My Hero Is A Heroin Addict

Written with Tara Bowers at

“Do you want to know how a junky is lying? Their lips are moving.” In my experience this is beyond true. Heroin will take control of every action, every word, every function of your body, and every thought that crosses threw that addicted little mind.

Do you know what it feels like to kick heroin? Let me explain for those of you who have never experienced this disgusting illness. When heroin withdrawal sets in it starts off with a few sneezes, a few yawns, some cold sweats and chills over your entire body. Not so bad yet, right? Insomnia sets in, you could literally rip your skin off your body cause it so fucking uncomfortable to sit within your own skin that you start to punch your own legs. Oh yea, your legs start to hurt so bad that you ponder if you really need them to live the rest of your life anyways.

Soon you find yourself in the bathroom usually sitting on the toilet with a bucket in front of you because one little movement and you may bust out of both ends. Attractive right? Your entire body is in a panic because it’s literally in shock. At this moment you will sell your soul for just one more bag. You will slit the throat of anyone who tries to comfort you. You will rob, you will sell anything you can find, you will lay down with some old man who has just enough to spare to get you up to Newark to get a bundle.

The walls start closing in, most likely you feel like you are climbing them. Everyone you love means nothing at this point unless they are giving you some dope because that’s all that actually matters. Mentally you are insane, physically you are equal to a frail 80 year old woman with the flu, and spiritually you are completely dead because God doesn’t shoot dope into his veins. You scrape bags, you re soak cottons, anything you can break down and put into a needle will work but in the end nothing makes you feel better.

It’s a never ending cycle.

If you aren’t sick today, you will be tomorrow, there is no escaping this. If you sold all your belongings, you will manipulate, you will lie, you will beg, you will steal because who has time to be sick like this for days on end?

Anyone who has experienced, and preserved through this is my hero.

On heroin, my usual prayers are to just overdose and die because I know I do not have the will power to push through this withdrawal. Reality feels as if it’s easier to just be taken out, then deal with the physical and emotional torture.

Heroin lands you into psych wards, detoxes, rehabs, hospitals, jails and if you are lucky enough to be freed of the pain you are usually 6 feet under. I write all this not to get anyone jonesing for a shot, I write this to remind myself of what I never want to experience again.

The withdrawal may seem like it is never going to end but I promise there is always light at the end of every tunnel. There is always a glimmer of hope on the other side. You are the chosen few who survive this insidious disease. That’s only if you remember the struggle it was to get through that pain. In my experience the moment I forgot how disgusting of a life I used to live is the moment I find myself fantasizing about sticking that needle back in my arm. The more fantasizing I did with my drug of choice, the less I feed myself with the positivity of recovery.

I slowly crept back into active addiction. It didn’t happen quickly because this disease is so cunning and baffling it will make you think that having a beer is okay because it’s not heroin. A beer turns into a shot of whiskey, the whiskey turns into the Coke lines off the dingy toilet bowl in some dive bathroom, the Coke leads to a few Xanax because let’s face it, all coked up you will never sleep. The Xanax take away all the pain and then boom, you are reminded of how amazing putting that needle into your arm feels. The first time is always the best you know. It will never feel that good ever again. You will spend months and years chasing that first initial time. The cycle has begun yet again.

My hero is the one who stayed clean for today, my hero is the one who woke up in that psych ward and chose life. My hero is that one vigilantly going to meetings and sharing their experience, strength and hope on how they managed to get through one more day without the use of drugs. My hero is a felon. My hero may have robbed endless amounts of people. My hero used to sleep under a bridge in Paterson, NJ. My hero used to turn tricks for $20 to get just enough to not be sick anymore. My hero stayed clean for another 24 hours. My hero is a heroin addict.

Written in partnership with Tara Bowers at