Mum... there's something I must tell you.

This post is really a response to an entry made by Melinda R Tyler on her Melindaville blog http://blog.melindaville.com/ detailing her first intravenous injection. This post is not designed to horrify, entice, or romanticize. It is just the truth.

It was in the year 2000 that I first decided to inject. This wasn’t really a decision... if I was to keep control of my addiction it was a necessity. It was an economic response to a drug problem that was spiralling out of control.

At the time I was working for a small antique company. I had been a smoking heroin addict for over a year and I was gradually using more and more. For the first 2 weeks of each month all was fine, but then my wages would run out, and the second half of the month would become a desperate trawl to borrow money. This worked sometimes, but all too often it did not. About every third day I was ill due to a lack of heroin and as a consequence I could not make it into work. It got to the point where my firm was issuing me warning after warning. Not just for my absences but also for my physical appearance. Heroin illness destroys you... it leaves one ravaged, taut and thin. Heroin illness is the closest someone can be to death without actually dying. Finally I was threatened with dismissal. That was a real scare, because my wage was my ticket to heroin, and heroin was my ticket to well-being.

In October of that year I had an especially bad month. The quality of gear was very poor and I was buying three times as much as usual. Two weeks into the month, not only was I out of money but I was out of people to borrow from. In desperation, I swallowed what pride I had, cooked up some old cock n’ bull story for my work and managed to acquire a loan of £150 from my employer. This had to keep me in heroin until I was paid – it was decision time. If I continued smoking heroin the loan would last about 4 days... it was not an option, though I knew that by injecting I could get by using just a quarter of what I was taking. This is because when you smoke a drug everything that goes into the air is wasted. By injecting, every last crumb of gear is utilised. Smoking heroin, though far safer, is very uneconomical. It was with this thought that I decided the needle was the short-term solution- though I promised myself, once I got paid, I would resume smoking again.

That weekend I sought out Katy, a beggar girl that occasionally scored for me. I told her that I wanted to inject heroin and wanted to know how. Katy warned me against it and refused to help.
“Kate, I’ll give you a bag?”

She looked at me... wishing I hadn’t said that. We both knew what was going to happen. It was one of those times where you know your fate, can see your destination, but can do nothing to prevent yourself from arriving there. We both saw the road and we took it together. She was in no position to turn a bag of gear down... she needed it as much as me.

After a moment Katy went into her cupboard and took out a large bag of needles. I was trembling. The words HIV... AIDS were flashing in my brain like an animated header.
“Are they clean, Kate? Are they new?” I asked. She threw me the bag. It was still sealed and the safety tops on the syringes were all in place. I opened the bag and choose a needle. Injecting isn’t like it is shown in films... one cannot just inject. It takes a little knowledge to cook heroin down from a powder into an injectable liquid, and it takes some experience to be able to hit a vein, and then know what to do. One needs to be shown these things.

Katy went through the procedure of cooking up heroin. She explained that I could dissolve heroin in citric acid, vitamin C powder, or JIF lemon juice. “Always filter!” she said “never forget the filter.”

Up until this point it had been easy going, but the tone was about to change. Katy took the needle from me and removed the top. I was gripped with such a fear... I wanted to flee the room. I felt sick and my legs had gone to jelly. The dull autumn afternoon crashed about outside.
Katy nodded, and asked me to roll my sleeve up. I did. She produced an old cravat and tied it tightly around my bicep.
“Flex your arm” she said.
After a moment she had a look and said “OK, we’ll go in here. It will be very quick and very easy as your veins are new... though it may sting a little. That’s just the Vit C.”
“Katy, there’s not too much gear in the needle is there? Maybe it’s too much for a first shot?”
She assured me it was only a small fix she had cooked me. Still, I insisted she only inject half and let it register before putting the rest in. She agreed. Katy brought the needle to my skin. The first surprise was the direction she put the needle... I had always imagined that the needle would be used pointing down towards the hand... but no, if it can be helped, you always shoot up. I watched the needle and I watched Katy. She really seemed just like a nurse. She was so careful and so gentle... later I would learn this gentleness was more a respect for heroin than it was for me.
“We’re in” she muttered. I watched Katy pull the plunger of the needle back and then warm, thick, red blood shot up into the needle. I gritted my teeth as she pressed the plunger. At halfway she looked at me; I nodded. She put the rest in and removed the needle, pressing a little swathe of tissue against the injection site. I felt nothing, no stinging, no pain. After a moment my arm and torso began itching... I had a strange taste in my mouth. I felt the heroin hit my head and I felt my pupils dilate. I sat back in the chair. It was the same effect as smoking, just it was administered all at once and in a smaller quantity. There was no pain, no blood and no mark.... in fact there was no trace at all of what had just happened. It was so quick, so easy and so clean.

At that point Katy told me: “You know, you will NEVER go back to smoking... welcome to the needle.”
“ You’re wrong” I said “it’s just for the next week and a half... just until I get paid.” She smiled and hugged me... and then she cried. I felt a warm tear drip off her nose and hit the back of my neck. I’ve always been a person people like to hug... I don't know why that is?

Katy took her own fix, I gave her the bag I had promised and we went out. That day, and that walk is etched forever into my brain. I remember it as a tranquil flush of peace, I remember the traffic and the shops and the distant screams. I remember the grey London sky and I remember me, but mostly, I remember the needle. Katy holding it up to the light, flicking out air bubbles, her eyes pinned and intent in a way I’d never seen before. That was junk... that was what a junkie was... those were junkie eyes she had. Very soon I too would acquire those same eyes.

I went home that evening and I stood staring in the mirror. I tried to detect what I had done through my eyes, my face, my skin... there must be some sign... something must give it away. I hoped it did. A thousand images of who I was came and went. I wondered what would become of me. I rubbed my face, took one last glance then went and sat down. I gathered my courage, cleared my throat and then called: “Mum, come in here please... there’s something I must tell you.”

24 comments :

mtyler77 said...

Wow--your post took me back to when I first did a shot of heroin. I had first done heroin smoking it as well--and I started using IV for the same reason as you--it was much more economical.

Katy was right--once you use a needle, you never go back to smoking. It's impossible. I once turned someone on to their first needle also--and it is something I've always regretted . . .

Thanks for the mention--

Melinda

Smack Happy said...

Hi Shane - saw your invite to Noah on his blog, and decided to horn in on it. I would become a follower, but I am too much of a 'Tard to figger out how to do it NOT via email.

Beautiful Things Can Come From The Dark said...

I went from speed to heroin, and recently subutex, but still a little heroin, but trying to get off all of that shit.

Heroinhead said...

@Beautiful things...

If quitting is for you I wish you well with that... I NEVER encourage other people to carry on using. I have never wanted to quit or even romanced with that idea. Other people have, and they have forced me into rehab... but I only obliged because nothing (heroin, principles, behaviours, etc) is worth sacrificing the people that love and care for you. Just by you mentioning "all that shit" it means you have to quit. There is bitterness in that phrase, and whenlovers are bitter, they must part. I hope you're well and I hope you manage to kick. You take care... Shane.

kellylebelly said...

Wow! Never got onto the needle. Don't know maybe an element of self-preservation which is weird because i used to self-harm (still have the marks on my fore-arm from when I was a kid).

I can understand the financial incentive though. I've had to go back on my script when the money runs out but it's hard not to think of it as soon as money comes in. it's like the one equals the other.

Re: taking 30 mins max to score. not in my experience. it's sometimes taken half a day or not at all with the dealer saying 'alf an hour' every time I call to find out when. Maybe it's a Hackney yardie thing.

Have you been on a website called www.limmy.com?
Check out the Big brother audition video of junkie character Jacqueline McCafferty on:
http://www.limmy.com/videos/bbaudition/
It's hilarious!
Also listen to her podcasts, they're even better:
http://www.limmy.com/podcasts/worldofglasgow/
(click on top right and download them from i-tunes).

cheerio
xKelly

Heroinhead said...

Thanks for the reply Kelly, I will have a look at the site you suggest.

Yeah, 30 mins. Occasionally it took me longer, but around Shepherds bush i could tell you of at least 20 different crack & smack dealers. Fulham the same. It all depends on how many dealers you have. When I first started I would have just one dealer and everytime he was off I was sick. Once I had built up proper contacts... 10 - 15mins and I was sorted. Sometimes a little wait at a bus-stop. ,)

Keep contact... i'll do the same.

Take care, Shane.

Smack Happy said...

Sent you an email entitled "Smack Happy"...it may show up in your spam mail folder (I have lots of problems with that). Cheers!

Melody said...

My first time with H was also my first time using a needle. I never looked back.
I have come to realize that for me the needle is an integral part of my obsession, it is not just a means to an end.
PS. I left you a long winded reply in my comments.

~Melody Lee

Melody said...

Wow, your word verification just gave me "EXCESS"
how fitting!

Heroinhead said...

Excess... that's wonderful! I've often thought of creating a blog showing all the humourous word verifications I come across.

Heroinhead said...

@Smack Happy.

No, anything with those two words goes straight into my inbox... I'd have it no other way!!!

Smack Happy said...

LOL - Touche!

Smack Happy said...

...so I guess you're a fan of JUNK mail too...

Heroinhead said...

Certainly, as long as it's filtered! Spam is an anagram of Amps... so I don't mind that either. If it comes in a bag... I'm all for it.

Dying4Something2Live4 said...

Just wanted to let you know that you have yet another reader! Love it already! I, too am yet another semi-hopless heroin addict. So, yeah, hey.

K

Heroinhead said...

Dying4Something2Live4...

Someone once said to me:
"You're just a hopeless heroin addict!"

I replied: "I've never been hopeless!"

You're another heroin addict... that's good enough for me... welcome. x

Herbert Barry Woodrose said...

You're killing me. This is really intense and sickly wonderful. I hope to God you're a liar and this isn't really happening to you. I thank you for the great read either way.

Heroinhead said...

Herbert,

Thank you for your comment. I assure you everything is absolutely true. My name, D.O.B, mothers name, fathers name, step-fathers name, etc. are all here and all unchanged.. nothing is masked - check it out. I'm sure there are many wanna-be detectives out there who will be anxious to prove this as BS.. they'll be in for a BIG shock.

Take care HBW, thanks for the compliment & I hope you continue to read.

BW, Shane.

Herbert Barry Woodrose said...

Hey Shane -

I want to clarify something and then I'm going back to reading this:

When I say sickly wonderful, I don't mean in any way you are sick. I imagine the phrase didn't bother you one way or the other, but I want to say, I meant me. I feel very strange drawing poetic pleasure from your tale. I don't want to consume your story the way we consume boxed Ice Cream. I find myself really, strangely caring, and fascinated. I am actively reading this and questioning my self at the same time. This is the power of your writing, and I am an instant fan.

Which is what I meant also by thanking you 'either way'. The writing alone, for this reader, is enough. I have a feeling I would have been a fan even if all this hadn't happened to you. I intend to be the first on line at City Lights or whatever cool as hell bookstore is selling it, when you collect these all in a few years and publish. I just have no doubt you will.

Let me finish by telling you something I did tonight that I almost never do, and certainly have never done with blogs or articles - I read this aloud to my wife. The whole thing. She was blown away. She was depressed, and doesn't have the same tolerance for the painful as I do, but she was really shocked at the story, and by definition, the story telling. I hope this praise doesn't make you uncomfortable, but I was sent this link by a friend who wrote "Oh my God this is so depressing, it's just misery upon misery." I almost didn't check it out.

I don't find it miserable somehow. I guess the facts are, yes, but somehow this just doesn't feel hopeless to me. Someone is out there on the fringe, in a space I wouldn't walk, and mailing back poetry to tell us how the weather is. And somehow the weather is fucked up, and the weather is fine. Keep walking in space Shane.

Heroinhead said...

Herbert,

It's wonderful what you say... & yes I would be embarrassed if it was expressed in any other way. You've said great things, in a greatway and I always appreciate a good delivery.

"Oh my God this is so depressing, it's just misery upon misery."

It's a fantastic quote... I see it the same as you: I have hope and plenty of it. Still, pass on my gratitude to your friend.

Sickly wonderful... no it didn't bother me & I understand where you are coming from with that. I took it as a compliment.

Anyway, thank you again for all you say... it touches me very deeply and I cannot even begin to tell you how or why.

Best wishes & hopefully we'll speak again very soon... Shane.

PS: if you really enjoy the blog I would advise reading the comments as well. Some could have almost stood as posts in themselves.

Bekka. said...

"At that point Katy told me: “You know, you will NEVER go back to smoking... welcome to the needle.”
“ You’re wrong” I said “it’s just for the next week and a half... just until I get paid.”"

So, she was right I take it?

I was drunk and 12 with my first shot of heroin, it was the first drug I ever did(Besides the alochol), and now... Yeah.

Hope you're well!
And, on my profile, I had to code my firendlist blogs, Do you want your name to appear as Shane, or HeroinHead? Right now it's HeroinHead because I didn't know your real name. :).

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Bekka,

Hiya again.

Yes, Katy was right. Shooting is so much stronger thansmoking that it's almost impossible to return once you've done it for a while. If I went back to smiking now I'd have to use 5x as much andstill wouldn't feel it as much.

You can put 'Shane (Heroinhead)' on your friendslist... ifnot, just Shane. ;)

I'm well thank you...sorry or the delay in replying, I've been a little busy these past days.

You take care, Shane.

Anonymous said...

ive been dependent on opiods for 15yrs every addict is different in my exp no two persona lives r the same never stole have a steady job of 17 no one starts out a addict u graduate to it H is a greedy bitch make life choices and deal with it and relize DOPE addicts not for effect do it to feel norm and sex thing myth opiod addicts can break women off like no other

KATY! said...

Hey, really enjoying your blogs Shane.

I'm an addict as well, having moved to a new town, with no contacts I have been clean till each pay day, when I take a 3 hour drive to my old town just to pick up. When I am craving, your blogs are a brilliant distraction. Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into them.

I realise how in a way, and despite the damage done to my lungs, (recurring pneumonia and COPD), I am lucky to be able to be able to use needles occasionally. (Once every few months or even longer, over the last 3 years of use.)
I'm incredibly addicted to smoking it on foil.. I love how I can sit for hours, toke, and nod. When I pin, yes it's stronger but it's over far too quickly and for me, cooking up and setting up isn't satisfying.

Just wanted to let you know the flip side of it.

Take care,
Katy x