Drug Dilemma #2
Who really feels bad about taking heroin: me or society? This question occupies me frequently, usually after an argument with my boyfriend following a relapse or during an awkward Skype session with my parents during which I try to conceal my most recent track marks. It’s a debate that is inextricably linked to staying clean; do I want to stop taking drugs for myself or to conform to the idea that history and social confines have impressed upon the people who care about me?
In order to try to understand the ambivalence toward sobriety that I’m experiencing, it’s necessary to explain the circumstances of my current use. Since returning from rehab, I have been injecting about once a week. This is, for me, infrequent use. Every Sunday, normally my day off from work, I find my body salivating in anticipation of a fix like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Weak kneed and sweaty palmed, I clock watch the entire day, waiting for my boyfriend to FUCK OFF to work so that I can score. It is, of course, no secret to him that I intend to get high. I am so restless and practically green with nervous energy that it’s merely a courtesy to wait until he’s out of the way. I protest my innocence and deny my plans because I know he disapproves, not because of any internal struggle about whether I should use or not.
My boyfriend doesn’t want me taking heroin for a number of reasons which I believe are a product of the negative reputation of heroin rather than any intelligently formed arguments based on evidence. Like most of today’s society, he is firmly of the belief that heroin is the worst drug in the world. “You could die!” he says. If I am in a contentious mood, I will attempt to counter this statement by reminding him that any of us could die simply whilst crossing the road. I will patiently explain for the umpteenth time that I take plenty of precautions: I have a regular, relatively trustworthy dealer; I use a certain amount each time; I inject slowly; I always have my phone close to hand if I’m alone, otherwise I inject in a shooting gallery which is overseen by trained professionals.
Another of my boyfriend’s gripes is the issue of money. Of course, before my second stint in rehab this was an issue for me as well. I was unemployed, using every day and taking crack (which, incidentally, is a drug that deserves its bad reputation – but more on that another time), which is horribly more-ish. However I now have gainful employment and my weekly fix is currently only totalling €40, which I make in Trinkgeld on a busy Friday night. I understand that the money goes on something intangible, something that he can’t see or hold on to, but compare that measly €40 to the amount I would be wasting on piss if I was still a drinker. Not to mention the added costs of replacing and fixing the hundreds of mobiles, cameras and iPods that are often casualties of binge drinking.
The third argument that my boyfriend uses is the detrimental effect of heroin on my health. I believe that the negative effects of moderate heroin use have been somewhat exaggerated, lumped in with the overuse and risk of sudden death and not properly explored. I’ll admit that for the first two days after a hit I am lethargic and somewhat weak. But it’s bearable. Also, heroin is the most effective antidepressant that I have ever come across – and I have tried a fair few – which has to count for something.
Don’t misinterpret me, I am by no means advocating becoming a heroin addict. I am, however, suggesting that it isn’t the end of the world to occasionally use if you are able to do that safely and responsibly. I personally find it much easier to control how often I use heroin than that of crack or that wonderful, widely available demon: drink. I do not intend to take heroin for the rest of my life. But I do intend to stop berating myself every time I reach for the needle. I want to stop feeling bad just because other people, due to the negative portrayal of opiates and opiate users in the media rather than their own opinions, feel bad. I am imposing a personal opiate amnesty on Sundays. Sorry, boyfriend, but this is true love.