This is a follow on from a train of thought I started earlier in the year regarding my first opiate injection.
I had been taken Temgesic injections for a couple of weeks. My dogged pursuit of getting the rush had made me oblivious to the very obvious dangers I knew I was placing myself in.
And yet I carried on doing it. Getting up, going out looking to score, sneaking back into the house (if I got in without being noticed I could sneak into my room and have a fix in peace.) I learned very quickly to inject myself. I had good veins. Easy to inject into. I ended up being the one that would give a lot of our crew their injections. That was life.
Anyway, one day after only a couple of weeks, I remember waking up and just not feeling right. I had the sweats. It didn’t feel like a cold, but it did. My body had a real restlessness going on in it as well. My nose was running, and almost as soon as I was out of bed I needed to run to the loo. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t settle. Then the thought came rushing into my head – “I need a fix!”.
I had been around guys hitting up long enough to know what withdrawal felt like. I had heard their stories, now I knew personally. Within weeks of my first injection, I had moved from a psychological craving – I wanted it because I wanted it – to a physiological one. As soon as I realised I was strung out, it was like every cell and every thought now centred on that one thing – I needed a fix.
I knew I had some change in my pocket, but would it be enough to go and score a “Tem”? They weren’t expensive in the bigger picture of drug abuse – £2 – but if you never had it then it might as well have been a million pounds.
I fumbled around the jumbled clothes on my floor looking for my jeans, and pulling them over I reached into the pocket. The sweats now increasing with the nervous hope and anxious fear that there would be enough to score.
I had just over £2. I had enough. It was funny how, over the years, completing the £2 would change to the £2.50 as inflation hit the drugs market – and eventually £10 (completing the tenner) as I graduated onto heroin. The nervous hope and the anxious fear though, would soon be replaced by trying to ensure the morning’s medication was always under my pillow the night before. That was the struggle I had thrown myself into by petulant disregard for the warnings.
“It won’t happen tae me, a know whit ah’m daein!”
The refrain of almost every addict the first time or two they take their poison.
I got up, got ready and sneaked out the door, not even aware if anyone else was in the house or even what time it was.
I was sixteen years old, and I was on my way around the corner to score because I was strung out and I needed a fix.
The nervous chap at the door, followed by the “Ye gote any?”
“Aye, how many ye wantin?”
“Jist wan, but ah’ll get some cash then in be back fur mair. Will ye have them?” (This was an important question that could save much anxiety later).
“Aye, how many dae ye think? Ah’ll keep them by fur ye?”
“Don’t know but at least wan.”
That was a quick escalation, up to this point I had only been taking one a day, because I wanted to, yet the first day I was aware I needed to I immediately wanted at least two, just in case one wasn’t enough to keep the withdrawals away.
As I made my way back around Duntarvie Road, up Duntarvie Quad, around the path in front of our block, in the close and up both flights of stairs I became aware of an incredible phenomenon – actually having the drug in my possession – almost feeling its power rushing through my veins – the withdrawals already began to wane a bit. It was surreal. It heightened the expectation of the rush I was about to get. All I could focus on was getting that beautiful little white tablet dissolved in the massive hyperdermic I used in those days and seeing the blood and pushing the plunger
Minutes later, as I lay on my bed enjoying the sensation mixed with relief, the thought began to creep into my head – I need around £1.50 for another Tem. I need to hurry because he might run out of them.
At that moment the swirling rush, the opiate intoxication is, whilst not pushed away, balanced out by the rush of thoughts as my brain computes ways in which I can manage to complete the £2. Like a sat nav calculating all the different ways to a destination, on my brain went – every possible scenario that would include me chapping that door to get another – and back here on my bed. Today. Now.
Stuart – this NOW your life.
How does stimulation of the brain’s pleasure circuit teach us to keep taking drugs?
Our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way.
This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.
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