OK, so I thought about writing my story of coming through addiction. Perhaps it’s like a lot of peoples’ stories. As I thought about it, I see that it’s important for me and for you, the reader, that I communicate my meaning very clearly, maybe you could say, I want it to be street-friendly, the mode that especially younger folks are well-acquainted within the social context of addiction. That is, Heroin & Opioid addiction, and as it relates to Maine.
For example, one important context: that our times and our culture are very different, from when I first struggled with H (heroin, smack), morphine, and opium. Add to these other pharmaceuticals that have narcotic & addictive properties.
One report on ODs in the State of Maine (Drug overdose deaths in Maine now averaging 1 a day, December 6, 2016) (Joe Lawlor–Staff Writer), cited in one of his articles, “One person a day is dying from a drug overdose in Maine. I cannot stress how dangerous these drugs are. My office is working with law enforcement around the state to stop the trafficking of these drugs in Maine. As we work to stem the supply, we must also decrease the demand for these drugs. Maine must expand access to detox beds and long-term treatment so that people in the grips of addiction can find hope and live productive lives.” (p. 3, Drug overdose deaths in Maine now averaging 1 a day, December 6, 2016)
“Of the 2016 overdose deaths, 182 were caused by non-prescription opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl, either by themselves or in combination with other drugs. Prescription opioids contributed to 95 deaths.” (Ibid., p. 3)
I am a child of the Sixties, and grew my adolescence and young adulthood during those hyped-romantic times. Not saying that bad actions & ignorant statements didn’t happen through the Sixties & Hippiedom. They did. Plenty.
But think of it—if you were a part of the older generation at the time, you were freaking out at all the strange looking Hippies with their alternative lifestyles, weed, & clothing; you may have jumped in your pick-up, driven out along a rural road, looking for Hippies to harass, with whom you could argue, and, in some cases, put some violent action on their ass. This generational conflict posed one of the most significantly social & cultural divides in our nation. Many of us would have to wait until some of what we learned seeped down into our consciousness.
Suddenly, or gradually, Hippies were like ants crisscrossing the country, using their thumbs for rides, or traveling in many, creative, remodeled vans or buses, because many wanted to get to Frisco for the Summer of Love in 1967. I know I did.
When I got to San Francisco, it was such a cool scene (as I saw it then), with every kind of drug given out, many times free. Free concerts in Golden Gate Park, performed by outta-sight bands from all over the world & country. This sort of “grocery store” way of marketing dope had its effects. If you were holding nothing, you just got more craving, and searched harder for what you needed. Contacted your friends to see if they were holding. Went to a concert.
As time shifted, the two or three of us who were traveling together like a team, decided that if we were going to survive in the New Frontier, we would have to start pushing some dope; somehow, selling “Berkeley Barbs,” wasn’t making much impression on us for money we could all actually live on.
We met a crazy dude who wore some very thick glasses, dressed in a suit-and-tie, and carried his shit (dope) in a briefcase. I’d guess he was a meth freak, because he was always rubbing his teeth together. Wow-what a freak! But he was the dealer.
We (my friends & I) were his “go to” dudes; taking the shit out on the streets to sell or dropping off dope for customers who’d already ordered, and were just waiting on the flower-tapped stuff to be sold. Sometimes, the briefcase dude would give us bad shit to sell, you know, like some bad LSD (Acid), we went along with this program for a while, even though it scared us all, because our faces were the ones they knew on the street, and who sold the bad stuff to them-targets.
In many cases, dealers won’t use the shit they were selling, because they know how addictive it can be. They didn’t just fall off the pumpkin truck last week-they knew, maybe through some hard experience, how addiction works, and possibly possessing some alternative wisdom to help someone through the De-Tox phase.
They also knew that addiction to H or other narcotic imprisoned people to a “love-relationship” with the drug; in other words, their drug of choice was the most important relationship they had with any other human, object, or place; injecting this relationship factor into any relationship will dissipate energy to live, she will probably encounter many obstacles & pain; the soothing “isolation” of smack gave me the sense of living in social & psychic fear-of-others-as-humans-just-like-me, a cut-off and the emotional satisfaction & motivation to stay away from groups of people, so I could stay high. Isolation.
I think that my own words for change & recovery, started to change then. If you love yourself, and this is within the parameters of a loving relationship, you & I will choose self-care for ourselves, which means none of us must allow the drug-human relationship to take over space in our body-minds-that of being “centered” in our addiction, left with no hope or balance to use to stand on our own two feet. Perhaps this is another definition for what it’s like drowning in quicksand.
Several happenings led me to find the inner tenacity to recover from my heroin & opioid addiction. One night, while in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson’s restaurant north of Chicago, I either had a psychotic break or a hallucinated-delusion that got me into a lot of trouble. I started seeing a white pile of powder, that I thought was Heroin, on the asphalt of the parking lot. Immediately, I got down on “all fours” and began trying to scrape it up.
Someone from the restaurant must have seen me, and called the cops. About five minutes later, a squad car with lights rotating fiercely, pulled into the parking lot, and pulled up right next to where I was scraping. Two officers got out of the car, and I saw them pointing & laughing at me, like I was center stage at the Barnum & Baily circus. “What’s happening, kid?” they asked. I sat on the ground speechless, dissatisfied I got caught and didn’t get my score.
They cuffed me, threw me in the back seat of the cruiser, and took me to the cop station. My dad picked me up-I couldn’t tell whether he was pissed off or sad, because of what happened to me. He went with me to court a couple of weeks later; the judge had me committed to the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute (ISPY) for six months somewhat in the form of rehab.
When I was committed to ISPY, I had an experience, shall I call it hallucinary or mystical? One night I was sitting in the dayroom; my girlfriend had snuck in some dope, so, naturally I was high.
As I sat there, I saw a visual picture of my mom, framed in a neon-blue TV; her face kept turning up to look directly at mine, and she was crying effusively, and kept repeating the phrase, “Chris, look what you’re doing; your destructive actions are destroying me. Please, stop!” This was the real start of my exodus from addiction. All the shame, harm, hurt was summed up by mom, and this pain was unbearable for me. It came from the person who gave birth to me.
So, “back in the day,” was the “day” I lived in. That was my day. Now, it’s your day. I think that any day can be our day; sometimes when I push too hard, impulsively, to feel like I’m in control, I find out experientially, that what I thought were practical concerns, were only my impatience and “workaholic ism,” can effectively cut me down to size.
Some of the same issues of narcotic use & addiction in the Sixties are very much the same today. There’s a huge battle in Addiction Studies about the proper use of medications to augment one’s desire to quit using, and some therapist and others believe that no medications ought to be used to get through addiction. “Cold turkey” is one of the only options for an addict.
Ultimately, what this may mean for addicts is the long, often-painful, struggle of unlearning much of the Social Conditioning we grew up with, and then, to substitute positive, healthy conditioning, in the old ones’ place. Really, the only durable way this can happen is through intense, personal goat-setting. But if the struggle leads to more self-directed hatred & criticism towards ourselves, it ends up defeating the purpose of change.
Even when we’ve got good intentions and the highest goals for quitting, the addiction process always is always alive & well, and a powerful one it is. I hope that my story, as it may be connected to the current generation’s context, may be integrated into the matrix of healing from addiction for all who are struggling.
Copywrite April 6, 2017