I found this intimate description of heroin withdrawals so compelling I began to squirm as I read (. I’m sharing it here so those of us taking opioids for pain can understand the dilemma of those who begin taking opioids for recreation. What starts as “fun” quickly turns into a desperate compulsion to avoid truly unbearable misery.
A lot of people are physically sick when taking gear [heroin] for the first time. The body is reacting naturally by dispelling poison from its system, heroin is a poison to the body. The body quickly adapts to regular heroin intakes, the speed of the addiction is revealing, after a few days your body can tolerate and then require regular top ups to feed the tolerance.
To refuse the bodies requests, and thereby allow the existing heroin to leave the body, there is a price. The price is the thing nobody mentions when you start using heroin
What is having a habit? Different things to different folks. To me, I needed at least one bag a day, a bag a day, ten pounds cash, every single day, Sometimes two bags if the gear was weak, sometimes two if the gear was really good.
The whole process becomes a time consuming nightmare, but without the bag the outcome is difficult to accurately portray. Such is the intensity that your thoughts immediately turn to getting the tenner and scoring so as to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal. The fear of withdrawal is the number one factor that stops people from quitting.
When I knew I had a habit I tried a few times to quit, cold turkey, without any aids, just locked up and left to struggle through the withdrawal. That is when I came to realise the true extent of what I was selling to people.
Sat behind a locked door I was unsure of what to expect, I had an idea but the reality is completely different.
Children playing outside affected my senses, time appeared to slow down dramatically, emotions became erratic, and I had not been in an hour. The fear of what is to come is enough to stop most from trying to withdraw. My mouth widened as I yawned but not due to tiredness, yawning is the first clue that it has started, and not one yawn, yawn after yawn till you imagine your jaw will snap.
Eyes watering next, streaming, nose running, tissues at the ready.
A warm day but I have chills down my spine. My arms are now covered in goose bumps due to the coldness. I sit on the floor and pull the quilt from the bed to wrap around me, knees pulled to my chest. About forty seconds later and I throw the quilt off my shoulders because I am heating up alarmingly, my skin feels strange as if I cant be touched, the heat is uncomfortable, and I really want a bag of gear to end this saga.
An hour tops has past. I feel sick. Pain in the stomach, I want the bathroom, still yawning repeatedly, my mouth tastes like metal.
I lay down on top of the quilt and stretch my legs and arms to combat the aches in my joints. Crying is not a thing I remember doing as an adult but here I am on the floor in tears, floods of silent tears, the words I say to myself form the words of prayers, I am sorry, I want help, I beg an invisible god to help me through this ordeal.
Each person is different but for me the worse part of withdrawing is the way that both legs and arms begin twitching uncontrollably. I attempt to lie with my arms beneath me and apply weight in the vain hope I can stop the flicking out of my limbs. This was once described to me as wrestling alligators, it is like having itchy blood. Not painful yet really horrible. What does heroin do to my system for these effects to be so severe, curled up in a ball to combat the stomach cramps.
This is no fun, this is heroin working its magic.
Black magic, voodoo magic, the worst experience of my life, I pull the bucket over and wretch violently head bowed, just water but the wrench on my stomach is severe. This is the first day of a rattle [withdrawal] and I wish I never tried it, I really do, but now I want one bag so bad, the sweat drips from beneath my arms in tiny drops onto my waist.
I totally understand why so many people stay addicted to heroin, this is impossible. Water is constantly falling from my eyes and my vision has gone blurry, I cannot focus properly and I am silently freaking out, how many more symptoms come with a rattle (our slang for withdrawing).
The prickly heat in my blood makes me want to rip my veins out and scratch vigorously. My jaw aches, my eyes are strange, stomach, arms legs, hot then so cold my spine feels frozen yet I know I cannot be touched physically, my skin looks like a chicken with all the pimples.
Waiting in doorways and under bridges, rain, sleet, night and day, waking up feeling horrible and desperate every single morning is hell.
Once I phoned a dealer to be told to go under a bridge, phone box no mobile, so off I went, there was a steady drizzle of light rain falling. Under the bridge another man is waiting, we make small talk until thirty minutes have passed. I am ill as it took me all day to raise this tenner and I have used sixty pence of it in the phone. Basically I am desperate but when the other guy leaves because he is sick of waiting I am trapped under the bridge. If I leave to go to the phone box he might turn up and I miss him so I wait another half hour. Still he does not come, I have to go back to the phone. Ringing him he is sorry he totally forgot me, he will come right now. I shuffle back to the bridge, hopeful that even though I used one pound twenty in the phone he will understand and still give me the bag. Believe me when I say he did not want to give me a bag, seriously, I was virtually begging, imagine that, me who had so much pride I would never ask a man for anything, I got the bag and arrived home drenched, straight to the foil, my hair splashed onto a piece of foil and nearly ruined the whole thing completely. I towelled my hair dry and smoked myself well, so relieved I laughed as the gear began to work its magic.
There is no fun taking heroin once you have the habit, you will sell stuff that used to be off limits if you are ill. The thought of withdrawal keeps you focused on only one thing and that is making sure you have ten pounds ready for the next time.
In my bedroom I was onto the next stage of withdrawal, the energy leaves me body and it becomes an effort to raise an arm. It is the middle of the first night and I have had enough. I give up and score, how anybody gets off heroin I have no idea.
The only way to avoid withdrawals is MAT (medication-assisted treatment).
Just as is the case with chronic pain, this misery is more than any person should be forced to endure, let alone as some sadistic “treatment” either for addiction or pain. Branding everyone as either “addicted” or “clean” is a false dichotomy used to justify the current anti-opioid cruelty in both addiction and pain treatment.
Smoking heroin after going through that rattle is so satisfying I never want to go through that again. I end up trying to go cold turkey two more times and I made three days once before giving up and four days another time.
Next time I will explain more of my heroin addiction, if you have not tried it, DONT!