I’m not even getting high. Either my tolerance is too high or the dope in this town is too shitty. For a while there, I was getting shit ten times better than anything else I’ve found in Jacksonville but that shit hit me less and less as my tolerance went up and, once the package ran out, the dealers behind it re-upped with this dark grey garbage. Not only do I have to do a shit ton to feel anything but it doesn’t even feel like a heroin high. It’s closer to a Dilaudid high but not as pleasant. There’s absolutely no euphoria, just a strange tight sensation in my skull and my jaw, coupled with light-headedness and – yeah – its one positive attribute is that I can fall asleep after I shoot enough of it. But that’s leaving out the worst part. Anytime I’ve done a shot that was strong enough to feel – before those slightly positive effects kick in – there’s another set of sensations that storms across my body. As the blood flows up my arm back to my heart and is pumped out to the rest of my body, I start to itch. Not an acceptable heroin itch but what morphs into an intense burning sensation. It hurts. Badly. It starts in my head and my chest and spreads to my hands and sometimes my feet. It is, to say the least, unpleasant. The only thing I can compare it to is liquid non-injectable morphine, intended for oral consumption. Like many drugs that are NOT formulated for injection, it fucking hurts if you inject it. (And – to those of you that found this page because you’re Googling, “Can I inject liquid morphine?” The answer is “Yes, but it will hurt and there’s no fucking way you’re going to find a syringe big enough to inject enough in a single hit to stand any chance of actually getting high. So don’t do it. Drink it or have a loved one fill their mouth and spray it up your butthole with a straw; it’s not strong stuff and the bioavailability is highest when absorbed – um – you know… through the butt).
And here I was thinking that I’m of no use to anyone ever since I fell off, started using again, stopped producing anything of any value, and went from aspirational figure to cautionary tale. But here I am, educating the masses on anal morphine.
So where was I? The grey dope. It was awful. It hurt to inject it. And no one seemed to be able to find anything that was any better.
Fuck this. I can’t fucking take it anymore. I quit. I’m not playing this game. I’m not going to struggle to scrape up hundreds of dollars everyday just to feel sort of okay and keep myself from going into withdrawal.
Hey, withdrawal! Come on, let’s go. Bring it on. I’m ready for you.
I didn’t shoot any more dope that day. I felt fine. The dope was still in my system. It’s not unusual for me to be able to go 24 hours before the withdrawal symptoms start.
I didn’t shoot any more dope the next day. I still felt… mostly fine. It was strange that I hadn’t started withdrawal but…
I didn’t shoot any dope the next day. And still I was fine! If you’ve got a dope habit, you’re going to start experiencing withdrawal within 48 hours of quitting. It’s the same with virtually ever opiate and opioid. Three days off dope without consequences didn’t make any sense.
Day Four: STILL NO WITHDRAWAL. Alright, so it’s clear what’s happening, I said to myself. I thought I wasn’t getting high because my tolerance was through the roof. In reality, I must have been getting dope of gradually decreasing strength/quality. Wow. I had weened myself off of heroin already without even realizing it. I had been shooting fucking dust for who knows how long. After all, if there was any dope in the shit I had been shooting up, I’d have quite a tolerance and dependence and be SICK AS FUCK right now.
On the fifth day, I finally got out of bed, fully confident that I could face the day without getting sick. I showered, dressed, and walked outside. It was hot and it was miserable but I was really doing it. I was facing the world again. It had been quite a fucking while. I felt good about myself. As I walked to nowhere in particular, I thought about the things I needed to do to get my life straight. I’d need to hire a lawyer to get my current legal situation sorted out (did you guys know I’m currently wanted by the police? Hooray!), I’d need to start making art again or else find a real fucking job…. two prospects that were equally disheartening given my fears about my sparkling internet reputation these days. No one is ever gonna hire me, I thought. No one is ever gonna wanna host an exhibition of my art at their gallery. I’m fucked no matter what I do. I’m fucking hopeless. I suddenly remembered why I’ve spent the last year and a half in a dark room with a needle, and I was defeated. I broke down into tears. Getting clean was the easy part (especially this time). But what the fuck am I gonna do even if I am clean? What’s the point of getting clean? I have nothing to live for. Half of the world wants me dead because they think I’m a fucking rapist and while they’re wrong about why I should kill myself, I still agree that their final conclusion is ultimately correct.
I went back home to Wallis who suggested that I take a Suboxone. It’s primarily used to treat the physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal but it certainly helps with the mental/emotional symptoms as well.
Now, here’s the thing: When taken orally as intended, the only active ingredient in Suboxone is buprenorphine – a “partial opioid agonist.” The “agonist” part means is that it interacts with the same receptors in your brain as heroin and other opiates. “Partial” means that it’s not going to interact to the same extent as heroin (a “full agonist”) so it’ll keep you from going into withdrawal if you’re heroin-dependent, but it won’t get you high. Here’s the problem with Suboxone: the buprenorphine doesn’t just crowd around the receptors of your brain alongside the other opiates that are already hanging out there; it kicks the rest of them out of the fucking party. For this reason, an addict needs to wait 24-48 hours after their last hit of heroin, when the withdrawal is already starting, before Suboxone can be safely taken. If taken before the heroin has begun to abandon your body’s opiate receptors, rather than gently transitioning your body off of heroin and onto buprenorphine (and thus relieving most symptoms of opiate withdrawal) the Suboxone kicks the other opiates to the curb and – by itself, at this early stage in the game – is insufficient to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Worse still, it doesn’t just fail to alleviate withdrawal, it actually kicks your body into a state known as “precipitated withdrawal,” which for all intents and purposes, could more accurately be described as “SUPER KICK YOUR ASS MAKE YOU WANT TO FUCKING DIE THIS IS THE WORST PAIN I’VE EVER FELT WITHDRAWAL.”
But this wasn’t an issue for me, you see. I was already five days clean off dope. 24-48 hours? I scoff at your 48 hours, I’ve got over a HUNDRED. At this point, not only is it safe to take Suboxone but I might even be able to catch just the slightest buzz off of it. If nothing else, it’s going to trigger the same chemicals in my brain (most notably dopamine) as the heroin was and it’s going to help me to stop fucking crying. It’s gonna make me feel better.
I put the strip of Suboxone under my tongue and crawled back into bed to let it dissolve and comfort me. Only… I wasn’t starting to feel any better. Shit, I actually feel a little worse. And wait… what’s that familiar creeping sensation… that mentholated feeling coming over my body that I’ve only felt twice before in my life….
Oh fuck… my body is falling into precipitated withdrawal. FUCK.
Buckets of sweat began flowing from my body. I was freezing cold and simultaneously burning up. My stomach is in knots. I can’t fucking move. Everything hurts.
Now, I’m not gonna play this shit up worse than it was. Of my three episodes of precipitated withdrawal, this one was the least severe. The worst of the symptoms – when your body evacuates every last particle of waste from your dilated asshole – only to then continue with buckets of water until you’re absolutely emergency-room-level dehydrated – and for the coup de grace, some kind of bilious liquid that burns as it squirts and drops incessantly from your asshole over the course of the next two hours – I didn’t experience that this time. I felt like it was coming all along but I clenched as tight as I could and was able to keep it at bay. The same went for vomiting. I had an almost uncontrollable urge to throw up but I kept my throat clenched, knowing that if I started throwing up, I’d likely be unable to stop for some time. Even still, I was not well and it wasn’t long before I had Wallis dial up a familiar number for me so that I could politely request that someone bring me some of that awful dark grey garbage that I had so recently decided was as benign and impotent as sand.
After enough time had passed and I had injected enough of that dark grey poison, I started to feel better and began considering just exactly what the fuck had just happened to me.
And here’s the conclusion I’ve reached, boys and girls: There are all kinds of opiates, both natural and synthetic (opioids), under the sun. Virtually all of them share one thing in common though: the speed at which they depart they body. It’s true that some may take a little longer than heroin (and some take a little less time) but they’re all pretty close, with one exception: methadone. Methadone doesn’t begin to take off until 5 to 7 days after an addict’s last dose. However, in this glorious digital age, we’re no longer limited to the opioids of our parents’ generation. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, kids are playing with chemicals and – essentially – inventing new opioids, to sell on the streets as a cheaper alternative to heroin. Some of these could theoretically be more analogous to methadone than they are to heroin. So, it seems that my dark grey garbage powder either contains methadone or else some other new toxic fucking opioid. I’ve taken methadone plenty of times but never had it in a concentrated powder formulation so I’m not sure if that’s absolutely what it is that I’ve been using. If anyone out there can tell me, does methadone BURN LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER when injected in high doses? If so, then it seems I’ve been injecting methadone. If it doesn’t, then I’m shooting up something else with a super long half-life. Something with some toxic non-injectable ingredient or cutting agent that makes my fucking blood hurt.
You know, from a capitalist point-of-view, this really is quite brilliant. A withdrawal that takes longer to start is also going to take longer to end. If you were a drug dealer, would you rather sell someone something that – if they stop taking it – it’s going to cause them pain for a week before they feel relatively okay? Or something that ensures it’ll be closer to two weeks (or possibly longer) before they’re in the clear? After all, the fact that one can go longer between shots on this stuff is of little consequence. Anyone that’s actively addicted and shooting up is always going to struggle to shoot up any less than “as often as possible.” It’s only when an addict tries to quit that the long half-life is of any benefit or consequence – but even then, it’s just delaying the inevitable and then stretching it out over a longer period of time.
So that’s where I’m at now. I’m back on my shitty dark grey dope, working up the courage to quit again, knowing that it’s going to be the most protracted detox of my life. I’ve got my reasons for holding off for now and not getting started just yet (and they’re nothing fucking positive) but I’m also starting to get ideas for how I might actually be able to have a life that I can stand one day (soon, I hope). I’ve got just a little bit of hope for the first time in a long time. And I’m writing honestly on my blog again, which is never a bad thing. It’s a good sign that I’m at least starting to feel a little bit like me again.
Anybody that’s got anything shitty to say about any of that can fuck right off. I know who I am, I know what I’m not, and if I’m gonna hate myself, it’s gonna be for the right fucking reasons. But I feel okay today. (Right now anyway). Oh – and for what it’s worth, I do have a pocket full of dope and I’ve been awake since 7AM, but I haven’t shot up since last night. Whether you think so or not, that’s pretty fucking good. I had things I wanted to do before I shot up and I’ve been doing them all day. I don’t care how petty or little it is, I’m proud knowing that it’s 3PM and I haven’t put a needle in my arm.