Saturday, January 30, 2016

A life full of adult responsibilites

I am covered in filth from doing adult duties around my house. I will get in the shower after I get hydrated. My day started at 6:30 am. The kids all got up at the crack of dawn, despite the fact that it is Saturday. I have some kind of cold that was passed along by the little germs boxes known as my children. It felt as if someone hat stuck a red hot poker in my throat when I got up. I could have gone straight to the tv sitter and back in bed but I wanted to make sure they wanted some breakfast. I had totally forgot I had some groceries that still needed to be put away. That started off my "things to do list". Today has been filled with laundry, sorting toys, sweeping, recycling old plastic crap they kids seem to get at any fast food place. I had to clean the bathroom, wash dishes (no dishwasher), cook meals, wash more dishes, sweep again, take out the garbage, and take care of pets.

These things are in a stark contrast to the things I used to do. I needed to be hydrated so I could find a vein. My day started at 5:30 am. I would either already be awake in an alley dopesick or wake up needing a hit. I would drag my ass to the open air drug market to try and make money or sales for a free bag. I would sell syringes, arrange transactions, or go so far as to beg people to "get me well" in between two cars. I would be standing there with my pants down around my ankles searching for a vein in my thighs while parents briskly pulled their children and cover their eyes as they shuttled them off in the rising light of the day. I would start gagging over the smell of coffee and vinegar while my eyes watered. When I jabbed myself just one too many times, I would give up and put that hot bacteria riddled poison straight into my muscle, inviting an infection to join me in my struggles. I would have to perform the same tasks over and over until I got $50-$100 of dope or money over the course of a day. Food and shelter were the at the bottom of my priorities list. The day would end the way it started. With me totally alone somewhere wondering where my life had gone. If I was lucky, I would have just enough drugs that I just didn't care either way.

It was hard to transition into the adult world. Heroin had provided me with a prolonged adolescence of sorts. Emotionally, I found it impossible to connect with someone. The only thing I could really cry over was spilled dope and shitty prospect. From rape, to beatings I received, to every death of a friend that I experienced would get spun around in the drug drain that was my body until my pain was suppressed in the lowest part on my psyche. I was so focused on that next bag. Anything else was impossible to process. It was incongruent with my need to be satiated. So, it had to go. As the days and weeks and months passed, I found myself wondering if I could every feel something like love. It happened. Slowly, incrementally. So slowly I could hardly feel or see the change until one day, my life was full again.

A life full of adult responsibilities.
A life full of hugs from children that vaguely have my features.
A life full of a dull sense of satisfaction.
I may not always be happy but at least I am at peace.

This is a random picture of my lunch from yesterday. So god damned delicious. 



Monday, January 25, 2016

Thank you and Pre sale information of my book.

Thank you for the past three years. I started out using this spot as a place to vent my crazy thoughts. It has turned into my passion. You all are a big part of that. I enjoy our talks, your emails. Thank you for making one recovering junkie's dreams come true.


A lot of you have been following my blog for years now. You have been through my highs and my lowest of lows. You remember my e-book? You remember my appearances on CNN? You have read my articles and seen a zillion pictures of my cats. Anyway, my book is coming out March 8. I really worked with the publisher to try to get a price that is affordable. The price is going to be $24.  The link is here.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Post I wrote for Rise Together

Rise together works with youth in Wisconsin and the surrounding areas. The link is here.

A Person with Addiction Issues

I am from a different generation of users. I think we kinda liked being called junkies. While we may or may not have enjoyed the junkie lifestyle, at least it was never boring. I have seen a lifetime of hustles. Everything from the guy who used to steal eggs and sell them to corner stores to the guy who went out on the corner to sell the suit his family bought him for the funeral of one of his relatives to tales of someone wheeling a dead senior citizen into the bank to cash his last social security check before the nursing home found out he has finally passed.

I was a simple addict. I use the term addict because it fits me. I don't think everyone who uses drugs are addicts. Many are not even dependent. That, however, was not me. I was addicted to drugs, addicted to that lifestyle. I was addicted to the struggle of being balls deep in the grips of whatever drug motivated me to get up every morning. I wasn't ashamed of the fact that more than once I begged a dealer for a bag. To me, it was part of the game. I wasn't embarrassed to ask the dope man if I could wash his dishes for a hit or clean up his apartment. Why not, I thought to myself. When you are truly, passionately in the obsession to use anything seems reasonable. Rock bottom may not be sex for drugs. Rock bottom may be watching a pet starve or a hole from an infection get larger and larger while you do nothing to help yourself. 

In fact, I have been so low, I no longer believe in rock bottom. When you see a woman turning tricks, knowing she has a colostomy bag you might feel the same. I know people believe in "tough love" and I believe in the opposite which is "harm reduction". I don't think you need to let a person stay with you if they are stealing your tv but I also don't believe you need to cut them all the way out of your life. The true bottom is death. I don't wish that for anyone. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Please check out this article

I did not write it but please check out these graphic on the spread of overdose deaths here

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


Friday, January 15, 2016

Low bottom User

Over the years I have written this blog, I have told numerous unflattering stories about myself. This is one that still makes me cringe.

I fell in love with with a beautiful junkie boy. It isn't hard to see why. He gave me these looks, his blue eyes pinned in such a way that I could see the gold flecks that peppered them. I wasn't thinking about any kind of relationship when I met him. The only thing I was concerned with was dope. Period.

A little over seven months ago, I was arrested trying to mix up a half gram of tar in an alley. It wasn't one of my brighter moves. Of course, when you live outside and look like a dirty junkie, that lives you with imited options in terms of places to shoot up. In a case of even worse luck, I was unable to inject in my hands, arms or feet. This made a speedy process impossible. Despite being outdoors in front of God and everyone, I would shoot up in my legs. Legs which did indeed look like I had fallen asleep and been chewed on by rats. The dope I got had a vague smell of instant coffee and reacted as such once it was placed inside my body. I was ravaged by holes. Like some kind of junkie abscess golf course, the purple and black bruises roped across my pale flesh like a the scar landscape of the moon. I had multiple infections going the day they arrested me, one so bad it stank. I was decaying inside and out. Jail, it seemed, my actually save me from myself.

 I had just done a six months stretch in jail. The fifty pounds I had stacked along my stomach and thighs were melting away with my ample titties. I was wearing a 2xl in those polyester blend orange pants and sweater the jail had so graciously given to me. They gave you two sets and some used panties, some with the prior female's period stains still on them. If you got a good set, you would wash them out in the sink and let them air dry at the end of your bunk. I had zero interest in recovery during those six months. In fact, my mother had tried to arrange my transfer to a rehab. I refused. I knew I was going to get high. I was dedicated to this losing game. I did drugs in the jail. In fact, I had bought some methadone straight from the mouth of a woman who backwashed it for me into a cup after she dosed in front of the nurse. I had some dirty syringes in my locker for a few months. I had made pruno in there, alcohol made from bread orange juice and sugar among other things. I had smoked crack that had been extracted from a young girls pussy. I did draw the line on doing dope someone had dug out of their own shit. Yeah, it was wrapped but really, how much shingella got through the plastic? Fuck that noise.

I met him and he would be my whole world for a brief time. He loved me. That was what mattered. I needed to be needed. I wanted to be told that I was something more than the fucked up soul I hated in myself. We would sit next to each other and read books. We cuddled together, we shared every bag. Well not EVERY bag. You know how it is...right?

There was this one night. He had gotten some money from somewhere, probably his mom. He always had to do MORE. More as in "I need 50 units, you do 30 cause you need less" or MORE as in "I am going to do it all." In other words, a greedy fucking dope hog. They top it off with klonopin. Then I would have to watch him to make sure he didn't die of an overdose. He eventually did. Years later. But that night, he passed out with some dope in his pants because he did not trust me. He wanted to ratio it out in the morning. Then, as he slumbered in his black out, I got sick, sick, sicker. I kept looking at the bloody hit he couldn't get earlier because he was cross eyed from benzos. I took that shot out of the medicine cabinet. I gently reheated it. I strained out the blood clot. Then I drew it up and injected it. Love is blind and dope will make you stupid. It did that day.

The next morning, it was as if nothing happened because in reality, nothing really had. It was just another day in the life of a low bottom user- that user being me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When Mom and Dad are Heroin Addicts

Here is the link to a story I wrote for the Daily Beast Click here. I am going to print some of the interviews I could not fit in the article.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Somebody to Love

"Can anybody find me...somebody to love me?" I use my headphones to tune everyone else out. It isn't easy on days like today. I performed my usual fuck up with expert precision. I spent my rent money on dope then I did all my dope. So now, wait for it, .... I have no place to stay AND no dope. Like I said, I am a journeyman at crafting bad decisions.

"What is that shit you are listening to?!" He rudely interrupts. 

Anyone who refers to Queen or anything Queen related in a derogatory fashion is instantly a fucking asshole to me. I don't give a shit how punk rock or how hardcore a motherfucker you think you are, Freddy Mercury was everything to me. Queen is probably too sophisticated for this person. He probably thinks House of Pain is gangster rap.

I hate when people come from the suburbs and try to dictate to me what I must like because I am getting them drugs. I am sorry. Do all junkies only have a few musical choices? Must I be playing "Jane says" "All apologizes"  or "I'm waiting for my man" on a loop? Who knows. 

Since I spend so much time working people out of their cash, I have become skilled at lumping them into categories. In my mind, there are three kinds of dope fiends.

 First- There is "I got a job Jason/Jill". He feels superior to everyone because he doesn't have to go out to the streets. He feels as if he isn't really addicted somehow because he has a steady source of income. The dog is fed. He can squeak by at family gatherings. He may even have a girlfriend know as Clueless Cathy. She thinks he just smokes pot and drops bars now and then.

Second- there is "I'll quit tomorrow Tom/Tiffany". So many trips to rehab/detox, so little time. They can tell you both the 12 steps and how to get 60 cents on the dollar from any gift card. They bounce from their parents to the apartment of the person the left rehab with a few months back. They don't just relapse, they take hostages. Everyone falls in love with them with that sweet smile and their Innocent drag. They look as if they never used a drug in their life until the day they got you hooked.

Finally, there is "I have nothing left to lose Suzie or Sam." You left them middleman for you from time to time unsure if they are going to return with your product. They are the kind of user that mixes benzos with dope every damn time and swears they are sick with the most pinned eyes. They carry syringes in a little kit. They tie of with shoestrings. They no longer have illusions that this train is headed anywhere besides DOWNTOWN. Jobs are a burden. Friends are hard to come by. But dope- dope is the north star that directs their every move in the universe filled with dying lights. That- that was me.

"How long is it going to take this guy to come?" he asks me as if I really fucking know.
 Twenty minutes is a lifetime and I am sure it has been twenty minutes. I can see from the crowd that is gathering Flacco, Pablo, Chucho, or whomever is actually going to be here soon. The dealers like to get crowds together in little groups so they don't have to come out more than once.

As quickly as I can put together my thought, I see the gray Impala heading down the street.

"Okay," I tell him "give me your money. I will be right back."
He fumbles towards his pockets.
"Seriously," I tell him "hurry up before he sells out. There are a lot of people waiting."
He hesitate "wwwhy can't I meet the guy?" he asks me.
Because dumb fuck. That is why I am here.
"He is going to think you are a cop," I tell him. Duh.
Just as we are arguing, two guys get in the back of the car. I wave for the driver to wait. He points and gestures. Five fingers for five minutes. FUCK.

"See this bullshit Jason," I told him "Now we have to wait. Don't you trust me?"
Those words hung in the air like the San Francisco Fog, like the smell of piss in the Tenderloin. Of course, you could trust me because I needed his money to get my boy to give me an extra bag, I thought. Trust is a funny word. Trust is fluid to junkies. Trust is subjective. A real friend, a boyfriend could trust me like 80%. A person I considered a lop or a lame or a mark could generally trust me because I needed them to come back to me again.

My train of thought was broken by the sound of car breaks screeching. I saw the same two dudes bailing from the back of the Impala a few blocks down. That was odd, I thought to myself. Drivers generally did not like attention. A few minutes more then I saw the Impala whip around the block. As Pepe or Enrique or Manny, pulled over, I noticed he had some napkins pressed against his neck.

Jerk off Jason slapped $60 into my hand as I ran to jump in the car. The door was locked. I pulled on it again. I felt my life flash in front of my eyes. WHY WASN'T HE OPENING THE DOOR? Like a dope sick bad dream. The driver put down the window just a crack.

"Pinche pendejo. Those fuckers robbed me!", he said. He pulled back the napkin. A small trickle of blood appeared. Then I knew. It was common practice here for junkies to rob dealers with uncapped syringes. They would stick them up to their necks "Give me the chivah or I will give you el cida". Jason's $60 and my come up for the day didn't have a chance. Shit.

And then, a miracle of epic proportions.It was if the clouds parted and a balloon appeared. A gift from Junkie Jesus himself.. A small, very underweight, very cut, very stomped on gift was passed out the window. They hadn't gotten everything. "Por gratis." He gestured as if to tell me stay RIGHT HERE. He would be back. I would not.

As the Impala drove off, Jason ran up to catch up to me. I was done with him. I threw him his money. I got what I needed.
 "What about meeeeeeeee?" he asked.
What about you, I thought.
"Wait here," I told him "he will be right back". I knew he wouldn't. This driver was done. Some quit. Some got busted. This guy, he was fucking done. That would be his last run, I thought. I never saw him again.

I threw my headphones back on. "Can any body find me- some body tooooo love?"


For anyone who is interested, my book is on presale for less than $16 on Amazon right now http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Tracey-Helton-Mitchell/dp/1580056032


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Back from Family Land

There is an old expression that "you can't go home again." This certainly seems to be true of us junkies. By the time we get our shit together, we have done unbelievable amounts of damage to everyone around us. If it isn't the job we fucked up, the apartments we neglected, or the friends we completely shunned for joy in a plastic sack it is the family whom we disappointed repeatedly. Even if they forgive us, it can be incredible painful to forgive ourselves. 

I get asked if I believe addiction is a disease. I know plenty of people believe it. I am not sure I am one of the them. I do believe that addiction starts out as pleasure seeking and turns into a mental obsession paired with physical cravings that are not easily quelled. When you talk to people in the first days, weeks, months, or even years after quitting drugs it takes awhile for them to get past that feeling as if they are missing something beyond a pill, bag, or feeling. It is as if they describe missing a part of themselves. The drugs take over the wheel in a way that your every move is some how impacted by the absence of presence of that drug. Many of us crossed into that no man's land where drugs make it possible yet impossible to function. It is the junkie paradox. The one thing that is killing me is the thing that makes me happy. 

There are many people out there that use drugs casually and return to normal living. Fuck you people. Ok Ok. I am just kidding but seriously fuck you at least a little bit. I was once in your ranks. I remember holding on to a bag of coke all day once to share with a friend. Share! that word left my vocabulary quickly. Share left with my ability to feel. I didn't require either in my life. 

Seeing my family always makes me happy and sad at the same time. I am extremely glad I got my shit together. I have been clean more than twice as long as I used drugs. However, there is sinking feeling like oh my God I really managed to fuck up while other people had to deal with the consequences of my bullshit. When I was deep in it, I felt like the only person I was hurting was myself. There was a year where I don't remember speaking to my mother at all. I honestly felt like she was better off without me. I see now how selfish I was. In fact, all she wanted was to know I was okay. Seeing other people related to me reminds me that I am not alone in both a common history and people who were impacted by my poor choices. 

Spending time with my kids is awesome. They drive me crazy with their constant fighting and excessive energy but I wouldn't have it any other way. It was nice to see them in a different light. They remade parts of my childhood for me. They experience things in a way that makes it okay for me to let of whatever pain and self pity I am carrying around from the past. They like this me. The other me doesn't exist to them. That is perfect in that it keeps things simple. 

I am not sure what you did for the holidays dear readers. I have received SO many "Tracey the naloxone you sent me saved______ person from an overdose messages." That makes me happy. If you are going to do your thing, care enough to be responsible. Whether or not you love/like yourself right now SOMEONE LOVES YOU. This is a temporary place. You will get your shit together someone day just like I did and wish you would have taken just a little bit better care of the body you are in. Personally, I need to detox from a week of waffle fries, skyline chili, chips, movie popcorn, salt salt and more salt. 

Love to you always, 
Tracey