Sunday, April 21, 2013

Crash course in cravings

I was looking for a picture to post on here or an image that would inspire me.I thought about taking a picture with an old syringe we have here. It is used to give the animals their flea medicine. It comes without the needle thankfully however it is strange drawing up fifty units for my cats. I put the empty drum against my arm to take the picture. Stupid, I thought. I wonder if this triggers someone just to see the image. It makes for cool art but certain images are religious artifacts to current and former addicts. Just a glimpse of their outline in our peripheral vision recalls euphoric cravings.

In my years off of drugs and alcohol, my process has been a unique one. I get cravings, yes, but in odd situations. I would like to share a story of my own stupidity and callous complacency.

I was walking to work from my apartment to the methadone clinic. I worked at a top notch clinic for many years that was free and supportive of clients. I used to walk to work in the pitch black. I am telling myself this is to get exercise but there is a stillness before the sun comes up. I am more comfortable among the scurrying rats, junkies, and immigrants searching for a days wage then I was in the presence of strangers. These streets, all two miles of them, I traversed in comfortable vigilance.

Working at needle exchanges made me keenly aware of the sharps scattered along my path. Cats are attracted to shiny lights. I am attracted to small opportunities along my path. A smile in the darkness, a redirection, a referral. The clients expect me there at 6:30am but I frequently come in at 6:00. You can sleep on my couch in my office, use the bathroom, be a human again.

A few blocks from my work, I stop. What is that? Under the awning I find a few scattered syringes. I'm going to take this into work. Kids and recyclers can get stuck by these all out in the open. I can drop my bucket off at work. I'll drop these in my bag.

A few more blocks. I turn off the alarm and get in my door. It's early today- is it six yet? No clients, no staff. No one but me. I empty out my bag. Wtf? My heart literally stopped. I have picked up a fully loaded syringe. These were used works that were left in haste. This was a carefully crafted wake up that was dropped in error. In a moment of agony, my stomach turned. I am alone with a syringe full of heroin.

There was no one to call. I had plannedto put the empties in the sharps container. Now I was in touch with a much larger dilemma- my stupidity had lead me to the precise fear? What the fuck have I done. I get cravings. Alcohol. The smell. I put a full syringe down the fucking toilet. I achieved the unachievable. I was ready to see my first patient.

I never collected needles again unless it was needed for safety reason. I had haphazardly played with my life. A client asked me once to hold a thousand dollars in cash for him. He was in a klonopin blackout. What did I tell him? I am not well. No. Just because I am clean, I am not cured. That is why I need to follow rules. I need to follow my own instincts.

You get the picture. Here it is. A lesson learned not to play around with things that are so unsettling.


  1. May I said your heroin habit cost 50 dollars a day? I'm so glad you didn't use that syringe you had found. Obviously you could have caught HIV/AIDS.

    1. i really depended on the day but in general yes

  2. My kid's medicine comes with syringes (no needle) too, and yes, it is VERY strange to me too!