Tuesday, 25 November 2008

1 month clean

i was lazy and just copied and pasted this from my post on opiophile

i originally started my script a few days before my 21st birthday on october 1st. but i got a bit wobbley and was taking them one day, then skipping a few others. pointless, as the half-life meant i did not feel a thing. anyway, today is my first month completely clean of anything. i only took cocaine with heroin at the same time and i dont smoke pot, or do benzos etc. so its not as if i have had anything else to give up. well, yes i have, i have stopped smoking and am using those nicotine lozengers and thats going very well, haven’t smoked either but tomorrow i get paid so i shall let that be the ultimate test; see if i cave in and buy a pack. still drink but am greatly reducing it. i was doing about 35 units a day (the recommended daily amount for uk women is 2-3 i believe?) so though i tried to give that up cold turkey, i had the worse withdrawals. i have just tapered it down gradually.my old methadone clinic has been taken over by addaction (the whole system here to treat addicts in cambridge recently went through a massive change) and they run a ’structured day programme’ to get people on maintenance programmes back into a routine, while doing useful things and working towards getting back into education or employment if you feel ready. i attend the art therapy group there and they have also given me free access to a gym. i used to love going to my old gym but obviously couldnt afford it, or be arsed to go for that matter as my habit got worse. its relatively new and its brilliant with a pool, too. i found that when i stopped gear, i put on nearly 2 stone so now im 5ft5 and 11 and a half stone. all on my tummy. got a proper beer belly. ive always had problems with food so this got me down. i went shopping with my momma and got some long gym clothes to cover up my scars as i am going to my induction at 1pm. i am a bit scared, mostly because i used to be so fit, so im terribly unhealthy and i dont think ill be able to run like i used to. oh well, i will start easy. if i use it after the month they will decide if they should renew it. if you dont go you never get a second chance so thats an incentive in itself.
i feel so good. i dont really miss heroin at all. sometimes, i think “i dont know how to be anything else but a junkie!” and its scary as i havent really done anything these past years apart from make money to score drugs to take them. im having to learn loads of new shit. if i learnt to be a junkie though i can learn to be something else.i am a bit worried about my upcoming blood tests. i dont want hep c (who does?!?!) but i was so recklass, im hoping thats the worse thing that is spoken in the results session. cant believe how dumb i was but hey, got to pay a price for the “fun” i had. i had a £2,000 overdraft and im paying about £18-20 a month interest. im on £56 a week so i cant even begin to pay it off, so im just forking out for this interest. its easy to get stressed, and i instantly think “i could use that as an excuse to go back on gear” but i know its dumb.
im not thinking i have beat it. a month is so little time to be thinking i am cured. but hey, its the longest i have been clean in years really. i know its corny when they say take every day one step at a time but its true. i was worrying about what happens when one of my relatives die, i have a break-up, fail at something,…. it will be far too inviting and tempting to act out the old “just this once to get through this” spiel you give yourself. but fuck that, i will deal with that when it comes.
its early days but i feel fucking great. i am now realising just how much i let myself go and i am recoiling in horror at some of my behaviour. but, i am trying to laugh it off. like good ‘ol squeeze said “I’d beg for some forgiveness, but begging’s not my business”
thanks, i just have to get it out. my reaching one month is so foreign- i have never had this before!

Monday, 24 November 2008

tomorrow, one month clean

time just flies doesn’t it. well, it did when i was on gear. its odd- well no, not odd, logical that when i was using heroin the days just bled into one another and i would end up losing chunks of time… now i’m not using, days drag and it feels as if i have been off heroin for about 6 months. to say the days feel longer is an understatement! my momma got back from canada & new york the day before yesterday. i was so happy, i had missed her so much and she hadn’t been gone that long. she came round to my nanna’s where i was waiting for her at about 10pm. she had been at my sisters and was stinking drunk by the time she arrived. momma had treated herself to some absolut peach vodka and the mandarin variety, which i desperately wanted to try but she had already devoured it along with my sister, her partner andy and my moms boyfriend, Dean. momma never used to let me drink around her but i was allowed to hit up the liquor cabinet with her. what a privalidge! she got all sentimental on me and so did my nanna. momma was worse though, telling me what a lovely, pretty girl i was and how it was so nice to have me back (as in, my old personality which was drowned out by my constant excessive drug use). one thing that makes me laugh is the fact nobody really wants to use the word HEROIN and slang names like “gear” “brown” “horse” “smack” are too shocking and painful for them to use and hear. so my mum calls it “doo daa”. “it’s no nice now you are off the old doo daa,” its amusing to hear.
im just on the telephone…. now off the telephone. i was just booking my Gym Induction. i am now with addaction at the building which was the old methadone clinic. they have a structured day programme offering art therapy, training, exercise etc. to get you back into a routine and to take away all that time you have on your hands. coz you know what they say “idle hands are the devils playground”. they gave me an option to join the gym and i took it. i thought it would be a crappy sports centre but its a really nice play with good gym & pool. you have a card that you swipe each time you go and at the end of 1 month addaction get billed and see if you are using it and ask you if its helping you. i used to go to GREENS this super nice gym by my old house but it was £50 a month and i couldnt afford it once i got on gear. i cant afford this one either really but i dont feel bad about addaction getting the bill, after all, its saving money in other areas like my healthcare for when i get so poorly every winter. thats Wednesday i go. kind of makes me nervous that i’m really unfit and ill have to start from the bottom. i am really self-concious too so that will cause me problems. i have put on soooooo much weight and the thought of being in a bikini makes me want to barf, and probably will make others want to, too! what am i going to do about booze? i have tried to lower my drinking but i get the worse withdrawals its awful. i cant turn up pissed to the gym but i can’t leave the house without one. what a catch 22, what with the booze making me even fatter. oh yeah, my momma got my HERSHEYS CHOCOLATE PRETZELS in a big tin and 2 M&M Lip Balms. really helps to have choco flavoured chap stick i can tell you, and knowing those pretzels are in the kitchen just a’ callin’ my name…. torture.
went to art therapy on thursday, i loved it. really loved it. anyway, must book a dentist appointment and also get ready. i’m still in my pjs! lazy, i know.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

the crazy system!

Drugs are easily available and always have been. You get your socially acceptable ones and then the others which make you a social pariah. Cocaine is acceptable to many in moderation; if it was not I am sure it would not be so common for surfaces in city toilets to test positive for them when a journalist decides to investigate our countries ever-increasing drug problem. Then there are drugs like Heroin which by most, is branded the lowest of the low and perhaps quite rightly, in terms of the dispair one reaches if they are unlucky enough to get caught up in an addiction to it. I unfortunately have been a heroin addict for 5 years and have just turned 21. I cannot put down here just how terrible my life was, and still is, plus the knock-on effect it had on the people around me. My mother, a dedicated Nurse working for the NHS had a nervous breakdown after I overdosed and had respitory & heart failure, and has been off work for 5 months. It is not just an emotional knock-on effect, its economical. Although I did not turn to burglary, street robbery etc. I know many who do and their lives are just a constant circle of committing a crime to get drugs to get arrested and put in prison to come out clean to start up again straight away. The money this is costing our society is rediculous especially since a few number of lucky addicts get prescribed Diamorphine Hydrachloride which injected, eliminates the need for street heroin. Thus, knocking out the dealers, the risk of contracting diseases through risky activities such as needle sharing and eliminating the drug-motivated crimes that effect YOU. If you have ever been burgled or mugged you will know how distressing it is, and it will probably be even more so when you find out our state prescribes Diamorphine, but just not to the person who burgled you. Chances are they were not on a prescription or were on methadone. If methadone is the wonderdrug it is supposed to be, why are people still taking heroin on top of it?It is very simple, make it more available. The heroin trade funds terrorism that the public want to see eliminated. As long as its illegal they will keep on reaping the collosal benefits.I was put on methadone at 17 and it was not until after this that I turned to prostitution to fund my habit. Why would I need to when I was on methadone? I could of been prescribed heroin to save myself from having to go through all the things I did, in the process wrecking relationships between my friends and family. The system in place at the moment is you only get prescribed diamorphine when you have PROVED you cannot be treated, which is very ironic. You have to go through the system for 20, 30 years showing you are untreatable, costing the taxpayer thousands in keeping you incarcerated over the years, keeping you on benefits… then you get what could save you and help you become a valuble member of society.
Drugs are always going to be around in society. What we have to do is prevent (its a cliche, I know, but its better than a cure) and treat properly those that have a problem. Louise was very lucky to get into the In-Volve centre, resources are stretched to the limit and the only way usually you can get into rehab is if you have unlimited funds.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

methadone; cure or con?

One drug - a green liquid in a beaker - is an addictive opiate that takes users at least five weeks to come off. Another - a brown powder in a syringe - is an addictive opiate that takes users five days to come off. The liquid is methadone. The powder is heroin. One is legally prescribed by doctors. The other is illegally procured from dealers. What, they’re asking in Britain’s drugs capital, is the good of that?
By Mary Braid
Published: 19 July 2000

Alex Clark, a 38-year-old from Ruchazie, a run-down council estate on Glasgow’s east side, sits in Marco’s Gym and reels off a long list. They’re the names of neighbours and relatives, all smackheads, and all dead, ruined, or on the run. Alex’s cousin Danny, who has been on heroin since his teens, is the one on the run - somewhere in England, hiding from dealers to whom he owes money. In his case, flight was sensible. A few months back machete-wielding pushers put another cousin, Aldo, in the city’s Royal Infirmary for owing a few hundred pounds.
Alex Clark, a 38-year-old from Ruchazie, a run-down council estate on Glasgow’s east side, sits in Marco’s Gym and reels off a long list. They’re the names of neighbours and relatives, all smackheads, and all dead, ruined, or on the run. Alex’s cousin Danny, who has been on heroin since his teens, is the one on the run - somewhere in England, hiding from dealers to whom he owes money. In his case, flight was sensible. A few months back machete-wielding pushers put another cousin, Aldo, in the city’s Royal Infirmary for owing a few hundred pounds.
Meanwhile, Alex, after eight years on heroin, is seeking salvation through weights and stomach-wrenching sit-ups. It has been three months since he last shot up, and his abstinence has made his older brother Andrew, who is 39, proud. “What’s great is to see Alex with his two sons again, because for a while there he lost them,” says Andrew, whose skinny frame and hollow Celtic eyes are so similar to Alex’s that the brothers might be twins. “And it’s great to hear him laugh again. There’s not much laughing when you’re using.” Alex, still a little jittery, came off cold turkey, just as Andrew did two and a half years ago, following his own eight years on smack.
When it comes to kicking heroin, however, abstinence is not, generally, the Glasgow way. As in other parts of Britain, methadone, prescribed by GPs, is now the orthodox medical treatment for the 8,500 “jaggers” who have turned Glasgow into Europe’s heroin capital.
Widespread prescription of liquid methadone, taken orally as a heroin substitute, was introduced in the Eighties to curb the spread of HIV by needle-sharing addicts. But the strenuous promotion of methadone - an addictive opiate, just like heroin - as a medicine angered some communities, already drowning in drugs, and at least one in four Glasgow GPs still refuse to take part in the scheme. Methadone, none the less, has emerged as the treatment king.
Addicts, it seems, just can’t get enough. In 1992, there were just 140 Glaswegians on methadone prescription. Today, around 3,000 visit their chemist every day to swallow the sweetened green liquid provided by the state. There’s a waiting list to join the programme and Greater Glasgow Health Board has plans for further expansion. Last month a government drugs-advisory group held the Glasgow scheme up as a national model, after stricter supervision appeared to cut fatal methadone overdoses. This month, the first research into methadone in Glasgow sings its praises, claiming it reduces injecting, overdoses and crime.
Andrew Horne, of the Glasgow Drugs Crisis Centre, is among those who argue that methadone clearly reduces the harm heroin does, both to society and to the individual user. Dispensed in a non-injectable form, it is, he says, better for the health of addicts and also protects society from infection. “Methadone or heroin injected into the groin - which would you rather have?” he says.
Horne also argues that daily supervision of addicts on the methadone programme brings users into daily contact with services that can help them. There are no statistics to reveal how many addicts are helped by methadone to become drug-free. Horne says a large proportion of addicts simply grow out of opiate use, but he insists that the methadone programme does help significant numbers to kick their drug habit. “It is a stepping stone,” he says. “The best way to detox is to use a substitute drug and do it slowly.”
All of which would be dandy, except for critics’ claims that there is no evidence the opiate is actually doing what many presume to be its principal job: ie helping addicts to come off heroin and other drugs. Last year a record 152 people died from overdoses (mainly heroin) in the Strathclyde region, 52 more than the year before. Methadone, some warn, has now become just another dangerous drug swilling round a city infamous for “polydrug” misuse.
For their part, the Clark brothers hate methadone. Alex and Andrew’s brother-in-law, Davie, was prescribed it after five years of injecting heroin. It was supposed to ease his withdrawal and help him kick drugs. Ten years later, at the age of 33, he is still on methadone. It’s the same story, they say, with the rest of the old Ruchazie gang - at least for those who are still alive. Most have been on methadone prescription for years and - despite the scheme’s rules against using other drugs, enforced by urine testing - they continue to inject heroin and take other drugs.
The main difference between the opiates is that methadone, while it does not offer the intense high that heroin does, is longer-lasting. Addicts on the programme should not need to dose more than once a day, while heroin addicts come down much faster and need to “dose” at frequent intervals. But compared to heroin, they say, methadone is boring - a Volvo against the preferred Ferrari, and, therefore, treated just as a “top-up” to heroin.
“The health board would consider Davie a success story,” says Alex bitterly. “He does not inject or take other drugs. But he’s like a vegetable. He used to have a good head on him but now he just sits at home all day.”
Alex’s brother Andrew took methadone for four weeks when he broke with smack. “It did take away the aches and pains of withdrawal, but psychologically the benefits wore off in days - and coming off was worse than it was with heroin,” he says. It takes five days to come off heroin but five to 15 weeks to kick methadone, which is a consideration for addicts, with jail a constant occupational hazard.
Alex complains that drug centres never treat the individual addict but simply prescribe methadone to everyone. He relates how, three months ago, after 14 days without heroin, he went for medical help. “I wanted to stay off,” he recalls. “I had a house like the one in Trainspotting - there was nothing in it. A drugs counsellor took just 10 minutes to decide methadone was for me, though I told her I was already detoxed.”
Despite Davie’s experience, Alex admits he was tempted: “By then I was gasping for anything.” So he went along to his local methadone group. “There were 15 of them there, all slumped forward,” he says, now laughing. “I was introduced and - shit! - I realised I knew most of them.”
Alex made his excuses and left and finally gave into Andrew’s pleas that he join Calton Athletic Recovery Group, a hard-line abstinence group based in Denniston, in Glasgow’s East End, which was famous for a while as the technical adviser to the film of Trainspotting. Calton, which is bitterly critical of the methadone programme and currently embroiled in a funding row, is where Andrew came off, and where Alex is now trying to kick his habit. Some days are hard, but it was peer pressure, Alex says, which sucked him in in the first place. Now another peer group, he believes, can help rescue him.
Calton offers football, half-marathons, daily work-outs, and group-therapy sessions. Its controversial director, Davie Bryce - who is a hero to his fans and a bloody-minded svengali to his critics - believes exercise stimulates endorphins suppressed by years of addiction. As Bryce, a former heroin addict himself like everyone at Calton, earthily explains: “You don’t get better sitting on your arse.”
Calton is supportive, but tough. And Bryce, in track suit and trainers, is scathing of the suited professionals who blame addiction on poverty, giving addicts too many places to hide. Calton’s mantra is individual responsibility. “I used to blame social conditions and Thatcherism,” says Bryce. “I blamed everything and everyone, bar drugs.”
The health board, and a host of Glasgow drug centres, claim methadone helps addicts, as well as society, by stabilising them until they feel able to tackle dependence. But Calton bans all drugs - prescribed or otherwise - including alcohol. To Bryce, prescribing methadone makes as much sense as switching an alcoholic from whisky to gin.
“Methadone is not a treatment,” he says angrily. “It is a method of social control, introduced to contain HIV infection.” During the Aids panic, he says, the authorities had to reach the drug-taking population and methadone was the carrot that lured addicts in. Bryce reluctantly allows that methadone might have a very short-term application, if addicts moved off it before dependence set in. “But it’s not used as a means of getting people into detox,” he argues. Another Glasgow drugs counsellor, who does not want to be named, agrees. “You get these reports about methadone working miracles, but I don’t know anyone it has helped come off. Its an inexpensive way for the health board to look like it’s actually doing something. And no one takes the board on now because we all rely on it for funds.”
The study into methadone’s effect on the behaviour of Glasgow addicts - co-authored by Dr Laurence Gruer, public health consultant and the driving force behind Glasgow’s methadone programme - makes no assessment of methadone as an addiction-busting drug. Gruer’s fellow co-author Sharon Hutchison, of the Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, says that a drug-free life is the long-term goal of methadone programmes. But the study only covered addicts’ first 12 months on methadone - too soon, apparently, to expect long-term heroin users to become drug-free. But the question arises: if methadone brings such dramatic improvements to addicts’ lives, why are so many of them still relying on it, years after their first prescription?
Professor Neil McKeganey, of Glasgow University’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research, does not argue with the social benefits of methadone in curbing infection and crime. A £3m methadone programme looks good value when set against the £194m of goods that Glasgow addicts steal annually to fund their habits. It is generally accepted that given free methadone, addicts do steal less.
“But the big question has to be what effect, if any, is methadone having on heroin addiction,” says McKeganey. “And the truth is we don’t have any evidence either way.” McKeganey says that when psychiatrists were responsible for the care of heroin addicts - before Aids arrived and public health and infectious diseases consultants took over - they were largely sceptical about methadone as a treatment, as countries including France remain today.
McKeganey agrees that short-term use of methadone might stabilise an addict. “But stability is not an end in itself,” he warns. “Methadone should be the point from which other things take place and that’s not happening in Glasgow.”
From his own interviews with addicts, he believes that for some, the opiate may create an even stronger dependence than heroin. Professor Russell Newcombe, a drugs lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, argues that because of the longer withdrawal period, methadone may, in fact, extend addictions by years. Yet there are no studies into the long-term effects of the drug.
Meanwhile Calton’s members believe that, secretly, the health board has given up on addicts, convinced they cannot be saved, or that saving them would cost too much. Janis, who is 29, finally came off heroin five years ago. “I had sold everything,” she says. “I slept rough on the streets. Eventually I joined a methadone programme, lying that I wanted to kick heroin just so I could get more drugs.” It was a year before a urine test revealed she was still using heroin and other narcotics.
“My habit just got bigger and my life got out of control,” she says. “I thought the only way you got out was to die. That was all I was seeing around me.” Bryce laughs that the health authority likes schemes that are “non-directive and non-judgmental” when directive and judgemental are just what addicts need.
“I wanted someone to tell me how to get off and stay off, ” remembers Janis. “I didn’t want someone to ask me what I wanted to do. How would I have known, the mess I was in?” Fundamentally, she says, she needed role models to show what was possible. That finally happened when she saw a Calton presentation in prison.
Janis, understandably, wants more abstinence schemes. But even drugs counsellors who support methadone projects, warn that Glasgow’s expanding scheme is facing problems because of scarce long-term rehabilitation programmes. “We have them on methadone but we can’t get them off,” says one drugs-project manager who prefers anonymity because he, like most others, relies on health-board funds.
Alex, meanwhile, struggles on with the daily sit-ups at Marco’s Gym. “I worried at first that it was all too late to get clean,” he says. “But I believe now that had I gone on methadone I would be sitting in the house just like [my brother-in-law] Davie.”

Sunday, 2 November 2008

2nd November

To think my mother told me I was too old to have a chocolate advent calendar this year. And my sister too. We may be 21 and 25 but I am happy to report Nanna did not disappoint and purchased us one. Phew. I haven’t gone a year without one since I was old enough to gum chocolate. Christmas is stressing me slightly; last year I spent a few hundred pounds on presents but the irony will have it that now I am actually on subutex and clean, I have no money. A measley £200 I get a month and that is not all in one lump, so I am going to have to plan presents carefully. Everybody is telling me it does not matter what I get them, no matter how small, as they are just estatically happy I am well. That is all very well but in practise, I cannot come christmas morning deliver nothing. Twins come first and then I will think about everyone else. So much for all the parties I wanted to go to. Never mind, I am pretty damn happy just to be around my family. I love xmas time. BREAKTHROUGH: my family are actually trusting me with money. Asked what I would like for christmas, I said clothes so naturally my Nanna and my Momma will give me money, not buy them for me and cross their fingers hoping I will like them. Yes, you read me right… they are going to physically give me the money. They said they trust me. I might of wrote somewhere that never in the past few years have they trusted me with even a £1 coin, as that might be the £1 needed to make it to £10, and then get a bag of heroin. Which I do not blame them for. Some family & friends of addicts would think this is way too early to be giving money to a junky as they are only just over a month clean, but they obviously have faith in me and so do I. Even if I didn’t, I couldn’t let them down it would break their trust and their hearts. I could not do it, period. I need some new clothes, anyway. I went shopping with my Momma last week and she got me some trainers, gym clothes and one of those wanky ipod nano holders you strap to your arm for the gym. I looked the part all kitted out in my outfit but when I got in the gym I thought I was going to pass out and die. I hadn’t had a drink of alcohol and my head was spinning- before I even got on a piece of exercise equipment. I left the gym, walked to a shop but it was shut. Cashpoint outside was broken and the pub next door didn’t except cards. I took this as a sign and walked back to the gym where I started small. Couldn’t believe how unfit I was, I used to be able to do 40 minute runs at my old gym at level 10 (12 being the max). I went the next day (thursday) and did a lot better 35 minutes on the cross treader. Then 10 minute warm-down on the treadmill. When I got off that I actually thought I was going to faint. I told myself I couldn’t and shouldn’t push it. I haven’t been since, so a 4 day break. I am going today in an hour. That will give me time to have a work-out, get a shower and get to my doctors appointment on time and then to see my key worker. My key worker was off sick for a good while but she is back and I met with her at the coffee shop with her cover, Liz, who looked after me while she was gone. That was Friday. She asked me if I would like to go swimming with her as she wants to get healthy, too. I said yes, of course. She is absolutely lovely, the best key worker I could wish for. 10 years ago she used to look after my sister in a childrens home. So she sort of remembered me, but definetely did my momma and sister.
Oh it is raining and is damn right miserable. Appointments are at 2.30 and 4 I believe so I have to hang about in between. I will have to stay away from anywhere that sells yummy food. I started out so well last week; cut out booze, chocolate, ate lean meats and salads. Then, I went to the pub with my sis & momma on saturday and the drinking never stopped- I added up my alcohol calories and I nearly died. My weight is ballooning and ballooning and I need to stop it in its tracks. I don’t want to buy big clothes it will just depress me. If heroin was good for one thing, it was weight loss (note: please nobody actually take it to loose weight, took about 2 years for me to drop my weight and it came at a price, i actually looked like shit). I totally forgot my twin nieces were sitting in the front room. They have both been so very ill since Friday afterschool. We knew something was wrong as they couldn’t eat and just laid in bed, interacting with one another through strained messages spoken to me and relayed to the other. Bless ‘em. Lots of Calpol and a few days later and they should be ok for school tomorrow. HOUSE MOVE: going well. Looking to have a place soon. Phew. Cannot wait. Once I do, its straight back to work or at least work from home- but I would have to research self-imployment for a brief period as I would be doing that until September only. When I meet my key worker today we are going to go over a university & college prospectus, so I can apply ASAP. I cannot go another year without not being in education. Would kill me!
My Momma is back at work. They start you off softly, since she was nearly 5 months off. Only mornings this week. My family keep on buying me stuff and offering to pay for this and that, I tell them no need but they are so happy I am staying clean they cannot stop treating me. I guess because they have always been generous with what little they had and while I was on gear, they couldn’t treat me as I wasn’t always around and for moral and fairness reasons, too (why should I spend all my money on gear when my momma works hard for her poxy wage only to buy us stuff?). I guess she is making up for it. I should get ready- for being humiliated at the gym. ha.
Sunday, non-league Histon beat Leeds 1-0 at home. My uncle does the illustrations/cartoons for the Histon Programme so he got to go with his partner, Sonia. I totally forgot about how much I loved sport when I was using so its nice to be able to sit and enjoy it again.