The Contradictions of this Heroin Life

“I am full of a million contradictions... I’m aware of this. I just try to gradually work my way through them. Hopefully, by the time my death arrives I will have figured out who I am. “
Heroinhead to his drug counsellor


In the annuls of time, what difference does it make if I die at thirty five, fifty or ninety? What does it really matter? It’s just a snap of the fingers. Contrary to popular belief I’m not dead yet, but already it seems that my personal history is being erased.  It’s like there is a crusade to wipe me from the face of the earth. The three schools I attended no longer exist, the hospital I was born in is now a homeless shelter, the road I grew up on has been renovated beyond recognition, my father is dead, and my friends and family don’t know me. I almost don’t exist already. I will fade into a generation, an epoch, a century. I will go from modern man to prehistoric heroin and media addict. My size 10 footsteps will be swept away, my blogs deleted, my ugly mug removed from Facebook. It will be neither here nor there, if I lived a healthy clean life, or if I accelerated towards an early end. It is impossible to die healthy, no matter how one lives their life. Death treats low cholesterol fat free diets the same as twenty-five years of junk abuse: it kills you. There's no escape... there’s just postponement.

I’ve never really bought into this life. I’ve never accepted it’s ethics or its prejudices. I’ve never been part of the populace. This feeling of detachment was one of a thousand differing reasons that I first began using heroin. It was the ultimate rebellion, a complete rejection of society and its values. I mentioned in an earlier post that heroin is also a statement... well that's what I meant.

But rebelling with heroin brings its own set of problems & contradictions. The addict will always abandon his principles for heroin. I certainly do. Firstly, heroin renders the user passive. The addict spends so much time controlling his habit that he doesn’t have the energy for serious rebellion. If there is a choice between scoring dope or attending some demonstration or other the dope comes first. Secondly, the heroin addict, whilst rebelling against society is a part of the worst side of capitalism: he helps to fund war and death and hushed government trade. So while I reject and rebel I have also bought wholesale into the drugs market (which makes McDonald's seem moral). I also eat Big Macs, because when you're scoring on the run you need fast food.

It is here and nowhere else where I come unstuck with heroin. We do not part, but we argue. If I have regrets it is in the principles I have abandoned, in the causes I have let down. It is in the contradictions of this heroin life. I cannot argue these cases either, they are all true. I cannot worm my way into a good light. My saving grace is that I see no other life where the contradictions aren’t worse, or at least the same. At least with heroin these contradictions are bearable and at least they are my contradictions.


It was to the doctors on friday. I never go to see my doctor because I am ill. I am not ill, though if I were, he is the last person I would go to see. No, I see my GP for methadone.. that's all. I also enjoy sitting there and acting completely blasé about death. I boast and laugh of everything one should never do in life, but which I constantly do. My doctor seems to like this in me. Maybe I am his relief from the daily bodies of depression that come blustering in, squabbling on about the tiniest little thing and how the downstairs neighbour with the undeclared cats is the cause of their poor health. At Christmas, my doctor is one of the rare people I give a card to.

On this visit he shocked me by asking for a urine test. By law, he should ask for one every three months, but this is the first time he has asked in almost three years. I told him that it will certainly be dirty. Maybe the Christmas cards paid off, or maybe he is just a terrible GP, but he told me to come back on wednesday. I started to explain that it will still be dirty, but he stopped me. He just raised his hands and looked at me. I understood what he meant: FIX IT! Well, I’m never one to turn down someone else’s kindness, so I will try and buy a clean urine sample of someone at the clinic. It's a very common solution to get around testing. I’m sure most addicts, at some time or other, have begged their friends or family for piss.


mtyler77 said...

It wasn't until I stopped using heroin that I realized how full of contradictions my life had been. But then, I really didn't understand what heroin robbed from me until I stopped using. Your different, Shane, in that I believe you do. You are certainly insightful when you talk about the contradictions of being alive yet seeking death--and that is something that every junkie can relate to I think.

I feel that most people who use heroin want escape from a life that is too painful to live without drugs. For years, I was too afraid to actually kill myself--but I did everything I could to bring death to me. Yet, I still failed. The last weekend I used, I tried committing suicide three times--very serious attempts. The last one landed me in a 3 day coma and it was then I finally met someone who would save my life. Of course, my 'life' had been saved, physically, by the paramedics and doctors a few days earlier--but the part of my life that makes life worthwhile (my soul), was saved by a man named Tim Callahan--or at least, he started that train moving.

What I have learned, in 15 years of recovery, is that life is very much worth living--and not just existing in (which is what I feel heroin does to *most* people--causes them to merely exist and not really live). And I also learned that really feeling things--even pain--is better than being numb. At least for me.

On a lighter note--I was full of smaller contradictions as well. For example, the entire time I was a heroin addict, I was a vegetarian. I mean, after all, I would not put that *poison* (meat) into my system. But heroin? Hey! No problem at all!

Another interesting read Shane. Take care of yourself--and stay safe.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

You're right Melinda... i know what it takes from me, but I don't know what it gives me. That's another contradiction. I can state a thousand reasons not to use, yet i cannot state one reason to use. I can't think of any. It's why i will never openly sing the drugs praises... I can't justify that.

I'm not a vegetarian but on gear I cannot stomach meat... infact, anything oily. I will make a future post on this as I've noticed that the heroin addict eats either cereals or candy. My wife always makes sure I have half a plate of food, but it really leaves me feeling nauseous. I complete it with a bowl of cornflakes or wheat cereals. I'm not sure, but I think it may be due to the Vit C intake.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Ps: did you see my new banner? I nicked it off my wife. She designed most of it and I added some blood in the flag, a needle, and a photo of myself gouching ('nodding' in your end of the woods).

Gledwood said...

My drug counsellor told me if I didn't stop injecting I'd hopefully be dead by 50. I think she was a bit put out by my jubilation at this statement and the fact it made me only more resolute to continue injecting till I die (hopefully in nowhere near as long as 13 years time)....

Anna Grace said...

So your HIV+? first using friends were HIV+, and I fell inlove with on of them. He acctually had full blowen AIDS.
He was so intelligent, and so hooked, and so parinoid, and so skinny, being high with him was like heaven. Being high is like heaven, but when you find someone to be high with you, someone you truly enjoy shooting dope with, well that is cloud nine.
I used to have the look of death, the look we all have while using H. I can pick out another user in a snap second, and they can pick me out too.
This Methadone causes me to lead a life, I surley don't want, but am forced to have. I just want it all to done, and I want to have that last shoot, and die, listen to this song on your blog. Falling gently asleep.

Anna Grace said...

sorry about all the spelling errors, I didn't take the time to read it over before posting, and btw thank you for your comment on my blog.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


No I'm not HIV... I've never shared a needle with anyone. Though during the first weeks of being on the needle I took a few risks. I've 3 friends gone to HIV and I keep clean out of respect to them and myself.

It doesn't have to be a gamble.

Thanks for the comment... we'll speak more soon. Spelling errors don't concern me... some of our greatest thinkers couldn't spell.

You take care, Shane.

Anonymous said...

Dear HeroinHead.
I have escaped from the addicted family My childhood was filled with standing ouside the pub waiting, falling asleep in parties while your parents boozed and drugged it up. at 16 I left home hung around the Jamaican crack scene in London, became a model went to jail ( you see i know the contadictions) shortly after I had this beautiful little boy who needed me. So I left his dad packed my bags and started to travel, some people think Ive been running but I know that I needed to see more real life, (not just the inside of the same old pub everynight.) until I came and settled in Marrakech and started again where no one knew me and it worked out well. I'm strong and healthy and no longer brainwashed by my London life. My parents were pretty out there and I suppose to rebel against them I had take extreme measures and this played a big part in my addiction. Now I'm learning to live in another culture I need to be on the ball (Morocco ain't easy its the land of the rip off merchant, but hey, Ive had great training).
Here I can be a mother to my kids, because once I went down that road I had to break the cycle. I had to give them a chance to see something differn't.
I'm glad I found your blog.Its given me a chance to write and express something about my past that I don't normally do in blog land. Its a special time for me as I'm leaving for London tomorrow, my beautiful boy who is now 19. Got the call that anyone who has an addicted soul in the family dreads his father was found dead and heartbreakingly alone in his home last weekend. We are waiting for the coroners report but we all know why. And now I have to go guide my baby. He knew what his dad was about but hes still kind of clueless.
So now i brace myself to go to face my past I am not unhappy to go back because i do have very fond memories I don't judge them but strangely I feel like they judge me.
Keep writing its good to show an articulate face on a world that is so often brushed of as stupid.

grace said...

again, Shane, your courage astounds me. I hope to one day be able to bravely be me, the good and bad.

Maybe consider, if you're comfortable with this, doing a post on being married and living with a heroin addition.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Grace... thanks for your comments and your compliments. That's very kind.

It's not courage... it's just the way I feel. That's just how it is.

It's a great suggestion you make and I'll certainly write on that. It'll be very interesting.

When I do that I'll mail you to let you know.

Keep reading and take care, Shane.

PS: if you've aything you'd like to talk about, you can mail me privately... I'm always available.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


You really must excuse me.. i've only justr seen this comment and feel terrible that I never replied!!! Anyway, at least I've found it now, hey?

I'm so happy that you escaped London and all the dirt of drugs and alcohol. Your new life sounds absolutely wonderful... it's really great.

Thats a hard thing thats just happened with your boys father... I feel for him. I feel for you also having to return to the city where all your ghosts are. Still, I get the feeling you are TOO strong, and TOO happy to allow for any mishap. I'm sure it'll be fine.

Thanks for the compliment and the comment. keep reading and keep well & pass on my regards to your boy. Best Wishes, Shane. x

debbi radford said...

The blogger at Sarcastic Bastard's site referred me to your blog. It is compelling stuff to be sure. I see another commenter mentioned this and I am almost embarrassed to ask, but I am totally dying to did you meet the wife? why did she marry you knowing about your addiction and that you have no desire to change it? children: why; why not? I would love to hear both of your perspectives on the state of your married selves.
You a great writer. You easily drew me in and I know nothing about heroin or about life outside the USA. Dont want to lose ya dude, so please take care. That is so selfish of me!

disillusioned said...

Really enjoying reading your blog, you have a gift for putting experiences into words. I've never used heroin or very much other drugs, apart from the socially acceptables like alcohol and cigarettes but still relate to the pain you express.
Most of our culture seems to be dreamed up to compensate for the pain of living as a human being, no answers to that one, and i think you're right that we all make our own accommodations with the contradictions that entails.

You might like this essay I read today, about someone-else's attempts to square the circle of being alive but seeking death, not at all an uncommon contradiction if we are honest:

Take care of yourself and keep writing!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Disillusioned,

Thank you very much for your comment and all you say.

95% of the readers here are not drug users, so you're in good company. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Thanks also for the link, i'll red it when I have a moment.

I hope you carrty on reading & I hope you will put in another appearance.

If not, You take care also... & I hope the life brings you just the good.

Best Wishes, Shane.

anne marie said...

first off may i say i'm much impressed with your writing and how you express yourself...u have a book or two in there! drug use is a mystery to so many people yet we are most of us addicted to something or other - it seems to be one of the great flaws in the human condition or maybe its a test of the soul, a battle to be overcome? my sister has been a heroin addict for 15yrs. she's 35. she is a beautiful, funny, lovable girl and being just a year younger than me we are very close. her addiction has been part of my life for so long. i am myself no saint having dabbled with 'recreational' drugs but somehow managed to just dabble while she went headlong in.last year her 2kids were removed from her care. theyre now in the care of my parents and myself. my heart goes out to u as you didnt have much of a start in life - it was like your own addiction was pre ordained but i guess you know that its not impossible though bloody hard to stop if you choose to. in my sister's case we had a 'normal' home life so i guess she has memories of normality and a frame of reference for that whereas you maybe do not? anyway, she had tried and failed rehab and is due this week to go in again. i pray she will succeed.. i love her so much and worry she will o.d anyday. her loss would be so painful to me i cannot even express. she is honest with me about the drugs because i dont judge though i dont enable her either, its a tricky line to walk! do u feel there is no life outside heroin because u've not known one previous to it? u would have a lot to offer other addicts if u could find a way out...i read somewhere that heroin addicts are in effect attempting to fill a love gap - usually that of their mother with the drug, like it gives u that feeling you missed/lost as a child. would u agree? do u believe in a greater power outside of yourself, a kind of god, or do u think we're all random cells that live and die just as physical beings with no point to our existence? i believe there is a point to everyone's life, in fact i KNOW it. and i mean everyone. noone is more important to this world that someone else. maybe thats what saved me...i dunno..maybe i was one of the lucky ones and got 'enough'love as a child, but then again my sister and i were raised in the same 'normal'(not perfect) home. U you may call yourself 'heroinhead' others may refer to u as such but remember shane that is NOT who u really are. that is just a behaviour of yours it is not u as a person, ur whole identity.maybe u've not really had a chance to find out who that person really is but its NEVER too late..for a start your intelligent and creative, funny too? charming even? to me your are not heroinhead but rather 'bloke who writes a bloody good blog despite being addicted to heroin' a subtle but important difference. sorry if i'm coming off condensending..a non user probably always will come off that way to a user, after all, what do i know eh? i do believe our souls come to this earth with a mission. we choose this mission before our birth, the circumstances of our birth, even our parents.. for that is the life we need for our soul to overcome challenges and pass on to the next 'level' of spirituality. i know at this point u think i'm a religious nut - but seriously i'm not, dont go to church. i just somehow know this to be true and if it is, what a brave choice your soul made, to be born into the life you were, what a challenge to take on! i pray someday you find a reason to try to live and complete your task. what a story that would be! take care and keep writing x

Anonymous said...

You will learn why you were not able to live a fulfilling life when you get to the next life. But if you try to stay here and try to make some small differences in this lifetime it will go with you. I hope you find any small pleasures or ways to be helpful in any small ways to anyone even with a smile and a helping hand. I know its hard but when its your time to go you carry all the things you do with you . You can say sorry to people you hurt and i bet they forgive you..then forgive yourself for fucking up cos its okay! Just keep trying, thanks for.reading. Debra

Kaydoll said...

I really would like to talk to you. I just got out of a 4 year heroin addiction and I'm currently on methadone maintenance. I've been Clean for 2 years. I used to smoke it I never shot up but I really am getting to a point where I want to stop taking methadone but I'm so scared I won't be able to. Can u talk to me about what you know about methadone ? And this addiction in general. Your words they are amazing to me.

Anonymous said...

I know this is 6 years away from your post. But have you read the "insight" series 10th insight, 11th insight 12th insight. By James Reddingfeld. You REALLY REALLY REALLY need too as you speak some of his words i belive you will find so much in his books.

Hope your sister is doing better! Sending love.


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