The Anatomy of a Heroin Relapse

Mar 16 2016

The Anatomy of a Heroin Relapse

After 10 years off junk, it wasn’t something I thought about much anymore.

In the early days, every morning seemed to begin with an internal debate about whether or not to use. After a while, the voice inside advocating “just one last taste” faded out into a ghostly echo, and then one day it wasn’t there at all.

I had been off junk longer than I had been on it. I had beaten it, moved on. I had built an entirely new life. Become a father. Begun a career as a writer. The likelihood of relapse felt as distant and unlikely as the idea of a piano falling out of the sky and landing on my head.

Until, that is, I relapsed.

It started with the accident.

***

Of course, nobody expects stuff like this to happen to them. And it was over so quickly. One moment my daughter and I were walking out of the grocery store. She’d been working on her fifth-grade class project and we both needed a change of scenery after three solid hours of assisting with glue-sticking, coloring in the lines, and cutting things out. So we went to buy a snack.

It was a gloomy Monday in January 2014, around 5 pm, when we left the store.

I took her hand and waited until the traffic had come to a full stop, stepped out and checked that there was no oncoming traffic on the other side. We were clear. As we began to cross, the world suddenly turned upside down. I remember feeling my ribs compress and the breath being knocked out of me as I hit the asphalt. In the moment of silence that followed, everything took on a dreamlike haze. Then one of the tangerines we had just bought rolled past my line of vision, and I was jolted back to reality.

I found out later that an SUV had cruised past the car that had stopped to let us cross. Distracted, she had assumed the car in front of her had stopped to make a turn instead of to let pedestrians cross, so she drove around it and creamed us at approximately 20 miles per hour.

When I made it to my feet people were already out of their cars, everything drenched in the harsh beam of headlights, people yelling at me to stop moving, telling me I might be badly hurt.

I remember seeing my daughter’s sneakers lying surreally in the middle of the road. She had been knocked clean out of them. A few feet away from them I saw my daughter, lying completely motionless in the middle of the street.

Let me stop for a second to say that she survived the accident and is fine. As I write this, she is running around in the park with a school friend. The extent of her injuries was a concussion, a few teeth knocked loose and severe bruising. She doesn’t even remember the accident, only the events before and after. Lucky her.

The doctors later told me it could have been much worse. Apparently, in an accident like this, the most important factor is how you land.

My daughter landed well.

Of course, when I first saw her splayed motionless in the street I knew none of this. I stumbled over to her and saw that she was lifeless and limp as a rag doll. Terrified of moving her in case her spine had been damaged, I begged her to wake up, gently stroking her face.

Luckily enough, an ambulance was on the scene almost immediately (they were responding to a nearby emergency), and as they were strapping her into the gurney she suddenly woke up, gasping as if surfacing from underwater, and began screaming in pain and confusion.

That in-between period—those interminable moments of crouching over her, screaming for her to wake up, begging her to not be dead—all in all, probably lasted no more than 120 seconds. But even now as I remember them, they seem to stretch on forever. With each passing second that she did not respond to my voice, did not open her eyes—all of this as people were trying to pull me away from her—the possibility that she was, in fact, dead began to dawn on me.

I don’t know if you have to be a parent to really understand what it is like to face the possibility that your child is dead. The chasm of despair that opens up inside of you. I am a writer by trade, and I have spent the last few weeks writing and rewriting this paragraph, trying hopelessly to capture the awful pain that I felt, even though it lasted for just a few fleeting minutes. I keep coming up a blank. This is the best I can do.

***

Of course, this isn’t a story about an accident; it’s a story about a relapse, although the two events are helplessly intertwined in my head. The accident—or those frozen moments of horror following it—marked the dividing line between the Tony O’Neill who wrote some time ago about 10 years heroin-free without AA, and the Tony O’Neill writing this piece, conducting a kind of investigation into how this happened.

In the months following the accident I completely unraveled. Had I always suffered from a kind of depression? I think that yes, I had. There are many branches of my family tree that are not talked about, men of my blood who met their demise at the end of a rope or at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. I am not completely sold on whether there is a genetic component to depression and addiction, but my family history seems to support the idea.

For most of my life my lows tended to be extremely low and my highs extremely high, and I went through long periods where a kind of black cloud descended upon me and the only thing to do was hold on and ride it out. But I had never taken any kind of psychiatric medication, fearing that a blunting of those feelings might upset the delicate chemical balance that allowed me to be creative, either as a musician, as I was in the early days, or as an author.

If you don’t recognize my name, don’t worry—I’m not Stephen King, nor Salman Rushdie. But I have managed to write and publish enough books to call it a career without feeling like a fraud. For someone who depends upon that mysterious creative urge, the fear that antidepressants might somehow upset this delicate balance was very real.

But after the accident, things changed quickly.

There were the nightmares, of course. I had them several times a night in the first few months, repeatedly reliving the accident, often with horrible variations: mangled flesh, a car bearing down on my child in slow motion while I remained rooted to the spot.

But the anger was probably the worst. My wife noticed it first. Despite the fact that our daughter made a speedy recovery with no cognitive impairment, my rage at the driver and the insurance companies and fate and myself did not fade over time—it increased. I found myself unable to write, and several times a day would simply space out, slipping into a daydream, reliving the accident again, heart pounding and drenched in cold sweat. I would force myself to change tack when I caught my thoughts drifting back to that day, but it was often too late, and I was either plunged into pervasive sadness or furious rage.

My wife repeatedly suggested that I speak to someone—a doctor, a therapist, anyone—but I refused. I wasn’t crazy, after all, I was angry. And I had every goddamned fucking right to be angry, thank you very much.

And besides… I had a shit-load of painkillers.

I am not a part of this younger generation of heroin addict, weaned from the teat of pharmaceutical dope. I am of the previous generation, the kind of junkie who idolized Johnny Thunders and William Burroughs and Chet Baker and Lenny Bruce as a child, and for whom it was seemingly only a matter of time before they tried smack. I was in love with the mystique of heroin, its outlaw lifestyle, as well as its artistic connotations. I had no interest in pills, except when there was a drought and I needed something to tide me over. In my junkie days in LA I became an expert at scamming doctors for scripts, so much so that it was almost a party trick.

But now I didn’t have to do anything: no phony back pain, or spasms, or migraines. Every time I limped into a doctor’s office, bruised from head to foot, hunched over like an old man, inevitably they would ask if I needed something for the pain, and inevitably I answered yes.

One pill, taken as needed, became five pills chewed and swallowed two or three times a day, my intake increasing steadily until a bottle of 30 OxyContin lasted no time at all.

While the idea of seeing a shrink terrified me, there was something oddly comforting in the familiar blotting out of feelings that opioids gave me. It was only by numbing myself with pills that I could bring myself to pick up the phone and deal with the long, complex negotiations with the insurance companies, hospitals and lawyers, all of whom seemed determined to make sure that on top of the physical pain of the accident, our family would feel the financial pain as well.

Due to a quirk in New Jersey law, the burden of our medical expenses fell upon our insurance, and our insurance company made it a point to refuse half of all claims—for x-rays, ambulance rides, CAT scans—leading to a rush of calls from billing departments demanding thousands of dollars that we simply did not have.

I will not name names, but let’s just say I have no fondness for geckos these days.

Read more from The Influence:

Why the Disease Model Fails to Convince Americans That Addiction Is a Health Issue

It’s the People Who Harmfully Attack E-Cigarettes Who Need to Quit

Karl Ove Knausgård: In America, an Alcoholic—In Scandinavia, Just a Genius

I have written plenty previously about my years of addiction—the initial romance, the day-to-day adventures of a young junkie living in the underbellies of Los Angeles and London, the pains and the withdrawals—so I won’t rehash it all here.

What I will say is this: I do not believe that it is a “relapse” if someone who was previously addicted to heroin needs to take opioid pain medication. Many people do so without experiencing any problems at all. And if you take precautions—talking to medical professionals about your history, perhaps enlisting a family member to hold your meds—you reduce your risk. I had occasionally done it myself in the years after I quit junk—when I had my wisdom teeth out, for example—with no issues.

The difference between that and what happened after the accident was slight, but important: Previously, I had used the pills to mask physical pain; now, I used them to mask emotional pain.

The transition from pills to heroin happened in the blink of an eye.

Naturally, there came a point when doctors would no longer prescribe to me: I had no lasting injuries. As the bruises faded, the prescriptions dried up. When that happened, the monkey I had carried on my back for so many years was definitely out of his cage. For a decade I had starved the little bastard, locked him away, and after a decade without food, light or attention I figured he was probably dead, or near-as-dammit. But after just a few months of tossing OxyContin into its cage, the thing was as big as King Kong.

I lasted a few days without pills, depressed and listless, and finally managed to convince myself that my present condition was untenable. There seemed to be only two options to quiet the noise in my head. One was suicide. The other was heroin.

***

Scoring was as easy as walking to the corner store to buy groceries, even though I had never done it on the East Coast before and knew no one who used anymore.

I left the house at 9 am with the vague intention of finding something, and by 1 pm I was back at home with a bundle of smack. People like me have a special instinct, and can home in on junk territory the same way a diviner can find underground rivers.

This time, it was very different: There was no romance period, no pleasurable “getting to know you,” no floating through the days on a blissful cushion of narcotic bliss. Instead I was dropped off at the exact point where I left off heroin all those years ago—a suffocating cycle of overwhelming need and awful self-loathing, hating myself and hating the drug and, despite my hatred, the overwhelming feeling that I had no choice but to keep using.

The biggest difference between the old days and this relapse was that I was a father. My daughter had never known the old me, the person I had put away and only took out of his box when I allowed him to become a character in my novels. I hid my double life well, being an old hand at such subterfuge. But after I fell off the wagon, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t look into my kid’s eyes without feeling like some deformed, hunchbacked, sniveling monster. Even though I was able to keep what I was going through from her through sheer strength of will, I knew that each passing day brought me closer and closer to some kind of disaster that would destroy my family forever.

Now I was the one behind the wheel, barreling toward the wife and child I loved in a car without brakes. There were times, when I’d just scored and was getting ready to get well, that I wondered if this hit might be the one that finished me off.

I have to confess, I sometimes thought it would be a relief.

***

The wheels came off. Needless to say, my wife was no innocent about heroin, having nursed me off it all of those years ago, and my repeated denials in the face of her mounting suspicion became almost comical toward the end. When she finally confronted me with inconvertible proof—a Suboxone packet, from a failed attempt to wean myself off—I did consider concocting another lie to wriggle out of it.

But I didn’t. I was tired, a pitiful beaten dog, and admitting what had happened out loud came as a relief—even though it meant facing that in my self-pitying stupidity, I had almost lost the two most important relationships in my life.

In the mess that followed, as I writhed in the clutches of a violent cold turkey in the spare bedroom, my wife struck a deal with me: I could stay, if I sought treatment. Even then, I was reluctant to enter a clinic again, as my experiences back in the late ‘90s had been so awful. I begged her to let me tough it out, to lock me in the room and not let me out, no matter how much I begged.

She didn’t budge, so treatment it was. After three hellish days of sweating the dope out, I began outpatient treatment with Suboxone and—most importantly—therapy.

***

People relapse every day. It is, as they say, a part of recovery. But the crux, for me, is that as well as staying off heroin since then (April 2014), I have also decided to seek treatment for the depression that was the underlying theme of much of my use.

At first I saw a therapist. A nice guy, although I remain skeptical of the benefit of talking cures. Sure, it was good to have someone to talk to in those early days, someone who I wasn’t worried would be scared if I told them I was still struggling, or repulsed if I let them peer into the cesspool of insanity in my head.

Years ago I saw a therapist in rehab, another nice guy, who told me he was a recovering meth addict. You might assume that he would have been my preferred therapist, and it is true that he had a better understanding of my mentality, but for me, the kind of clinical distance that my therapist had was a benefit, not a hindrance.

For a start, it cuts away at the bullshit. There is no impulse to engage in the ritual of—as my friend Jerry Stahl calls it—“one downmanship.” Like it or not, there’s a certain twisted pride that most of us have about the depths we plunged to. If we suspect our therapist didn’t go as far as we did, we have a tendency to hold their opinion in lower esteem. If they were even more fucked up, more crazy, shot more drugs, robbed more liquor stores, lost more teeth—“You ain’t a real junkie unless you lost at least two teeth,” one old-timer told me out in California—then we feel insecure. When your therapist’s experience with drugs remains theoretical, this kind of junkie-etiquette crap is negated.

But more useful than talk was medication. My old friend Suboxone has saved my life on more than one occasion and was there for me again, managing to stop me from crawling up the walls long enough to try and get better.

***

I have now weaned down to almost nothing and fully intend to stop when the time is right, probably within the next eight to nine months. I’m glad to have Suboxone vs. methadone for two reasons.

The first is access: With Suboxone you are more likely to be allowed to pick up 30, even 60 days’ supply at a time and manage your own medication. This is a huge factor: Back in the bad old days of the late ‘90s on methadone, it was routine to have to show up at the pharmacy every morning to take your dose in front of the pharmacist. Supposedly intended to stop diversion, this rule seemed to be a thinly-veiled punishment, a way of ensuring that you began each and every day by being reminded of your lowly status on society’s ladder. It still gives me the shivers: first thing in the morning, dragging my aching bones to the local pharmacy, people gawking as I glugged my methadone with shaking hands, mothers pulling their children closer, as though my addict-genes might infect them. Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t make us all wear a linctus-green star and have done with it.

The second benefit is how Suboxone acts as an opioid-blocker. The honest truth is that as soon as I started treatment, I didn’t have an urge to use. After all, the relapse had hardly been fun, and once my cravings were satisfied I had no remaining emotional attachment to the junkie lifestyle. Even so, it is a good feeling to know that if something were to happen, some weird quirk of fate like walking into a bathroom and finding a dropped bundle of smack—unlikely, I know, but bear with me—then at least with Suboxone, that rapidly starving monkey couldn’t convince me to toss him a peanut.

The psychiatric drugs helped me even more, though. I lucked out, found a patient, understanding doctor, one who didn’t radiate that cold distaste that I remember from trying to get treatment years ago. These days, she and I rarely discuss addiction and relapse at all. We just talk about life; I guess it’s her way of taking my psychic pulse. It took a while, but heroin, relapse, the accident, all that stuff is no longer my main concern. Real life is.

It took a while to get the combination of medication right, but when I did, the difference was stunning. It was as though somebody turned off a blaring radio, a soundtrack of discordant shouting voices that had been on for so long that I had gotten used to it. At first the silence was noticeable, hard to get used to, even. Now it is my new normality—a kind of clear-headedness that I haven’t felt in years and years.

It has been a long time, now, since I felt so full of self-loathing and listlessness that it pained me to get out of bed.

Not every day is sunshine and roses. Most aren’t. After all, I’m taking antidepressants, not MDMA. But by ensuring that my bad hours, days, whatever, are not so bad, the meds have enabled me to push on with life, put the accident behind me, get back to being the person I was before.

And then there was my big fear. The fear that if I took psychiatric drugs, I would not be able to write. Of course, that was bullshit. A novella I began late last year grew into a novel-length piece of writing (The Savage Life will be released in French in August, and translations into several languages (including English) are slated for later in the year). My fear was as big a fallacy as the thought that occurred to me when I was 21 and in rehab for the first time, contemplating a life without heroin for the first time: But how will I be able to play music?

The answer was, of course, simple: the same way I always had.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t grasp it earlier: I did all of the things I was most proud of in my life despite my depression, not because of it.

I have learned, too, in a particularly painful but valuable way, how much I need to fear complacency. In the almost two years since quitting (again), I have immersed myself in the full-time business of trying to fix the mess I left. Slowly, life has begun to move again in the right direction.


Tony O’Neill is the author of books including Digging the Vein, Down and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). You can follow him on Twitter: @IAmTonyONeill.

  • Maurice Dutton

    Look I am a little pissed at your choice of words so I will read & comment properly later but what is junk??? Have you ever considered your choice of word may reflect into some peoples perspective of who you are??? And what is your definition of a junkie ??? Please explain these while I re-read your rather long article!!!

    • Tony O’Neill

      Maurice-
      Why on earth would you be “pissed” at my choice of words? I do not understand your annoyance any more than I understand your excessive punctuation.
      Junk = heroin. I’m sure – if you have any experience of this substance (and are over 16) – you have heard this term before. This was the commonly accepted term when I was first using (alongside dope) and so it’s what I still habitually call it. Just like I still call MDMA Ecstasy, no matter how many 18 year olds insist on calling it “Molly”.
      As for junkie – again, you know exactly what it means. My definition? Me. Not a derogative term, by any means. I am no self hating addict. Indeed, the notion of junkie pride is something I have long advocated. I am not the only heroin addict I know who uses this term – maybe once again this is a generational thing – but I find the idea of politically correct heroin addicts a little silly.
      On junk or off of it, if you know anything about me (or indeed if you have managed to take the time to read the whole article, which should take you all of 5 minutes – long, I know by internet standards, but it shouldn’t be too much trouble if you’ve ever read a magazine article) one thing you will know is that I am no self hating junkie, I am not ashamed of myself, and despite the fact that the relapse I am writing about here sapped me emotionally, financially, etc… I still do not carry any self-hatred for what I am (a junkie), or feel prejudicial towards those of use who habitually use junk (or junkies, as I still think of them) and honestly feel that if you have ever had a heroin habit you would be well aware that as a community we have a hell of a lot more to worry about than what the less-offensive term is to describe us.
      I’ll leave the identity politics to people who give a shit.
      Me? I don’t have the time or patience for it.
      I’m still trying to stay clean, Maurice.
      Junkie, smackhead, skeezer, dope-fiend…. You can call me anything you like…. except Republican or cop lover.
      Affectionately-
      T

      • Maurice Dutton

        OK if you look at the history of the slang term Junkie or the word junk they derive from police slang. The police use it as a derogatory name to label drug addicted people. So without going into a rant I would have substituted junk for gear & junkie for drug addicted or something similar. cheers

        • Tony O’Neill

          Well “gear” is specially UK slang for heroin. No-one here in the US uses it (I am an ex-pat, but have spent more of my life here than there and first became addicted in the US so that informs my slang vocabulary).

          Also junk / junkie / etc did not derive from police slang at all. The cops may have taken it and twisted it into a negative, but like most slang terms connected to drug use they evolved within the community as a means to avoid detection. I mean, again – the idea of taking these kinds of concerns into consideration is faintly ridiculous to me, but if you’re taking offense for that particular reason then a look into the history of the word would reveal that it has a bit of a contested history – either believed to derive from a reference to the junk boats of China (from the 20s when most opium-related slang had far-eastern origins, thanks to the Chinese Opium Dens that caused the first US opiod scare) or from the once-upon-a-time preferred method of raising money for the first wave of heroin addicts – stealing scrap metal (they were, to use the old work, “junkers”). Either way both terms were originally employed by addicts to avoid detection by cops, not by cops to denigrate addicts.
          That said, I know plenty of users who happily use the term “dope fiend” – a term with undeniable tabloid / hysterical anti drug connotations – but it’s a term that they have a guess tried to take back and repurpose in the same way some people in the black community tried to re-invent the N word as a badge of pride.

          But as I said before, when I was using heroin daily, or now that I’m not – and periods in between – I really do not have the time nor patience to tip toe around words, and refer to myself in bland terms like ‘drug-addicted’ because honestly I feel that the only people who are seriously getting offended by this don’t have a horse in the race. This isn’t a sociology lecture: it’s my life.

          Or to put it another way – it all depends on context. Who is using the word, and HOW are they using it? Context is everything Maurice, and if you’re going to raise a stink about my choice of words while freely admitting that you haven’t even read the piece yet then you are undermining your entire argument…

          To return to an example I already mentioned in passing, you can read the N word in the lyric sheet to an NWA track and also read it in a posting on a Neo Nazi website. Because of where they are, and who is writing them, the meaning is totally different. No?

          To get caught up arguing about single words without ever looking at in in the context of the piece I wrote kind of wastes both our time, if we’re being honest.

          • Maurice Dutton

            I believe it was the second one related to the alcoholics, drug affected persons & just down & out homeless people peddling their carts with yes scrap material. So the cops would say junkie as a reference to some one down & out who had to earn some money by recycling material. Now I am not an Englishman. I am an Australian from Spanish – Irish heritage. I did have a guy ask me to get him some dust once. He was six foot six & an undercover. I politely said no. You win write what you like. But if I feel that it is not what I want to read I reserve the option of opting out. Have a great week. But what do you refer to heroin as in America ??

          • Fonfeh Clarko

            Maurice, you are a gronk.
            Go get yourself a drug habit and use that to fill in your day because let me assure you – it’s a little more fun than trying to be a keyboard warrior.
            Fuck it – if you are in Sydney I’ll slang you some rocks! First time is free ?…

          • Maurice Dutton

            Mate, I have a raging habit!! I would ask you don’t judge a book by its cover. I work in harm reduction. I advocate for decriminalising drug use across the board. I will never use derogatory terms to hang a name on any one. In regards to your offer. I would love to catch up. My associate is on holiday & I live in Cairns. Can I send you some freight ? Are you serious ? I especially like the free bit. No seriously can I give you my number to ring me to discuss all aspects of the world ?

          • Maurice Dutton

            Fonfeh, don’t you think that telling some one to get a drug habit & you are prepared to supply them to start is a little extreme. I have had ample experience with addiction but try to keep a lid on things so to speak. yes I take drugs but they are not my life. I sincerely hope you have other hobbies but I would like to put you only mailing list for harm reduction as well as decriminalising drug use. Will you consider coming aboard for that. PS how do you know I am not a under cover trying for an easy bust? M

          • Maurice Dutton

            Fonfeh, you never got back to me so you are full of shit basically. You call people names and offer to fuck up their lives and yet when I called you out you went silent. You are full of it !!! Best of luck with what ever you think you do.

  • Maurice Dutton

    You deserve an answer & I will answer you comments as soon as I make time. Within a day or so cheers M

  • I really appreciate you sharing your story. Thank you.

  • zamzamwater40

    My God. I’d have to say that was one of the best pieces of writing that I’ve had the pleasure to read.

    What an amazing ride you took me on.

    You stripped my emotions bare and injected me into the scene of the accident like I was there myself. Fuck. Feelings of utter unfathomable fear, hopelessness and sheer unbridled terror gripped me as I read about your daughter laying motionless upon the asphalt.

    I felt like I was in shock. I was there. It was real.

    Thank God you mentioned that she was alive and alright….

    I won’t comment upon the rest of your prose ‘cept to say that I’m delighted to hear that you….and your daughter…are ok.

    Wow…fucken wow.

    (Excuse my excessive peppering of expletives, but sometimes, just sometimes, something surreal, something powerful moves you in ways that are just, amazing.

    Thank you for posting this chapter of your life.

  • Gabriel Pierce

    I cannot tell you how shocked I was to see the title of your piece on my FB feed. Usually my feed is just Trump, Clinton, Bernie posts, over and over again. To see something that had actually been on my mind, like it was written for me was a little creepy to say the least. Let me explain:

    So I use to be a heroin addict myself, started using around age 17 and stopped, finally, around the age of 24- thanks in part to Suboxone. Up until about 6 weeks ago I had no opiates in my system since i got off Suboxone around 26 (5 years ago now). Six weeks ago I completely shattered my wrist snowboarding. On the way to the ER I had many thoughts going through my head, like: how long will i be out of work for, I’m a bartender (its been about 6 weeks now), will the health insurance I had just purchased 3 weeks prior be in effect (it wasn’t- over 20 grand and climbing), and what am I going to do about the pain medication i had always told myself i would reject if ever needed (wishful thinking). I had been given (what i perceived) to be an ungodly amount of Percocet and have been takingit, somewhat steadily for about 6 weeks. My original thought was to give to a friend, to have them dole out the prescribed amount, but, I am weak, and did not do that.

    Long story short, I probably have enough pills left to last me through this week. I have been averaging about 3-5 a day for the past week, realizing the end is insight, and I am terrified for it. I have not been taking throughout the day, but essentially all at once, with the intent to get even just a little high (i hate writing that). I’m trying to ween myself off now, knowing that any withdrawal effects will not be anywhere as bad as there were in the past, yet it will still be withdrawal. That coupled with my already mounting depression due to bills, out of work, etc., I can be honest and say that thoughts of what i am going to do when the pills finally are no more, what my next move will be. Oh and I should mention that I live in Philadelphia (I could get dope so easy its silly).

    It sucks because i cannot express this concern to any friends or family because they had all already expressed such concerns and I eased their worry away. And now here I am, hoping that I do the right thing. Reading your piece has given me more motivation to do just that. So thank you for sharing, its not often I come across a piece of writing that seems to have been written especially for me.

    Thanks again,

    Gabriel

    • Christy D Bull

      The help that one addict can receive from another is unparalleled in getting thru the the tough times. Narcotics anonymous has a program that changes lives. I have found a new family but most importantly….. Hope in the rooms.

    • KendraSaunders

      How are you doing now?

    • DeeDeeKing

      Gabriel – how are you doing these days? I know you posted this ages ago but I’m genuinely interested in how this played out. Are you doing okay?

  • LillikoiSeed

    Thank you Tony for your remarkable insight and beautifully written assessment of your painful experience. No one who’s not been there or next to there could justify an understanding. I was literally so moved I signed up to comment. Forgive me but I spread your word. Aloha

  • LillikoiSeed

    Ps. Anyone who ever read Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack should absolutely get it.

    • Maxine

      I read that book in my early 20’s. It had a profound positive affect on my life in dealing with any type of self medication.

  • Christy D Bull

    What a great read. Even though my flavor was different. I loved to get high. It made the world bareable. Or so I thought. As my life continued to fail I continued to use. We all, and I mean us junkies, have our own moment of clarity. Whether it is brought about by force or personal awareness, usually both. The end of use most come and we all fear it will be in death. For those of us lucky enough to still be sharing about our experience, that is what we should do. Share it. Do it for our own healing and to show the addict that still suffers that there is hope. Thank you for sharing your story. Means a lot.

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  • superbad2011

    So sorry, man. Glad you’re now ok. Sorta. Anyway, good journey to you, and to your daughter. Peace.

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  • painkills2

    It’s funny how people think there’s such a big difference between emotional and physical pain (with emotional pain somehow not being as important as physical pain). As if the brain pathways in which physical and mental pain travel are different from one another. As if drugs used to treat physical pain cannot be used to treat mental pain.

    But which is the monkey on your back? Is it a drug or is it depression?

    If you didn’t suffer from depression, maybe you wouldn’t have suffered from addiction. If you had been treated with antidepressants when you were younger, instead of self-medicating, maybe you would’ve never suffered from addiction. Maybe your story isn’t about drug addiction, but about identifying your medical condition and finding the right drug to treat it.