It was a fairly innocent start.
A lot of people think your first time using heroin is some kind of major event that sticks with you forever. Maybe that’s the case for some people, but for me, it honestly didn’t seem like that big a deal.
I was hanging out with some friends, and while we were all pretty close, we also had separate circles of friends. So it wasn’t unusual to have someone bring a new face along once in a while. Nobody thought much of it at all when one of those new faces happened to come along with some pills.
Now, normally, I would probably have turned my nose up at a bag of white pills from a stranger. But my friend (the one who brought him) vouched for him, said the stuff was “awesome.” So in the interest of curiosity and having a good time, I went ahead and tried it. And that’s how I started using Oxycontin.
The Descent: The Beginning of My Addiction
Nobody told me how difficult it would be to keep on Oxy – or that I would feel so compelled to keep using after only one experience with it. Really, it didn’t feel like an addiction. My thought was something like, “hey, that pill made me feel really good. I’d really like to try that again.”
So I did a couple times, and every time I did, the desire to continue got a bit stronger. Eventually, I hit the point where desperation started to set in. Not desire. Desperation.
There’s a tipping point that’s probably different for everyone, where you want that high so much, you’ll start making really bad decisions to get it. I don’t even like needles, but when this friend-of-a-friend (the one supplying the Oxy) told me that heroin was easier to get and provided an even stronger high, I didn’t even consider saying no.
The weird thing is, if this guy had brought heroin to the initial gathering and just started shooting up, I would have recoiled in disgust. Like, I was more than happy to drink, and I’d experimented with some other stuff in college. But heroin was always that step I wasn’t willing to take. I’d seen what it could do to people and never wanted to be that guy.
That was then. Once the Oxy got hold of me, all my inhibitions, all my previous thoughts on drug use just sort of faded away, replaced by the overwhelming feeling that anything that could give me a high was a risk I was willing to take. So I looked up how to do heroin, my oxy supplier hooked me up with a dealer, and off I went.
Hitting the Bottom: My Addiction at its Worst
He was right – the high was way more intense. I was completely blown away. I think I was addicted before, to the Oxy, but this was so strong, it almost deserves to be called something else. If addiction is like the common cold, this was like cancer. There’s just no comparison.
Everything else falls away. Your whole sense of self begins to dissipate, and the dope is central to everything you do. I was at a point where I would justify anything to secure my next fix.
The first time I tried heroin, I liked it so much I did it for almost a week straight, just keeping myself as high as possible. In retrospect, I’m lucky I didn’t overdose. I did, however, lose my job, as they weren’t incredibly excited about having their newest member miss a week of work with no explanation or contact. I didn’t even care. I don’t think I even found out about it until maybe a week after it happened.
Problem is, not having a job and spending all your money on heroin makes it hard to pay rent. So I stopped doing that, too.
There was, I think, a part of me that knew there would be some kind of consequence for this stuff. The old me would have recognized that and made the right decision. The addicted me saw no consequence that would override the need for that high.
Having lost my job and home, my friends tried to help. Some of them tried to sympathize with me and encourage me to get help. Others chastised me and tried to get me to change my ways through tough love and shame.
Most of them just distanced themselves from me, and honestly, those ones probably had the right idea. The friends of mine that tried to help eventually realized I was stealing from them to buy my next fix.
Most of them have yet to forgive me, and I can’t say I blame them. I mean, I can clearly see now what I was doing to the people close to me. But at the time, all I was looking at was the shortest distance to the next hit, consequences be damned.
My lowest point is one I hesitate to even talk about, both because I’m ashamed and because it’s an awful cliché I’m sure you’ve heard before. But it’s true. I actually went into my own mother’s purse and started stealing money from her. I didn’t even think anything of it. “She’ll never even notice,” I thought.
She did notice. In fact, she caught me in the act. There was an awkward pause, and then she just started crying.
I’ll never forget that moment. She didn’t even say anything. There were no lectures, no “I’m disappointed in you.” Just a look of total helplessness, and tears. She knew what was wrong with me, and simply had no idea how to help, no matter how much she wanted to.
That was the moment I knew things had gone too far. Even then, it was months before I actually sought help, but that moment nagged at me and was really my turning point. And while I still have my good days and bad days, getting help for my addiction has made all the difference. Simply getting addiction information, so I could understand what was happening to me, helped me immensely.
The Aftermath: Repairing What I’ve Done
The weird thing is, I’m one of the lucky ones. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Heroin addiction was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. And while I’ve been clean for two years now, in many ways I continue to struggle with it, and probably always will on some level.
But I’ve seen how much worse it can be. Some died of an overdose before they ever hit that point where they sought help. I was lucky in that I actually had a support system of people who continued to care about me and help me however they could. Many people don’t have what I had. Many people get into drugs because they don’t have those support systems.
I don’t talk to many of my old friends anymore. I’ve contacted a few of them just to apologize for what I did to them, and how I took advantage of them when they were trying to do the right thing and help a friend. But I was lucky because some of my closest friends and family stuck with me through it all, and I’m closer to them now than ever before. I’ll never forget how they supported me at my lowest, and I make it my purpose to live my new life in a way that repays them for that.