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[ Opinion ]

A Day in the life of a heroin addict

So you have seen the “Basketball Diaries” or “Trainspotting” and you think you know what it is like to be an addict. You don’t. While both of those movies are great movies and do touch on some very real aspects of being a heroin addict, they do not encompass all that it involves. 

Being an addict is not nearly so glamorous. An addict usually wakes up earlier than they planned (depending on the drugs they use), because the sickness of withdrawal starts to kick in while you are still asleep. If you happen to have some dope left from the night before, which is hardly ever, you immediately reach to the nearest table or drawer and grab your kit. A junky will never be very far from his dope and rig. A rig is slang for an insulin syringe. 

As fast as he can put the dope in the spoon, squirt 40 units of water in it, do a quick heating with the lighter, and tie off with anything that can help him find his veins, he will take a shot and feel better. But, like I said, that hardly ever happens. What is most likely is that he will wake up, begin to feel sick, and immediately start using the phone to hustle some money. 

A junky will lie to anyone if it comes down to being sick or getting well. The sickness is to be avoided at all costs. It is to be feared more than death because unlike death, the sickness doesn’t end immediately. It goes on until you either get high or go through the worst 6 days of your life. After making phone calls to friends (if he still has any), loved ones (if they will answer the phone anymore), or anyone he can think of to ask for money, he begins the daily grind. Perhaps he talked one of his family members into giving him $20 for some bogus medication he said he needed for some made up health problem. Maybe they gave him $40 so he could pay off a fine that he never actually intends to pay. More than likely they all said “NO!” Then the junky will beg, borrow, or steal. Some might turn to prostitution, but I can tell you there is not much market for a moderately overweight male in the world of the sex trade. 

The junky, probably not having much left in his home to pawn, will take your stuff and pawn it. Maybe he borrowed it or maybe he stole it. Either way it was about to be traded for $40 even though it was probably worth $200. By this time it was close to lunch and the sickness was really starting to set in. After running around town all morning trying to hustle some money, the junky is really needing to get his fix or the sickness will be too much for him to continue to get out and about.

 I have been so sick that I was unable to walk outside. It gets that bad. If the junky was lucky enough to get $40 he will put $5 worth of gas in his car, and try and talk the dope man into cutting him a deal. Maybe he will ask for 2 packs of heroin for $30 where they usually cost $40. If he gets lucky he will get a pack of cigarettes too and have enough change left over for a can of Coca-Cola. 

As soon as he calls the dope dealer he will have to meet him somewhere. Most of the time they say they will call you back in 5 minutes and it will be 6 minutes later and the junky is calling him back asking where is he. This goes back and forth for anywhere from 20 minutes to 5 hours. 

Dope dealer time is the most fucked up time system in the world. 10 minutes can mean 3 hours and right around the corner can mean 75 miles from the city you are in. Eventually the dealer tells you to meet him at a gas station, a parking lot, or in the middle of a street. You instantly start feeling better once you know he is meeting you. You meet him, don’t say anything, but hand him the money. You get your dope and try to get as far away from the spot you bought from to fix up. You never make it more than a block before you pull over and get high on the side of the road. I have been so sick and anxious before that I spilled the dope all over me from my hands shaking. 

The junky fixes up and instantly the world is great again. Life is good, everyone loves you, couldn’t be better. That lasts for around 3 hours and then the whole process starts over again so you don’t have to be sick before you cop again. You usually end up getting high again around 8pm to help you get to sleep again. If you hustled enough you might have enough for a morning shot, but hey, fuck it, might as well do a double shot tonight. A junky never lives for the future, only the moment. I guess he lives that way because none of us are really sure if we will live to see tomorrow. Life isn’t that important, only getting high is important.

Does this sound cool? Sound like fun? I promise it is not. Your whole existence is based around getting high and then not even enjoying the high because you are already worrying about when you will run out again. And the high is never good again. It pretty much just takes the sickness away. Today, when I go home, I lay down on my bed with a beautiful woman who loves me and know that I didn’t have to get high today. Even if I had the shittiest day, I know that it can never be as bad as the days of addiction were. I am truly grateful for life today.

“When you’re on junk you have only one worry: scoring. When you’re off it you are suddenly obliged to worry about all sorts of other shite. Got no money: can’t get pissed. Got money: drinking too much. Can’t get a bird: no chance of a ride. Got a bird: too much hassle. You have to worry about bills, about food, about some football team that never fucking wins, about human relationships and all the things that really don’t matter when you’ve got a sincere and truthful junk habit.” – Mark “Rent-Boy” Renton, “Trainspotting”

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