I got onto heroin around my mid teens, my first ever serious boyfriend introduced me to it and within weeks I was hooked. The circumstances leading up to the decision to try it are long and complicated. I distinctly remember when I first tried it thinking that I didn’t have the time or desire to get addicted. I was stronger than that, I could try it and leave it alone. That was day one. 14 days later I had used everyday and the gear finally ran out. I couldn’t sleep, L decided that if we got some more it would help us sleep. We bought some more. My next proper recollection is sitting in my kitchen 6 months later. I was withdrawing, I recall sinking down the cupboards to the floor and saying out loud “I’m a heroin addict. I’m a fucking heroin addict” I nervously laughed at this realisation. I don’t quite understand why.
From that point on my life changed. My childhood was gone. I was thrown into an existence of survival. Something which I learnt I was pretty good at. I could start the morning without a penny to my name and within hours be sitting there with £1000 of drugs. I couldn’t see the point of doing things in a small way, so I threw myself into my life of crime. I sold drugs, a lot of drugs. I was unrelenting in my quest to obtain more drugs. Enough was never enough for me.
Gradually, over the years things in my life changed. My partners changed. L turned into S and then my eldest sons dad P, then J. They all had one thing in common; they were addicts, fully ensconced into their addiction. They were broken people and the one thing I have learnt about broken people, is that sometimes you end up being cut on the shards of their lives. Each one of them brought something to me at the time that I couldn’t find in myself.
L brought me into the peer group that had previously shunned me. He gave me an, albeit fragile, position in the society of my youth. S gave me a more grown up and sophisticated facade, he worked up town. He held down a good job, he helped me to make believe that my life was moving on, as I had always anticipated that it would. While with S, I worked in London at a solicitors office, I presented a view to the world that I wanted them to believe.
P came into my life and gave me control. By gave me, I mean he arrived at a point when my life had spiralled into chaos, and he took control of me. Totally and absolutely. It took me years to escape his clutches. The control I craved turned out to be stifling and unhealthy, instead of taking control of my own life I had no control at all.
J came after this, and he was kind and he helped me to like myself again. To see that perhaps, with a little work, I could be worthy of love.
Throughout this my drug taking continued. At some point I added crack cocaine into my daily medication list. I don’t quite know when or how. It just seemed to have slipped in. An essential ingredient in the recipe of my life.
My weight dropped drastically as my health deteriorated. I was 5.5 stone and I felt like the living dead. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Battling daily to survive, literally, took its toll on me. My veins were collapsed, and my arms, hands, feet and legs were bruised and bloodied from the numerous attempts to inject into them. I nearly wanted to give up. Only I couldn’t, you can’t give up on life. What are your options. Live or die? Well much as it looked to the contrary I didn’t want to die. I’d been inadvertently committing suicide for many years with my addiction but dying was never in my plan. I just didn’t know how to live.
Going to prison probably saved me. It was god awful and painful and scary but it came at the right time. I will never forget the day, a few weeks after I arrived when I walked into my cell and realised that I was able to just lie there in peace. No worrying about being ill. No pain. I needed a safe haven and I needed respite. I needed time to recoup my strength and determine a new path. I needed to clear the space to grow new seeds of life. Prison gave all that to me. That is one of the reasons that I work hard for my clients. Everyone deserves an idiom of peace.