There was a heroin junkie I once knew who told me that even though he hadn’t shot up in a decade he was still addicted. The feeling never left him, the craving never stopped and he said there was never one moment of one day he didn’t miss it. The high he got on heroin was his god, his wife, his lover and nothing in the life he lived today could ever match it. He had spent a couple of years in a hellish prison and went through a weird inner debate as to if he would try to quit heroin or go ahead and quit life. He decided to live but he told me he regretted it. The life he was living looked ordinary enough but to the former junkie it was a one act play in which he pretended to be the man he was but deep down inside he still craved the needle.
He still dreamed of it. He still woke up in the middle of the night and felt that feeling again, the high, the cocoon, the buzz, and the envelopment of all time and space and sense of self with the warm glow. He would wake up and realize he was straight and sober and it was all he could do to keep from sobbing that it was gone.
It’s unfair, he told me, that I could write all I wanted to and that was my thing. I could have that. People who drank could drink themselves silly and they could have that, and in fact, there were bars and clubs and stores with all sorts of alcohol in them. People celebrated with alcohol, gave it away as gift, launched ships with it and only those hardened drinkers who killed people with cars or lay in a coma in the gutters were condemned.
He had left his wife, kids, his friend and his job for his habit, and he had betrayed ever trust for it. He stole money from everyone he knew. There was a woman he had teamed up with and they stole from stores, stole from their neighbors, stole from each other and in the end, it was her death that really affected him the most. Not out of loss, mind you, because he was more than willing to deal with the loss of anything and everything. It wasn’t the degradation that came with the habit, for he had sold his woman for money, watched as she was taken in front of him, and was happy that she could be a source of income for the habit.
There was a night he traded her for a fix and she went along with it for a fix, and he sat with the zombie feeling coming over him as he watched some stranger with drugs have sex with his girlfriend. A mouse ran over her arm, which was stretched out over her head and she looked over at him and they shared that moment like two lovers would share a sunrise at dawn.
She died of an overdose and he always thought she did it because the drug wasn’t having the same effect and they had to shoot more and more. She opted out because their god was dying faster than they were. He wanted to follow her, and would have, but then it would be gone forever, and he wanted to live, not to start over with life or to get clean, no.
He lived because as long as he lived there was a chance he could have it again, that the one thing he wanted might one day be found in some form that wouldn’t kill him, and he could have it until he did die.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
14 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Heroin”
Mobile theme’ turnoff’ button isn’t working. It won’t work at all when you press it. Been this way for a few days.
This feature drives me insane. I wish it would work the other way ie land on web page and be asked if you want to switch to mobile view.
Just thought if let you know.
Unable to get onto any part of sight via mobile other than these comment sections.
Reliable sources have told me the physical damage to your body from heroin, is less than an alcohol bender. But because it’s only available in the back alley, it’s cut with all sorts of nasty stuff, and there’s no way of measuring dosage. That’s without getting into the dirty shared needles and being unconscious in places normal people wouldn’t want to be in awake. If it were legal, probably less people would die.
I would not touch this stuff if unicorns blew it out of their butts and angels scooped it up with their breasts.
Mike you are truly a talented individual. That was the most eloquent description of addiction I have ever read.
Thank you Dave.
To watch a human life end well before death is searing and unforgettable.
A very powerful piece of writing. I have my own addictions, some active some in remission but I will always be an addict no matter how much recovery I have. I know I am always one step away from that obsession. There are nights it haunts my dreams turning them into nightmares. I wake in fear that it is real and not a dream. I am grateful that I don’t feel the pull as relentless as some. Many years ago in a far different space a heroin addict in his fleeting recovery space told me ‘never ever stick a needle in your arm’. I am grateful I followed his advice especially when I read something like this.
Jester most people have some substance abuse issues be it simple white sugar or pot. But to allow something into your body that is known to possess life is unconscionable.
I’m glad you liked this. Thank you.
You can add Hydrocodone to the list. Synthetic heroin that is rampant. I have quit four times and went through he’ll each time I did it. I quit on my own, no meetings or groups or clinics. All it took was that one time where I said having just one pill won’t hurt. Now they control and run my so called life. The hardest part of no pills is relearning your routine all over again without the eds. Exercise and potassium help with recovery. Maybe one day I will quit for good and never look back.
John, every day you wake up clean is a victory.
Keep on keepin’ on, man.
My wife often chides me for my weakness for red wine and Ritz crackers, but I swear I could give up both. I never tried heroin and now I’m grateful for it. Good piece, Mike.
Grog, there is no support group for Ritz crackers. Your only hope is to send me all of them. Now.
This couldn’t have found me at a better time. My sister is currently choosing to quit life, quit her family, her son, all for some poison in her arm. It’s as if she feels it’ll be the antidote to the darkness in her soul. You can’t fix darkness with more dark. She had us all so worried and surprised us to say she was going (back) to rehab. She called me less than 24 hours later to ask for a ride or money….from 5 hours away. She was stranded and the rest of the family said “no”. So I had a choice, make myself feel better and give her a ride or money just to know where she is, or stop helping her destroy herself. I thought of my nephew. As she should do.
The odds of a happy ending are nearly zero, but where there is life there is also hope.
If this helps in any way at all, thank you.
Hang in there.
Excellent writing and support Mike. We planted an addict buddy last year that could not stop that drug from 20 to just shy of 40. Long time for a junkie to live. She had every disease known to mankind, and finally her body packed it in with that last good rush. She had been in rehab 12 times, in a coma 4 times, raped, beaten and degraded for that drug. Family and friends were always there for her but she couldn’t get rid of that monkey on her back. Her drug use gave her son severe complications and he’ll need special care all of his life. It’s so sad.
Emilee, just give your nephew all the love you can. He’s going to need it. Bless.
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