inner “shame voice” that’s run into the collective psyche of users, which started all the way from the time we’re children and continues right up to this very day? People who feel good about themselves tend to do good things for themselves–and also for others. Convince drug user to be ashamed of themselves, with their redemption completely contingent upon them no longer using, and you start getting people who go through their days having a lot less reason to care about anything. I wonder how much of that non-caring gets automatically attributed to the drugs themselves?

The Danish DU Union has an Opiate Museum. This is an actual building with exhibits in it; it’s not just a website. Imagine seeing a historical collection of paraphernalia, pharmaceuticals and the packaging thereof…Wow. What an interesting place that would be to visit, for someone like me…

I’ve been through the heroin wringer. That was actually 20 years ago, now. I’ve avoided falling back into the spoon by staying on methadone since I quit. There’s a lot of badmouthing methadone, by people who aren’t familiar with it, or who just never saw it work for someone before, but it is the only thing I’ve ever seen that actually kept anyone from backsliding without spending their entire lives 24/7/365 in NA meetings. (There is some indication buprenorphine [suboxone] may be doing this for some addicts, now, too–but generally it is not given to long-term methadone patients unless they get off the methadone first, because it has naltrexone in it to prevent people from shooting it up.)

Methadone doesn’t work for all addicts. Some can’t get used to the fact methadone doesn’t get you high like heroin; it only really quells the stupid jones, and keeps addicts from getting sick if they’re getting off dope, and keeps them from wanting heroin in the first place, if it’s doing what it’s supposed to.

That was enough for me. I’d had enough of the junkie life because it was like a full-time job, but provided even less reward, once the physical addiction set in. I never speak of addiction to things people just like a whole lot. Addiction, to me, is when your body and mind just break down completely when the dope stops flowing. It’s not when you just “feel depressed” without it. You can’t be addicted to marijuana, or psychedelics. Even methamphetamine, called addictive by most people, really mostly just makes the user just get really tired after ceasing its use. And whoever said “cigarettes are more addictive than heroin” never has been addicted to heroin, obviously.

I’m not that impressed with the opiate high as an experience–I suppose in those first six months or so, it was fun, and felt good, but it’s not what I’d call interesting. In retrospect, it would’ve been much better had I managed to avoid it–and that would be true even if it didn’t have that nasty withdrawal syndrome. I don’t like what heroin does to memory. I can remember a lot of the stuff that happened in 1991. I remember the places I’d gone and the things that happened to me, but the saved memories aren’t viscerally connected to sense impressions or to emotivity. This means they feel greyed-out, compared to the memories before and after heroin.

This is why I believe methadone is a good maintenance drug for addicts, and that it’s not just replacing heroin with a different drug that’s just like it. The post-heroin years, which I have spent on methadone maintenance, have not left this grey quality to my memories of them. When I hear music from 1996, I can feel it. When I smell something that reminds me of something from 2002, I can feel it. This does not apply to the years 1990 through 1992, the shrouded years of being on the chiva.

It would appear that the Danes understand the harm reduction concept pretty well. What really impresses me, though, is how people are gathering there under the rubric of their being users. They even sponsored an event last year called International Drug User’s Day. (October 30th.)

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