Dear Aunt Agony... How Long Can My Heroin Addicted Relative Live For?

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Dear Auntie...

I came upon your site after googling "How long can a heroin junkie live?" I'm very sorry if it is too forward of me to email you, but my cousin is a junkie. She is the worst of the worst. She lies/steal/sells/prostitutes etc. She has been using for a long time, but was clean for 4 years. She has a 4 year old son. I believe she was on suboxone, and weaned herself off because she wanted to have another baby. She began using again within a month. I believe she started using again in August or September, but it has been in the past 2 months that I hear things have gotten out of control (again). She is living (meaning in a house with no phone, television, washer/dryer, etc) among other addicts and has sold everything she owned. She stole her own sons Christmas presents. I have no way to contact her, but even if I did, I don't even know what I would say. I just wish I could hear her voice one more time, or feel her once loving embrace, but I am realistic and realize that this likely will never happen. I want to know how long someone like this can be expected to live. I have done all of the "online research" if you will, that I can, and it seems like textbook bullshit. I want to know the truth. I want to prepare myself. She has already contracted hepatitis c (years ago), has overdosed (once while pregnant) and been resuscitated, and almost lost her arm from shooting a dirty needle into an already infected area. She has a scar that is probably 2-3 inches thick at it's worst running from her wrist almost to her elbow. I wouldn't be surprised if she has AIDS. How possible is it? I believe she is living among mainly male junkies, and is prostituting herself to support more than just herself. I can not find anyone else that will tell me the truth. How long can she possibly stay alive (if you can even call it that). I am so lost in loving her, and it is consuming me.

I am so very sorry to bother you, but you seem like someone who is truthful and not afraid to "tell it like it is," for lack of a better term. Everyone else that I have asked responds by saying..."Well...uh, it depends how far along she is" or "I would have to see her to tell you what I think." I want the truth. I want to know what to expect, and noone will tell me. I read about 3 seconds of what you had to say and was immediately intrigued. If I am out of line please tell me, but if you are willing, please tell me what she is going through and what I should expect. I live every moment waiting for the call that she is gone, as I don't see there being any other outcome.


Even if I don't hear back from you, I thank you for what I have already learned from your blog,

Haley


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Aunt Agony says:


Dear Haley,

Firstly thanks for reading my words and seeing someone you thought you could approach to share such things with. Your questions are not easy to answer, but there are some important clues in all you say which allows me to give an informed answer.

Very briefly, I think your cousin will be dead within the next seven years. I think she has a 95% chance of being HIV positive, and I will explain why I think this. (Please do not lose sight that this is all conjecture.)

Living in a house of addicts = (hints at) group/shared usage.

House is a wreck = makes any kind of hygiene impossible. They must be living and sleeping around each others blood and needles.

She has hepatitis C = is a strong pointer to suggest she has shared needles and/or equipment in the past.

Prostitutes herself for drugs = The most dangerous kind of prostitution. Non-addicted prostitutes set the terms to the client, and if the client doesn't agree then she will fuck him off and wait for someone who accepts her terms. BUT, prostitution through addiction is very different. There is much more urgency to get cash and get out of there. Many will sacrifice safety and the health risks involved for the quick buck. In this instance it is the punter who dictates terms, and if he wants sex without protection, and goes to pull his money away, the chances are he will get it what he wants.

Almost lost an arm = (hints at) decreased immunity to infection. A huge majority of addicts who lose limbs are HIV+.

So I think from all you say that there is a huge chance your cousin is HIV positive. I'd be surprised if she tested negative.

But, let's suppose she is not HIV, then what? Contrary to what people think heroin overdose is extremely difficult (the addict has to take 5- 10 ten times the normal amount for it to be anywhere near fatal). But OD is very possible if alcohol or tranquilizers are taken on top with the heroin. I'd
say from how you describe your cousin she is almost certainly doing that. It's mostly the very poor addicts who use downers and alcohol on top of smack. One, as it serves to exaggerate the effects of heroin; two, because they are never quite sure when or where heroin is coming from and so have go into the daily habit of stabilizing themselves with downers and booze. But OD is still not easy, so don't have nightmares about that. It's a very small percentage of addicts who die due to OD.

Another thing to keep in mind is that heroin is NOT a quick killer. People think that an addict will live for 2 or 3 years at most, but that's a myth. Heroin is a long term addiction and it is on average 10 years before the user successfully manages to quit and stay clean. I know many addicts that have
been using for 25-30 years. It's not as dangerous as what it is made out to be... it's not true that addicts are living on the edge every second of every day. Yes, they've a greater chance of dying than a non-user but that's as far as it goes.

Anyway, here's Aunties 'official predictions' of your aunt's life expectancy based on a few different scenarios and taking into account she has Hep C:

With HIV and continuing to use heroin: 5 years maximum
With HIV but quitting heroin: 5 - 10 years
Without HIV and continuing to use heroin: 10 -15 years
Without HIV and if she stops 10 - 25 years


Still, regardless of anything there still exists the small chance that some weird tragedy could come visit her tomorrow... same as for you and me. But let's hope not.

I hope that has helped a little? and if not, well, it was kinda fun to do...

All My Thoughts & Wishes, Auntie A. x

31 comments :

Jason said...

Good info and insight Shane.

Years ago I was a homeless heroin addict in New York City. I was a male prostitute, sharing needles and equipment occasionally, and many many other risky behaviors.

Oddly enough the thing that came the closest to killing me was an allergic reaction to some food I stole from a store since I had no money to eat.

It just goes to show that while a dope habit can and eventually does tend to kill the user, anything can happen in the interim.

Shara joseph said...

someone very close to me, will be 60 years this year. He has been a heroin addict since his late twenties and has never stopped. He almost died last year with an overdose. The doctor was surprised that he still alive. Is there any hope left? The doctor said no! I am worried cause it is affecting everyone around us. What are my options? hygiene not good, alert then all of a sudden drowsy. Keeps falling and getting hurt. Foaming of the mouth and making funny noises. A very scary thing to witness. I dont know what to do!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Shara.. why do anything? If he wanted to stop he'd do so. Why impose cindition on a man when it'snot the conditions he chooses. Is it really for him???? Or is it because, as you say, "a very scary thing to witness" (i;e more about yourself). Use some logic: you say he's been doing heroin since his twenties, 35 years, and he's still living... so why is it so scary? He'd have been getting drowsy (that's what good heroin does) and foaming at the mouth for 35 years... that stime has at least shown that it's not an overly dangerous condition. You also ask: Is there any hope? Well if he's got to 60 and is still using, what more hope is tehre than that? Even if he dies in the next few years, well, from the age of 60 people o start dying... heroin or not. Exactly what would him quitting now achieve? It's like a doctor pestering a 95 year old smoker to pack up the ciggies.

Not really so much more to say, Shara...

All My Best, Shane... X

Anonymous said...

Michael E. Wise from Kirkland, IL is a hepC positive scumbag

Anonymous said...

My son is a heroin addict. He is now 25 and has been using since he was around 19. Just recently he has started shooting up every day. He also uses other drugs and alcohol. I was relieved to hear that heroin addicts can live a very long time and that ODing is not as common as people think. I also heard that it is much better to use a natural drug like weed or heroin than some of the synthetics. From what I have heard the synthetics are more dangerous because they can rewire the brain and then the user can never become unaddicted. My son has emotional problems that he has never coped with. I don't think he wants to address these issues. I love my son and I want to know how to reach him. He gets very angry if anyone talks about his addiction and denies it. What is the best way to talk to him? I want him to get help but I don't think he even thinks that he needs help yet. I don't want to loose all contact with him. I just don't know what to do to help him. I see pictures of him, gifts he gave me and the like and feel like I wish that I did not have to live in this world anymore. It is so painful. I am not the type to take drugs myself or to commit suicide but I can understand why some people would go that direction. What can I say to my other 2 sons to try to help them to cope as well? I think your blog is great because I get a lot of information that helps me not to be as afraid. Thank you.

Silent Girl said...

I don't even know how to begin my story , I have read and researched heroin addiction , went to alanon meetings , NA meetings to support my 1st love who was my BF . I feel like his heroin addiction is killing me to and I'm sober 100%

I met him as a heroin addict at the age of 16 or 17 he was 30 at the time
He actually rescued me from living a life that was live fast die young
I was always introuble w law for doing rebellious things like stealing cars etc
I was living in random houses growing up and was heading no where fast
I met H my heroin addict bf
At the time I had no clue wtf that drug was and at that time I didn't really care
However he took me under his wing and was my savior in the sense where I got in such deep shit w the law went to jail for auto theft and amongst other destructive things such as attempt to commit suicide and next thing I knew
My parents and H were right there by my bed as I woke up from nearly facing death ... My parents ( I was 16-17 ) at the time took full responsibility for me so I don't get sent to a institution for 24 he watch ( I'm thank full for that ) that being said my youth
Teens were dysfunctional and a wreck
When H Took me under his wing
Which was everyday together like 20 hrs a day ( he was shooting up - and my choice of drugs was E or GHB) however when I met him and I hit rock bottom I just stopped it all ,
Anyway sorry to be all over the place ,
Let me continue
We fell Inlove i decided to go to school get my shit together I wanted to really marry this guy
So I decided to go to school for substance abuse therapist
I quickly learned what I was dealing with and H had finally decided to get clean and live together
He went to detox - rehab - a halfway house and than a shelter he was clean for a year
We got engaged moved in together
All was great for like a 6 months
Untill I soon learned he was doing other drugs that was not his d.o.c
But like coke , E , drinking etc
And he was fcking his half way house friend so we broke up I mved out I was a wreck
I moved back hme and a year later I ran into him
And he was a mess
Every time I saw him years to come he was a mess
Up untill now his early 40's
We have worked out or past and became friends
His lifestyle completely changed
BUT he still uses heroin
He tried several times again w my support to get clean
And he relapses time after time
I really love this man with all my heart he's an amazing person with a bad drug addiction problem
He tries to get clean and than lies to me that he's clean but I know he's not
It's killing me softly
My childhood was taken away
My youth was taken away
My young woman hood was taken away
Am now im in my early 30's
And his drug habit is taking my energy draining my life my patience
I want to help him
The way he helped me
And I know I can't do it if he isn't ready
He tells me he's ready and I see his actions he tries
But he fails after time , he goes back
And I can tell him to piss off
It's not hard
But what gets me is that i know he loves me and he is my best friend and I feel like I can't turn my back on him
Cause he didn't turn his back on me ...
He was there for me when I had nothing and no one
When I was troubled and fcked up in the head ...
I know I don't owe him anything
I don't feel like I do
I just think that
If someone is your friend for years like family
How can I just walk away and watch them piss on their life
But at the same time
Their pissing on mine
I have no bf and have been single cause my time goes to him and how can I be w Someine else
It's impossible it wouldn't work

I'm stuck and I don't know how to go about this situation :-(

Anonymous said...

I wish I could buy a huge bag of heroin and give a present to all junkies-That they could sniff off quickly!!!
It is such unfair world_innocent people die but junkies alcoholics drag on till 50's or 60's!!We need somebody volunteer to come up very bravely and destroy all of these useless things ,waste of space waste of oxygen .That's why i do not believe god -because God keeps these washers alive while good people die !!

Unknown said...

You should probably go and choke on a fat dick and die

Shawn Cox said...

You should probably go and choke on a fat dick and die

Shawn Cox said...

You should probably go and choke on a fat dick and die

Anonymous said...

Obviously you have never had a loved one much less a child that suffers from addiction,I pray that the GOD you don't belive in never lets this happen to you and you yourself don't become the junkie that should just die!!!!!!!

becca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
becca said...

Any updates girl? I'm in a similar situation and its ripping my heart out.

Anonymous said...

please read this it is true
I was a heroine addict for over four years. I was addicted to oxycontin for two years before that. I always paid my bills but the rest of myoney went to dope. I would sell other drugs just so I had money going through my hands everyday to support my addiction and soon got tired of living life. I tried for years two years to quit on my own but the only way I could was to get away from St Louis. Every time I came back it seemed like it was the only thing I knew how to do so I was right back in the mix. Then I ended up living three miles away from my mom who knew what I was up to. I did not have a washer or dryer so every weekend my mom came to get my laundry from me to wash it. So every weekend I would get in my mom's car for about ten minutes and she would pray for me. Then read scriptures to me and tell me about Jesus. It was never what I wanted to hear and I would just say OK thanks for doing my laundry mom I'll see you tomorrow. And I know what you are thinking if you are not a believer because I lived for the world for 25 years before this. But I was not a wussy. I was never afraid of anything and people respected me for the most part. Then after three months of getting into my mom's car every weekend I woke up one day and I was scared to death. I didn't even want to go outside. I knew what I needed to do and I gave my life to Christ. I continued to use heroine for two more days and then entered a discipleship training program and fully surrender my life to the Lord. I did not even go through withdrawal's. I was not dope sick at all. It has been three years and a half years now and I have a completely different life because Jesus Christ transformed my life. He will not just clean you off. He will transform you into a new creation and I now know the gospel of freedom. I now know what life is. I am currently in my sophomore year at a Bible college and am about to finish my BA on an internship in France. If you have a loved one that is an addict then I suggest you should give your life to Christ and take authority over the death that has gripped your family and pray for them. Pray and never give up. My mom knew she could not trust me but she never gave up on me. And she never stopped praying for me. I wish there was an easy way for you to see that Jesus is real. But it takes faith.

Memoires of over coming the heroine head mentality that doctors claim is impossible and would never believe me unless they witnessed it.

James

beentherdonthat said...

With over 30 yes of addiction myself, I will warn you to STAY AWAY FROM METHADONE, SUBOXONE, AND ALL OTHER BUP TREATMENTS. IF YOU DON'T YOU WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE A DRUG ADDICTED SON FOR LIFE. easier to quit heroin. Listen to me on this one point, don't be sorry.

Fybropain said...

I wish my son would read this. He's od'd 2 times & brought back.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Brought back what? He scored during his near-death experience? That's to be admired, not shouted down. X

Anonymous said...

I found this googling "are there old still-using heroine addicts?" You say here that the likelihood of death from OD is small. Perhaps myself and the people I know have just been unlucky, then. I had met only two heroine users in my life (that I knew of) when my recent x got into it for the first time and was dead from overdose ten days later. That was 18 years ago. Last year a young recovering drug addict (but never heroine user) nanny for my kids lost a friend in his 20s to a Heroine OD. Last week one of my dearest friends lost _her_ recent ex boyfriend to a heroine overdose. None of the three of us who lost people we love were users of it ourselves, or much involved in that scene. What's the deal? Could it be that all 3 used alcohol or other downers at the same time? In the first case, he was a novice-so maybe he just didn't know how much to take? In the second case he was a consistent user. In the case last week he'd been clean several months, so maybe his resistance was down? I read somewhere else that "hard-core addicts" tend to live for 15-25 after they start using regularly. That seems to make sense. Or maybe we were just unlucky and bet our hearts on the wrong fates. :(

Anonymous said...

I agree with you . My dad was a hard worker who couldn't afford health insurance and he died from a stroke. Yet my ex is a heroin addict for 10 years we have 2 children that knows he chooses drugs over them and he has medicaid and will live forever... it fits seem that they live forever bringing torment and misery to everyone's lives every day

Shane Levene said...

Anon (Dad dead from stroke)...

If someone is bringing misery and torment into your life then take control of that and clear them out of your life. The power is in your hands, no-one else's. If you do not clear that person out then it's you bringing misery into your own life (and the life of your children). Stop whining on about how rotten people are when it's you who beckoned them into your life and you who allows them to maintain a presence. If I allow a pedophile around my children, and if that pedophile then abuses them, then I would be most at fault for putting my kids in danger, allowing someone like that to be around them. And it's the same for you. If you allow your ex-boyfriend, a known addict and someone who upsets 'everyone's lives', to be around you and your children, then I'm afraid you are abusing your kids and yourself more than anyone else. Maybe think about what the hell you say before saying it... maybe observe your own behaviours and be just as critical of them as you seem to be of others. X

Anonymous said...

I've been using heroin for 12 years I've only ever OD'd once. I started off living on the streets at 13. I started smoking crack with my mom she was out there too doing the same thing I was. we were prostituting together and eventually I started ondoing it on my own shortly thereafter. I started using heroin too. I'd be awake for about 7 to 14 days at a time out ripping" and running" trying to get money for my next " fix ". it was devastating, but I didn't care I was having fun and doing what I wanted. II didn't wanna stop using ' my ' drugs. I was in and out of jail for stupid stuff like prostitution, stealing, and other little petty crimes. Then when I was 18 I was walking down the " strip " and this guy picked me up. he gave me money so my pimp at the time didn't beat my ass for coming home with no cash. He just spent time with me and all we did was just talk for hours weand cuddled, we just clicked. I haven't left his side since. I'm 26 years old now. and we've been through a lot together he's nevmistake.n up on me. I've had two beautiful daughters with this man he's just as madly in love with me as I am with him. I stopped smoking crack shortly after I met him but I haven't been able to escape this grah grasp that heroin has on me. I want so bad just to be able to let it go. I'm currently on methadone which I'm finding out was a big mistake. but I've continued to use. I only have one of my daughters the other one I put up for open adoption. I still see her a few times a year. I used during both pregnancies and hate myself for it. I was unable to stop no matter how hard I tried. I've been to 40+ rehabs and inpatient treatment centers but the longest I've had clean was 48 hours. unless I was in jail but that don't count.) I want out of this life so fucking bad, and people say that you won't stop until you're ready, well I feel I'm ready so why can't I stop? I mean at this point I would have thought I would have hit " rock bottom " and wouldn't want to use anymore. Well, that hasn't been the case, I've almost died, I've been raped, robbed, I've stolen from the people I loved, I've lied, I've cheated, I've lost all self-respect. I'm starting to lose hope that I'll never get out of this. I don't know what to do and this looks like a good place to just vent if anybody has any advice or tips I'd appreciate it. I want a "taste" of sobriety I'm always hearing about. I want happiness, and to love myself. I want to be better for my family. I want to live a long life with them, and meet my grandkids if I get that lucky.I feel I deserve to at least give it a shot. What am I doing wrong?

Unknown said...

U haven't got a clue, addiction is a disease, if it was so damn eaay to stop, we would, u stupid mofo!!!!

Jay Stauffer said...

U haven't got a clue, addiction is a disease, if it was so damn eaay to stop, we would, u stupid mofo!!!!

Unknown said...

When someone relapses it's much easier to overdose, they don't realize that their tolerance has gone way down and they dose themselves with the same amount they were using when they quit so yes that's very likely why the one person overdosed.

brittnie kennedy said...

When someone relapses it's much easier to overdose, they don't realize that their tolerance has gone way down and they dose themselves with the same amount they were using when they quit so yes that's very likely why the one person overdosed.

Unknown said...

You girls need to walk away... I was in the exact situation for 10 years. Now 8 years later I'm a struggling single mom of 2...I'm 42 and bitter and totally jaded. Realize it's not up to u to fix him and live your life. Don't end up alone Like me with an ex that left his children and wife for drugs. My daughter who's preteen suffers so much emotionally. I wish I'd never let her know him at all

Anonymous said...

But you did let her know him and that was irresponsible parenting ion your behalf for your own selfish reasons of being in love. You're actions have already had a terrible impact upon her (though people like you will try and blame the other parent). If she grows up to be an addict herself it'll be your fault for what you helped put her through. You took on a drug user and then are bitter because he used them and wouldn't stop. You became so bitter and jealous that you've even started imaging a brown powder or pills or a liquid as direct competition. Maybe yoy made it such hell for him that he had no reason but to leave? That your moaning not only pushed him out of your life but pushed your daughter's father out of her life as well. Then you put the blame on someone else and plead innocence, like you did nothing wrong yourself. You had kids with him knowing what you did. You willingly brought them into such a life. And how are you alone? You have your children! You see how little you think of them and put men first. If you feel alone then imagine how that coldness is for your children? get over it. Get over it and love your kids like you'd love a partner and maybe noone would feel alone or be suffering emotionally.

Gramcracker said...

I just returned my 4 year old granddaughter to my addict daughter and son-in-law after caring for her, while her parents were homeless. They lost their car, home, and sanity. They have been addicts for over 10 years. They had a brief period of freedom after going through methadone treatment, around the time they conceived my granddaughter. My question is, are they able to continue raising her, as addicts, or should I call authorities? I loathe calling, because they love her and I love them and want them to be able to raise their baby. But is she safe? I fear if I call, I will never see them or my grandchild again. But if something happens to her, while in their care, I will never forgive myself.

jeanine grodesky said...

I walked away 5 years ago. I gave my daughter a better life. We were very open about his addiction and talked about his possible deatb due to the drug use. It was the best thing i could of done. Mt daughter has a very safe, stable, and happy life. She thanks me every day for leaving her dad and fighting for what we have now. She is 13 years old. He tryed to hurt us all the time cuz he was hurting. It broke my heart to see the man i fell in love with destroy his life. Everything i tried to do to help him get sober failed. So heartbreaking
Last month my daughter and i buried
Him. He was 49.
I have very mixed emotions at this point. Such a shame. He was broken. And alone. But i could never fix it. Never. I lost my husband and best friend the day he started doing h. Thats a sad reality.

Annonymous said...

From a daughter of addict parents, please call.

Shane Levene said...

Email me: myheroinhead@gmail.com

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