The Mind of an Addict
24 Hours in the Life of a Heroin Addict
The withdrawals wake me up. I’m sweaty, sick to my stomach, hot and cold. I roll over, see my girlfriend still sleeping.
I grab my phone as I gag a little bit. Can’t hold my hands still. Check my messages.
New message from “mom.”
“I love you. I hope you’re okay. Haven’t heard from you in a week. Please call me.”
I look at the last message she sent me. It was a week ago.
“Hi! I’d love to see you. Wanna meet for lunch today?
I didn’t respond.
I swallow my guilt, I have to get well.
New message from “Bobby.”
“I got you this morning fam. New batch. Be careful. HMU.”
I call Bobby and we plan to meet up at the same spot as usual. It’s freezing and dark outside this morning. Makes my bones ache harder. Sickness gets worse, I start thinking I need to get clean. I need to ask for help. I need to tell everyone what’s going on. I feel like hell.
Bobby pulls up next to me. I hop in his car. He grabs his kid’s toys off the seat and throws them in the back. Smells of stale cigarettes. He looks bad. Skinny, black circles under his eyes. He’s an addict too.
“This one’s strong bro,“ he advises me.
I roll my eyes, take the $40 bag, and give him the last of my week’s paycheck. I got paid on Friday. It’s now Sunday morning. I don’t consider how I’ll eat, get gas, or explain to my girlfriend where all my money went. I need to feel better, so I don’t care. I won’t make it if I don’t.
I get back in my car and drive home. I pull into my driveway. It’s 6:45AM. No one’s awake yet. I grab my cap, my rig, and my lighter. I mix up the dope, pull it in the syringe. Now the hunt for a vein begins.
Found one. Collapsed it. Found one, popped out. Found one, thought I missed. Here comes the rush. Relief. My warm blanket. My breathing slows. My sickness goes away. I look out the window and see my girlfriend watching me.
I wake up in the back of the ambulance.
“You’re lucky to be alive,” says the paramedic. “It took 4 doses of Narcan to wake you up.”
“I wished I had died,” I think to myself. Now I’m sick again.
I get released from the hospital and my girlfriend picks me up. We ride home in silence. Not one word. She’s probably thinking how upset she is, what a waste of a life I am, and the mistake she made getting involved with me.
I’m thinking how to call Bobby and get high again. I can’t deal with the guilt. I can’t deal with the shame. And now I’m sick because of the Narcan.
“Did you tell my family?” I ask, as if that’s the most important thing.
She just glares at me. Says nothing. Just silence.
We get home, all my bags are packed by the front door. And all of my baggies and used rigs are sitting on top of the kitchen counter. She found all my hiding spots.
“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t watch you die.” She tells me.
“Baby don’t do this. I’ll die without you,” I plead.
“I can’t save you,“ she says as her eyes fill with tears. “You need to go.“
I leave, with my tail between my legs. I’ve got nowhere to go.
I grab my phone and text Bobby.
“Yo I told you to be careful bro. You go OD’ing on me and now I’m hot. Nah bro, you gotta find someone else.“
Radio silence. Sickness comes back. I’m broke. Gotta get money. Gotta make myself better. Can’t feel like this.
Sweaty palms, heart racing, feeling desperate.
Panic sets it.
I call my mom.
“Hi mom, I need help.“
“What’s going on? I haven’t heard from you in a week. Are you still going to your meetings?“
“Yeah mom I’m fine, I’m really sick and I need to go to Urgent Care. Can you send money?“
“What’s going on?!?!“
“I got food poisoning. I’m fine. I didn’t relapse. I just need $150.“
My mom knows I’m probably lying, but she sends the money anyway after hours of begging. I pick up the Western Union, drive to a bad neighborhood. I’m a white kid who doesn’t belong in the ghetto. And I stick out. Everyone around knows why I’m there.
I drive slowly down the street, a guy gives me the “eye.”
He comes up to my window, looks around.
“What you need?“
“I need a $40. I’m sick af.“
I’m almost begging for it at this point.
The guy spits out two baggies from his mouth, takes my money, and slips back into the night.
I drive off and find a parking lot and pull in. I grab my cap, my rig and my lighter. I cook up my shot, find a vein.
Relief. Warmth. Police lights in my rear view mirror.
I scramble to hide everything before the officer gets to my window.
He walks up, I roll my window down.
“What are you doing in this part of town,” he asks, already knowing the answer to his question.
Before I can even answer he asks me to step out of the car and puts me in handcuffs.
My needle was still sitting on my lap.
I nod out the whole way to jail. Get booked and put in gen pop. Get in the cell. Nod out all night.
I wake up the next morning hoping it was a bad dream. I immediately feel sick. My stomach cramps and my legs are on fire. As I open my eyes another man is standing over me, peeing into the toilet that I’m sleeping next to.
I try to get my bearings. Can’t believe I’m in jail again, but within minutes, a lot of my “friends” are here too—sick, withdrawing, trying to figure out how to get out.
I muster up the courage to call my mom. Once the call connects, she’s crying hysterically.
“How can you do this to us again?“
I’m still too numb to feel much of anything.
“I need you to get me out.“
“You need help!“ she screams. “We’ll help you. Just tell us you’ll take the help.“
“Help is impossible,“ I think to myself.
I’ve been through more meetings, detoxes, and treatment centers than I care to think about.
“I just need to get out of here mom,“ I plead.
She takes a deep breath and lets it out.
“You’re right where you need to be then.“
In writing blogs, I found that some people were curious about what goes through an addict’s mind. What makes them lie, steal, cheat, and destroy their families? I wrote this so that families can have a better understanding of what’s going on with their loved one. With more understanding, they might be better able to help.
This is a glimpse into the mind and world of an addict. If you thought this narrative was long, arduous, and hard to read, it is. And it takes place over just a 24-hour period. Imagine days, weeks, months, or years of this. An addict’s mind is hard to understand. Priorities are messed up and the only real goal is to get high and make the pain go away. I hope this offers some insight. Help is out there, and recovery is possible. No one needs to suffer.