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Some random thoughts about addiction....

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  1. JonnyBGoode
    One of the hardest things about coming off any drug is settling back into 'normality' which is like a scary and dark place for most of us addicts. 'Normality' is the thing that we're scared of, the fear of the present is the most typical thing that causes me to go back to drugs. It's ok for a week or maybe even two, but then it starts become intolerable, everything just slows down to a snails pace. Days take forever, a week feels like a month and a month feels like a year. After coming off opiates, a long and drawn out depression set in like a rot, it's like mourning a loss in some ways, you feel powerless to stop the feelings of grief and sadness and you're angry with yourself for not doing something about it sooner and letting it take such a hold over you that you've got this bad.

    But feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help, it only gives you an excuse to use more drugs. Giving yourself a hard time about using and feeling all 'woe is me' is a sure fire way to get back into drugs quickly, I find being realistic about how challenging it is to beat an addiction and being honest enough with yourself to know that you're probably not going to just walk away and be clean for the rest of your days takes the pressure off a little bit. Some people put everything on the line and go full on yoga-class/meditation/mindfulness and health-freak when getting clean, that's not my way unfortunately. I'm more of the 'get through the days anyhow' type of addict, when I'm off smack I'll be smoking hash and taking benzos at least for the first week or so, I don't go overboard on them but they take the edge off a little bit. After the first week or so when you start to get back to 'normal' it's just sticking to the plan, easier said than done, the temptation to return to drugs is most apparent in the early stages of recovery.

    Drug addicts are often demonised in and by society, we're seen as the lowest of the low and we're always branded in the same way as the lowest elements of society. People will describe an area or place as being awful and say its full of "scum, pushers, thieves, scammers, nonces, rapists, whores and...junkies" as if those crimes are all on a moral parity with each other. Forget about the finer details, drugs are illegal, junkies are all immoral, and they MUST be scum bags. Addicts won't even argue about this as they think that junkies are mostly scum too having been around so many, why would you be bothered about being demonised by others if you demonise yourself?! WE often think we're pieces of shit, not worth more than the cost of our next bag, wrong'uns, na'er do wells, and generally untrustworthy misfits. Being a junkie means you've been around junkies and we're all too aware of the fact that most drug addicts will do anything for more drugs as they make you desperate, we've excused ourselves and our own behaviour many times citing this very reason that "we wouldn't have done it if it weren't for the drugs" so we're not going to judge other people in the same way.

    It's far easier for people to cast drug addicts aside like this and label them because it means no one has to look closer to home or take any collective responsibility for the fact that it's so often vulnerable people, failed by their own parents, and failed by society, by the care system, by the area they grew up in, and left to be picked off by the dealers and converted to the 'slave to the needle' cliche. Girls often end up resorting to prostitution, dealers are often pimps or a user will get a girl on side and then make out like they're protecting them by pimping them, dealers also often take stolen goods as payment so they become fences of stolen goods, dealers, pimps etc. all in one, criminality is very often linked like this. Stealing to order is also common these days rather than nicking stuff you can't get rid of, you target the goods that people have pre ordered and agreed a price on then steal that instead.

    Being addicted to heroin isn't NECESSARILY as horrible as people might think, actually being on drugs is pretty great really, you're cocooned in your own little bubble and rather than being up and down and having to face the trials and tribulations of life you're just on a constant level of enjoyable dopamine ridden bliss and almost smug about your lack of discontent for life that many people suffer from. Bad day? Heroin! Girlfriend dumped you? Heroin! Lost your phone? Heroin! Heroin solves everything and it makes life very simple, instead of worrying about normal things you only have to worry about getting heroin that day. This sort of simplicity and this niche lifestyle is appealing to many people because it means having your life carved out in a simple daily routine that lots of us crave. The chaos is simplified into just one objective and that is very clear. A lot of people crave a purpose in life and a routine, I know that sounds crazy but it's true. The complications come as a result of having to find a way to fund the addiction, very few people blame the addiction itself it's the money to fund it that is the heart of the problem. It's not about getting off drugs that isn't the objective it's finding a way to take drugs and not end up in prison, and this attempt to play the system, and win, is alive in almost every drug addicts brain. But unfortunately there simply aren't a lot of options for addicts past crime, unless you're a functioning working secret addict that can afford it and hide it well, there's few options for the average drug addict, and everyone knows you're easily exploitable.

    If you're male you either steal or deal basically, unless you have your own little scam going on and even that's bound to be usually gained by deception, or you sell drugs for someone else in order to fund your own habit. Once someone is addicted to drugs the choice is no longer their own in a way, drugs change you and once you become reliant on them it's like signing over your soul and the control of your life to the person(s) that sells you drugs. You become a controllable entity, you can be exploited by dealers and criminals who know that you will do anything for your next fix. You have to come up with the money so you're resigned to either stealing, shop lifting, scamming, and robbing, or dealing for someone else so that you sacrifice the risk of carrying drugs in order to get your daily habit taken care of. To many that is a better option than burglary or robbery as it seems more victimless, you're only affecting other addicts lives and they don't have their own life any more anyway as they're addicts. Prison time is just a case of when rather than if at this stage, there's no way of avoiding it and if you're mixed up in the local drugs scene it's easy to be picked off by police. They know who the drug addicts are, they know in order to find a dealer you follow a junkie, and that may eventually lead to you.

    Once your face is known to them they won't forget it quickly. The reason that the police know the junkies is because they're forever arresting them, for shop lifting or theft or some kind of disorder, for picking up in the street etc. the problem is now that you're continually under police scrutiny and you'll be continually harassed and searched as a result. It's utterly crazy and many people don't realise it but a lot of drug addicts are incredibly talented and good at what they do. I remember reading a book, an incredible story which I would recommend to anyone, addict or not this is an enthralling read. It's the called "Wasted" and is the life story of Mark Johnson, a guy from Kidderminster who had a very messed up childhood full of abuse and care homes and a stint in prison. He suffered physical abuse at the hands of both parents and didn't have the best start in life it's fair to say. He became a heroin addict and ultimately ended up homeless on the streets of London's west end, he stole to fund his habit and lasted quite a while shop lifting and jibbing his way around the streets before he ultimately went to an inpatient rehab and sorted himself out. He started a successful tree surgery business via a small grant from the princes trust, employing just ex addicts and offenders, he then went on to head up some kind of official role with NA and he travels and speaks about addiction and pretty much dedicates his life to helping addicts.

    The amazing thing was that he was 'earning' £400 a day pretty much everyday of his life and spending it on drugs, crack and heroin, which he was shooting into his veins like a sponge. He was on almost £150k per annum in cash tax free! But he didn't even consider saving it or putting £100 a day aside until he had enough to get a place, or buy a camper van to live in. He just spent every last penny on crack and smack. The guy slept in doorways because he didn't trust the hostels or the people in them, he thought the gangs would get to him and exploit him so he stayed mainly on his own, in doorways feeling like every bone in his body was breaking, his feet growing into his socks, his body covered in lice, literally living the epitome of most peoples rock bottom.

    Yet he carried on for a long time, the average wage in the UK is about £25k before tax, this guy was earning 6 times that and sleeping in a fucking doorway with rats crawling all over him. Drugs completely distort people's outlook and they're so destructive and make people so unpredictable and out of control that they start to lose a sense of who or what they are or ever were. It takes a long time usually to build yourself up to that place where you literally have no one else to go to. No mates to call, nowhere to stay, the last bridge burnt with the last possible person that may show you some charity or put you up for the night. You end up being drawn either to the west end of london hoping something might come along (it never does) or migrating to one of the seaside towns and joining up with the local beggars and squatters and junkies in the scene down there. That's what he did anyway, lived on the streets in London's West End, and yet he managed to turn it around. He was clearly a very smart guy, the way he went about his criminality and how dedicated and successful a thief he was shows that he was smart and knew what he was doing as does his successful tree surgery business afterwards.

    I've met loads of smart addicts, often what seems to fuck with people the most is being mentally switched on, maybe too switched on, understanding fully the injustices of the world, it's history, the horrendous things that happen on a daily basis, the ultimate knowledge that life is futile and pointless, those kinds of thought are depressing. They give you the need for escapism, they are what make drugs so appealing. Those thoughts swirling around in your head and the knowledge that they bother you, that's also a defining part of an intelligent self aware person that is all too aware of their insecurities and their fears, to the point that they're dominated by them almost and have to seek solace in substances be it heroin or the socially acceptable alcohol, or cocaine, or speed or meth or crack or whatever. You're using them to escape from these realities and get away from feeling that way all the time. For me personally I've always had things quite easy and struggled to come to terms with allowing myself any empathy or giving myself any break, I'm very hard on myself and struggle with self loathing issues massively. I feel sad and pissed off and guilty for being this way and often curse myself for it, I feel that I've got no right to be depressed and no right to be a drug addict because I haven't suffered enough in life. It's catholic middle class guilt in a nut shell.

    I've never suffered from my addiction having an enormous impact on my lifestyle because of the way it came around. I was in my late 20's and working a good job for a good salary when I got into heroin. I never stole, or cheated money from people, although I got into debt and spent all my savings on drugs I was never arrested or put in a position where my demise was so apparent that something 'had to be done' as I managed to keep almost everyone in the dark about what I was doing to myself. It got pretty bad and I had lots of ridiculous moments, like gauging out in the toilets at work after smoking too much heroin or puking at work from being too fucked up or not fucked up enough. I started to take sick days more often and my personal relationships suffered a lot as a result of the fact I was so stressed all the time either about money or the fact that I was descending into addiction. I'm not saying I am any better than someone who steals to fund their habit or making any moral claim to superiority as that's just not me or my way. I'm just telling the truth, and in many ways it's another justification to use, the whole "I'm not hurting anyone but myself" line isn't really true as addiction affects all the other people in your life too, and in any case, there is NOTHING to gain by hurting yourself! It's a self destructive form of self-harm in a lot of ways, I wish I'd never taken heroin but I am also determined that rather than it being the death of me, it will be the making of me.

Comments

  1. luya
    "I've met loads of smart addicts, often what seems to fuck with people the most is being mentally switched on, maybe too switched on, understanding fully the injustices of the world, it's history, the horrendous things that happen on a daily basis, the ultimate knowledge that life is futile and pointless, those kinds of thought are depressing. They give you the need for escapism, they are what make drugs so appealing." ... This is so well put.
  2. Woody.Brown
    Ditto to this. Spot on.
    The pharmacist said she was surprised to see me (picking up methadone ) as I 'appeared intelligent' - spent a long time thinking afterwards that a lot of the junkies I've met through the years have been almost too insightful for life.
    Identify a lot with the story you summarised - might check out the book Wasted.
    In the meantime, I am enjoying making my way through your journal. Thanks for sharing this...

    Woody x
  3. Gettingunstuck
    :applause: This is the realist thoughts about addiction I've ever read. So true yet so scary! I look back at my life 6 years ago when I was"normal" just drinking with friends after work, smoking some bud and doing some come here and there! I think for me is struggling with the energy! Like, can I really get through the day? It seems like I can't do anything right unless I'm high on opiates... And it fuckin sucks. I struggle with wanting to be normal again, but was I ever really normal?
  4. JonnyBGoode
    Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read and comment, it means a lot to me, addiction (and especially opiate addiction) is a very complex thing to try and make sense of and unless you're suffered from it yourself, first hand, but it is staggering the level of ignorance that exists in society in relation to the concept in general. Many just think it's personal choice and there's nothing more to it than that, perceptions are changing but very slowly.
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