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Are people on Methadone “clean”?

I’ve encountered this debate several times while attending meetings and support groups and I have to say, it kind of irritates me.  I’ve watched entire one hour meetings get totally wasted by the back and forth arguing that this topic seems to cause.  So.. ARE people that use maintenance treatment programs clean?  Before I give my opinion I have to say that I have problems with the question itself.  Mainly, the word ‘clean’ is what bugs me about this.  I think if we worded the question differently like, are people on methadone maintenance in treatment?  The answer would be obvious… yes!  Are people that are in treatment, not using drugs but, addicted to some other behavior or object considered ‘clean’?  I don’t use drugs any more but would I consider myself clean?  Not really, personally… I consider ‘clean’ to be the end destination of treatment so, when I’m ready to live my life without any further addiction treatment I will consider myself clean.  That includes caffeine, emotional eating, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, etc.  So, in my opinion, I don’t think people on maintenance programs are clean… but also, in my opinion; i don’t think that’s the important issue here.  I think that the value of methadone and Suboxone maintenance is that it provides physical stability so that the addict can start addressing the underlying causes of addiction.  However, I must warn those addicts that take this path; building your recovery on a foundation made of methadone or Suboxone is risky.  Unless you intend on staying on maintenance for the rest of your life, then eventually you’re going to have to experience the physical withdrawal symptoms and that will shake your recovery to the core if done incorrectly.  That’s what happened to me a few years ago.  I was paying for methadone out of pocket and had worked my way down to 13 mg and thought I could skip a few steps and not fall… well I was wrong.  It led to a relapse and a lot of regrets.

 

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life after rebirth

rebirth is a hard concept to digest and assimilate.  I thought that I had experienced it once; years ago… but in the long scheme of my life it was but an awakening in the middle of a nightmare…. only to be pulled back in.  I fell into blissful sleep once before the nightmare… years ago…

my life made sense… my goals… inexplicably laid out before me… love.. passion… desire… dreams and giving… the way a bird regurgitates her hunt down the throat of her offspring… bitter with stomach acid but fermenting with the stuff of life.  the kind of love that burns the throat…  the kind of love that we all strive for… whether we realize it or not… true love is always bitter sweet… it prompts a reach towards fullness… a fullness u can only achieve through the oppressive love of a mother mixed with years of mistakes and miseries that boil through your contours and create your unique form within the atmospheric pressures of earthly space.

I can honestly say I’m clean now… steel shafts no longer pierce my emotional armor… chemical gods no longer seek to subdue my upward climbing soul… i’m now hindered by my old insecurities i never before faced…. the doubts that led me towards self destruction in the first place… why did i ever flick that wax-paper bag?  why did the vacuum inside the needle steal my awe from the magesty of the vacuum of space… both inner AND outer… why did my appreciation of life ever get pushed and compressed into this tiny box of plague that ruined every meaningful relationship in my life and almost killed me?  How did this piece of flesh defer so greatly from the divine will of the inherit spirit within?  How did such a divine creation become something so devoid of anything venerable?  Heroin…… that’s how… but luckily… the divine is a force greater than opiates…

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Holy shit… it’s been a while

I regret that I stopped posting blogs and searching my soul for words to inspire and help others.  I had a really good run with sobriety… but, unfortunately I did relapse and after all those words I posted I fell back into the lifestyle.  Does that mean everything I said was bullshit?  I’d like to think not.  Every word came from the depths of my soul at the time I wrote them.  I was truely clean when I wrote them, and I felt divinely inspired to write them… so no, it wasn’t bullshit.  It is however, really amazing how convictions can change over time.  My convictions were so strong about staying clean and helping others stay clean.  I can’t say that I even have a clue as to what changed them for the worst but, they’ve been changed back to positive for two+ years now.  I got clean again in August of 2008.  I can’t remember when I relapsed so I can’t determine how long I was using for but, I know I’m never going back.  On January 27, 2009 my first daughter was born and she is the singular savior of my life and rescuer of my soul.  Now, I have two daughters, a fiancee, and the beginnings of two careers.  4 years, 6 months, 8 days and 12 hours earlier I was dead on the floor being resuscitated by my bro.  Pretty cool how that works huh?  He’s really a hero when you think about the fact that he not only gave me a second chance at life but, he also gave my daughters and their  future children a first chance at life.   And his heroism is being put to good use.  For whatever reason, the powers that be put him in the position to save me from death and that same higher power gave him the strength to do what he did so, all of those stars aligning to keep lil’ ol’ me here on this planet cannot be something that I take lightly.  Which is… i guess… the reason why I am now beginning a career as a massage therapist. 

When I was a little boy I went to catholic classes once a week for a couple years.  The one thing that really stuck in my memory was the mental image of Jesus Christ healing people with his touch.  As a young boy, I thought that would be the coolest thing in the world to be able to do… I pictured it as selflessly absorbing people’s diseases and neutralizing them within my own body.  Now, as a mature adult who has seen so much suffering via heroin addiction, I am equipped with the reasoning, the life lessons, the skills, and most importantly – the intention – to heal people with my touch.  Of course, as a massage therapist I am not miraculously curing the ill but, I am using manual muscular and soft tissue manipulation techniques to facilitate the body’s own natural capacity to heal itself.  I feel like the era of heroin addiction has come full circle for me and I can finally leave it behind for good.  I’ll never forget the memories and the lessons I’ve learned through those years but, I am ready to utilize my experiences to help others heal.  I have much more to say but can’t right now… parenting duties call….

to all of you suffering out their… keep pushing on.  The light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a freight train coming your way…. it is the light of redemption, love, and life….  I have faith in you.

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One day at a time…

The “One day at a time”(o.d.a.a.t) approach to dealing with any kind of addiction is great.  It kind of helps you to remember, “Hey, this is life.  It sucks sometimes but, I can get through this”.  But, I’d like to expand that concept a little bit.  I don’t take it one day at a time, I take it one moment at a time.  Sometimes even one breath at a time.

A craving can come out of the blue at any time of the day and be triggered by any stimulant.  Some cravings, as I’m sure you all know quite well, are like a tapeworm in your intestines sucking all the enjoyment out of everything.  Where as some cravings are more like an annoying fly that is being pretty persistent about residing it’s ass on your face.  So obviously, some cravings are easier than others to overcome, subdue or whatever it is that you do to your cravings.  I word it like that because it’s a good habit to refer to your cravings as something outside of you.  The craving is not you!  Or, you are not the craving.  The craving is outside and under you, you do not need to let yourself be controlled or possessed by it.  It’s like saying you are your emotions.  You are not sad, you are merely feeling sad.  You are not mad, you are feeling it.  It’s not you, it’s a sensation you are experiencing and you’ll be happy to know, it’s never permanent.  Just like…. you guessed it, your cravings.  You are not craving, you are feeling a craving.  Once you make that distinction between yourself and your cravings it’ll be easier to push the cravings aside and move on with your life.

But despite all that, cravings are still inevitable and you must be able to say no to it, or if you can’t say no outright you still need to be able to get yourself somewhere safe.  Somewhere where you won’t have any access to your drug of choice  or around friends that don’t do it.  That’s where the o.d.a.a.t method comes into play.  Or for me, the “live for every moment” method.  For example, if I’m walking to the store and I start to crave I’ll start to focus on my walking.  I try to determine if I walk in a symmetrical fashion.  I notice that I tend to put more of the load on my right side.  So I focus my attention to correct the problem and I’ve forgotten all about my craving.  Such a simple thing, and I don’t think most people even scrutinize themselves on that level. If that alone doesn’t dispel my craving then I let myself notice each breath I take, I take in the smells and the beautiful spring weather around me.  I try to distinguish between the different things I’m hearing.  But as much as I try to harmonize with everything outside of me, I look inward just as much too.  I’ve noticed some innate qualities about myself that I would’ve have never noticed before.  I think every hardship you face in your life has the singular intention of stimulating self awareness.  But often times people pity themselves or react in anger and they miss the point every time.  Use your addiction and your cravings to teach you something about yourself.

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I was going to call this blog “Ten things I Hate About Heroin” but…

I was going to call this blog “Ten Things I Hate About Heroin”. But I think that hate might be too strong of a word for my relationship with heroin. Although I have been clean for quite some time now, I have never regretted getting involved with the stuff in the first place. Sure, I’ve overdosed, been incarcerated, spent a shit load of money I shouldn’t have spent, and I still have some slight remnants of the scars on my arms but, I still don’t regret it. I’ve been burned, robbed, betrayed by “friends”, and probably lied as much as I’ve been lied to but, I still don’t regret it. I don’t regret it because there’s things you can learn about yourself from your addiction. My addiction definately paved the way for a more fulfilling life (after I maintained my recovery of course). I now have a more supportive and better group of friends, I have a greater appreciation for the money I earn every other week, I appreciate that I CAN even work on a day to day basis without heroin. Hell, I’m grateful that I can FUNCTION without the shit…

Doesn’t a drug like heroin seem to miss the point in being a drug? I always felt drugs were a means of recreation that should be used appropriately. It’s impossible to use heroin in that way! I’m sure maybe at first you can get away with it. At first it doesn’t seem to be as bad as D.A.R.E made it sound to be, you can still function in society, one bag lasts a couple days but, that all ends. Explain to me what on Earth would possess a person to continue using any drug after that first throwing up experience most people have on heroin! But, I can’t deny my enjoyment for the rush but, in retrospect it’s just not friggen worth it! Who’s honestly willing to throw their whole life away and spend it poor and dippin… assuming you don’t wind up dead? You? I hope not, it’s a pretty sad existence. But it’s the inevitable ending of every heroin addicts’ story… unless you wake up and get out while you can.

It can be hard to get out though. I can quite vividly remember moments where I just didn’t care about “recovery”. I had my suboxone and could’ve taken it but, I would just much rather get high. But just my luck, that behavior led to my first and only overdose. So maybe that’s what got me out, but I can’t say for sure. I’ve still craved since then, I’ve still been tempted to use but, something deep within myself keeps stopping me. I just recently held two grams of heroin in my hand and surprisingly I had no desire to use it… of course the chances of that dealer actually having good shit is slim to none… but, the part that is strange to me is that I had no desire at all to use. Now, maybe that is because I knew I was holding shitty shit, but I think some deeper reason stopped me. Can I say I’m cured? I don’t think so… But it’s a god damn good start.

And here’s a list of things that tends to keep my recovery in perspective… I call this list

10 Incentives to Quit

1. I won’t have to experience withdrawal any more

2. I’ll no longer have to fear for my freedom

3. I’ll have more money to do more fulfilling things with

4. My life won’t be a roller coaster of emotions anymore

5. Trust between myself and my friends and family will be rebuilt

6. Pride will swell among the people I love

7. I will be in the small percentage of people who quit heroin (statisically there is a 60% success rate with suboxone and a 10% success rate with methadone which I believe includes both heroin and other opiate users)

8. I will feel comfortable wearing short sleeve shirts again

9. I won’t feel or look like a damned drug addict anymore!

10. With help I will learn to understand my disease

I know all these incentives to be true from experience.

This is just a handful of incentives to quit. I encourage everyone who reads this to post atleast one other reason I didn’t think of in the form of a comment. You may have to take a couple minutes to sign up, but hey, if your perspective helps someone else make progress with their addiction isn’t it worth it?

(after all, that’s why I write these blogs anyway)

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The Importance of Sticking to Your Suboxone Regiment

It is very important that while in Suboxone treatment you refrain from abusing your medication. The meaning of “abusing your medication” should be self-explanatory; however, there are even some small examples of abuse that are often overlooked. Obviously, you should not take an abnormally large dose to feel a euphoric effect. If you are taking Suboxone to get high then I’m sure that you’ve noticed that it’s not worth the money or the doctor’s visits because Suboxone, as only a partial opioid agonist, really does not get you real high. But, I am sure that those of you who don’t abuse Suboxone in that way have had times in your treatment when you are feeling less than peachy and deemed it reasonable that taking an extra two milligrams couldn’t possibly hurt. Why would it? Taking those two additional milligrams would be that little extra kick that you need to be in a good and lively mood and it’s just two milligrams. I’ve thought those thoughts, and I’ve even taken those two extra milligrams. But I am about to tell you why that could be detrimental to your recovery.

There are two main reasons why such a seemingly innocent abuse of your medication could hinder your recovery. The first reason has to do with the way your body reacts to opiates (among other chemicals) in your bloodstream. The second reason revolves around the psychological aspects of recovery from opiate addiction. I’ll start with the first reason and take you through an abridged tour of the science that supports my belief that you must faithfully take your prescribed dosage at all times.

Imagine, if you will, a cell in your brain and lets say it has three receptors on it. Now imagine you introduce heroin to your bloodstream and all three receptors become filled. These three receptors cannot allow all of the opiates in your bloodstream to attach so, there will be extra molecules floating around in your bloodstream. Constant use will create a plethora of opiates in your bloodstream, so to meet the supply, the cell will create more receptors. The brain has a fantastic ability to “normalize” itself. Now, in a cell normally functioned with only three receptors now has, lets say, six receptors. Since heroin has a cumulative effect, the numbers of available molecules in your bloodstream will continue to increase; thus, the number of receptors on this cell will continue to increase. So, after years of heroin abuse you’re ready to quit so you start Suboxone treatment. Your doctor starts you at 16 mg and this fills all of your receptors so you feel neither withdrawal nor high. After a month or so, you’re ready to step down to 14 mg. After this step down you may feel drowsy or some slight discomfort. This is because there is now less Suboxone in your system leaving some receptors open. Eventually though, if a receptor isn’t filled again it will go dormant and close. After this happens and your body becomes used to 14 mg you’ll be ready to drop to 12 mg and once again, a few more receptors are left open. Now, lets say you faithfully follow the program without incident and you’ve gotten down to 4 mg. You’ve been doing everything by the book and things are going great until one day you have a horrible day at work, and nothing seems to be working out for you and your just simply unhappy. So, even though you already took your dosage for the day, you know that taking some more will make you feel a little better so you add another 4 mg to your system. Now, there is a surplus of opioid molecules in your bloodstream again and you’ve confused the cell and the dormant receptors. To put it simply, you’ve increased your tolerance again.

Like I said, there are two main reasons why you should stick with your suboxone regiment. The second reason is more psychological. One of the reasons why the people that successfully complete the suboxone program is because those people developed coping skills. Coping skills are simply defined as: the skills you need to cope with cravings. One of the big triggers that lead to you doing your drug of choice is times of depression or unhappiness. A bad habit we often learn while abusing drugs is medicating ourselves when we’re unhappy. It seems like, as addicts, we tend to think that we should always be happy and when we’re not that means we need to do some drugs. That habit is one that must be broken before you can recover so, if you take a little extra suboxone when you feel down you’re not implementing an important coping skill. So wether your medicating a bad mood with suboxone or heroin, there really isn’t a difference.

Opiate addiction recovery is a very long process, and some say it’s a process that never completely ends. Suboxone is not designed to do the recovering and overcoming for you. Suboxone merely provides a less steep ladder down the climb of withdrawal. When used properly, Suboxone allows you to slowly transition from opiate addiction to non-use while still allowing you to function in society and life in general. Statistics show that Suboxone is most effective when used over a period of one year, so for all you addicts out there that just started Suboxone; be patient and use the coping skills in any situation, don’t wait for the catostrophe to occur in your life before you start using coping skills. Skills only become second nature through continuous use, so give it a go! So in conclusion, stick to your prescribed dosage and use skills to help you cope with cravings, and you should be fine. Good luck my friends.

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Love, Death, and Rebirth (Part III of III)

Eventually the paramedics deemed me well enough to walk out to the ambulance. They did not feel it was necessary to allow me to put on a shirt and a belt, so while walking out it was imperative that a paramedic held an IV bag, while they asked me to keep the oxygen over my mouth. My pants were constantly falling down on the walk to the ambulance and I was without a belt because I had used it as a tourniquet earlier to do my deadly deed. A deadly deed indeed.

I must say that I’m not amused by the fact that I was charged for the œcost of the oxygen, as well as the ambulance ride, and the diddly squat that the doctor did for me. In the hospital they asked me for a urine sample, they ran a few tests, took a X-ray of my chest (all of those tasks were completed by nurses) then handed me a bill. The largest sum on that bill was for the doctor that did not do a thing for me, besides give me an earful of reprimands.

I forget what the purpose was, but for some reason my mother had left about fifteen minutes before I was released from the hospital. But without any desire to stay there I began to walk in the direction of home. I still had no shirt, or a belt, but I had acquired those glue stains you get when you wear a band aid for a long period of time. And these stains occurred in the shape of a square, located above my nipples on my chest. I rather enjoyed the appearance these stains created on my chest, so I had no intention of cleaning them off any time soon. It was as if those little sticky squares represented the stickiness with which I cling to life. That’s right death! You cannot have me yet! I still have a purpose to fulfill, and no one shall stop me, unless I deem so fit.

As I stood outside on the side of the road I looked to the sky and drank in the sweetness of the noon air. A new sense of optimism over took me, but the reality of the impending dark phase of my life had to have a spot in the back of my mind. I had died today, and on some tombstone somewhere in the back of my mind the words: œBranman RIP May 19, 1985 “ June 19, 2006 are etched deeply. But at the same time there is a new birth certificate for Branman. The heroin addict had died this morning, and for the sake of my soul, this addict must stay dead. And with the death of this addict, the recovering addict could be born. Thus, my addiction has been inflicted with a cancer that will run its course and, with luck, soon my nemesis will be completely defeated.

I am not one to think little of big opportunities, and I am one to take opportunities when they come. This opportunity was created by my brother, because he had been the one to resuscitate me before the paramedics arrived. I am grateful that he had the courage to act and to do me a favor, a favor which I would return at the end of the year. I’ve learned from this experience that life throws two things at you, opportunities and obstacles. The opportunities come after one overcomes the initial onslaught of the obstacle. The cylindrical shape of the obstacle allows it to roll down the hill of existence. Since human beings are either walking, running or skipping up the hill, or the human being is dead, some obstacles are easily diverted because they are small and one can easily jump over it. But other obstacles are so large that they possess a gravity which manifests the inevitability of its approach. This was the case for me, my experience could be seen coming from a mile away, it shook the hill and darkened the sky. This obstacle overtook me and dragged me halfway down the hill. I barely emerged intact on the other side of my overdose, but the reward was immense. The reward was my survival! I have another chance, another opportunity. I couldn’t roll with this punch on my own, but in the same sense I had to have my own perseverance.

Yes, there is a point, and we have just arrived to it. So hold on tight to your chair and brace for impact. The information I’m about to feed you does not digest on its own. It’s up to you to let this morsel burn in the acids of your soul and let its nutrients be distributed throughout the experience of your existence. Obstacles come everyday and it’s everyday that one must find the strength to overcome them. And the strength you need cannot be found outside of you. Drugs or other addictive behaviors don’t give you strength, the strength can be found in the divinity of the present moment. And it’s important that you reach deep everyday for this strength because you never know when you’ll die. Don’t half ass life, because the lack of will and strength today might make today’s date the date that appears on your tombstone.

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Love, Death, and Rebirth (Part II of III)

Black
Then…
Eternal darkness
Then…
Black, empty consciousness
Then…
Warmth?
Then…
Recognition of self.
Then…
A presence
Behind me
Then…
Development of sense of self
Then…
Red, red, red, RED, RED, RED, RED!!!!

I explode from the womb of rebirth into the light of my bedroom. I’m on my back with the bright light of my ceiling fan blinding me. Is it my ceiling light? Where am I? Who are these people in blue suits? What is this IV putting into my body? I’m numb. I can see my body, but I can’t feel it. I can’t move! Why can’t I move!? My toes, my feet, my legs, my torso, my arms, my fingers, my mouth! I cannot move anything except for my frantically searching eyes. Who am I? Who are you? Who am I? Who are you? Can you remember your name? She’s speaking to me. The lady in the blue suit was asking me. She had brown hair and a soft demeanor about her face. Her face was positioned in the top left of my perception. I hear beeping to my right. There’s a man with short hair kneeled down next to me rummaging through a bag. I look further up to my left, and see my mother standing in the doorway to my room. My heart sank into my loins. Behind her were two gluttonous-looking police officers. One was a woman with very manly features, and the other was a man who looked like a fat woman — or was my vision still double? Too many people around me.

“Do you know what your name is?” she said, her voice was getting more demanding with each passing second.

“Of course–,” My chest began to spasm with violet bursts of mucus erupting from the depths of my lungs, “of course, my name is Brandon.”

A plastic, cold mask was then thrusted against my face, covering my mouth and nose. A very agreeable cold air filled my lungs as I inhaled. They were giving me oxygen, but I don’t need oxygen, there’s plenty in the air. Maybe if a few people left, the air wouldn’t be so thick. Why are there so many people in my bedroom? This is my chamber, my kingdom. As if my falling asleep allowed all these strangers to barge in and take control of my universe. Who are you? That’s what I should’ve been asking all these strangers around me.

“Look, I appreciate why you’re here, but I’m fine.”

“You were dead.”

“…oh,” after a slight hesitation I said, “I’m ok now though. Thank you.”

“Did you do heroin?”

“No, well…,” I began to wonder why I just lied.

“Brandon, I need to know what you did. I can’t help you if you don’t tell me. For your mother’s sake, how about you just tell me where the needle is?” This seemed to be a reasonable compromise. For some reason, telling a room full of strangers that I had just done heroin was an impossible task to accomplish.

“The needle is on my desk.”

“Ok, I’m going to take you out of your high now. We’re going to use some Nar-,”

“You’re going to what!? No… don’t… please.”

“We’re going to take you out now.”

“But, I feel so good right now.”

Red engulfed me again in the form of agonizing warmth and again I emerged, screaming into yet another birth. The pain I experienced did not start as pain, it started as a pleasant, tepid rush flowing throughout the miles of veins within my body. I felt this warmth enter all parts of my body, and it actually felt good… for a few seconds. The warmth started to boil to a extreme heat, which immediately made me quite anxious for this experience to be done with. My body began to shake a bit violently as I continued to cough and spit up thick mucus of some kind. I have come to understand that this chemical they shot me up with had the purpose of pulling all the heroin molecules out of the receptors in my brain. This, to me, must be what fast forwarding your withdrawal would feel like.

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Love, Death, and Rebirth (Part I of III)

I awoke on Monday morning, June 19, 2006, exactly a month after my 21st birthday, in a particularly jubilant mood because the first sight for my weary eyes was the sleeping beauty that was my girlfriend at the time.

Nothing quite compares to the sight of your object of affection represented in the soft, smooth flesh that characterizes life down to the very core of being. When one can observe the embodiment of love, peacefully wandering through the infinite fields of non-duality within her sleeping body, one can only silently stare and smile to oneself. Unfortunately, I cannot know for sure, but this day may have been the catalyst that began the beginning of the end of our relationship, but also began the beginning of a new beginning. Unbeknownst to me, June 19th was to become a day to remember, a day of joy, death, tears, rebirth, renewal, and the beginning of my climb from the bottom.

I would’ve liked to have kissed my girlfriend in her sleep without waking her, so that I could see the adorable way that women stir in their sleep after being so kissed. That little shuffle women do while letting out a little moan through their slight smile always touches me in a way that reminds me of a balloon rubbing against my head. But I had not been successful and she awoke, which was all well and good, I just would’ve liked to see that smile. But enough of all this, without further ado I will begin to tell the tale which forever altered the course of my life, a tale which I wouldn’t, for anything, change at all.

After leaving her abode, I traveled to my house to get ready for another rigorous day at the pool company. It was about 5:45 AM, and five seconds, and I was expected at work around seven o’clock. Luckily, I live just across the street from the headquarters of the company, where we would all meet every morning, and be dispatched to carry out our various duties. Today, there would be no duties for me. Today, all the work I was to be doing was to be spiritual. Today, with no way to alter the course of this part of my life, I was going to be letting go of any sense of control I thought I had, and letting the ebb and flow of my life take me forward, then back, then forward, then back, but always moving slightly more forward than back as the moon of fate pulls me towards my end destination. In another hour, life threw a curveball that only my brother had the ability to hit. It wound up rolling down the baseline, and luckily didn’t go foul because… well… that would’ve been the end of me.

I hadn’t even finished getting ready for work yet because I had other work to go about doing first, which happens to be the type of work that is much easier to carry out without a shirt on. I set out to do this work in my usual thorough way. I grabbed a fresh, room-temperature water bottle from my basement, a fresh Q-tip from my bathroom, a cotton ball for after the deed, and a belt. I closed the door to my room behind me, locked it, and set to work.

I removed a slim, but fairly long, folded up wax paper baggie from my wallet. I gripped the tip of the baggy between my thumb and index finger and let it unfold, succumbing, as everything does, to the forces of gravity. It was the same gravity which would be felt in the next 15 minutes by everyone who was unlucky enough, but fortunate enough to be in the proximity of the immense “weight” of the coming event. I had used half the contents of the bag the night before, so I was well aware of the effects I was about to feel. I was also well aware that what was in this bag was not exactly what I would have preferred; I knew this baggie contained a chemical called fentanyl. In addition, I knew what this fentanyl could do. But there was no way that risk was going to keep me from “eating my breakfast.” People drink their coffee despite the risk of burning ones’ mouth. There is no difference with this risk in the mind of the user. So, without any hesitation I emptied the other half of the bag, drew some water into my sharp vacuum of sorts and emptied it into the bottle cap which I had emptied my drugs into. Upon mixing with water, this solution took a dirty brown color that only darkened as I stirred it with the plunger of my needle. I took a few seconds to smell the sweet, bitter aroma of my impending doom.

Now I must take a short interlude from the story to discuss the seemingly paradoxical idea of a sweet, but also bitter aroma of impending doom. How can this paradox be true? I can tell you that it is true because I know it to be. And now, I shall prove it. You may be wondering how an aroma of impending doom could even be sweet in any way, or you might be wondering what the aroma of doom smells like. Or you’re an addict or a recovering addict and you’re already well on your way to understand this phenomena. Let’s dissect this sentence word-for-word, and define each one.

The word sweet might make you think of a red, jelly-like candy with sugar sprinkled on it, and in the shape of a bell. If not, then some other sweets come to mind, or perhaps you can relate to my feeling of the sweetness of my vice. I have always thought that potent heroin, when dissolved in water, gives off a double-sided odor. The sweet side symbolizes the sweetness of my experience of addiction with dope: the sweetness of the high (during infant stages of addiction), my sweet disregard of my worries and seemingly meaningless responsibilities (during adolescent stages of addiction), and the sweet outcome of overcoming my addiction (when my addiction became comatose). On the other hand, this experience had been quite bitter, resulting in my whole world being crushed in the contracting cheeks of my face, as if my existence at the time existed within the prison of my mandibles. The bitterness experienced by the expense of my lifestyle, the bitter disappointment of the high (during adolescent and late stages of addiction), and the bitterness one experiences when ones actions cause them to start the long upward climb of life from the very bottom instead of the higher precipice that one was at before the downward spiral of addiction are the key sources of bitterness. The “impending doom” is not to be confused with my demise. Yes, death did occur that day, but since I am here typing this right now, almost a year later, one can infer that I am very much alive right now. The impending doom is more sweet than bitter, because my addiction was inevitably going to contract cancer on this fateful day. Only a type of cancer could begin to kill the beast within me, and within thousands of other people.

With that said, I feel it would be appropriate for me to move on with my story, before further interpretation of “the sweet and bitter aroma of my impending doom.” After enjoying the aroma, I removed a small amount of cotton from the Q-Tip, rolled it into a ball between the tip of my index finger and thumb then, I dropped it into the bottle cap. The cotton piece immediately became brown in a very systematic manner as the molecules of the dope infused themselves into the dryness of the cotton. With this measure taken, I could rest assured that I did about all I could to keep any impurities from entering my body (using the word “impurities” loosely of course). Then came the time for me to slide the metal shaft into the soft mass of cotton, and extract the color of my desire. The same color of shit which, until I met heroin, I had never desired in any way except to see it in the bottom of the toilet. With the shit of my passion safely secured in the plastic vacuum, I pointed the metal shaft to the sky and flicked all the air to the top. I pushed the air out which, as always, ejaculated with a delightful wisp that always created a feeling of giddy anticipation of the coming sublime.

The grip of death then tightened on my bicep as the tip of the ticks mouth slid effortlessly between the clouds and landed in the internal freeway of my body. The red atmosphere of my inner world exploded into the shit-color of my desire. When the red mushroom cloud hit the peak of its ascent, my desire and myself became one. With ecstatic dizziness, death filled my body, my eyes rolled back, and everything became black.

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