I VOWED I WOULD NEVER USE HEROIN ...

'It's common sense you don't do heroin'.


That's what my Dad used to say... of course by that time the choice of whether I took drugs was long gone and no amount of 'common sense' was going to change that. It hadn't started like that though! When I first started to get high with my mates after school it was with hash and alcohol and I used them both freely and without consequence. It was something we'd do together on a Friday night and for us it went hand in hand with the camaraderie and the music we liked and made together and the lifestyle we all wanted. They were great days for sure. At that time there were 2 things I was certain of...


1. I would always use drugs. They were the keys to the Universe, I could control them, and 2. I would never use heroin.


Plenty of people around where I grew up had succumbed to heroin and the needles and viruses it was associated with was enough for me and my mates to know it was a no go.


The year I left school, I got a job like all my mates – none of us went to University – and with income at my disposal, got stuck right in. The Friday nights had turned into weekends. Weekends turned into weekends without sleep as I was trying all the drugs that I came across. It was a summer of discovery as the pubs and nightclubs and music venues became accessible as did everything that comes with the nocturnal existence - and for one summer things were perfect. Nothing could possibly come close to how alive I felt that summer with the world at my finger-tips and a sense of freedom I didn't think possible for myself.


At a party towards the end of that summer I walked into a bedroom to see one of my good mates sitting on the edge of a bed, smoking heroin off a piece of tin foil. He looked at me and I looked at him and there wasn't even a word spoken – I just went over, he handed me the tube and I did't leave that room until the next morning. There was a little apprehension as I put the silver flute to my lips but the delusion I could control it was very strong and the curiosity was overpowering. I wanted to be high and it was the highest you could go I thought.


Our strong group of friends fractured over the coming months as heroin claimed more and more of us, and as that summer turned to autumn and into winter, my drug landscape had changed as drastically as the seasons. I couldn't stay away and within a couple of months of that first time I was a daily I.V. user.


I quit my job as an apprentice plumber as it was getting in the way and I couldn't keep up the facade at work. I was in withdrawal more than I was high now that I didn't have an income and although those of us that were now using heroin daily attempted to maintain some sort of unity among ourselves, I found that I sought isolation more and more. Sharing wasn't an option. Ripping off my mates and my friends and family was. So was committing crime to fund the insatiable need for more. It wasn't just the physical withdrawal either - I mean that was bad enough - but it was the total ease and comfort that I got when I took it and the more and more lines I crossed the more I need it to bring about the oblivion which was the only way I could live with the things I was doing and the harm I was causing.

I've heard people say that they didn't know the difference between right and wrong when they were using. I did. I knew the things I was doing were things you just don't do. Betrayals of trust among those that cared the most. Family. People I'd grown up with. Mates.


Once I'd started getting prison sentences on a regular basis, I ended up moving away from my hometown. No one would have me there and the police would never leave me alone. I swear I never left a jail with a physical drug habit and I would also swear that I'm not using heroin when I get out. Sometimes that promise would last a week or so and other times literally minutes. The thought would come out of nowhere and for some insane reason I would convince myself that it would be different this time and I wouldn't get right back into it.


Things didn't get better. I was getting desperate. I would live on the streets when I wasn't in jail or in a detox or I would sleep in the stairwells of the tower blocks on the estate that I never ventured too far from except to go into the West End to get money. I tried to get clean once or twice using other drugs but it never lasted more than a day...


I started to think that the drugs might be a problem. I mean - I'd known for years that they were a problem – but I always thought I'd just stop one day. But now - I started to think I couldn't stop. And they weren't doing what they used to do either. That wonderful oblivion that they used to bring about – that wasn't happening anymore. At least not in the same way. If I took enough, I could get high, but it no longer put that pane of misty glass between me and the reality of my situation anymore.


I started to wake up in the mornings - whether I had drugs or not - with a feeling of dread. I didn't want to do it anymore and it was the single most heart-breaking experience of my life. The utter desolation of knowing that I couldn't go on like this anymore coupled with the terror of a life without drugs was too much for me to live with. It's all I'd ever known! This was who I was!


Out of the blue I bumped into a friend who I hadn't seen for years - we'd met in one of the many detoxes that the Law courts would send me to and she was working in the very detox unit that we'd met in! An incredible coincidence perhaps...


Within 2 weeks I was in there again but with a different attitude. In fact, it wasn't an attitude I had to cultivate for myself – it came with desperation. And it was in there that I was introduced to recovery.


I have been a member of Drug Addicts Anonymous for 3 years now and - making good use of that desperation - I followed the lead of those that had come before me and asked someone with more experience to sponsor me straight away. I did what they asked me to and worked my way through the steps with them. I now offer my service to others who are in that very same position that I was in just a few short years ago.


The miracle is that not only have I not used any drugs I have not even thought about it. I've mended the relationships that took so much damage and have a life that I couldn't have believed was available to me.


'It's common sense you don't take heroin'. Me and my Dad laugh about that now.


Jim


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