Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Things Every Junkie Needs

I am going to make a simple list:
1. New needles. After shooting up bleach by accident and shooting up bleach on purpose after accidentally putting it in my hit, I cannot endorse these enough. In addition, having them break off in your neck, groin, or other sensitive area truly sucks. And, caught out in the world without them, you might be desperate enough to boot up with someone's that provides you with the gift of Hep C or HIV. A brand new needle should be sealed at the top with a matching seal in the plastic and the cap. (Maybe a reader can throw a pic up in the comments). It also has a tiny bit of airspace at the top. Check your needles!!!!! I have known people to see or give needles that were "new" to people that had blood still in them. One guy was tweaked out of his mind and gave me a "new" one. He was HIV + and I could have gained the same infection if I would not have checked.

2. Clean water. I have shot up with booze, gutter water, grape soda, water from the back of the toilet. Do not do this. I nearly lost my lower leg from the infection. I have large holes on my body from this. 

3. Clean cotton. Notice the word clean. I don't think cotton from your tube sock is particularly clean but it is better than shooting coffee or baby laxatives. Using no cotton is just wrong especially if you are using tar. I had a massive infection in my thigh from muscling and using no cotton. It smelled so bad that the police debated letting me go because they did not want to have to spend 8 hours at the hospital with me. You could easily smell it from five feet away- the rotting flesh caused by impatience 

4. You need naloxone. Save a life. Save your own life. Naloxone will reverse the impact if an opiate overdose in 95% of the cases. Find that shit. Trade for it. Do not store it in the fridge or by hear. It's fragile and strong. You need it. 

5. Find an enabler. A good one. Someone who will continue to put up with your stupid shit and not toss you out in the street. The streets are no joke. If you have a habit to support, without the enabler your options are pretty grim my friend- hooking, stealing, dealing, fraud and the like. Without the enabler, you have to support a habit AND try to find housing on the daily. And be nice to this person. They actually give a fuck about you and you need to respect them. 

6. You need someone who believes in you and your recovery. When you get tired of all this drama (and you will) you need someone willing to help you. I believe in you. When you are ready, you can totally do this. 

Part of this is meant to be funny but really all the stuff in here is real. Below is people who believe in me. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lunch with a reader

I had lunch with a reader today. I love meeting people who read my blog. We were in the hood today so it made me a tour guide of sorts through junkie history. There is so much stigma around addiction, he had to hide his face. I was so happy he agreed to hang out with me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The room can be full of people yet I feeling like I am the only one. My bed can have another body but I turn my back to their side. I was born a lonely person. There is no flowery or poetic description to tell the world what it is like to feel trapped inside myself. Loneliness is a sensation like taste our touch or smell that leaves you wanting a bite of something. It is like my skin is too hard to penetrate the sweet core. I can be surrounded like a swarm, yet I feel cold while you feel warm. SNAP SNAP snap out of it. If I snap anymore I will break in pieces. I am fractured enough from my chemical moods. I feel up then down. There is no ceiling when you hit the floor. Or the bottom.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Turning Blue

How many times will you overdose before it is over? How many times will you wake up on the floor, in the jail, or behind the wheel of your car going down the highway? When did the doe start doing you?

Yes, yes. I really do not understand you at all my friend. I have NEVER fallen asleep will crackers in my mouth. Oh wait, yes. Yes I have had the pleasure of a little fire on my arm from someone smoking and nodding out into me. Fuck yes I have bashed my head on the concrete walking in a nod. You think you are the only one who jabbed a bloody bent needle into your leg when you couldn't find a vein. Uh no. I have sucked the dope man off AND lost everyone that care about me. Yes, I see your misery and raise you. I bet you never lived outside with a shopping cart. Trump!

Cut all have been clean so long stuff. TIRED! So tired. The circumstances may be different but the feelings are the same. In the end, the drugs do not care if you are employed, rich, poor, where you live, or whether you feel as if you are "functioning" as an addict. You can turn blue just like me. If you die with a needle hanging out of your arm, people will mourn. If you take just ONE too many pills, it will not matter if they came from a doctor or a crack head. Death creates a level playing field.

THIS is serious. You are betting your life on it.

this is my writing my blog face and dress code. A little more light hearted

Friday, July 26, 2013

Drugs are an illusion

You ever have a day where it seems like everyone has left? Where did the time go? Where did my life go? I was just sitting here trying to get a hit. Then, one day I looked up and you were walking away with someone else. There is no one who can stop the pain I feel knowing what we had was real but now you are over me. I see the grayness in my skin and the ashes that burn like the spoon in front of me. Just add water to my reality. I can give you forty units of my time as long as you surrender to the fact the person you knew ran away.

Most people are running to something. We like to set a goal and reach for our assumptions of happiness. I found this ONE thing that makes me happy. This ONE thing but it kills me just the same. Have you ever seen someone turn blue? In their glassy eyes you see the future. Do I give them what they need to live or do I walk away from life. The decisions we make change the course of galaxy. While we are looking into the stars, other people have their feet on the ground.

Addiction is a selfish bitch. She requires all our attention. Addiction is a jealous lover- do not EVER try to leave or you will face the consequences. I am leaving this time. I am leaving and I am never coming back to this life. You will see the metamorphosis, the evolution of a stronger person. I am can be myself without you. Drugs are an illusion. I am ready to start something real. I will pack up my shitty attitude, my poor dental hygiene, all my fucking resentments and start something brand new.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I would estimate that half of my emails from readers involve questions around withdrawal from opiates. First of all, by the time many of you have decided to kick the habit, there are not that many people left to for a conversation. You may be isolated in your room, on your couch, locked in your grandmother's basement, or staying with a person willing to give you ONE last chance. You email me thinking somehow I understand you.

Secondly, you are desperate for a connection. When you withdrawal from Opiates, all your emotions come pouring out at one time. You are angry, crying, and confused. Then, suddenly, you feel like you are going to puke or crap or both at the same time. Even if you have decided to go on suboxone, you still need a period of no drugs. To add insult to injury, you may have an erection for the first time in quite awhile, yeah! Oh wait. No, no, no. Puking, a hard on, sneezing all at the same time. Sleep- what sleep? Legs are twitching and moving while you lay still. 

What is going to help you? I can only advise a few things. Drink water- lots of it. The legs cramps are from a build up of lactic acid. Your muscles are crying out for oxygen. Walk around a little and eat a banana. Massage your legs. See if someone can rub them for you if you can stand to be touched. For sleep and over all well being,  junkies for decades have been kicking using masturbation. It will help you sleep and kick start endorphin production. I know the last time I kicked, I did it like five times a day to sleep for 20 minute stretches. Benadryl or the store brand will help you sleep. You can safely take 2. Some people take more. You will go to sleep. When you are kicking, you are having a histamine reaction ie sneezing, runny nose, and water eyes. 
These are the poor man's remedies. For anything else, see a doctor. I often have found these work the best. 

Find a person to talk to who believes in you. I believe in you. Always. Kicking is more than breaking all your needles. It is a process of change. When you open up to someone, our illness becomes a shared condition.

Sending you love today. Tracey

As for the person who left this dirty hit in the sidewalk, I hope to hell the get some help. They need it! 
sick, sick, sick.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The movie "Black Tar Heroin" took away my privacy for many years. Everywhere I went people knew me. From drug dealers, to junkies, counselor, and strangers people all had an opinion on my condition. As the years went by, the barriers of time provided me with some shade. The spot light was no longer pointed directly at all my scars.

A few years ago, the documentary began  appearing in various forms on you tube. This was a fact I learned from Spanky. He used to take his little section from the movie and proudly comment on his few seconds of fame. I found this horrifying and interesting at the same time. "Who is watching this movie?" My curiosity got the best of me. I decided to go take a look for myself. After reading some of the comments, I realized that the world needed to hear my story. The powerful message of the film is that we get clean or we die. I was willing to open myself up again because I know about the suffering of the addict. I also know the joy of getting off drugs.

In writing these stories, I have opened up parts of myself that have laid covered for many years. I hope that you can understand the journey and the struggles I have faced in my life. I enjoy interacting with my readers. I enjoy inspiring someone. There were two men outside today fist fighting over a place in line to try to get to detox. Our work is not done when there is so little access to treatment. My work is not done.

I use my picture below as a metaphor for my relationship with you. My house is very small. There is not a whole lot of privacy. I have private moments but anyone can find you in that small house at any time. So I have to cover up the REALLY private bits. The rest I am willing to leave exposed to the world. I want people to find me. The Internet has made my life the same way. The really private bits I cover up like details about my kids. The rest is open for you all to see on a daily basis. My life provides a narrative that change is real. At some point, I may close up all these doors. For now, I am just out there.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Opinion on Your Habit

Dear readers, it makes me sad that so many people who email or chat with me describe themselves as a "failure" because they are addicted to a substance. In my eyes, you are not a failure, you have endured and survived while many have your peers have perished from the same condition. Drug addiction is all consuming, hateful, and take us to lows beyond our imagination. You do not have to be pushing a shopping cart to feel worthless or ashamed. The very fact that you are willing to reach out to a stranger on the Internet shows your strength. I may not be next to you to support you. However, I care for you. I give a fuck. I am sure others care too, you just may not believe this to be true. Do not give up hope. Do not give up on joy. 
Love to you- Tracey

Below is another urban camping picture. The can next to them is a slim fast which is a drink to lose weight we have in the US. The irony was not lost. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Guest Post From Lance PA, USA

Looking back at the 10+ years of my active addiction, I never once saw faults in my relationships with people I loved with all of my heart. I always thought everything was fine and that if there was a problem it would go away with some talking and nurturing, but with the blinders of heroin over my eyes, I couldn't ever see the truth. 
 My first relationship, real, true, inexorable love, was with a blonde girl 6 months my senior and a grade above me in high school. We met through my uncle, as her two brothers were his good friends. In the beginning everything was absolutely incredible. She was the love of my life, and still to this day it's hard for me to really write this knowing what I threw away. She sat at my table at lunch alot but never took notice to me until the one night my uncle, her, and some other friends of his and I decided I go midnight glow bowling. She fed me Hershey chocolate bars, stuffing my mouth full until I could barely breathe. That's when I started talking notice of her. She called my work one night asking me to bring her a cookie. I don't think she thought I actually would, but, when my second shift at the convenience store was done I drove to her friends house where she was staying and brought her a cookie. We sat behind another convenience store and talked, it started to thunder and lightning, so I held her; nervously. When I took her back to her fiends house I could feel the air thick with anticipation, tension, and love. We both were smitten and thus began the growth of a beautiful flower I would later stem, viciously and wanton. My addiction to opiates started at this time also, growing like a potato in the dark, wet soil of my soul, underneath everything I really was. 
 Fast forward a year after we began dating; the first time I cheated on her. It was with a 15 year old girl (keep in mind I was only 17) who was my best friends sister. They lived an hour away from me. It hurt me to do this, but I numbed the pain with opiates. I came home that weekend and broke up with the love of my life and started a love triangle that would last 4 years, bouncing between them. Like a zombie. There were many more after that and during that as well. The worst was the last one, a girl I turned into a monster. She was a beautiful small Korean girl who was adopted by American citizens. We went to school together and I pursued her, took her virginity, made her fall for me while I was single, went back to my true love and began another triangle. My true love and I were living together at this point. The triangle between my best friends sister, my true love and I ended with the birth of my son in 2005. We moved in together in 2007 and in 2008 this new one began. But because the Korean girl and I were both addicts now we leaned on each other in order to stay well, to keep going. My true love hated this all together but stayed with me because she loved me and knew the kind of person I was off of drugs; waiting for that person to come back. She stayed with me through severe heroin addiction, overdoses, cheating, lying, and horrible bullshit. But one day the levee broke. 
 She would try to look the other way when she knew I was with the Korean girl, my best friends sister or any other girl, but would explode on me when she couldn't do it. One day she had enough after reading my text messages while I was asleep. She threw the phone at my face while I laid on the couch nodded out. I jumped up and punched her in the leg as hard as I could and grabbed her throat saying something to the effect of "don't you ever do that again or I'll fucking kill you". She cried and eventually stopped. I believe she went to sleep at her moms that's night with my son, who was 2 years old and saw it all. The next day, she filed a PFA, I went to jail when it was served because I had warrants, and that was the end.
 I detoxed in jail. It was excruciating. I went straight from jail to a 32 day treatment an hour away, but having just gone through a detox a month prior, and all the shit over the years, my true love had enough and it was never to be again. 
 This is the part that is extremely hard for me to write. I didn't get clean until a few months ago. I take with me everyday the pain and agony of not being with the family I should have. I still love her with all of my heart. We are good friends and talk all the time, but everything I put her through, she just won't risk being with me again. This kills me. I put her through hell, I don't blame her. But then again, god damnit I could seriously just fucking wash my mouth out with a bullet because of what I've done. We should be together in a house of our own, with our kids she has with me and not me and some other fucking retard she wasted her time with. I shouldn't have to ask to have my son certain days an weekends, I should simply be able to wake up to him every day. But I can't. I destroyed that fantastic reality with a syringe and some fucking powder. All because I couldn't handle life on life's terms. I was selfish and put my own wants and needs before my family. I hate who I was. I still hate myself because of what I've thrown away. I wake up every single day and I carry this with me all day long. I think about what we had, what we could have had if only I had done the right things. If only I wasn't infatuated with women and needed to fuck everything that moved, if only I could have never touched pills and heroin, if only I had listened to what those who loved me told me....we would still be together. Now I get to watch her have babies with other piece of shit useless fucks, wishing it was me. Go from relationships wishing I could just have that chance again. But I never will. 
 What I have now is the bed I made. You reap what you sow; words my father carried from his father, and now down to me. I threw away everything for drugs. I hurt the one person that loved me unconditionally and wanted to spend the rest of her life with me all because I wanted to do drugs instead of take care of my family. To her, things couldn't ever be the same. I raped and destroyed what we had. 
 And now I am a lonely person. I'm off drugs, but the trail of destruction it's caused is still there. I long for a family of my own, with my son. I long for MY family; but emptiness is all I have now. What's done is done and there is no undoing it. I pray that one day she might realize what I've turned into and take me back. But, I'm only kidding myself. Those waters will always be poisoned with the fear of what she remembers from the past, and will never be cleansed by trust, forgiveness and love from her. There just simply isn't enough of it to perform that miracle. And I will always be a broken man because of it. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Guest Post Judi from US

This story is about Judi and myself. I am the person in the story she is speaking about saving her from an overdose. We are both miracles. She runs an awesome bicycle shop. Check out her business . Not only do we recover, we can thrive and enjoy a full life without drugs.

This a picture of me and the guy who introduced me to the needle. Later, after we broke up, he saved my life one night

A girl I used to shoot dope with is on my Facebook page as of recent weeks and she posted that this morning. I clicked the "like" button and posted back to her 'LMAO'. I did laugh a little when I saw her post.

This particular girl and I have a history that goes way, way back. We experienced some bad things together. She now has her masters and lives out west helping other junkies get clean. She also has a family and all the other good stuff that comes when you put the dope down.

Finding a vein. When I see my new athletic veins pop out, I think back to the days when I couldn't find a vein for my dope. My veins were small and hard to find. I'd go to her hotel room and 2 or 3 people would try and help me find a vein. It was disgusting. Junkies will stick themselves over and over to find a vein. Jabjabjab.

This particular girl also saved my life once. I posted her email to me a while back. I'll post it again. Sometimes I need to re-read these words to remember.

you overdosed and it took me 20 mins to revive you. Right when I was ready to give up, the police and the paramedics kicked in the door. You opened up your eyes like two seconds before they opened the door. Someone must have heard me gasping and called the paramedics. They took you and forced me to go with you to the hospital and get narcaned. Then, you told me the whole way to the hospital "why didn't you let me die? it was my time to go." I think you had taken some klonapins. You overdosed a few times I've seen where you had to be given mouth to mouth but that time you seriously almost died. In fact, I almost left you because you were so blue I didn't know how long you had been out.

I was blue. Many times. Yet here I am.

Life is fucking crazy. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shamed to Death

After we complete at stint in rehab or in jail, the expectations set for us are so high. For many of us, there is no where left to go but down. Addiction is a chronic medical disorder. The cause of our condition may or may not be self created through poor choices in the same way over consumption of food can cause diabetes. Instead of blaming and shaming us, we need realistic support. While it may be true that diabetics do not steal things to support their sugar habit, the criminalization of a medical condition has pushed addicts into the shadow world and out into the elements.

Who is worth saving? Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse an opiate overdose yet it is only available at a few hundred sites across the country. Are you lucky enough to be in an area where you can receive a rational treatment for an accidental overdose? The naloxone can be administered by yourself or a friend or relative. Even grandmas get confused and take too many opiates. Are they worth saving? Who is making these policy decisions. Our system of addiction policies in the United States are prohibitive when they should be based on the best interventions available for our citizens. Naloxone works. Harm reduction saves lives every day. 

This young man that died in Vancouver was killed by his shame. The scenario is a familiar one to many of us. Fresh out of a stint in rehab, all eyes are on us. When will we fall down? When will we fail? This is the chorus we hear in our heads. If only he could have picked up the phone. If only he would have realized there were people that loved him? I have been in his position. That drink of alcohol fuels the poor judgement. The heroin is close behind the booze. Once I lose my rational ability to fight my cravings, any thing can happen at that moment. I was given many second chances. This young man, like many other young men and women I have known, will not have the opportunity to create a full life without drugs. 

It is time to open frank conversation about addiction. It is time to demand better access to treatment, clean needles, and interventions based around individual goals. It is time to treat addiction as a medical condition. We need naloxone and we need it in every first aid kit. We are all worth saving.

The two men in these pictures died of the exact same thing.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My insecurities

            I woke up today and hated myself like I have so many days before. I am sitting in tears that I stuff deeper into all the boxes I constructed to keep you from hurting me. I hate my fears. I hate my eyes. I would rip them out and give them to you if only you could see me. You pass through my life. You slipped through my fingers. I can see your hazy reflection. You are like an outline of the life that I imagined for myself.

            Some days, I wake up and I hate myself. Not dislike, not like “oh I wish you would say some nice shit about me so I can feel better.” Some days I wish I could hold my breath until I am safe. It is part of knowing you spent six years with a needle hanging out of your arm. It is part of why I used in the first place. My anxiety. My insecurities. You want to know me. You say you want to know every single part of me? The bitter comes with sweet. The tears taste like salt from the ocean where I tried to drown my sorrows. At least this story comes with a happy ending.

Below is a link to a work shop I did on anxiety and depression.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A reader generously provided the funds for purchase of a chrome book. To celebrate their generosity, I am going to set up times in August to webchat and Facebook or IM chat with you readers. I will make times available for you on a first come, first served basis. You can ask me addiction or Black Tar Heroin related questions. I should be able to do ten of these chat sessions so be on the look out for details.

The picture is another in my urban camping series. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heroin Sucks.

Heroin Sucks. It sucks the life from you. It sucks up all your time and energy. It sucks away the friends, family, and support system we need to thrive as human beings.

I am sitting on my couch drinking coffee. When I first started going to 12-step meetings, I used to get sick to my stomach. It took me months to realize it was from the smell of the coffee. Cheap black tar heroin is cut with coffee. I never drank coffee before recovery. The smell if the coffee brewing set off that craving that you feel in your guts. 

People ask me if I still have cravings to use- fuck yes . I would LOVE some relief from my daily stress.  I could curl up right now in a lovely warm blanket of opiates with a benzo chaser. My body does not work like this scenario. One is never enough. When that switch is flipped, I want more! More is not enough. It is sort of like when you are sitting in a circle of people and the crack pipe is being passed. You can not focus on being high for long because you are so focused on when you can get the next one. 

There is also a strong possibility I would die. I am one greedy dope hog that likes to use alone. Fuck sharing! Sharing is for kids.

And so I chose not to use. I chose not to get started on that path. I'll drink black coffee and stare at the walls. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Guest post/letter

This is an email I received from one if my lovely readers living in another part of the world. I asked if I could post this because it so perfectly sums up early recovery. You are so vulnerable at that point. People can also be so harsh with judgement. Stay strong! The picture below is another in my urban camping series. The straw hat clearly blocks out the insanity of addiction. 

Hey Tracey, I went to my first NA last night, it was pretty surreal. I am so emotionally fragile (I'm still in the midst of kicking with Sub) and have been so isolated apart from being with my boyfriend these last few months that I literally cried any time somebody looked at me, and couldn't talk at all. It was hard, I'm not a tough person, all these people seemed so much tougher than me and I am like butter, plus heroin has significantly diminished my already desperately low self-esteem to the point where I feel like I'm walking around with my head down and my tail between my legs like a beaten puppy, it's fucking embarrassing. I kept wondering if they thought I didn't belong there, kind of like I was somehow cheating because I hadn't been all the way to the bottom yet and there I was asking for help to get to the surface already. I keep questioning myself, does heroin have to take everything from me before I can start again? Or can I try to restore what I have left? Have I suffered enough? Am I a spoiled brat? I don't know the answers yet. I have a practical question for you though, when they ask you for days clean what do you say if you are on sub? I guess I am not clean yet because I am not abstinent, although I have not used heroin for almost 3 days now which is approaching my personal best, I have still used my prescription Valium, pot and sub, do you just politely decline to answer when they ask you how many days in this case? I don't want to trigger anyone. Congrats on being on track for the book goal! Lots of love, anonymous. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Things People do not tell you about Heroin- part two

Please feel free to add your own in the comments:
5. You may very likely fall asleep with food in you mouth. Amazingly, you may just re chew and swallow that same tasty morsel later. This may be something along the lines of grahamn crackers, a cinnamon roll, etc. As yummy as it sounds, it is WAY better than trying to spit that stuff out with a pasty mouth.

6. If you nod off next to a person who is also nodding, they may burn you. There is nothing more irritating that waking up to your shirt or the bed on fire. Add a few klonopin in that mix, you may wake up engulfed in flames.

7. No matter how many times you say you will cuss the connection out, you never will do it. You will wait patiently in the rain for 1-2 hours envisioning acts of violence on said dealer then thank them when they hand you your stuff.

8. If you are selling drugs, everyone hates you. Yes, I know, you also use them so you think it is cool. It is not- they hate you. Trust me. Worse than a junkie is a junkie that then sells drugs- you have betrayed the sacred order of the spoon.

9. If you have never had sex with an ugly person for drugs, keep using…

10. The first one after rehab or jail is always free. After that, you will be paying thousands. There is no “free heroin”. It goes into the cosmic bank of suffering and misery likes company.

Guest Post From Norway

Guest post from Norway
By Kaja Andrine Hultgren
My uncle was a very gentle, kind man. I have heard stories from when he was a child. He didn’t make much out of himself. They say he was lazy and didn’t walk until he was 2. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother (my grandmother) was not able to understand what was happening when my uncle started to hang out at night with the wrong people. I’m told that he started injecting heroin when he was 15. He told me he smoked pot for the first time at a club for teenagers in the neighborhood where he grew up. The club was started by the local church ward so that young people should have a place to hang out, it was supposed to keep them off the streets. This was back in the 60-70’s, and in Norway, Oslo, at that time, no-one had any real experience or knowledge about the consequences of doing drugs. Many teens of my uncle’s generation had their drug debut at this club, and many stories have been written and told about how a generation growing up in the same place in the suburbs of Oslo in the 60’s and 70’s became heavy drug users. Some managed to get out of it, much because some families had resources to pull their children out of the situation, unfortunately my uncle was not born into a family of that kind. His drug use became a lifelong addiction.
 In his early twenties he was in prison for the first time. I was a young child, and the whole family kept the truth from me. I didn’t learn about his addiction until 1985, when I was 15. His father, now divorced from my grandmother, called my parents’ house while drunk and I picked up the phone, he told me. I remember it being a total shock. I was angry with my family for keeping this from me. I always had a special relationship with my uncle. I loved him, and I felt that he was a very special person in my life. When I was in my mid-twenties, my uncle moved to the city where I grew up. He had spent some years in prison, and some years in the north of Norway because he met a nurse (while hospitalized for hepatitis), and she wanted to live close to her family in northern Norway. When they ended their relationship my uncle met another woman, not a user, who lived in my city. At this point my uncle had managed to get prescription drugs, which he heated, mixed up and injected. He fooled the doctors, saying he needed painkillers because of an arm injury. I really don’t understand how these docs could avoid seeing his track marks. 
Then, his supplier, a doctor who already was in trouble for writing prescriptions to addicts, got scared. He was about to lose his license and he stopped the supply. I went to see him, tried to explain that without prescription drugs my uncle would surely go back to heroin. And of course he did. This was the beginning of another period in hell for all of us. I hated him asking me for money, I hated myself for giving it to him, I hated being there when he went to the next room to inject, I hated to see how he sat there with his head hanging down, mumbling incoherently. I understand now that I was co-dependent in this period. He started to smuggle and sell heroin to support his habit. I remember being in the city with friends, seeing him getting off the bus from Oslo, three policemen waiting for him putting him to the ground, handcuffing him. My friends asking, isn’t that your uncle? Yes, this was my beloved uncle. The man I had admired so much in my childhood, who had played with me, taught me to play cards, sung to me and always listened to me. 
After many years of loving and living with an addict, when he had sold almost all their belongings, including their engagement rings, his girlfriend left him. She had children and grandchildren, she had never used and was a stabilizing factor in my uncle’s life. Now it really went downhill. Me and my father spent nights looking for him, in parks, in public toilets. What if he had taken an overdose? I was scared all the time. Then we got a phone call, he was in the hospital, overdose, but he survived. It didn’t help tough, when we got there he had left. I know my parents gave up that point, but I couldn’t. I made him call me once in a while, just to know he was alive. If he didn’t call I drove around the streets of Oslo, searching, asking. Then he was hospitalized again, and diagnosed with Hep C. He was also tested for HIV, negative. Probably, he had saved himself living up north when the “plague” hit Oslo in the beginning of the 90’s. He decided to get clean, he said he was tired of this life, tired of being ill. The heroin didn’t get him high anymore. Still he told me that he loved that drug. He loved everything about it, even the hitch of the needle was a part of his love affair with heroin. 
He got into rehab and stayed clean for 2 years. I felt I had my uncle back. We went out for dinner together, watched movies, talked and took walks. Sometimes I spent whole evenings at the recovery home or he came to my apartment when he was considered stable enough to leave the institution on in own. With my help he managed to take the exams he needed to finish school. This was the best period I had with my uncle since my childhood, the future was full of hope. Then one night he called me. I was supposed to meet him for dinner, but he had been using again. He said: “ I had a hit, I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to meet me for dinner now.” He was right, I didn’t want to see this again. Soon he was back as a fulltime user, but his body was tired, he didn’t have any good veins left. He used hours just to get one hit. 
He got the idea to move to Thailand. He had friends there, old user friends, they didn’t shoot heroin down there. Some years I think he was happy there. He didn’t inject anymore (his veins were not able to take it), but he smoked pot and experienced with other types of drugs. He got a girlfriend, also a drug user. Then one night he went on a short trip, staying in a hotel. He used meth-amphetamine that night, and got the idea that he had to lit fire to the hotel room. He was arrested. 10 years in Thai-prison. I cried my eyes out. He got out after 6 years, because of health problems. A contact at the Norwegian consulate helped us. He was put on a plane to Norway in his slippers, shorts and t-shirt, that was all he had on when he landed in the cold Norwegian spring air. I was happy to see him, but he was very ill. He couldn’t breathe properly, he looked like a corpse, he was so thin and he coughed so heavily he almost couldn’t stand on his feet. He was unhappy, he didn’t want to be in Norway, he couldn’t live here. We let him smoke pot on our balcony for his pains, his body had been through too much. He decided to go to the Philippines, he had heard good things about that place. He also had an old drug contact who had gotten out and who had a hotel there. 

The same summer we lost our old aunt. She died peacefully in a retirement home at the age of 102. My uncle was leaving for the Philippines straight after her funeral. As I hugged him goodbye on the stairs of the funeral home, I knew. This is the last time. Take care! Safe flight! I cried for both my old aunt and for my beloved uncle that day.  
My uncle was found dead in his hotel room in the Philippines 26th of July 2010, 55 years old. His heart just couldn’t take anymore, it had stopped.
In loving memory of  Petter UllsgÃ¥rd (1955-2010) 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Things people do not tell you about heroin

1. Chinga babies- after you have been hooked on opiates for any period of time, you can no longer poop well on your own. When you enter a period of sickness, you may give "birth" to a chinga baby. This is when you suddenly have to poop and an enormous hard poop the length of your colon decides to come out an an inopportune time tearing apart your booty. 

2. Coagulated blood hits- when you cannot find a vein, you may put a syringe clogged with blood and dope to the side. At some later time, a few hours or even a day down the road, you may rethink that hit. I have taken the liquid out, picked out the clots and stuck that right back in my arm. I also did a few of Ben's coagulated blood hits. Ahhh love! 

3. Impotence- Shhh. It's a secret unless you have ever fucked a male addict. After awhile, things do not work in the nether regions. Unless they take a hit of crack or speed. Then, he is too busy looking for white specs on the carpet to get busy. 

4. No periods. Yes ladies, your period may stop. Or you thought it stopped but you actually are pregnant but did not know because you have not had a period. 

5. The first one after rehab is always free.

Get tested for everything readers. I did. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another Day in Paradise

There is the San Francisco you see as a tourist. Then, there is the San Francisco I see as a health worker. Our city is unlike so many others. I've used in many cities across the US but San Francisco is like no other. We spend our time and energy saving the lives of addicts on a daily basis. It clearly is not enough readers.

Even in a "liberal" city like SF, we waste so much money on locking up low level drug offenders. Our drug policy fails at nearly every level. The United States needs to stop the War on Drugs. We then need to turn our attention to addiction as a health crisis, not a moral failing that deserves incarceration over treatment.

We also need to take a look at the privately run opiate replacement clinics that gouge suffering addicts for profit at the weakest point of their lives. These clinics charge up to $400 dollars a month when both suboxone and methadone come in a generic form. Why do the costs continue to remain so high so what should be standard medical treatment. 

 Of course, these are my opinions. I was fortunate enough to live in a city where I was able to get clean needles, clean water, and free and humane treatment for my addiction. Many are not as fortunate. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

He has my toes

After the excitement of bringing home a newborn wears off, then begins a lifetime of parceling up parental characteristics. I have three children. My middle son has my face and eyes. My daughter definitely has my love of books. She also has my penchant for a good screaming fit from time to time. My youngest son has my toes. He loves a good, long nap which I like to enjoy with him. 

Unfortunately, I wonder on a near daily basis, which one of my children will be an addict. A better question- how can I keep this from becoming a reality? My children have never seen me take a drink of alcohol. I will never be under the influence in front of them. I am completely open to questions, including the uncomfortable ones. I take them on public transportation. I explain about homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness. Most of all, we spent tons of time with our kids. 

Will these things prevent addiction in my family? I am unable to see into the future. I can tell you that I am more than willing to go up into any crack house, ho stroll, or shooting gallery in America to get my child. I am willing to park at the corner to wait for any dealer trying to serve my kids and put a pistol in their face. I also am more than willing to show up at any party my kids may be at to see what is REALLY going on.

These kids may have my toes or eyes. They also have my genes. I do not need to be their friend. I just need to keep them safe. These are just my opinions. Eventually they will go off on their own. Until then, I am one nosy mother in need of a pedicure. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Still Suffering Addict

I am thinking today of the still suffering addict. I am feeling for the person who just can not stop using drugs. I am sad today for my friends that are somewhere sticking a needle in the veins, finding a solution in a problem. I correspond with many suffering addicts. Some are in recovery. Some are not able to string together more than unstable periods of abstinence in between painful bouts of kicking. I love you all the same.

I love you with compassionate detachment. My pain is my pain. I allow your pain to be your pain. I provide a witness to your struggle. I provide a voice. However, I do not take on pain that does not belong to me.

I am here to provide encouragement not a crutch. I give you my love but never my pity. I understand your shame. Honestly, I just wish you would STOP fucking using. Okay?! I'm selfish. I want you to live.

This is an oversimplified version of my emotions. But kitty agrees with me

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Celebrate Freedom

Today in the US, we celebrate freedom from outside influence, a power outside ourselves. Sounds like addiction! Today celebrate freedom from active addiction. Celebrate the ability to break free of the drugs. Enjoy a moment or a day just to think about what it is or would be like to not be tied to a substance. I am spending some time in bed recovering from a minor illness. I hope you readers are doing well. Keep sending me questions. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cardboard Box House

A cardboard box house aka heroin hut or crackdeville is a common sight all around the city. Here are the steps to building an effective shelter. First of all, you must be loaded a least a month of two. It is critical for you to abandon all hope of sleeping inside. Add in a dash of paranoia that the shadow people may find you. You are ready. 

The next steps are all about real estate: location, location, location. You must strategically place yourself close enough that anyone wandering by might find you and give you some drugs. Plus, you can get a kick down for your space. Veins need to be warm so space inside your shopping cart villa may pay off if it is well constructed and safe from the elements. You must select a doorway or sidewalk that has limited foot traffic or the owners will surely call the cops. Finally, rest your cardboard on the tops of a hill. I have learned the hard way about people pissing above your stuff and how it rolls down hill. 

Do not sleep next to garbage. Rats jump and like to tear up pieces of bedding for their nests. Do not sleep next to the curb. You will get soaked when street cleaning comes by in the morning. 

In constructing the layers, cardboard goes down first. Then a wool type blanket. These blankets are extremely prone to body lice so try not to share them. The lice nestle in there until they find another host. A sleeping bag is optimal. You can also throw on two pairs of pants and four shirts. The effect is similar unless the sea breeze blows in at night. Then you need some type of tarp. A shopping cart is good for blocking the wind but not essential to the construction of your new digs. 

Be sure to pack extra syringes, sterile water, a glass pipe, a push, cotton, some cookers, condoms, a candy bar, and some napkins. Like the Boy Scouts say- be prepared! Sleeping with a knife and a pitbull helps if you are going it alone. 

I hope you never end up in these places. I've had a pink shopping cart, a battery generated shopping cart, a trunk on wheels. I can laugh at my insanity. The insanity that goes with active addiction. 

Behold! This urban camper breaks all the rules. He/she has a cardboard box of fuck you going on. Urban camouflage. 

Off the yard

I used to say I need to make a cologne called "off the yard". I could spray it on a normal man to make him attractive to me. I am not hating on men who have been to prison. If anything, i loved them a little too much. Unfortunately, my vagina is not a halfway house for wayward men. 

One of the things we learn in recovery is that our judgement is off. We need to take time. Slow down! Go beyond your first thoughts. Take time to think about consequences. I should have realized anyone who wants to be with an active addict is also sick. Whether it is going to a party where people might be getting loaded or wearing a condom, a split decision can change your whole life. 

For me, the visual set off chaos. The flash of money. Neck tattoos. The look that told me this person REALLY needed me. I liked to call them "project men". Men like to fix up cars or stereo systems. Women like to fix up men. We like to put our stamp all over that dead letter and then ship it back "return to sender". I always tell my straight women friends - men are like buses, another one will be along in fifteen minutes. The probably is figuring out where you want to go on which one to get on. Maybe a little simple but the only person I can change is myself. The same can be said of same sex relationships where rates of addiction can be even higher in those communities. 

I want to be happy! That starts with making better choices. Take some time today and think. Make a plan. Have a blueprint for your success. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gratitude List

1. I did not stick a needle in my neck today. Yes! The day is good 
2. I am (relatively) sane
3. Three healthy children
4. A family that Ioves me
5. Friends that love me
6. Clean underwear 
6. Fage 0% yogurt my favorite in the fridge
7. Having use of my senses
8. Hot tea and cold water
9. Ability to feel things
10. A job that I love 

I am eternally grateful that is is not my life today. I'm not living in a heroin hut on the sidewalk. 

 I would love to hear the things on your list in the comments. I am so grateful for you readers.