Dear Aunt Agony,
Is it true that heroin addicts get violent when they are ill? My friend wants me to babysit him through withdrawals and I am willing to do it but am scared that when he's desperate he may go crazy on me. Do you think I should accept to babysit him through withdrawal? I've done it once before but it didn't even last two hours before he made an excuse to go to the toilet, then said he needed some air, and never came back. But this time I think he's serious as he's been talking about it a while and seems to really want to stop. I hope he does anyway.
Aunt Agony says:
This thing about heroin addicts being violent is pure media myth served up as an indirect way to have people believe that heroin addiction takes such a strong grip upon the addict that it turns them into knife wielding drug crazed maniacs. But the truth is, when an addict is properly ill, it is one of the weakest physical conditions someone can be in (without being dead). It's pure torture just laying still, nevermind moving, or doing anything strenuous. Often the addict is so ill they cannot even score themself. So no, an addict who is ill is not dangerous or violent. More than anything they will be an emotional, begging, pleading, groaning, cursing mess... but they'll be so unwell that they'll not be a danger to anyone. The point where an addict is capable of doing something completely out of character (maybe violent) is just before they get ill... when they know it's coming and have to do something within the next few hours to prevent it. As time ticks on, and as the addict becomes more uncomfortable, so he/she considers more desperate means to raise money. If a violent act may occur, it is there where it will happen... the threat of it at least. I say "the threat of it" because hitting someone isn't going to get you well or get you money. But a show of rage, scaring someone, could frighten them into giving up 20 quid. Really it is this: if your friend doesn't have a violent temperament he will not become violent: no matter what. If however he is known for chucking the occasional right hook when frustrated then that will not change. Still, with proper withdrawals I cannot see anyone becoming violent. Dope sickness is an illness which puts psychopaths on their backs... any prison guard or mental health worker will tell you the same.
Babysitting??? for me that never works and always ends the same: the addict begging to be let out – to the point where the babysitter just cannot take it no more. If by some miracle you can put up with it, and don't fall for one of the any number of tricks that the addict will use to taste fresh air, then there can be anything from a room fire to the addict feigning death to have the door opened. If ever there was a detox plan which has less success than even government funded schemes, then it's that one. But that doesn't mean to not do it. It just warns you that it's very rarely gonna end in success, and more than likely, if your friend did make five days, as soon as it's over he'd leave and immediately score just to get rid of the stress of the past week.
Now my question, as something in your first mail intrigued me. You say the first babysitting attempt didn't even last an hour? Can I ask, did you give your friend money that day? Let's say for some medical supplies.... paracetamol... herbal relaxants.. energy drinks, etc?
Until soon... all my best, Aunt Agony. X
thanks for explaining things about the violence, so now I don't think i've anything to worry about but I have heard so many stories and not always from the media. I know you say it's hopeless but i've decided i will babysit my friend. I'd like it to be me who sat through it with him if he did make it. If it does no good, well, it cannot do harm, and so i think it'd be best if i am there no matter what. We have planned to do it on monday as he says he wants to have that as a clean start and time to get his head fully around the idea. So fingers crossed. I hope he he succeeds because he struggle(suffers) so much with his problem.
OMG how did you know about me giving money for medicines? did you read my story on the experience project? No one ever read that!lol
Aunt Agony says:
Hi again Sarah,
The Experience Project??? I don't even know what it is. So sorry to disappoint you but still no one has read your piece... maybe tomorrow, lol. No, when you said he had disappeared after an hour it reminded me of a few stories I've heard and even not too far from something I often used to do when funds were tight. I knew because I'm a junkie... there are some gains to be had in all of this!
Oh, things are NEVER hopeless. I just let you know the real chances of this kind of detox working so as you don't end up disappointed, or worse, thinking your friend somehow let you both down by not succeeding. And as I say, even if your friend actually makes it through the withdrawals that's still not time to celebrate and toast his saved soul... that's just 5 days out of a lifetime. When he leaves the room every phone line is a direct line to a dealer, every street the walk to a meet. Detox is one thing, but shirking the monkey for good quite another. So I was just letting you know, and if it seems a negative thing to tell you, it's not... it's only the truth.
Anyway, let me know how you get on... and if there's ever anything else you can mail anytime.
All my thoughts, A.A . X
Dear Aunt Agony,
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