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[ Personal Narratives ]

A New Jersey Memoir

I got heroine and heroin confused. I thought that by shooting it down my veins I would become someone better. That I would grow into someone who had the confidence to stand up for herself, and not get upset when things didn’t go her way. I had myself convinced of that. In reality I was this bitter girl, who became a stranger not only to herself, but also to the few who thought they still knew her.

The problem was, no one knew. It was my dirty secret that I kept tucked away. A secret that I only allowed out when no one was looking, when no one was around. Nobody helped me get this way, nobody is to blame for shooting me up my first time. I wanted it, and I figured out how to get my hands on it. 

I lived in New Jersey, and all the rumors are true. It took me one trip strolling through the streets in Newark, with one kid, who knew where to go for me to score. He never told anyone I asked him, and I never told anyone about him either. He was part of my secret, part of the world no one got to see. I started to create this notion in my mind that if nobody knew, nothing I did mattered.

I always thought that in order to have a drug problem it had to take over your life entirely. I watched the drug destroy my older brother’s life, taking him piece by piece, little by little. I watched as he stole money, lived on the streets, and battled several arrests. I watched the years pass by and him die a little more each day. He was the textbook heroin addict everyone hears about at NA meetings. 

 That wasn’t me. I didn’t have a problem. I went to school. I went to work. I paid bills. I never got arrested. I wasn’t an addict. Until I tried to get sober.

I used to wake up everyday and tell myself, “you’re not going to get high today, you don’t need it.” Everyday, I would forget that around noon, “you don’t need it” turned into, “it’ll help you get through work, it’s a hard day today.” There was always an excuse, and always a reason because I was an addict. It wasn’t a secret anymore. It was never a secret. It was just society’s stigma of heroin addiction that I had convinced myself, that if I held it together in public, I didn’t have a problem. 

Someone once told me, that if you love the drug more than you love yourself, you need to get help. It was no secret that I hated myself, and that if I didn’t want this to be the end I needed people to know. 

Cover photo by: New Jersey photographer Steven Gindler and Model; Kayla Savage

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