Heroin Addiction Stories: How It Starts, And How It Ends
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Heroin addiction stories can be effective catalysts in getting a heroin addict to realize it’s never too late to get help and turn things around. Ideally, reading these heroin addict stories will deter some from ever trying the harmful substance.
Some names have been changed to protect individuals’ privacy, but the stories are genuine nonetheless.
Heroin Addiction Stories—The Beginnings
“It’s like warm golden sunshine flowing through your veins. It makes everything ok, and it makes everything beautiful…then you come down. And need more. And will do anything to get it. It’s your best friend at first, and when you still can quit, you’d never dream of it. Then at some point that is indefinable and inevitable, it turns on you. It grows fangs and claws, and it wants your soul. It lies to you and tells you that you aren’t doing anything wrong. It makes you feel like you would rather die than spend another second without it…you lie, scam, break the law, and sell your soul to get just barely enough to keep you out of bed.” – Ophelia R.
“When I got into junior high, I started hanging out with older kids—kids who had cars who could take me places so I wouldn’t have to go home after school. They happened to be into heroin. I started shooting up and soon, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.” – Seth G.
“Life at home could get really crazy. Yelling and sometimes police sirens would wake me up. My mom’s boyfriend would hit her or hit me for any little thing. I’m not sure if mom was in denial or just didn’t care. As I got older I mostly hung out on the streets.
“I started drinking when I was 10. At first, it was just because my friends dared me. And it was easy enough to steal a bottle from my mother. But then I liked how drinking made me forget my problems. After a while, I got into harder drugs. Especially heroin.
“Just after I’d shoot up, I’d get an amazing rush. I’d be on top of the world. Once the high really set in, my mind would get slow and fuzzy. It’d feel like I was sinking into the floor. I’d forget if I was asleep or awake, and time just passed me by. I got hooked quick. I dropped out of school…out of life, really. – Deon L.
Horrific Heroin Addiction Stories—The truth about life as a heroin addict
In the beginning, addicts may have used heroin as an escape—an escape from worry, pain, fear, and ultimately, all of reality. It seemed as though the drug “helped” them deal with things like stress and sadness by covering up the pain for a short time. But over time, the addiction consumes every thought in every corner of the person’s mind until eventually, that person can only be defined as a heroin addict, because he or she has no other concerns than finding his or her next ‘fix.’
“One night, I wanted to go to a party, but I had to get some [heroin] in my system first. So, after we both shot up, my friend and I hopped in the car and I started driving. Before I knew it, I had wrapped my car around a tree.
“For some reason, I was okay—at least as far as I could tell. Then I looked over and I knew my friend was dead. He was also my cousin.
“I ended up doing jail time for involuntary manslaughter. If I had had it [heroin] on me at the time, I would have gotten life [in prison]. But I didn’t.”
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about [my cousin]. He was just the sweetest, most genuine person—to be honest, he was the only truly good person I had ever known in my life up to that point.” – Seth G.
“From the day I started using, I never stopped. Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money. I sold everything of value that I owned and eventually everything that my mother owned. Within one year, I had lost everything.
“I was raped, beaten, mugged, robbed, arrested, homeless, sick and desperate. I knew that nobody could sustain a lifestyle like that very long and I knew that death was imminent. If anything, death was better than a life as a junkie.” – Alison D.
“Because I had money, we [my boyfriend and I] quickly climbed to using 4 to 5 grams of heroin a day each. I knew I would probably die; I nearly did a few times. At that point, I didn’t much care; I had become the thing I had disdained for most of my life: a drug addict. I’d lost myself, and I couldn’t see any way out…
“Addiction doesn’t care who you are, what you have, or what you’ve accomplished. In under a year, I lost my marriage, my home, my baby, my dog, friends, honesty, and every scrap of my self-respect.” – Sarah B.
Heroin Withdrawal Stories—The difficult road to recovery
Though many people experience adverse effects after just a single use, heroin withdrawals get much more severe the more a person uses. But the only way to avoid going through withdrawals is to do more. What starts out as something that that was once pleasurable becomes something a person ‘needs’ in order to function because he or she can’t imagine going through heroin withdrawals.
“After a while, I needed heroin just to get by. Too long without a fix, and…I can’t even describe it. It’s like I was dying in every awful way you could think of, all at once. Pain in all my bones, throwing up, chills, and I couldn’t sleep for days.” – Deon L.
After hearing about the disadvantages of taking methadone as a way to get off heroin, “I saw that a doctor in Berkeley was treating opiate addicts with a new drug called Suboxone. Never heard of it. I called, and [his assistant] walked us through how it works: ‘You have to be in withdrawal before we can induce you… Then we’ll have you come in here first thing the morning after because you’re going to be pretty unhappy at that point. And we’ll get you induced. Within a few hours, I promise, you will feel much better. Not high – better than high. You’ll feel NORMAL.’”
In attempting to explain heroin withdrawals, “The closest I’ve ever come to describing it to a friend is: You know when you’re underwater, and you need to come up for a breath? And it’s taking too long to get to the surface? That feeling, of having no oxygen left, your whole body feeling like fire, salty and aching with the desperate need to breathe? That’s it, only not exactly, because it’s worse.”
“At one point, I went into the bathroom, and found [my boyfriend]– all six feet, two inches of him, tattooed and scarred up and tough as hell, having lived through one of the most astonishingly hard lives I’d ever heard of – curled up in the bottom of a tiny, filthy shower stall like a little escargot, sobbing and shivering in desolate agony.
“Here comes history’s greatest understatement: We were right on time for our induction appointment. We could barely make it into the building. Our legs kept spasming, our backs twisting. We were drooling profusely and shaking violently. We were haggard and green. [A man at the clinic] helped us into separate exam rooms, where we both ended up writhing on the floor.” – Sarah B.
“Withdrawals were awful. It was like having a 120° fever for three straight weeks. I vomited and/or fainted multiple times a day. I could never stay warm nor cool at any given time. The pain in my body was excruciating. The entire time I was going through withdrawals, not one of those symptoms let up even the tiniest bit. On top of the physical stuff, I was delusional. I heard voices and had constant hallucinations.” – Seth G.
Heroin Stories—Help is out there
While some of the heroin addiction and withdrawal stories out there can make quitting seem scary, there are also a number of heroin stories that contain hopeful messages, happy endings, and bright futures for the people who successfully overcame their heroin addictions.
“[After I overdosed] the social worker at the hospital got me into a halfway house with a drug treatment program. I live with other guys like me who are just starting to recover from drug addiction. We go to a lot of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and classes that help us figure out how to rebuild our lives without drugs.
“I also started taking a medicine called methadone. It helps me feel normal and not need to take heroin. I don’t know how long I’ll stay on the methadone, but maybe it will help me stay clean for good. Heroin has been hard on my body. I have scars all over my arms, and my kidneys aren’t working well. But I’m feeling a little more interested in life these days.
“I just met my little grandson. When I’m with him, I really believe I can make it without drugs. Looking at me, he doesn’t see a junkie. He sees his grandpa, and that’s all.” – Deon L.
“I had overdosed before and ended up in the hospital, but that wasn’t enough to make me quit.
“What made me quit was knowing I was the cause of my cousin’s death. We were both under the influence, but I made the choice to drive, which cost him his life and nearly cost me mine. I still used during the grieving process, but one day, I just said that I would never endanger another person’s life (including mine) because of my own selfish desires to get high.
“I was all alone in an apartment in New York City. Before I lived there alone, I had lived there with my cousin…I quit cold turkey. To tell you the truth, I should have died. But after those initial three weeks of fever and agony, I forced myself to stand up and walk. I forced myself to eat. It wasn’t that it was good food or anything—it was crap—but I think it had some sort of placebo effect on me because as soon as I would eat, I would feel instant relief—to some degree anything.
“I started forcing myself to walk at least to and from the entrance of my apartment building from the fifth floor and eating at least one whole meal each day every single day. Just that small bit of food and exercise was what made me eventually start to feel somewhat normal again.
Going to our induction appointment to start Suboxone, “We could barely make it into the building. Our legs kept spasming, our backs twisting. We were drooling profusely and shaking violently. We were haggard and green. [The doctor’s assistant] helped us into separate exam rooms, where we both ended up writhing on the floor.
“He started us each with a little orange pill. We were to hold it under our tongues until it dissolved…they took a long time to dissolve. And nothing happened.”
After waiting 20 minutes, taking another pill, and doing the same thing a second time, there was still “another 20 minutes of thrashing and moaning and drooling and whimpering.
“Then I heard Lawrence in the hallway, asking [the doctor’s assistant] to tell us if this was a scam…
“I had just drawn in another ragged breath for another moan of agony when it all… suddenly…STOPPED. What?! I sat up.
“My body was still and calm. The feeling of bugs crawling in and out of my skin vanished. My stomach settled and my head stopped whirling. The worst thing – the indescribable feeling of whole-body horror – was simply gone. I noticed for the first time that it was a sunny day. The sunlight felt amazing on my face. Tears came to my eyes, but I laughed.
“‘Lawrence! It’s WORKING!’ I called.
“‘I know! Me too!’ he yelled back.
“[The doctor’s assistant] came running down the hallway, a huge grin on his face. ‘See? I told you it wasn’t a scam! This is the best part of my job. Oh, just let me just look at you guys!’ Lawrence and I ran into the hallway and hugged him, laughing and crying.” – Sarah B.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. One patient’s story: NIDA clinical trials bring a new life to a woman struggling with opioid addiction. 2017. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/one-patients-story-nida-clinical-trials-bring-new-life-to-woman-struggling-opioid-addiction.
- Boyd S., Murray D.; SNAP, MacPherson D. Telling our stories: heroin-assisted treatment and SNAP activism in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Harm Reduction Journal. 2017; 14 (1): 36]. doi:10.1186/s12954-017-0152-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5437683/.
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