Sunday, January 17, 2016

When Everyone Around You is Dying

Well, it is official readers.  You are dying.

When I was 20 years old, I injected opioids for the first time. It was some shitty pills that needed a cold water extraction. I was with a friend. We had a used syringe that had been passed along by someone else. Both of us- bored. I wish I could give a better reason for why we tried it. But the REAL truth is that we both lived in podunk outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio. Our options were pretty limited in terms of things we found to be exciting. We both lived at home with our parents. We both had crappy jobs. We both had histories of alcohol and drug use in our families. We both had been depressed. But most of all, we were bored. We were afraid of what the future might have in store for us. We were in a prolonged state of adolescence that comes with have both limited responsibilities and coping skills. The drugs seemed appealing, opioids even more so. They promised an escape, a chemical vacation. We shared that needle that day.

 Our lives were never the same after that day. Things progressed slowly, as they sometimes do. I was "chipping", dabbling in opioids. He would soon dive head first. Our paths split off a few months later. He ended up going in and out of prison. The love of his life died in his arms of an overdose. I ended up a homeless junkie in San Francisco that eventually found my way into recovery. We shared a bloody needle that day, heroin a few months later, and the same obsession to escape ourselves.

Fast forward many years later. After losing the vast majority of my friends to overdoses and AIDS, here we are back in the same place we were in 1996. Limited access to clean syringes. Overdoses killing a generation. If you are reading this, you have lost a friend, or a friend of a friend, a classmate, or a loved one to overdose. There seems to be no corner of the United States that is immune. How we ended up here is a matter of debate. Never the less, we have people addicted in record numbers.

How do you cope when it seems as if everyone around you is dying? In my case, I used more and more and more. I stuck the needle deeper in to avoid the reality around me. I wallowed in self pity and shame. How are you coping? How are you dealing with the loss of your generation, a generation being swallowed up by student loan debt and the general feeling as is nothing matters besides this next thing? I feel like all the experts are tossing around their theories around the roots of addiction while little is being done to ask people on an individual basis how they are feeling.

I just want to let you know dear readers that I am thinking of you on this rainy day. I am thinking of you and your well being. I hope you are in a place that is dry. I hope that you are close to someone who care about you. I hope your syringes are new, the naloxone is near by. I hope you made it to the clinic today. That the suboxone films seemed a little less bitter this morning. I hope you caught that connecting bus, that person you like texted you back. I hope the boss let you off ten minutes early. I hope your pizza is warm, you coffee is hot, and you find that last five dollars you had shoved in your pants. In other words, I wish you joy in the simple things. I hope you can enjoy life just a little more and love dope just a little less.

XOXO Tracey


21 comments:

  1. I love you tracey. You're so sweet and inspirational. I'm proud of you

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  2. I am not an addict and nobody I know is thankfully. I vacation often on Cape Cod so I was very interested in the HBO documentary. It was truly heartbreaking and I am so happy to read about your success story.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time out to comment here. My cousin has a place there as well. I knew nothing about the Cape until recently

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  3. That last paragraph with examples of joy in the simple things was beautiful and touching.

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    1. simple things can make life so much better, as long as we don't overlook them

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  4. Great post, Tracey. Made my day.

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  5. you're a genuinely great person tracey. i hope you too are doing well. i love your writing, keep it up! <3

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  6. i've been following your blog for a few weeks now... really hits home. you're a good writer. i wish you the best <3

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  7. just watched the hbo documentary and it has really left it's mark on my heart. i've been using opiates since i was 15, and have been struggling with a heroin addiction for about two years now. my 22nd birthday is tomorrow and i am currently a few days clean. looking back i would never think this would be my life but who ever does, right? i'll just do heroin a few times, until i have enough money for more pills, yeah okay haha. it has been a struggle to keep my mind from convincing me that i need to get high, that that magical black piece of shit will fix everything. i'm very good at convincing myself that heroin is the answer to my problems. but luckily, today, i didnt give in. i dont know what i'm even typing at this point. i think that documentary was something i needed to see today...and i think i needed to vent a little too lol knowing you're doing so well in life is really great to see, keep it up, keep helping any way you can :)

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    1. Venting is important in quitting drugs. It lets you see that you are not alone

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  8. I wrote this once & it erased-here goes another try. I watched the hbo doc years ago. I saw the 2004 f/u & wanted to know more. Now all these years later I found you! My back story-I am a dual dx nurse & also a heroin addict. I was telling people how to get sober on a daily basis-but was not sober myself. It started with a prescription bottle & ended with a needle. No one knew except my husband whom fell down the path with me. We r both clean & sober now! I just would like to say that your view points r VERY similar to mine. Which is prob why I luv u so much. In my line of work there is only 1 way & that's 12 step. My view is WHATEVER works for u-do it! Not all addicts can follow 1 way to get sober & it is naive to think so. I pass no judgement how anyone gets clean. You are doing good work Tracey, the harm reduction, book, stories ect. You & your family should be VERY proud! Go Tracey!

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  9. thank u tracey for yr gifts of unconditional acceptance and inspirational guidance that abound in these each of your posts, ji

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