10 Years Ago: Heroin Experiments

The first time I tried heroin was not an accident, I had been searching for a solution for some time. I was looking for something to cushion my reality, to make it easier to cope with the intensity of feeling I was experiencing after a series of traumas. It was the perfect storm in many ways, and during this period of searching I met Marcel. He was a 6ft 4 fisherman, a gentle giant with an infectious laugh and big brown eyes, that reached me with their kindness and curiosity. I knew he’d had a heroin habit in the past, and when we got together I hassled him to help me try it. He was reluctant to do this and tried many things to put me off. He’d tell me about the state he’d been in when trying to get off it, how he’d suffered countless withdrawals or rattles, sitting in a cold empty flat wrapped in old curtains, crawling around like a rabbit with myxomatosis, trying hard not to shit and piss himself whilst puking up endless green bile.

Despite his warnings I was set on the course of action, and used all my charms to coerce him. I cringe now when I think of this, as now I understand the enormity of what I was asking, and the risk I was creating for him. It’s so easy to die when you first try heroin, and it’s so quick to seduce. It’s not so easy giving it up. I’d had a period of using opiate based pain relief when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. Dihydrocodeine, co-codamol and codeine, that I stole from my mum, at that time I had no idea how addictive they were, and managed to avoid a dependency, probably because I was consuming so many stimulants at that time.

The first time I ever used heroin I smoked it but the smell of it burning made me feel sick, it was like oiley fish. Marcel gave me a little so I could feel what it was like, I’m sure he got annoyed with me nagging, and perhaps hoped I wouldn’t like it. I did. I was so used to other drugs where the effect would be more intense, I was used to drugs that you’d come up on, mdma, acid, pills. Smoking heroin was like a wave coming over me, a sudden softness that made edges blur and merge. As the feeling crept up I could feel my body relaxing, giving in to the unburdening that was taking place within me. It also made me throw up, but even hugging the toilet bowl felt nice, my normal tension and rigidity dispersed, I was floating and at ease.

Marcel had to go to sea the morning after this experience and I spent the whole time he was away obsessing about when I could use it again, and I knew I wanted to inject it. I wanted the full experience and my smoking experiment had made me more sure of this, I wanted that feeling, it was what I’d been searching for, I’d never experienced such peace. So as soon as he returned it was arranged. We woke early and he made the necessary arrangements. We walked from our caravan to the dealers house who was a friend of Marcels, he sorted what we needed, and the next stop was the chemist. It amused me that you could get an action pack of goodies from the chemist. Needles, alcohol swabs, vit c, little silver spoon for cooking up, and a bin to dispose of used needles. Presenting at the chemist to collect these items felt like worlds colliding, the chemist knows what your doing, you know they know, nothing is really said. With our supplied all ready we walked to a friends place, both him and his girlfriend had heroin habits and I was intrigued by them, and nervous to be injected in front of others.

Marcel cooked up the hit, he said I only needed to do a filter because it was strong and he didn’t want me to go over. As he held out my arm to find a vein they all remarked how I had veins like ropes, and how easy it would be to get me. I watched as he found the vein and inserted the needle, the blood immediately flowed into the syringe and he pushed the golden syrup into me. A taste filled the back of my throat and my body instantly felt heavy, all my muscles softened and relaxed, I lay back on the sofa and drifted into a utopia, Marcel kept asking if I was ok, and every time my head would roll back he’d hold my face and check that I could open my eyes, I was giggling, smiling and writhing around. Everything felt delicious, a tactile heaven, the fabric on my skin, my feet on the cushions, it was all squidgy and sensational. My body was filled warmth, I was cosy and snug in a bubble of bliss. All the troubles and tension, all the negative thoughts, the guilt and shame, it just dissipated and disintegrated, I felt I was bathing in light and warmth, as though the demons in mind had been exorcised and vanquished. My heart felt full, of joy, of connection to peace, it was overflowing with gratitude, for the moment, for the beautiful world, for the enormity of feeling experienced. I was relived of my suffering totally and allowed myself to wallow in that feeling for as long as possible. I’m not sure how much time passed before I started to come around a bit. It was as though I was being called from another place, the voices of those around me started to filter in with the fairy-tale world in my head, as the voices became louder I opened my eyes to see Marcel smiling at me, I was grinning like some insane fool. ‘So you liked it then’ he said, raising his eyebrow, a statement more than a question. I nodded and suddenly felt like I was going to throw up, I staggered to my feet, unsteady and uncoordinated and managed to reach the toilet in time. As I puked my guts up I couldn’t stop laughing, I kept saying, even being sick feels nice, and could hear them all laughing at me in the background.

As we walked back to ours my skin was alert to any sensation, I could feel the breeze on my skin so acutely, as though I could sense each small hair on my face that was touched by the wind, the world was coloured in pastels, it was like walking through the most beautiful watercolour, my ears were sensitive to minute sounds, and I felt connected to the physical world, vigilant, aware and attuned. My legs felt like jelly as they flopped along, I didn’t feel as though I was controlling my body, it was just drifting and floating next to Marcel, I felt like a balloon being pulled by a child, bumping here and there, the world excited me, and I felt as though I was falling in love with life again. I slept the best sleep and woke feeling rejuvenated and clear, the residue of bliss was still with me, I was excited that world still felt alive to me, and was eager to do it all again, and I did. Within a few weeks I had a daily habit, and I didn’t care, I was happy, in love with life and this whole new world, I’d found my solution.

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4 responses to “10 Years Ago: Heroin Experiments

    • I can understand that, and perhaps I didn’t paint an accurate enough picture of how insistent I was about using heroin. I’m accountable for my actions, and I know the lengths I went to in persuading and coercing him into helping me use. If not Marcel, then I could’ve easily ended up using with someone who didn’t care, and could’ve easily died. I have no blame, I knew what I was doing, I was arrogant about being able to manage it, not knowing how seductive it would be to me. If anyone should feel bad, it’s me, I encouraged someone who had given up their habit to start using again, knowing how powerful addiction is, and how seductive heroin use is, this would’ve been torture for Marcel, and I know how hard he tried to convince me not to use but in the end it was inevitable, I was stubborn and determined, that shouldn’t be underestimated. I wasn’t a victim in this situation, I was fully aware of my choices, and will always take responsibility for my actions.
      I appreciate your comment and perspective, thanks for sharing.
      Best wishes, Poppy

  1. Hi Poppy. This is superb. Thank you very much for your eloquent honesty. I now have a much better understanding as to why people choose to experiment with heroin and use regularly. I’m so glad you are clean now and using your talent to share your experiences with others. I can’t wait to read your memoir & book – Stephen

  2. Thanks Stephen, I’m pleased you enjoyed the article. I think it’s important to understand why people use substances, to have a balanced perspective involves seeing the pro’s and con’s in my opinion, and I know when working with individuals with substance misuse issues that discovering what attaches them to the drug is key, taking a ‘drugs are bad’ approach just creates barriers and prevents the establishment of an effective therapeutic alliance. I don’t have any regrets but I’m pleased, and feel lucky to have made it through to recovery. Thanks for your thoughts. Best wishes, Poppy

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