18 Years Later...
Citation: James. "18 Years Later...: An Experience with Heroin & Buprenorphine (exp116311)". Erowid.org. Apr 27, 2022. erowid.org/exp/116311
This is a follow up to a short piece I wrote back in 2003
, where I said the Bupe had "saved my life". What a difference hindsight makes; as I look back over the nearly two decades since jumping off and how I have managed recovery since.
Looking back to August 2003, and I'd been on the Bup for 18 months and was feeling pretty good about myself; little did I know how that sense of confidence would soon see me start to drift back to old habits. To be fair, I hadn't made it easy for myself. I was living in and doing this whole home rehab thing in one of Australia's most notorious Heroin hot spots. People would laugh, "You can't give up in that place!" True, giving up the Horse in that place was akin to giving up beer when you live in a brewery. I had my Bup buddies who I'd see from time to time at the dispensary and I made it my business not to get too friendly, to maintain distance and stay aloof. But of course I'm not made of stone, so when the pretty young couple engage me after meds one day gushing about the renewed quality of the latest round of smack in town, I knew straight away that my recovery was set to fail. I knew that in 24hrs the bup would be ineffective against a hit, and so I knew I would not be turning up for my dose.
It was that easy. The facade I'd built over 18 months was only paper thin, at best. There'd been gear around the whole time, but I'd only heard of poor quality and wasn't interested. One sniff of news about the good stuff and my whole facade came crumbling down. I'd spent most of that 18 months playing sport daily and was at my fittest in many years, maybe that played into my sense of smugness.
Next day, I went and scored, and the reports were true; it was like the glory days of the late 90s in terms of quality. With no bup in my system I had a habit within a week. Back when I first started in the mid 90s that first habit took months to develop, and while I wasn't surprised or shocked I was acutely aware of how quickly I had returned to square one. Knowing that eventually things would turn really bad, and carrying on regardless, I stayed close to my Doctor. He kept the bup available, but I would skip days at a time or spit out the powder, just so I could keep using. Prior to this I'd got the bup down to 0.5mg per day
Prior to this I'd got the bup down to 0.5mg per day
and was about to come off and return to society, so to speak. After 5 months back on the gear with all of the crap that comes with it, my world imploded. The lying, cheating and stealing to get by had taken a huge toll on my mental health. I was scared to sleep, knowing the nightmares that would follow, all centred on guilt. I fessed up. My family, who had been putting up with my bad behaviour for so many years had had enough. Fortunately a friend packed me into her car and drove me into Central Australia (the desert) and I spent the next 3 weeks in a motel, lying on the floor under a hot shower.
Before we left I'd been in bad withdrawal, and my Doctor had just issued a prescription for 16mg of bup daily. So I left town with a few "take away" doses, but once they ran out, wow, jumping off 16mg of bup cold turkey was extremely unpleasant. I would say it was as bad or maybe even worse than gear itself.
Six weeks later and I'm a lot better, but far from ok. Ok enough to get a job in an outback pub (everybody is desperate for staff in outback Australia) and commence rebuilding life from scratch. Months later I'm back in Sydney, "Oh, a little taste won't hurt"; instant overdose. Luckily I awaken and realise I'd better say away from that.
The years go by, job to job, and then 5 years after the last shot I try it again, but this time for a few days. Even after such a brief interlude I wake up on day 3 or 4 and I'm clearly hanging out. No, this is not a good idea. That was back in 2008 and I haven't touched it since.
Nowadays I lead a regular life, but it is a life that has been severely retarded. There's a near 30 year chunk of life that has been, in the words of my detractors at the time, wasted.
Anyway, the moral (for me at least) of the story is this. Medicines don't fix addiction. They are only tools to help you yourself fix, curb or manage addiction.
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