WOW: AND TO THINK I WAS DETERMINED, when I started out with this tale of mine, to fit the entire thing in one posting! I'd have been here 24 hours! Telling this story, seriously, has been so knackering... It seems to go on and on, twists an dturns. Times I was nearly clean as a whistle. Times I was dirty as a sewerage treatment facility's inflow pipe ...
Anyway; just to flesh out a point I touched on yesterday. About whether addiction can occur in a day. No it cannot. Even crack they used to say it could hook you in three smokes (why three specifically?). A psychologist in one of the Sunday papers theorized that the high of crack is so intense (way more intense than heroin, because the cocaine "rush" is somehow super-compressed, hitting the brain in a whirling, swirling tidal wave). This, they said, leaves the brain with an "engram" (a kind of peak experience memory) so powerfully compelling that the desire is inevitably to go on repeating it over and over ...
I still say that if you can only resist these thoughts they will flee from you.
This is the hardest post in this story because here I'm meant to explain how on earth I managed to go from dead square and "straight" to heroin addicted and homeless. Just bear in mind that by now, as a casual user of heroin, I was approximately halfway along that road. But heroin doesn't tolerate "casual" users very readily. A week on heroin might well be followed by a weekend of upset and tears. Another thing I failed to realize until years later was how, for example, the afternoon I resolutely decided long sleeved teeshirts were not for me because I was always too hot or too cold in them... was actually an afternoon's culmination of five days' heroin smoking "chasing" the fumes from tinfoil. My discomfort was actually the very mildest of withdrawals.
Straightforward peer pressure was not really a factor. To my straight mates no drugs were really desirable. My clubbing friends despised heroin. The addicts I knew had no wish to see me get addicted. Some would lie to me "I don't know anyone here, I score at home" (several miles away) ... and so on... I'd always been someone to keep various groups of freinds separate from one anther - most especially where drugs were involved. Water and oil do not mix. So most of my using of heroin was done alone and in secret. From the very beginning I was taking introductions to the dealers rather than relying on others to score for me. Which gave me, of course, immediate access, eventually, to a host of names.
In my flirtation with hard drugs I'd already witnessed vididly the misery and squalor in which these addicts lived. I'd seen houses in which every door had been broken by police and the walls torn open. I'd seen the tantrums, tears and misery of junkies. Though I've mentioned the inverted kind of glamour kids might perceive somehow hovering around this grungy life, I knew the realities of loneliness and cold and insecurity these people fended on a daily basis. They really were no advertisment for addiction. The heroin itself did seem somehow glamorous, perhaps because it was forbidden fruit. Knowing it could kill only added to its allure. In fact, the first time I ever tried to buy it I was suicidal. Handed over £50. And two days later got my money back to great disappointment. Because the man couldn't find it. To get heroin you need the right connexions. I collected these contacts scupulously, making multiple copies of phone numbers in the back of books, et cetera. Merely being able to get my hands on this stuff made me feel somehow special. Heroin made me feel good and sometimes fantastic. Heroin addiction, on the other hand, was absolutely terrifying. I built up huge barriers against it, always willing to suffer agonies of depression and mental defeat for a few days rather than continue using in comfort. These defences took quite some knocking down. I was often in a nihilistic enough frame of mind to play with death. But addiction was another matter entirely. That was a living death; a fate worse than .... no way!
What changed was one sullen Sunday. I'd been debating whether or not to score. I had money, yet I resisted. I had been plotting where my life should be going and heroin had no part in that plan. Money, success and leaving the country, however, very much did. Despite this, I'd been fighting all day the urge to score. I had money; I held back. Eventually I went on a lonely, despairing walk up the locla high road and past all the darkened shops. Something caught my eye by the bus stop. It was actually lying right in the furthest corner of the side of the shop: a packet of something that looked like red sweets. I did a double take and picked it up. It was not a packet of sweets.
At home I unwrapped about three and a half grams of white heroin and another seven grams of brown. (I know the weights because I later wrapped the stash in envelopes and plonked it down on post office airmail scales!)
I kept my mouth firmly shut and, to cut a long story short, despite my every best intention to do otherwise ~ used up the entire lot in just over a month.
When all that stuff was gone, I was reduced to scoring on the street. I spent £10 one evening and £20 the next. This cannot go on, I told myself, and ofund a friend with a script who sold me descending daiy methadone: 20, 19, 18 mg and so on down to five. The night after five milligrams I went to a huge all-night party, and of course got EEE'd out. Afterwards I was so exhausted that I sweated out the dregs of my habit while I slept the party off. And that was that. Kicking the habit seemed easy. I didn't quite realize then how habits come by degrees.
After my first skirmish with addiction I kept heroin very much as a once-a-week treat. But I'd drink methadone ~ enough to get stoned ~ another once or twice a week.
When, at the end of a long, stoned summer, I went to stay with friends in Norfolk I was struck by a strange virus. The symptoms weren't altogether unfamiliar. Feeling too hot; too cold. Severe night sweats. Aches and pains. Diarrhoea. During this sickness I met a girl with a ten-year heroin habit and stayed over. I was ill all night. She insisted I was "sick" (ie in withdrawals). In Brit junk speak "ill" usually means unwell as it does to normal people, e.g. with an infection; whereas "sick" means "clucking" (a word that made me laugh my head off when I first heard it) or strung out ~ ie withdrawing. I didn't agree with her but went along with the diagnosis because it meant an excuse to use. Next morning, thanks to my £10 and her dealer's wares, all symptoms evaporated. "Gear does make you better," I reasoned. It is, after all, the best painkiller in the world.
To cut a long story short: I'd found myself two partners at once. Her name was Libra. Its name you're already familiar with ~ good old heroin.
It's taken me fifty years - One morning, when I was in grammar school, a girl in my class came in wearing a denim jacket she'd bought from a charity shop. I loved that jacket and I wa...
17 hours ago