Friday, February 26, 2016

18 Years Clean.


I saw this on the floor of the train station and it reminded me of myself years ago.


Disclaimer- I can't actually remember if the last day I used was the 25th or the 26th, so I generally use Feb 27th in print as a clean date to be on the safe side. 
It is a foggy night here in the San Francisco Bay Area, one very much like the last time I injected myself with drugs for the very last time. To give a bit of background about my situation, the end of 1997 was a horrible time for me. As a homeless drug user, I hit many bottoms. I have had someone rape me. I have had someone try to rape and murder me. I have been robbed. I have been beaten until my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was held hostage at knifepoint. I was even hit by a car while I was jaywalking (the car then almost backed over my head trying to get away before the police arrived). Despite these events, I could keep pushing the pain just below the surface. I could find that critical point of numbness where the only thing that mattered was that next hit. There was no love, no family, no brush with reality that could distract me from the substances. The more I used, the more fucked up things happened to me, the more I used.

What happened late in 1997 to change the trajectory of my life? The drugs slowly had stopped working. I was no longer able to "get high". I could ingest massive amounts of chemicals for, at best, only marginal results. Heroin isn't working? Let's add benzos. Benzos aren't working? Let's try speed. Speed isn't working? More heroin. Heroin doesn't work? Let's smoke some crack. Towards the winter of 1997, I became a garbage can full of drugs. Nothing could help my depression. There is a scene at the end of "Black Tar Heroin" where I am alone in a one of the most disgusting hotels in the Tenderloin in my dirty pajamas. I am looking at my feet because I could barely stand to lift up my head. Heroin in particular had come along in a time in my life when I was experiencing near suicidal depression. It had played an important role in my life once. Now, it was truly killing me. There seemed to be no solution in sight...until there was.

A few months later I was pulled out of my addiction in handcuffs. I wish it could have happened any other way but regardless, I am grateful for the results. I have been clean long enough to see the birth of my children, my college graduation, I was able to buy a house, find a great husband, and be present in the life of people that love me. I have also lived long enough to see overdose become the number one cause of injury death in this country. I plan to continue to use my second chance at life to make the world a better places for others by working tirelessly for harm reduction. I know our efforts are making a difference but things are not happening fast enough. Before I am even done typing this post, someone is going to die needlessly of an overdose that could have been prevented with naloxone. Some one is going to get a life threatening infection from a dirty syringe. I quit 18 years ago and in many ways, we have gone backwards with our national strategy. It is groundhog day all over again.

I hope that these blogs, my work, and my friendship will help you somehow. I love you all. XOXO Tracey


I thanked my Reddit friends in my book

The book is on sale at Barnes and Noble
The book is on sale at Amazon

15 comments:

  1. Thrilled to get my copy of your book from Amazon this week :D Will be spending the weekend curled up with it. Thank you for all you do, and pouring your thoughts out onto the page!

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  2. Congratulations Tracey!! You have come a long way girl! But you didn't forget those who have not found their way yet! I think that's what keeps u clean. You NEVER forget you are ONE slam away from being ONE OF THEM again.
    Again Happy Sober Day u are an inspiration

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    1. that is the truth. I never see myself as any different

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  3. Many years ago I watched "Black tar heroin" and it left me with the saddest feeling... A couple of days ago the film showed up in the startpage of my youtube so I watched it again. After I was wondering what had happened to the girl with the most beautiful eyes. I'm so glad to see her become a woman and such a fighter.
    Many years ago I was using alcohol to cope with the world. When I took that away my world was falling apart so I had to scrape myself together again. I think I have managed it soo far but my best friend wasn't as "lucky". She worked as a registered nurse and was using heavy painkillers and alcohol. Even though I had stopped with my alcohol intake I was in a way helping her with her addiction. She died from that and I was in the hospital with her when she passed. This was seven years ago and I miss her soo much. I have had a really hard time forgiving myself for letting her go on with her lies to everyone around and to herself.
    I usually doesn't comment in blogs but this time I really needed to comment and I wan't you to know the thankfullness I felt when I found your blog, Tracey. You are a very strong, brave human with the most beautiful eyes. I'm sorry if my english is a bit strange, I'm from Sweden.
    Regards Jenny

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  4. I am excited to read your book! I just placed an order on amazon right now! Happy 18 years to staying clean, like I said you have always helped me out since 2013 of my back and forth struggles with my addiction. I can only hope that I will get as far as you have in my lifetime. For now I at 1 year and 2 months ish! But I am surrounded around supportive friends and family, working, and staying health (although I must admit I gained like 15lbs!!!)

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    1. Congrats to you and I hope you enjoy the book ❤️

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  5. I wish you much love and success over the next 18 years!

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    1. Thank you. I hope I can stick around 18 more

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  6. Great story and thanks for sharing and giving others hope!

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    1. We need more hope. The media portrays getting off Heroin as this impossible task yet people do it every day

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  7. Hello Tracey, I just watched the black tar heroin documentary for the first time tonight, and it really is one of the best I have seen to document the life of an addict. I myself am I heroin addict working towards recovery. I have been on subtext for almost 2 years now, I got on it when I found out I was pregnant with my son and did not want to bring a child into the world on the many drugs I was using and abortion was no option, seeing as I thought I was not able to ever have children. So being pregnant and getting on the medication actually saved my life, becaude I truly do not believe I would be alive today if not for it and my beautiful son!! I also found out I had hep c while I was pregnant and began treatment shortly after I gave birth and can proudly say that I am cured thanks to my wonderful gastroenterologist, sovaldi, and riboviron treatment!! I have not used any illegal drugs since November 2nd 2014 and can proudly say that I do not want to!!! I know I can't technically say that I am 100% clean because I do take a medicine that keeps me "normal", but it is the best I have done since I was 15 years old, and I will be 30 in 3 short months!! It works for me, it keeps needles out of my arm and makes me the best mother and wife I can be at this moment! I go to NA once a week and coutselling 3 times a month and my long term goal is to be off subutex and living an abstinent life, but right now it's just one day at a time for me. I would get clean cold turkey over the years and would have 3 months clean, it was always 3 months, and I would think I could like reward myself with ano oxy or a bag of dope and just do it a few times and be done, only I would never be done and each time I did it, the addiction got a little worse every time! I've lied, cheated, stolen especially from loved ones, and had sugar daddies until I finally met someone I fell madly in love with and he and my brother were in methadone treatment and I went too for almost a year, then a monster we met there purposely caused a car accident and killed my brother, fiance, and best friend and almost myself, I was hurt badly but walked away with minor injuries so while I'm physically healing and so emotionally distraught I was also going through the worst detox of my life and just couldn't handle it and my addiction took a turn for the worse, I just wanted to die and be with them and almost succeeded several times! Then 4 years later I met my now husband and he did everything he could to save me; but I was a great liar and had learned to fool almost everyone to thinking i was okay until my baby came along and there was no hiding from that I knew I had to get better for him and then myself! Now after watching the documentary and seeing how far you've come for so long, I have so much hope that I too, can beat this, and eventually won't even need the help from the subutex!! Thank you for that hope tracey!!!

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  8. Thank you Tracey!! I have been working very hard to take good care of myself the last 2 years, and I think I am doing one hell of a job!! I have an amazing support system from loved ones, a great job, and my beautiful husband and son!! Also I have my beautiful guardian angels looking down on me and I want to make them proud, I did not get this second chance at life to squander it away with by numbing myself with drugs so I don't have to feel the pain of losing them!! I have been grieving and have good days and bad but now my good days way out weigh my bad days now!! I can honestly say for the first time in many many years that I am happy and content with where my life is right now! Those are words i never thought I'd say again!! And now thanks to seeing how amazing you have done with your life, I know I can do even better and would like to help people with my story just as you did!!! You're amazing tracey, keep up the amazing work, you truly are an inspiration and such a beautiful woman!!!

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