HAMSTERS & HEROIN: Not all junkies are purse-snatching grandmother-killing psychos. I'm keeping this blog to bear witness to that fact.

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DIARY OF A SLOWLY RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT

I used to take heroin at every opportunity, for over 10 years, now I just take methadone which supposedly "stabilizes" me though I feel more destabilized than ever before despite having been relatively well behaved since late November/early December 2010... and VERY ANGRY about this when I let it get to me so I try not to.

I was told by a mental health nurse that my heroin addiction was "self medication" for a mood disorder that has recently become severe enough to cause psychotic episodes. As well as methadone I take antipsychotics daily. Despite my problems I consider myself a very sane person. My priority is to attain stability. I go to Narcotics Anonymous because I "want what they have" ~ Serenity.

My old blog used to say "candid confessions of a heroin and crack cocaine addict" how come that one comes up when I google "heroin blog" and not this one. THIS IS MY BLOG. I don't flatter myself that every reader knows everything about me and follows closely every single word every day which is why I repeat myself. Most of that is for your benefit not mine.

This is my own private diary, my journal. It is aimed at impressing no-one. It is kept for my own benefit to show where I have been and hopefully to put off somebody somewhere from ever getting into the awful mess I did and still cannot crawl out of. Despite no drugs. I still drink, I'm currently working on reducing my alcohol intake to zero.

If you have something to say you are welcome to comment. Frankness I can handle. Timewasters should try their own suggestions on themselves before wasting time thinking of ME.

PS After years of waxing and waning "mental" symptoms that made me think I had depression and possibly mild bipolar I now have found out I'm schizoaffective. My mood has been constantly "cycling" since December 2010. Mostly towards mania (an excited non-druggy "high"). For me, schizoaffective means bipolar with (sometimes severe)
mania and flashes of depression (occasionally severe) with bits of schizophrenia chucked on top. You could see it as bipolar manic-depression with sparkly knobs on ... I'm on antipsychotic pills but currently no mood stabilizer. I quite enjoy being a bit manic it gives the feelings of confidence and excitement people say they use cocaine for. But this is natural and it's free, so I don't see my "illness" as a downer. It does, however, make life exceedingly hard to engage with...

PPS The "elevated mood" is long gone. Now I'm depressed. Forget any ideas of "happiness" I have given up heroin and want OFF methadone as quick as humanly possible. I'm fed up of being a drug addict. Sick to death of it. I wanna be CLEAN!!!

Attack of the Furry Entertainers!

Attack of the Furry Entertainers!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Part 8: Cold Turkey

SO HERE I AM WITH MY DEAR FAMILY a good four hours' journey from home (I know you Aussies and Canadians will laugh; but in Britain that's a long, long way!) In fact very few journeys in the average Brit's lifetime (so long as they are within the UK) will take much longer than four or five hours ...

Anyhow I arrive and the first withdrawals have already crept up on me on the train. So I'm shivering and hot and getting the shivers and yet sweating all the more. Which is a really horrible state to be in; trust me. It's not just that the body's going haywire but sweating when you're already cold can become an agonizing experience. As the withdrawal progresses it's like stripping layer after layer off your own skin, off your resistence to the world's minor irritations. Which is why, as I mention, the sweats became like an "agony" ~ the threshold of discomfort of any kind plummets. That fairytale "The Princess and the Pea" might well have been written about a detoxing royal junkie, because the author's point about luxury lowering tolerance to suffering and all suffering being relative is very much applicable to the heroin addict's self-inflicted lot.

Even the medical text I once consulted conceded that junkies in withdrawal tend to be majorly tormented by minor discomforts. This may well have been the same text that counselled nurses not to be overly concerned by the impossibly accelerating anxiety and agonizing withdrawal sickness of any opiate addict no matter what the length or degree of their addiction and to remind the patient that although these symptoms feel very distressing and unpleasant at times they always pass within a matter of days and have never killed anyone. In other words: be patronizing and dismissive and unaware of the fact that if heroin withdrawals could indeed kill a great many more addicts would be willing to suffer them. At least that way, a clearly positive outcome might be in sight.

Some drugs do present complications in withdrawal: benzodiazepines (Valium and most modern sleeping pills) can bring on seizures if withdrawn too rapidly. As can alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal in particular can elecit the most florid hallucinations atop mental confusion (delirium tremens; the so-called DTs). But it's because a detoxing heroin addict generally loses the will or capacity to drink ~ and frequently tends to cut out all drugs together at the same time if they are going to brave the full-on "cold turkey" ~ that all manner of phenomena tend to get blamed on withdrawal from heroin that actually have nothing (directly) to do with it.

OK AND BACK TO MY OWN STORY, it soon proved that the methadone I had brought with me would nowhere near be enough to last the week. So, having thought the matter through, and realizing that to take a pitifully small dose of methadone would put me in the worst of both worlds (as I saw it then) ~ ie still being addicted and yet not being held ~ that I poured the entire lot down the toilet. Watched as the water in the bowl went a mouthwash shade of green and promptly flushed all this away in case the urge to scoop it back in a cup should seize me (addiction is a powerful motivator). Now I had to option but to stick to my resolve to come off "cold turkey" ...

"Junk" sickness comes on agonizingly slowly and refuses to hurry. It is an expert torturer. Having said this: within 24 hours my pupils had gone enormous, I was sopping wet with sweat all over. "Cold turkey" was getting into full swing. What I hadn't counted on, however, was a restlessness of mind and body so extreme that at the peak of the experience I could barely stay still for longer than 20 seconds. My mind raced uncontrollably. Ideas of all varieties whirling about me in a tornado. My anxiety was extreme. I could focus on nothing for longer than a handful of seconds. My moods flew up down and sideways. At one point my mind was rushing so quickly I felt like I was flying.

My family, of course, hadn't a clue what was wrong. And I refused to admit the reason for my odd behaviour until three days into this admittedly farcical scene. What caught their attention, far more than those supposed "flu-like symptoms" I'd been conditioned to expect (anyway, the worst of these ~ the cramps and vomiting ~ I managed to control with hysocine (scopolamine) travel sickness pills. What grabbed their attention was my frenzied, pointless, restlessness. There seemed no earthly reason for this. When my Dad suggested it might be "drugs" I countered, "who on earth would take a drug that would make them feel like this?" and for the time being that particular subject had a lid on.

At this point in time I had been "dabbling" in heroin for over three years. Had been using daily for several months; and though it's hard to state precisely how long becuase inherent to the state of addiction, as I've already stated, is massive self-deception, I did manage to pinpoint at the time that I'd been using on a daily basis for at least six months when I made this concerted attempt to come off.

My point here is that the withdrawals I went through, though intensely nasty to me, were nothing compared to the syndrome that might well confront me ~ with literally years of heroin plus a tankerfull of methadone ~ were I to try and come off cold today ...

"Cold turkey" ~ incidentally ~ is more the media's expression than one that junkies might use. (London junkies, anyhow. I can't vouch for the rest of this cruel, wide world!) Junkies themselves might use the term "clucking" or "doing your cluck" ~ yes I know how laughable that sounds: I've laughed at it myself. But that's the language heroin addicts use.

Anyhow, now that heroin is available round the clock from a great many dealers and the days when you had your "man" and stayed loyal to him and might even have to go for days at a time without when droughts hit the city and "the man" couldn't "get" ... these days, when cold turkey was a fact of life, have long gone. In fact I seriously doubt whether many of the younger addicts today have even done a straightforward "cluck" as I did at least go through to the bitter end (I did eight or nine days clean) ... the modern-day addict in the west is coddled from the worst consequences of his addiction and so not only receives a mixed message from society that with one breath condemns his actions and threatens conviction, fines, imprisonment ... and yet with the next condones them, offering clean needle exchange, easy access to methadone (that you can go on and on using on top of) and so on. A thoroughly confusing point of view. Though I'm not saying the situation in South East Asia (or even in America) is in any way desirable.

Merely to do the proper "cold turkey" you need certain facilities in place. First of these is a place to stay well away from all your druggie connexions. If you don't have this and attempt coming off in your normal milieu unless God grants a miracle, you're pretty much doomed from the start. No way will you see the withdawals though.

Addiction erodes willpower in a way thta's near-impossible to explain to a nonaddict. For one thing one's desire to clean up actually increases once you've had a lovely great shot of the drug. This is because once high and distanced from the details of life cleaning up seems as straightforward as it is desirable. When in fact it is not straightforward at all. Because an entire life must be substituted new for old in almost every detail. The less high you are. The more straight. The more under the weather beneath straight that you get as the last of the last hit trickles from your system your brain only turns with single-minded fixation to obtaining more of the drug and using it and contriving always to have more to use when you need it. As the author of a junk memoir put it (my paraphrase) ... "I was never so minded to get clean as when I was dirty" ... that's pretty much it in a nutshell. But straight people would assume it's the other way round. How can it be. You cannot be hooked on a drug without first loving it. Any addict who pretends they hate their drug of choice is a liar! You can get tired of it the way you get tired of a longterm spouse. But you gotta love the stuff at some time. Otherwise how on earth are you gonna get hooked in the first place!?!

Over time, heroin seeps under your skin, eventually, to all intents and purposes, becoming your skin, as it sets up home in brain and body. And all wellbeing and all normality come eventually to depend on heroin's compelling presence in your body, you find yourself in due course utterly hijacked by the substance that once added life's spice. Now, it's somehow become a substance for life itself. All the emotional stability that I, at long last, seemed to have gained in my life, I suddenly realized ~ had been built on a foundation of heroin. Without heroin I was in such a bad way I felt I'd never cope with life on it's own demanding terms ever again. Indeed, life without heroin seemed like a black hole, a dreadful, intolerable void stretching forever and destroying all who entered in. When this hit me I basically flipped my lid and, panicking and full of suicidal ideas, detarmined my only option was to get back home and get myself killed by an express train. I ate a miserable last supper and kept as composed as possible all the way to the station. The physical withdrawals had by now faded (I was a good week clean if not longer) ~ but my mind was still in tatters.

Before I did the nasty deed I would use just once more, to straighten myself out.

The drug worked.

In fact it worked a seeming miracle. All deathwishes ceased.

All I'd done in attempting to quit, it transpired, was to seal with myself a new pact and resolution. I knew beyond any doubt now that I was an addict. And finally I understood the debt I owed heroin for the nominal security in life I enjoyed once I was dosed up. From now on: I cold not stop. I could only go on using. Because heroin had saved me. If it hadn't done it's favour and made me feel so good now, I would surely be dead. That was the deal I made with heroin. Or heroin made with me. Simple ~ uh?

And what the future held ~ God only knew ...

26 comments:

Wayward Son said...

You have written an account of your fall and existence into addiction that is so utterly true. You have endeavored (quite successfully, I think) to explain the nuances of addiction and the spin it plays on one's life. You have been very informative about an addiction I am not that familiar with and have provided details and insight into the hows and whys. It's a VERY powerful story and an amazing bit of writing.

It also contains, I believe, all the reasons you want to quit. You know you have more to offer this world and you know that your addiction is standing in your way. I think you know that one day soon, being the person you will ultimately be will feel worth the struggle. Through your words you seem very, very close to the decision you have been sneaking up on for years.

The fact that I know you can do it is as worthless as others thinking you cannot. It's what you think that has any merit. I will promise you this, though. You will be amazed at how much people will help you and as you struggle on how much that help will grow. I have a feeling that our friend Ruth could share with you the most loving stories of people helping other's addicted to heroin and how much that service to others has helped them. Once you are on that path you will see that love has no end and you will witness all that is good in humanity. (something that seems in short supply when one is living with addiction)

Despite all the help that will come your way, it will be your decision, your actions, your struggle, your pain and your responsibility. It will also be your success. It will be the one thing in life you do that you will never, ever regret.

WS

Meg said...

Hang tough Gleds--I'm keeping you in my thoughts!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

don't pick up....

smiles, bee

JaniceNW said...

I've heard the only thing worse than detoxing from heroin is trying to get off meth. It's hard. Lots of folks don't understand that. I wish you the best and hugs for support.

Audrey said...

Ive been reading these past few days Gledwood but not commenting,your story is so powerful and I can only thankyou for sharing it..Its deeply moving and thought provoking,you have given so much through sharing in a very real,open and honest way...May you find strength when you need it most and that one day you will say it was worth the struggle. I was also very moved by WS comment..

Your in my thoughts too x Auds

Dan said...

Gleds, have you ever thought of writing a book on this? Some might really find it helpful?

RAFFI said...

the 'you're so dirty you want to be clean' idea is deep. i hope once you completely "cluck", it's your last one. good luck, gleds.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Anonymous said...

Heroin was a nightmare. Getting clean and staying clean was a nightmare. Clean for over two years now. Life is good. Cravings occasional, but weaken with time. Learned how to distinguish those impulses and eradicate them with other actions and behaviors. Your story is exactly mine. Gledwood, don't be one of those junkies that keeps trying and ends up dead. It's such a reality - DEATH.

Puss-in-Boots said...

Gleds, that is seriously scary. I couldn't imagine what you went through, just reading about it is enough to give me the shudders.

I can't help feeling that, in some way, writing about this is going to be cathartic for you. Whatever, I wish you all the best and hope you can get clean.

Hug

Edyta said...

Gleds!
I told ya u were a writer! I can tell u one thing, as an art-geek <-- me. I know that this writing makes ppl sad or feel miserable or makes them understand that ur experience isnt something that they would like to repeat cuz u went through it all. But that is actually a good thing. Ur writing is leaveing ain IMPRESSION on ppl. It doesnt matter if its a positive or nagative one - it leaves an impression. This is what counts. Basically, I agree with Dan very much & i told u this before, despite ur ups & downs, u still have your talent. Seriously.

& u know, Gleds, I think it is very sweet of u to remember me & leave a comment on my blog after ages i have been not there. I am not here cuz of my finishing touches to the prom. I promise I want to write something useful & come again to read everyone's thoughts & poems & anything else. I missed it so much. So I'll be back soon & stalk you :D So cya cya & thanx again sooo much for your care. U r awesome!

sadgirl said...

Hi Gleds

I am gobsmacked by your story, your intense suffering. I have greatly underestimated how bad withdrawal is. Heroin is a very brutal drug. Its cheating you out of a real life. I think WS comments are very insightful. I think you want to change. I agree with someone else who suggested a book. You explain your torment very precisely as though dissecting it for other people.

Thinking of you Gleds. I know your life has been tough but luck can change.

all the best
sad x

IVY said...

Nice writing...
"As the withdrawal progresses it's like stripping layer after layer off your own skin, off your resistence to the world's minor irritations. Which is why, as I mention, the sweats became like an "agony" ~ the threshold of discomfort of any kind plummets. That fairytale "The Princess and the Pea" might well have been written about a detoxing royal junkie, because the author's point about luxury lowering tolerance to suffering and all suffering being relative is very much applicable to the heroin addict's self-inflicted lot."
Loved that paragraph.

Sorry I have been busy lately. moving and didnt have internet access so wasnt commenting but I'm back now.

I wish I had a timeline because the way you wrote it I think it just happened in the last three days? But how is that possible. ANd if you were detoxing from methadone? That takes months. Were you purposely leaving the end to be ambiguous or just tired out from the strenuousness of writing such a close piece?
Well done. Good writing. I still have questions but I really related to this one and I was proud of how you handled the withdrawals.
It also made me realize there is a lot I DONT know about you. Much more that I dont know than I do but writing is misleading in that it makes one think one knows more than they do...


I think if I could ever withdrawal it would have to be in the prescence of my mother, even though she is one of the "reasons" I started, she and burro, a teacher who had an affair with me, scored me, and then got married. I was ashamed that I felt anything and needed to flood myself with numbness. Of course it's all so complicated. If I'd had a better relationship with my parents.. If I had any support network at the time.. if I had anything but my WORK.. anything but my love for music, writing, literature.. it would all be different. I need to stop here. WHy is it I write better on other people's boxes sometimes than I do on my own blog???

IVY said...

PPS. you do realize that there is still the side-bar on my page dont you? You just didnt wait long enough. Maybe one of these days I should start putting some of my entries on another page but right now ALL entries are on ONE web page. That's like... a bajillion words.

IVY said...

so that's why the loading time!!

Gledwood said...

Wayward: do you really think it contains all the reasons I want to quit? That is the kind of stuff I don't realize I'm saying while I write it, know what I mean? I'm glad you said I managed to put my finger on the nuances of addiction bc that's really what I was trying to do when I set up the blog ~ to tell what addiction is like from the inside in a way that has never been (satisfactorily) done before ...

Thanks, Megs!

I shall try not to pick up, Empress!

Gledwood said...

Janice: if crystal meth is harder to get off than heroin it must be an utter nightmare! I must say, I saw a news item about the stuff on NBC nightly news and was horrified to see people who'd been in treatment for a month still looking horrible. Heroin and crack addicts usually look vastly better within a matter of days!

Thanks, Audrey~ I'm glad the story has made some impression on people

Yeah, Dan, I have thought of that ... but what to write? Where to start ..? ... etc ... (Which is no reason why not to, not knowing, I know. But I'm just saying ... one's own life is a pretty huge topic!)

Gledwood said...

Raffi: hopefully I won't even have to "cluck" it out ... well not properly... they always promise a painless detox ... liars!

Anonymous~ that's why heroin is the archetypal drug of addiction. BC it is so very compellingly powerfully addictive. It's utterly impossible for a nonaddict to comprehend how addictive this stuff is ...
I'm glad life is OK for you now though...

Puss-in-Boots I hope it is cathartic. & I hope it means I never have to go through crap like that ever again!

Gledwood said...

Edyta a writer! I just gotta channel the writing into something more profitable than a blog, tho, innit?! Thanxx for the compliment tho

Sadgirl: yeah, they never really mention how hard withdrawal is MENTALLY. PHYSICALLY being ill is one thing, but mental suffering is quite something else... I mean maybe 90% of physical suffering is in the mind (think of what pain clinics tend to say) ... that is why depression is such a very devastating experience ...

"So that's why the loading time" ... what do you mean, Ivy?

IVY said...

hello?
no word from you, no response to my query, no response to my putting you in my blog and adding a link. did you get my messages on this post?
-confused and oversensitive

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I WANT OFF METHADONE AS QUICK AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!

METHADONE ~ A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH







Heroin Shortage: News

If you are looking for the British Heroin Drought post, click here; the latest word is in the comments.







Christiane F

"Wir, Kinder vom Bahnhoff Zoo" by "Christiane F", memoir of a teenage heroin addict and prostitute, was a massive bestseller in Europe and is now a set text in German schools. Bahnhoff Zoo was, until recently, Berlin's central railway station. A kind of equivalent (in more ways than one) to London's King's Cross... Of course my local library doesn't have it. So I'm going to have to order it through a bookshop and plough through the text in German. I asked my druggieworker Maple Syrup, who is Italiana how she learned English and she said reading books is the best way. CHRISTIANE F: TRAILER You can watch the entire 120-min movie in 12 parts at my Random blog. Every section EXCEPT part one is subtitled in English (sorry: but if you skip past you still get the gist) ~ to watch it all click HERE.

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Drugs Videos

Most of these come from my Random blog, which is an electronic scrapbook of stuff I thought I might like to view at some time or other. For those who want to view stuff on drugs I've collected the very best links here. Unless otherwise stated these are full-length features, usually an hour or more.

If you have a slow connexion and are unused to viewing multiscreen films on Youtube here's what to do: click the first one and play on mute, stopping and starting as it does. Then, when it's done, click on Repeat Play and you get the full entertainment without interruption. While you watch screen one, do the same to screens 2, 3 and so on. So as each bit finishes, the next part's ready and waiting.

Mexican Black Tar Heroin: "Dark End"

Khun Sa, whose name meant Prince Prosperous, had been, before his death in the mid 2000s, the world's biggest dealer in China White Heroin: "Lord of the Golden Triangle"

In-depth portrait of the Afghan heroin trade at its very height. Includes heroin-lab bust. "Afghanistan's Fateful Harvest"

Classic miniseries whose title became a catchphrase for the misery of life in East Asian prison. Nicole Kidman plays a privileged middle-class girl set up to mule heroin through Thai customs with the inevitable consequences. This is so long it had to be posted in two parts. "Bangkok Hilton 1" (first 2 hours or so); "Bangkok Hilton 2" (last couple of hours).

Short film: from tapwater-clear H4 in the USA to murky black Afghan brown in Norway: "Heroin Addicts Speak"

Before his untimely death this guy kept a video diary. Here's the hour-long highlights as broadcast on BBC TV: "Ben: Diary of a Heroin Addict". Thanks to Noah for the original link.

Some of the most entertaining scenes from Britain's top soap (as much for the poor research as anything else). Not even Phil Mitchell would go from nought to multi-hundred pound binges this fast: "Phil Mitchell on Crack" (just over 5 minutes).

Scientist lady shows us how to cook up gear: "How Much Citric?" Lucky cow: her brown is 70% purity! Oddly we never see her actually do her hit... maybe she got camera shy...

And lastly:

German documentary following a life from teenage addiction to untimely death before the age of 30. The decline in this girl's appearance is truly shocking. "Süchtig: Protokoll einer Hilflosigkeit". Sorry no subtitles; this is here for anyone learning German who's after practice material a little more gripping than Lindenstraße!































Nosey Quiz! Have you ever heard voices when you weren't high on drugs?

Manic Magic

Manic Magic

Gledwood Volume 2: A Heroin Addict's Blog

Copyright 2011 by Gledwood