Yes, I'm Actively Addicted to Heroin—And Shaming Me Doesn't Help

epa00538691 A 39 year-old heroin addict with AIDS, surnamed Pai, smokes heroin at home in rural Longchuan county, China's Yunnan province, Sunday 25 September 2005.  A member of China's Jingpo ethnic minority group, Pai contracted HIV through intravenous use of heroin and has since reverted to smoking it.  Heroin smuggled from Burma is devastating China's Jingpo people, who number only 120,000 and live along the border region.  Widespread heroin use has caused the transmission of AIDS among thousands of addicts and family members and left many Jingpo children as orphans.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Sep 01 2016

Yes, I’m Actively Addicted to Heroin—And Shaming Me Doesn’t Help

September 2nd, 2016

Hi, my name’s Sturla and I’m addicted to heroin.

Attentive Influence readers might remember me as that Norwegian guy who made a speech at the United Nations in New York earlier this year about the amazing potential of people who use drugs.

I am perhaps the most functional “addict” you can imagine. I work successfully as a journalist, I advocate for better drug laws.

The other part of my life might be harder for you to imagine.

In bad times, I might take the subway several a times a week down to the center of Oslo, where I live, and buy heroin. I’ll melt it on a sheet of aluminum foil using a lighter and suck it in.

I continue despite the fact that by doing so, I risk losing jobs, friends, my girlfriend and my family. I’ll put on a pair of sunglasses or a hoodie as I ride the subway and let it rip.

“I’m not a hypocrite,” I tell myself. “I did not deny that the urge to get high was still a daily struggle for me when I was asked about it on the radio. No reason to be ashamed!”

Yet I’m ashamed something rotten.

As I type these words, I tremble with shame.

What will people think? I participate in public debate, and then straight afterwards I’ll go into the city and score. It is junkie behavior. I know that I have been seen doing it. That people talk about it.

He was supposed to be a role model, now he’s fucking up again.”

I actually think he might just like it. He doesn’t even want to get clean! “

And it’s true. I, and thousands of others like me, either like the high or dislike its absence so much that we do not stop. We either don’t want or are unable to be completely abstinent. That’s how the world is; that’s how I am.

I’ve wanted to try, and I have. Part of me desires to be like everyone else. And every time I fail, I feel the social rejection, the shame.

I know that my fellow drug-users feel it too—this sense that we have betrayed you.

That is why we hide in toilets, getting high alone. If you notice us in public bathrooms, we get afraid and angry at ourselves. It is the worst feeling of all—like getting caught with your pants down.

We always hear that we are not trying hard enough. You need to have more willpower and motivation—those are the kind of addicts Norway embraces!

And if you can be, or at least appear to be, totally drug-free, you are warmly welcomed into public life! Just as long as you make clear how much you deplore your previous life.

But the 90 percent of us who fail to achieve or don’t want to achieve total abstinence? We’d better stay in the background.

But what if us drug users can propose something positive for once?

Is it possible to imagine a future where I sit in a multipurpose room where drugs can be used openly and more safely, smoking my heroin before I write my contributions to public debate?

Is it possible to imagine a world where my friend, who is addicted to amphetamines, can use this facility before he goes around town to sell you Red Cross membership or a new electricity supplier?

Is it reality absurd to imagine a world where people who are addicted, or who use drugs for any reason, can stand up straight and contribute to society, without having to sneak into toilets or parking lots to take their drugs?

Drugs are an inevitable part of our world—but does the shame many of us are made to feel have to be?

Let me tell you a little secret. In one way, the future I imagined is already here.

Read more from The Influence:

Why Is Methadone, a Proven Lifesaver, Still So Restricted and Stigmatized?

What’s the Difference Between a Speakeasy and a Crack House?

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Many of the politicians, teachers and economists—yes, even judges, policewomen and lawyers—who govern and care in our community do so with a regular supply of illicit drugs in their blood.

Many of them have the strength, determination and ability to make vital contributions to the running of our society and the creation of a better one—even if they don’t have the “willpower” to cut getting high 100 percent out of their lives.

In another way though, the future is as far away as ever.

In contrast to the idea of an inclusive and honest society, these people who contribute so much cannot be open or live with the dignity they deserve. In one way or another, we all sit behind closed toilet doors with a voice of shame in our head.

The harsh reality, too, is that literally sitting behind closed toilet doors, or in other lonely places, to do drugs is a major reason our fellow citizens die.

The need for secrecy and the attendant shame kills lawyers and unemployed people, magazine sellers, rock stars and sex workers.

When we use alone, there is no one to rescue us if we take too strong a dose, or if we use drugs that (thanks to prohibition) are not what we thought they were.

In my country and others, we impose so much deadly shame on people who use drugs.

It comes as no surprise to me the most popular and relevant TV drama about the generation growing up in Norway today is simply called Shame. Yet if we look at the sheer number of people who use drugs, it seems absurd that it should be that way.

Whatever we contribute, there’s no reason we should have to feel ashamed because we are different, whether we merely choose to change our consciousness with illicit drugs or because we feel compelled.

Those drug consumption rooms I mentioned are an achievable goal—they exist already in many parts of the world. We even have one—but just one!—right here in Oslo.

But more than that, let’s build a society where everyone can be judged on their personal merits and their contribution, not on what we shoot into our blood or draw into our lungs.

This article is part of my contribution to trying to get there.

In 2016 there should be no reason for anybody to lock themselves into a toilet alone to do drugs, to experience that feeling of shame, or to risk deadly consequences.


 Sturla Haugsgjerd is a Norwegian journalist and activist.

  • Kathleen W

    Fantastic article! Thank you for writing, and sharing, with us. I had a son that used heroin, xanax and pain pills…I am not sure he liked life without any drug, but with the drugs, he could enjoy life and laugh, dance…and be happy. Unfortunately, thru incarceration, he became clean, loved the feeling he said, of being sober…until he was released from prison. Then, he used again, and he died. It was too much for him after 8 and half months of being clean. He had just turned 34. Accidental heroin overdose is what the coroner put on his death certificate.
    I understand addiction is a disease, however, I think some people are not addicted and enjoy getting high.
    Stay safe…

  • Evan Lazer

    dude try kratom if your really trying and or want to quit get on kratom then taper down at your own pace 😉 I have known many people who have used it successfully and some even stay on it because they can it’s legal and better for you

    • Roxanne Colella

      The US is putting Kratom on Schedule I, meaning it’ll be illegal. It doesn’t belong there! Not only does it have medicinal properties, which right there means it doesn’t fit the criteria for Schedule I, but by putting it there, that means there can be NO legal studies done to show whether it’s effective or not.

      We’re so stupid about drugs in this country 🙁

  • Don’t be ashamed – be proud. I am a junkie and an addict and I’ve lost jobs, friends, family, you name it. But I am not ashamed. If someone doesn’t like my drug use that’s their problem. You can go frick yourself, is what I tell them.

    • Maurice Dutton

      Yeah I have had to check my usage lately as the stress from agitating is wearing me down. I am signing off while I regroup. I might sail the barrier reef where there is no modern communications.

  • April Smith

    The content of our bloodstream is not the measure of our character. You are an amazing person. I hope to meet you some day.

  • Arete

    Wow. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been wanting to say this or something like this for a long time. I just…. didn’t think I should or could. So yeah…. kudos to you!

  • Vanessa Vachon

    Seeing the headline I was all set to judge you but my judgement went out the window when described who you are, not just what smoke or shoot up.
    As a person who has been there done that & been clean for decades; as person who worked for years as an AOD counselor where the goal was total absence I have come to realize there is far, far more shades of gray than just black and white.
    I enjoy supporting harm-reduction models and have stopped using my particular situation as a benchmark for others.
    Thank you for sharing and as one writer to another, keep writing, it has such value.

  • Lauren Grande

    I’m relieved that this is finally being discussed and that people are starting to have this conversation. The drug war has failed to accomplish what it set out to but one thing it has successfully done is stigmatize addicts and create a barrier between them and “normal” society. Unfortunately, that barrier is killing more people than it saves. It has pushed us behind locked doors, locking out friends and loved ones but more importantly locking out life saving assistance. I know it’s hard to watch a loved one partake in something like heroin but it’s even harder to attend a funeral. Shaming and shunning does more harm than good. Tough love doesn’t accomplish anything but make the addict feel worthless, unworthy of anyone’s love, not worth saving, given up on. I know it’s hard to love an addict. But love is the only thing that can make a life of sobriety worth living. I’ve heard the argument about addiction not being a disease but I know first hand that something is definitely broken in my brain, something doesn’t work the way it use to before I flooded my brain with chemicals releasing unnatural levels of endorphins and dopamine. I have changed the chemistry permanently and no long know how to function without it. Willpower won’t change that, trying really hard won’t change that. Just like a diabetic can’t will themselves to produce more insulin. But people don’t tell them to just have more willpower and then shun them for not trying. There’s a point when the brain is broken and the only way to function in and contribute to society is to just give the brain what it needs and go about your day. Most addicts want to be productive people, they want to have a job and go on vacations just like everyone else. But it’s a full time job being a junkie. The illegal status of drugs has driven the price up so high that it is impossible to afford the habit along with the essentials of life like rent, utility bills, insurance, car payment etc. but unfortunately once an addict has gotten to the point where they can no longer function without their daily dose something has to give. It’s either have drugs so that you can keep your job and pay your bills or use that money to pay your bills and call off work because you can’t function which leads to being fired so now you have no way to pay your rent or get drugs. A constant weighing of options. Catastrophe around every corner. It’s a slippery slope or walking a tight rope with no one to help when I fall.

  • Caseycc

    I have one by one become a believer in harm reduction. First Narcan after it saved my sons life. Then I used to destroy the heroin & needles/rigs I found. Until I saw a text where my sons friend asked him if he had bleach to clean a needle they would share after it was cleaned. He texted yes. The bleach I keep under my kitchen sink is 10% bleach, 90% water. My stomach churned and a small amount of vomit filled my mouth as I read this text. From that moment on I left the needles he got from exchanges or a pharmacy. My husband disagreed with me but I felt strongly about this. Heroin may kill my son but HIV or hepatitis doesn’t have to. I’ve also had conversations with my son when he is actively using and I feel it’s spiraling – and I ask him to test dose I ask him to use less. I tell him to practice safe using. I ask him to only use when I’m at home. I don’t think he listens but I had to try. At least until we could convince him to get into treatment. My son is a great functional user too. Never thought there was such a thing – made me realize he was probably using when I thought he wasn’t. Attending college classes and working 50-60 hours a week. But it always eventually spirals out of control. Inevitably. He can’t maintain an even keel or maybe the varying strengths and cuts on the street make it impossible to do so. I tho k the countries that have prescription heroin (pretty much eliminated ALL the illegal stuff) and have safe injecting sites are absolutely doing the right thing. Lawyers, professionals etc are going to these safe sites and getting safe doses. They also have recovery services available and the users are more apt to go to these recovery services when treated with dignity and respect and when they are always there when they are getting their prescription heroin. The U.S. will never get there.

  • weezie weezie

    I am so grateful that you are brave enough to share “truth”. I remember years ago when I visited Atlanta Harm Reduction and I sat in a group, it was a stages of change group and there was a man who said: “look my biggest problem is that I can’t get high enough, I want to do more drugs.” I had never heard anyone talk honestly about their drug use in my entire life, and believe me I have been in more substance abuse / addiction groups than most.
    Yes,our society only accepts one narrative when it comes to drug use and addiction, and you said it, “my life was so awful before, and now its awesome, thank god for prison, thank god I found my way, I now have peace, I am no longer trying to “fill the hole” with drugs and alcohol.” If a person is willing to say these things our society has created a path of forgiveness for you. Now, rest assured its not complete forgiveness and you will never be part of the mainstream economy again but you are not detested. You can be hired as a guardian of the treatment center machine and continue to feed it. We have to be “grateful” for abhorrent programs which are often abusive, and sing praises to our prison system, claiming it was a good thing and is responsible for newfound happiness, when I find it hard to believe that being dehumanized is good for anyone.
    Your message will not be well received by people because it is an authentic message of truth. It does not match the narrative we have been taught. When Prince died people went crazy, here was a man who was functional, he did not match the narrative of the crazed drug addicted rock star. He was successful, showed up for shows did not trash hotel rooms. This could not possible be someone dependent on opiates. What a world it will be when we can be judged for our accomplishments—- not which drugs we happen to ingest, legal, illegal, upper, downer. I work with Urban Survivor’s Union, a drug user union in the US and we hope to change this narrative. I would love to meet you, talk with you. Thank you for being brave and challenging the narrative
    .

    • James DuMouchel

      Weezie,

      Your comment warms my heart with its knowledge and honesty. Until the general population understands that abuse of ANY dangerous drug is made more severe by its prohibition, we will continue to piss, moan, and cry, but the situation will not improve.

  • Diane Myles

    I enjoyed the article thank you for your insight.

  • No name

    -deleted-

  • eastbayweird

    thank you for this article. the user/addict community has very few public supporters who are able to advocate in a way that actually benefits our community.

    i hope to see your vision come to pass within my lifetime. i just hope we don’t have to wait too long.

  • April Smith

    I can’t stop reading this. You speak for all of us who are different. I never did heroin or any illegal drug yet I identify so much.

  • Thank you for this amazing article, you are absolutely dead on with the shaming, it is extremely bad here in America and I do believe that more of addicts would be more productive in society if we were not shamed into the shadows and alley ways as we often are. Between the feelings of shame and the exclusion of us by family, friends, and society, there is close to no chance of healing for either side of this issue. Ms Sassy Sherry https://swop-sanantonio.org

  • winsomeRefusenik

    We need more honest, authentic testimonials from sincere people who regularly use drugs (including alcohol). In the U.S., by the time we read someone’s “story,” they’ve been reprogrammed to have a revisionist self-narrative, having had their authentic self annihilated through 12-Step indoctrination camps (“rehab”).

    The American addiction treatment industry is built on a foundation of guilt and shame, though they use the pretense of “treating the disease of addiction,” to justify involuntary treatment. The addiction treatment industry declares that “addicts” are failed moral agents who have become automaton zombies and thus it is compassionate and necessary to force them into “treatment,” then the treatment itself is usually (80-90% in the U.S.) based on the shame-redemption model of the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    A very disturbing 12-Step rehab training manual is William L. White’s, “The Culture of Addiction, Book One; The Culture of Recovery, Book Two” (1990). Parts of that book have been republished more recently as “Pathways.” White describes how to basically erase the pre-existing mind/self of the addict and replace their personhood by indoctrinating them into the “culture of recovery,” including controlling what clothes and songs they sing. [If they sing their clothes, they might still be on drugs].

    White advocates inducing in rehab what he believes are the natural pathways of recovery: embuing the active drug user with “self-loathing,” and to induce an “almost hallucinatory” fear of impending death [caused from drug use]. While it might sound like White is just acting in the drug user’s own good, it should be clear that those tactics were twisted and ineffective for most people, even at the time White wrote that (he shouldn’t be allowed the excuse that that’s what the ‘experts’ thought would work back then).

    White also advocates telling drug users “myths and metaphors” even if they turn out to be medically false. Isn’t that the textbook definition of fraud? He recommends “demonizing” drug use and depicting addiction as a battle with demons that can only be won with the help of higher powers and magical rituals. That’s coming from a book intended to be a manual for how rehabs operate. Magical rituals? Too bad Doug Henning isn’t around anymore. We’ve just got Dr. Drew.

    One of White’s mentor was Ernest Kurtz, AA historian, theologian, and former Catholic priest. In one of his last public writings before he died, published by Salon, “AA is not a fraud, Why haters are afraid to listen,” Kurtz basically told AA critics to shut up and listen and accused them of criticizing AA to sell books. Funny how Kurtz was recommending that people get his wife Linda’s book not long before that.

    It’s my interpretation (though I admit I may not fully understand and appreciate Kurtz’s Jesuitical rhetorical casuistry) that in their paper, “THE SOCIAL THOUGHT OF ALCOHOLICS”(Ernest Kurtz and Linda Farris Kurtz,

    Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 15(1), 119-134, 1985) they essentially recommend that the good old fashioned religious shaming, as institutionalized by AA,should not be jettisoned by strictly biological models of addiction. Catholics infatuated with Puritans scare me.

    It’s clear that Kurtz, White, and other 12-Step rehab strategists recognized that the rehab industry using the the disease model was effective as a pretext for forcing drug users into treatment (actually religious indoctrination), though they could see the chickens coming home to roost when pharmacological treatments might someday supplant the religious shaming, which they seem to both actually favor. Consequently, White and Kurtz, among others, have tried to create daylight between AA and the disease model of addiction. White, for example, has repeatedly referred to the disease concept as a “metaphor” (a metaphor is not actually the thing it is compared to), but one which should be retained because an entire treatment industry and professional careers are predicated on that disease model.

    White has also advised that the Oxford House model should be applied to the rest of the addiction treatment industry. In that model, persons who live in subsidized housing are required to attend AA/NA support groups, and those local groups in turn are expected to report those receiving housing who “relapse” (use drugs/alcohol). Relapsers might then be kicked out of housing. White essentially recommends this as a way to artificially inflate treatment efficacy statistics so the huge amounts of government money (eg. 2008 Domenici-Wellstone Mental Health/Addiction Act) will not be rescinded in reaction to poor treatment outcome statistics. In other words, terminate people for whom “treatment” doesn’t work from outcomes statistics, thereby making treatment look more effective than it actually is. White doesn’t quite phrase it like that, but that’s clearly what he’s strategizing.

    Then there was O. Hobart Mowrer. He was obsessed with scrupulosity and leveraging group peer pressure in sessions where people were pressured to divulge their deep dark secrets in group sessions under intense group pressure. Ever been to a 12-Step indoctrination camp? Sound familiar? I wonder if a group member ever blurted, “Oh hell, O. Hobart! Get off my jockstrap, won’t ya? I saw my mom naked a few too many times but I *really didn’t* enjoy it!”

    Mowrer took his therapy to the ultimate level and committed suicide.

    Then there’s the New Age shaman of shame, John Bradshaw. “Did you see your mommy naked? Did that fill you with ‘toxic shame?’ Oh, that’s bad. But you *should* be ashamed of a taking a swig of booze. That’s ‘healthy shame.'”

    After David Foster Wallace committed suicide, perhaps too ashamed to take psych meds or smoke a joint after becoming a 12-Step superstar, they went through his book collection. (That’s why I don’t read books. I don’t want them rummaging through my stuff when I’m dead to find a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” with the pages stuck together). Books by Ernest Kurtz and John Bradshaw were in his library. I wonder if he was collaborating on a follow up to William L. White’s “Pathways” when he died. Suicide would seem the likely sequel. They both worked in Bloomington-Normal, IL.

    Another example of academic shaming advocacy can be found in Anna Lembke’s “Sacrifice, stigma, and free-riding in Alcoholics Anonymous(AA).” She cites Keith Humphreys a lot. It seems (from other things I’ve read) that he was involved in recommending to U.K. government officials to institute a more 12-Step-oriented approach to addiction treatment. So, Puritan shame is coming full circle, from England to the U.S. and back… and to the rest of Europe.

    Another paper about reprogramming people is Maria Gabrielle Swora’s “Personhood and disease in Alcoholics Anonymous: A perspective from the anthropology of religious healing.” She was an ally of Ernest Kurtz.

    Maybe drug users should take a page from the gay rights movement. Even while gay men were spreading AIDS death like wildfire during the 1980’s and 1990’s, there wasn’t an actual effort to quarantine and ghettoize homosexuals that got traction in the U.S. government, like the addiction treatment industry does to drug users and heavy drinkers. And previously, gays got homosexuality removed from the DSM. Maybe heavy alcohol/drug users should campaign to have substance use disorders diagnoses in the DSM take into consideration whether the user doesn’t want to abstain, even if their behavior may cause them some physical harm.

    And work against exiling people to leper colony rehabs and “peer-based therapeutic communities” such as Oxford Houses where former or active drug/alcohol users are expected to live in eternal piety and assigned Orwellian “recovery coach peers.”

  • winsomeRefusenik

    We always hear how open-minded the Scandinavians are (eg. the black & white ads in the back of magazines with a woman next to a horse), but I’ve heard/read several examples of them being strict on certain issues. I saw a TV report about Norwegian social services very aggressively removing children from their birth-families if their parent(s) has certain drug/mental/crime problems. Doesn’t Sweden prosecute men who patronize prostitutes as rapists? Is that the pretext why the Swedes want Julian Assange extradited? Maybe it’s some vestigial Lutheran guilt thing that persists despite their progressive secular tendencies.

    BTW, if other Norwegians aren’t on drugs themselves, why do they keep putting those crazy dots over their vowels? They look like little eyeballs staring at you while you’re reading, as if they’re saying, “The Evil Eye can see you! I’m looking at you while you’re reading this!” As if we’re not already paranoid enough that The Man is viewing us through our computer screens.

    Then again, sometimes Norwegian shame and stigma can have positive outcomes. Frida Lyngstad’s mother and grandma moved to Sweden because her mom was shunned for having an affair with a German soldier during WWII. They be all like, “No Jarlsberg for you, you’re a Nazi! Wöö wöö wöö!.”

    So without Norwegian shame, we wouldn’t have ABBA. Maybe you could move to Sweden to escape the Norwegian shamers and join ABBA (Frida lives in Switzerland now, so there’s a vacancy). You’ll have to compete for attention with Agnetha’s supah-dupah ga-dunk-a-dunk, but if you’ve got perfect pitch, some auburn hair dye, and a low-cut snakeskin jumpsuit or kitten microskirt, you can give it a shot. Supposedly, ABBA didn’t do drugs, but if you listen to “What About Livingstone” or “Eagle,” they may have made some exceptions.

    If ABBA refuses to reform, you can form a drug-friendly 80’s tribute band called “A Flakka Seagulls.”

    “And I ran
    I ran so far away
    Couldn’t get away…

    So I leapt up 10 stories like a ninja
    through a plate glass window
    and chewed off everyone’s faces

    so I wouldn’t have to see their eyeballs
    staring back at me from the page”

    I’d love to see such a band perform in concert. I wouldn’t sit in the front row. Or even the balcony. I’d watch on closed-circuit TV in saferoom from afar.

    Maybe your fellow Norwegians have a deep-rooted fear of people losing their inhibitions from drugs and blurting out the secret ingredient in Jarlsberg cheese to non-Norwegians. (If you know that secret, please email it to me; I love that cheese but I bet that secret ingredient straight without cheese would be even better. I’m guessing reindeer horn extract).

    So is Mari Boine not on drugs? I’ll bet she’s on that wild stuff that reindeer graze on. Wouldn’t it be tragic if she joined 12-Step Saami Shamans Anonymous and stopped making records? Fleetwood Mac can’t even get Stevie Nicks back into the studio.

    It all gets back to your point that people can be creative, productive human beings whether on or off drugs.

  • Mike Hill

    You’re wrong to think that we should support you. There is no future in your lifestyle. Some day, it will kill you, and if we support your drive to self-destruction, we’ll become complicit in it. I’d have a lot more sympathy for virtually any drug that isn’t heroin, but we’ve all been made aware of heroin’s destructive nature, and you put the needle in your arm anyway. The consequences of your unilateral decision to break the law — and yourself — are not ours, but heroin users saddle us all with the social problems caused by the drug’s use. It’s selfish, stupid and suicidal. If that’s what you want, you should find a quicker way to off yourself to save us all the years of grief you’re going to cause to everyone who’s ever made the mistake of loving you and to all of society.

    • April Smith

      How dare you inflict your inaccurate, mean rhetoric on someone who is working to make life better for others? Clearly you are more interested in inflicting pain than helping others.

      • Mike Hill

        I’m totally against the gratuitous inflicting of pain, which is what heroin addicts bring to the rest of us. Unlike you, I’m blaming the perpetrators, not the victims.

        • Gina

          Mike Hill, I think you’re confusing opioid users with the true perpetrator of pain and the “social problems” you mention—prohibitionist drug policies. People receiving legally prescribed heroin in other countries (like Switzerland) are not inflicting any pain on themselves or others. And not a single one has died from an overdose and the social problems those countries were experiencing from heroin use have dramatically subsided, which begs the question as to the true cause of the “pain” you describe. The answer seems obvious to me.

      • Steev

        Why bother making life better for others when you won’t bother to make life better for you and your own family? If someone else wants to rationalize like an addict that’s fine but I’m not shaming you by not enabling your addiction.

  • Sue Gross

    Really??
    Shooting heroin into your body SHOULD be something of which you are ashamed !!!
    Please hide your weak, drug addicted body until you have the mental ability and strength of character to come into the sunshine and get clean and healthy again. Life really is amazing when one is clear minded and not trying to be some junkie seeking respect.

  • Jazmine Russell

    In an effort to not encourage the non addicts from using the work junky could it be recognised as a part of the shame cyle.
    Am I alone here? I receive it as I would any other inappripriate put down designed to polarize like racist terms. If delivered by a non addict only.
    Late last century in my herion years an Australian comedian went on public TV and spoke of his herion use.
    It was the first time I had seen any media person of interest pushed past the shame and shared. I was so impressed and inspired to get clean because of his raw honesty.
    Days later I saw him scoring on the street. I felt lied to or deceived.
    Almost 15 years later I see him on TV giving another dialogue about his meth use and addiction and how it effected his career and relationships.
    Comedian guy is an poly user/addict who has the guts to update his audience on his journey. He is honest and admirable in IMO in comparison to people of public interest who are in the closet hiding and denying.
    I’m always impressed by anyone bringing attention to their addiction in the media.
    Even you.
    It’s empowering when the shame is dropped.

  • winsomeRefusenik

    This is a great piece. This type of declaration of self-determination might sound counterintuitive coming from someone who is regarded by much of society as a “slave” to a substance, but it’s this kind assertiveness and sovereignty which should be used to challenge the addiction treatment-prison industrial complex and New Age-meets-Christofascism “New Recovery Movement.”

    Millions of people each year are screwed over and harmed by the 12-Step addiction treatment industry, but they think they don’t have the right or credibility to openly challenge that exploitation and abuse unless or until they somehow come up with a “cure” for their own addictive or problematic behavior. Even people who are actively using alcohol or illegal drugs should stand up for their rights. I remember a rehab counselor, one who had committed armed robbery for heroin money, declared that someone cannot have self-respect as long as they are using drugs; that’s the message of the 12-Step industrial complex/religious movement. Such people want to drag everyone down to their level to annihilate their sense of self, then resurrect them as a soldier in the New Recovery Movement.

    Without frankly acknowledging the sensual and spiritual pleasure and palliative effects that alcohol and other drugs offer to the people who use them, even those who are “addicted” to them, the conversation about addiction problems and policies is being obscurant and disingenuous. If addiction was merely use of a drug to avoid the dysphoria caused by not using it by “chemically dependent” persons, rather than providing euphoria (even if at a dampened sensitivity due to physical tolerance), then it’s likely that many or most people with serious addiction problems would endure a few weeks of physical withdrawal and dysphoria to rid themselves of “chemical dependence,” if there was no chance of ever deriving sensual or spiritual pleasure from that drug once “addicted.”

    That said, people who steal or commit violent crimes should be punished for those actions. Alcohol/drug use itself should not be treated as a crime.

    (I was just joking about the Jarlsberg in my post below. I have a proclivity for cheesy comments).

  • Steev

    ” You need to have more willpower and motivation”

    Well, yeah, you do. And it’s not “shaming” you to tell you that. But good luck, I’m sure you’ll be the guy who just does heroin sometimes and lives a long and happy life and has a great relationship with their children.

  • Elizabeth Stephens

    Thank you!

  • CleanFun

    If you know in your heart and soul that you’re right, and that truth is on your side, you wouldn’t care what other people think. Who cares about society’s standards? Society has no standards. It’s your own standard’s that you’re failing, and which are the cause of your shame. (“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1)

    People have a nasty little habit of thinking their perception and understanding is the same as everyone else, therefore they believe that everyone else is judging them by the same ruler. (“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1)

    And remember what Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.”

    The day you can deliberately feed it to your mother, your da’, and your children, while maintaining a perfectly clear conscience, is the day you can use it without shame. Circumstance makes the difference. It’s not uncommon to provide large doses of high grade opiates to people who are about to otherwise die under excruciating pain.

    Are you about to die painfully? If you saw someone else about to die painfully, would you offer them a nice fat dose of your stash, or would you keep it hidden so there would be more for you?

    It’s a lot to think about, fellow traveler. But know this, weather you succeed or fail, you are loved. The love of God found in Jesus Christ is unconditional.

  • Sean Gonzales

    … I’ve never stolen, tried to cause harm to friends or family but when they look at me. Their eyes look hollow. Even after I leant my friend $200 US months earlier. I told one friend he avoids me, I scare him. How can I reach to people when they either shan me, avoid me , or worse lash because Im destroying myself. Now I understand why an addict might do those things. They feel it’s them vs everything or one. If you see someone struggling like I am offer them a hand. They won’t take it at first. Give it time, they’ll talk when they feel they can trust you

  • Stephen-in-DC

    You should be shamed by society, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Because only a fucking idiot would choose to inject himself with a highly addictive drug. Stop blaming others for your idiotic addiction problem…. ya fucktard!