5 Reasons Why I Never Tried Heroin
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
There is a heroin pandemic in this country. That’s right, I said it. PANDEMIC. It’s everywhere – and not just the inner cities anymore. It’s made it’s way to every corner of the country. And that’s thanks in part to the mass-prescribing of prescription opioids and subsequent government crackdown.
The problem has been however, that state legislature limiting opioid use (such as drug monitoring programs) has done nothing to solve the opiate abuse problem. If users can’t get opiates the legal way, they often turn to heroin, which is not only easily gotten, but much cheaper.
The Obama administration has finally announced funding for treatment of heroin and opioid addiction, as well as broader availability for the anti-overdose medication naloxone. But these changes have come very late in the game.
And the statistics on the addicted look rather bleak. For example, recent statistics on overdose deaths put heroin behind its prescription opioid counterparts, but far above cocaine and benzodiazepines.
The Changing Landscape of Drug Use
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how common heroin has become. When I grew up, it wasn’t even a word I encountered, really. Marijuana, yes. Mushrooms, sure. But heroin? Nah.
But then again, I grew up in a small rural town in 1980’s. And the town I live in now, just 30 minutes away, is not much larger. And it’s been hit, like many others, by a drug epidemic – largely consisting of heroin and meth.
So that leads me to reason #1 I have never tried heroin…
During my teen years of experimentation, I never, ever, encountered it.
It was probably there, somewhere. But it just wasn’t common in rural America at that time. That was long before prescription painkillers gained massive popularity. Even had I wanted it, I would have had no clue how to obtain it. It wasn’t even on my radar.
Drug Education and D.A.R.E.
I clearly remember the anti-drug program D.A.R.E. in the sixth grade. Oh, the horror. Stories of LCD trips and pictures of an alcoholic’s brain. We really were scared, or at least I was.
I could have never understood at the time why anyone would engage in such activity. But then again, that was long before I became an alcoholic.
And despite what I know now about alcohol, at the time, heroin was portrayed as the worst thing you could do. I learned, whether true or not, that you could become addicted after one hit.
And there was a real stigma attached to being a junkie at that time. We were fed images of street prostitutes and the homeless. But as I noted above, all that has changed now.
So reason #2 why I have never tried heroin…
It seemed like a really dumb thing to do, based on what I knew.
I want to qualify that by saying that drinking alcohol is also a really dumb thing to do. But it wasn’t stigmatized in the same way as heroin. I don’t want to debase heroin addicts in any way. It’s not anymore your fault that you became an addict, than it is mine that I am an alcoholic. And neither one is really worse than the other. I just picked my poison, and you picked yours.
Heroin is Extremely Potent
Heroin is a bastardized version of a very natural (although not safe) painkiller called opium. I do believe that drugs are often better in their natural form, however. For example, the coca leaf is infinitely less dangerous than cocaine, and its never fatal. I think it’s high time we all recognize that some drugs are just not as bad as others. I don’t think I have to mention caffeine to make that obvious.
But heroin’s potency is something i can relate to as a substance abuser. I am a recovering alcoholic, that is true. But I would much rather have sipped on wine all night than threw back a few shots of say, Barcardi 151. That’s because I knew deep down it was a potentially fatal idea. And with street heroin, there are so many variables in terms of purity and additives, it’s almost impossible to know what you are getting.
Janis Joplin died from an overdose of heroin that took the lives of several others. She specifically went to this dealer because she used him before and trusted him. He accidentally got an extremely powerful batch of heroin. Under normal circumstances, what she had done that night probably wouldn’t have killed her.
Reason #3 I have never done heroin…
It’s not a subtle drug. It’s manufacturing origins are often unknown. And it can kill you very quickly, when you least expect it.
Conversations with Former Heroin Addicts
A few months back, I wrote a fairly fascinating piece for another site called “Trying Everything: The Decline and Recovery of a Multiple Addict”. It was about a friend of mine who has done multiple drugs, but said that heroin was by far the most difficult to kick. He said that it was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life. And indeed, he went through rehab, relapsed, and all the rigmarole that goes along with heroin abuse over a long period of time. He lost all his friends, and it left him a shell of a person.
I’ve never heard any good stories about using heroin. Everyone I’ve know who has done it, has really done it. I’m sure the one-time users are out there, but I haven’t heard of them.
But then again, why would I have? I’ll be honest, I’ve done cocaine one time. And that was all I wanted. Done and over. But I may be unusual in this way. I think heroin is probably harder to kick, especially considering the high lasts longer. And I’m guessing it’s a cheaper addiction to sustain.
People who did it told me not to do it.
Probably sounds a bit too simple, but it’s worked for me. I would tell anyone I came across not to drink alcohol if they hadn’t already, but I don’t know if they’d listen. They are both extremely destructive drugs, but they are viewed differently in societal standards.
Heroin is Highly Addictive
I’m going to jump right to reason #5, because it’s related to #4, and I think it’s one of the most important….
I knew I’d get addicted.
Maybe if I had been exposed to it before alcohol, that would be different. But after years of alcohol abuse and regular cigarette use, I knew I was no more immune to this drug than anyone already addicted.
I also had a prescription for hydrocodone for awhile. I don’t think I was addicted, and I don’t really think much of the drug, to be honest. But I know heroin is just a different beast. It’s not responsible for as many deaths, but I think that’s probably due to the number of users as a whole.
I wanted to point this out because I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou when it comes to heroin addiction. I don’t think I’m above anyone else. I think it’s a terrifying substance that takes lives at terrifying rate. But then again, so is alcohol.