This Is The Last Time I Get High

January 22, 2015 — 333 Comments

heroin 2

I snapped a picture of my surroundings and sent it to him, so somebody would know where I was.

“Pretty,” he said. “Where is that?”

“Downtown Newark.”

Downtown Newark, New Jersey is anything but pretty, but nighttime hides a multitude of sins.

“Are you going to score?”

“Yes” I  texted.

“Don’t be a dumbass” he responded.

“If you don’t hear from me in an hour-there’s a problem.”

 

An hour later, the most magnificent church bells rang in my soul as I bathed in the warm golden sunshine of a perfect life.

 

I was jolted out of my reverie by an obnoxious beeping.

It it was coming from my phone. I squinted, got a closer look.

7:45? AM?? Fuck. I’m usually up at 6:30. Get my kid up at 7.

My heart, thudding in my chest, slowed a bit when I recognized the reassuring sounds of his spoon clinking against his bowl of cereal.

I splashed cold water on my face. I was pale except the dark purple circles under my eyes. My hair was matted to my head from sweating profusely. I had a set of scratches on both arms.

I looked like a junkie.

If the shoe fits…

My kid was sitting at the table, eating his breakfast and looking at his tablet. I’ve taught him to be independent in the morning. But not so I can sleep off a dope nod.

“Baby, why didn’t you get me up?”

He shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. Can you make my lunch?”

He didn’t say anything about me wearing yesterday’s clothes. He couldn’t smell the dried vomit on my shirt. I opened the refrigerator door and the light hurt my eyes. Slowly, with shaky hands, I made his lunch.

Mother of the year

This is the last time I get high.

—-

NYC, April 1995

“Where have you been?” I looked up sleepily at Debby. It was 5 am and she had just let herself back into my apartment.

“I couldn’t sleep. I went to cop. You want me to fix you?”

“What day is it?” I looked at the calendar. “No. It’s Tuesday, right? I work today.”

I watched her prep her fix. I loved watching her beautiful, delicate hands do this. Her skilled fingers, the neat flick of her wrist – raised prepping a dope fix to an art form.

“Frenchie just got this in. This shit is supposed to be fire.”

She dumped the contents of her packet into a spoon, flicking at the small plastic packet until all the power tumbled out.

She added a small amount of water to the dope, making it the perfect consistency. She held a lighter to the bottom of the spoon, cooking the mixture to the optimum temperature. She always got it right – hot enough to burn off some of the cut in the dope – but never so hot that it damaged the heroin.

She twisted the cotton off the end of a Q- tip into a tic-tac sized ball. She dropped the tiny puff into the heroin and it swelled up like a sponge. She pushed the tip of the syringe into the center of the cotton, which filtered out impurities.

Slowly, she retracted the plunger until all of the heroin was sucked in.

Using her index and middle fingers she gently slapped a vein right above the crook of her elbow. She never had to pull back the plunger, like most junkies did, to draw blood up the syringe and make sure she was in a vein.

She never missed.

I watched her eyes take on that faraway look of exquisite pleasure, as her brain rode the waves of that first rush. Her facial muscles slackened, her body swayed. She looked at me and smiled.

“I’m…so…high…”

Those were her last words.

 

Her eyes rolled back in her head. She slumped to the floor. Her lips turned blue, then purple.

All in slow motion.

I did nothing. I was paralyzed with fear. I could not bring myself to touch her. I called 911 and babbled hysterically.

I could actually see a faint pulse throbbing irregularly in her throat. Her breathing was shallow. Her skin was the yellow color of cafeteria cheese.

She was dying.

She was dying, and I couldn’t bear to watch it.

I ran out of my apartment and stumbled out onto the street. I had on no coat or shoes, and even though it was mid-April, it was only a raw, cold 40 degrees. I ran through the streets barefoot, wild and desperate, going nowhere.

The police and EMT workers arrived 11 minutes after I called 911. The 5th precinct was only 8 short city blocks away. But an overdose, on the Lower East Side? That’s how you clean up the streets. Human pesticide, as far as the police were concerned.

By the time we all got inside my apartment, Debby was dead.

 

A memorial service was held for Debby at St. Marks Church in the Bowery, the second oldest church in New York and a legendary performance space. Debby knew everyone, and everyone knew Debby.

Her memorial service was standing room only. Several of NYC’s leading punk musicians unplugged and performed acoustic songs.

Debby had introduced me to rock stars and gangsters, and heroin and lesbianism. She was the first and only woman I ever fell deeply in love with.

I wrote a spoken word poem, dedicated to her memory, and performed it at her memorial service.

It was the last time I ever performed spoken word in front of a live audience.

 

After the service I copped several dime bags of smack down on Clinton Street.

My boyfriend’s face, when he saw them, darkened with rage. He snatched the packets off the table.

“What?!” I demanded. “WHAT?? This is the last time I get high!”

Apparently not. He flushed the drugs down the toilet. He snapped my works in half and threw the pieces out of the window.

I kicked heroin cold turkey. There was no money for fancy rehab.

The plan was simple. My boyfriend would not let me leave the house.

The withdrawal was not so simple.

I had excruciating pain in every muscle of my body. For three days, I threw up violently, and had horrible bouts of diarrhea. I was weak and dehydrated but couldn’t keep food down. I suffered with severe flu-like symptoms; sneezing and sniffling and dizziness and fever. Sweat poured off of me constantly; I was dangerously dehydrated. Sleep would have been a welcome relief, but there was no way I could fall asleep. I had frightening visual and auditory hallucinations.

By the second day, my boyfriend had to call both his brother and his cousin – who played in a band with him – for reinforcements. It took THREE GROWN MEN to keep me inside that apartment and away from my dealers.

I turned into a snarling, cursing beast. In between raging bouts of excruciating pain and illness, I fought them with the strength of 10 men.

My boyfriend’s brother was a recovered heroin addict. I sobbed uncontrollably to him and said,
”This is what it feels like to DIE.”

He answered, “NO. This is what it feels like to LIVE.”

 

By the third night I was drained and exhausted, and managed to fall asleep at dawn for a few hours.

I awoke Sunday morning. My muscles had stopped spasming in pain.

My boyfriend pulled back the shades that had been drawn for days.
“Let’s get some air in here,” he said.

He opened the large casement windows. Just then, in the distance, church bells began to chime.

It sounded like life.

It was Easter Sunday morning. And like Jesus, I had risen from the dead.

All these years later, and sadness throbs through my body.

There is a price to pay for feeling broken.

I’m aware of how I’m perceived, but I can’t feel it.

Heroin renders me immortal. I am what all humans seek through religion and spirituality.

On heroin, I am my vision of myself.

I’m socially adept, moving fluidly among others instead of hiding in my room.

I’m the writer who inspires, rather than constantly crawling through the wreckage of her squandered life.

I’m a woman capable of love; of intimacy and relationships. Not someone who lets no one get close.

I’m the mother my child deserves, not the one who’s exhausted and impatient and irritable.
Not the selfish bitch who risked her life to get a fucking fix.

 

This is the LAST time I get high.

This IS the last time I get high.

THIS. Is the last time I get high.

 

What is, or was, your drug of choice? What finally made you stop?
Did you ever write a post you just weren’t sure you should write, but you did anyway?
Are you tired of your problems? Are you tired of mine?

Talk to me. I’m listening.

This is the most simple, most perfect, most beautiful song about heroin addiction ever.

333 responses to This Is The Last Time I Get High

  1. 

    This was amazing for me to read. I have a family member who is addicted to drugs, and I’ve always felt some bitterness towards him for that. This helped me understand a little bit. Thank you.

  2. 

    Oh my dear. I love you already

  3. 

    Thank you for this. This year is the 14th anniversary of my uncles over dose. And the first anniversary of my brother in laws. Both heroine. Both had been clean for a while before. Both were 30 and had children. I’ve never done any kind of drug unless you count alcohol. I was scared out of my mind looking at my uncle in his casket fourteen years ago. Never even smoked pot because I was afraid to die. I don’t think I would have done anything any way but it brings on a whole new perspective seeing family in coffins for something seemingly so avoidable. Thank you again for this post. It is very beautiful and exquisitely written. God bless you and your family.

  4. 

    If you’re bored, this won’t let you down!

    https://onefornine.wordpress.com

    😘😂🐥🐣🍒✊❤️👸💦🍒

  5. 

    This is powerful and amazing. Good for you, Samara. You win.

    My drug? My last marriage and the abuse that came with it.

    • 

      Because I have an addictive personality, I also get addicted to shitty relationships. I find slowly extracting myself from them to be the drawn-out version of heroin withdrawal. Instead of feeling like I just set my body on fire, it’s more like having lit matches flicked at me, for a very. Long. Time.

      Thanks for reading, Rants. I feel honored that you’re here. For real.

  6. 

    I have never experienced anything like this. However, after reading this short story I feel like I have taken a walk in you and Debbie’s shoes too. Thanks for sharing and Kudos for having the nerve to say no and turn your life around completly

  7. 

    Wow. I think this is so beautifully written. I have so much respect for you.

  8. 

    Reblogged this on strangepress.

  9. 

    I write a lot of posts that i probably should not write. The only way for me to erase the damage from the past is to write about it. I am tired of my problems, and the way i am living, thank you for your words, you beautiful soul

  10. 

    I’ve been addicted ti heroin now for years, all started with a script of hydros decided to take more than the prescribed dosage and from that day on at age 17 I was hooked. Moved on to oxys then by 21 shooting heroin. I’ve been to jail multiple times, have a felony conviction. Longest I’ve been clean was 8 months when I went to jail. I’ve been through inpatient rehab twice multiple outpatients and no matter what i cannot get that monkey off my back. I have three kids live away from them. I wish the insanity could stop but I’m honestly too smart for my own self. Its amazing to see how you’re mind works in addiction. You can talk yourself into almost anything. I know I’ll end up either dead or in prison but I can’t think longer than a few hours ahead and could care less about the future which looks bleak to say the least. Life is too short and death too long.

  11. 

    You are one of the lucky ones. One of the guys I went to high school with wound up having a big shoot-out with the cops in our hometown and was killed. The stuff he was on made him so paranoid he thought the world was out to get him. I applaud you and say good luck in staying straight for the rest of your life.

  12. 

    I was never into drugs or alcohol coz I grew up in a Christian home, but in 2012 my 2nd year of college I was at a friends birthday I drank so much alcohol that I even took a spiked drink from a gut, fortunately I was with my friend and they took me back to the hostel, I drifted in and out if sleep when I finally woke up on the 30th if August that’s 2 days later I said to myself This is the last time I get high

  13. 

    Wow. This took my breath away. I cried for Debbie. I have several friends and family members who are struggling with addictions of all kinds, and lost a friend a long time ago to addiction. It’s an evil, twisted demon. I’m so glad you are still here, fighting hard. Please, please keep fighting. You are an amazingly strong person. I admire you for writing this, having this inside, and so eloquently letting it out… Thank you for sharing. 💓

  14. 

    Wow that was deep.

  15. 

    That was so powerful. Such an inspiration. Glad you chose life and had people supporting you through it.

  16. 

    Samara,

    I babbled on and on in my previous comment, which was truly not my intent. You shared your story, and instead of simply thanking you for writing it, and making me feel less alone, I kind of took over and wrote a ridiculously long and personal comment. I’m embarrassed that I did not do so on my blog, and instead provided you a mini-novel. I fear I broke a blog etiquette rule, and if so, I am sorry!

    I wanted to thank you again for sharing your incredible, heartbreaking story. I sat and wept while reading it. I don’t know of anyone I could be so honest with, about my past addiction and the resulting downward spiral. I admire greatly, and I hope one day to pay it forward, so to speak, as you have for me, by writing and speaking so openly about addiction. My family talks around it, and if it is mentioned at all, on rare occasions, voices are lowered as they speak of “my troubles.” Addiction runs through the veins of nearly all of my family members. I hope it skips a generation and my daughters will not follow in my footsteps. If they do, I will certainly be able to recognize it- an odd benefit of many years of being around all types of addicts.

    Each time I read your posts I am so glad I found you via SisterWives. You are a powerful writer and a passionate, amazing woman. Thank you for being a driving force for me as I write on my new-ish blog. I know I am not your only reader who was touched by this article. Thank you, once more, for making me feel like I can let the skeletons in my closet come out occasionally. If I have to pretend to be “normal” all of the time I will quite likely lose my mind. Be well Samara! I look forward to each of your posts.

    RueAnn

  17. 

    You are truly amazing! Thank you gor sharing this!

  18. 

    this is so sad

  19. 

    From the grown child of an addict that lost…… This was absolutely beautiful. A glimpse into the soul I was never allowed to see. Just totally moving. I am proud of you!

  20. 

    Reblogged this on thatswutshised.

  21. 

    Glad you found the strength! Awesome read!

  22. 

    I couldn’t read the parts about prepping the fix. I loved that part too much. That was as important as when it hits. Now it just makes my stomach turn and disgusts me. But the rest made me smile and hurt with recognition. It’s been a while. It’s the ghost of another life that i lived a million years ago that form every step i take today and filters everything i see differently than people who haven’t been there. Years i knew this was who i was. Junkie. I finally belonged. I finally fit a catagory. I tried to be the best junkie. I helped people woth simple acts of kindness who weren’t junkies and when they looked at me in disbelief i always said “just remember a junkie did that for you” when i walked away. Not sure what that was about. I don’t get high anymore. I don’t sit in meetings anymore and talk about how im not doing drugs anymore. It’s so strange. I used to wonder what people who didn’t get high did all day. I used to wonder how not getting high was possible. Like, for a whole day. Now i couldn’t tell you what i do with my day like it’s anything important but i don’t get high and don’t even think about it. It’s amazing. It was blood sweat and tears to get here. But i don’t feel it anymore. I had to have grown men keep me in the house too. I am amazed at the range of a spectrum one human can live in in one short life. Your post brought me back there. Made me a little uncomfortable. I don’t like that place. That makes me happy. It used to be romantic to think about the process after the sickness was gone for a while. You only remember the good times. Thank you for the post. I hate that people are there now like i was then thinking there was no freedom. That fucking shit life was all i wanted at one point. It was a comfortable broken home for me. I don’t wake up ready to grab the world by the balls like i feel i should if i had kept fighting to change the world like i had to fight to get clean. But i wake up no slave to anything except money these days. But we are all her slaves. Thanks for the post. I feel like i have to shower to get it off me. And thats good. Take care.

  23. 

    Very powerful! Thank you for making me feel something!

  24. 

    Wow what an amazing post!! I won’t lie I’ve had an addiction, I never wanted to believe it but it got to a point where suicide was what I thought was my only choice that’s when I knew I had to change, I’ve been 5 months clean of course with the occasional slip up but I’d day it’s a pretty good damn start! Your post is really encouraging!! Thanks!!

  25. 

    You’re blog is really inspiring. Thanks so much

  26. 

    I am so touched. I started blogging, I guess to give me my voice back and to help me be stronger than just coping to exist. I’ve been screaming in silence through my daughter’s addiction. It’s the most painful experience of my life to watch the classic textbook cycle of drug addiction come to life right before your eyes. My daughter is 22 and is addicted to heroin. Did you know that statistically in cases of heroin overdoses, 80% of them die alone? That is terrifying. Please know I’m proud of you for finding your voice, and I wish you peace and joy. If you could speak to a younger version of yourself about drugs what would you say?

  27. 

    Reblogged this on inglorious Resurrection and commented:
    Found this to be a dope read and articulated very well.. Reminds me of an elongated poem… Or a dream sequence… Goin from scene to scene not so much knowing where one starts and the other begins… Not so much knowing why you’re dreaming at all…

  28. 

    Eye opening piece thanks for sharing

  29. 

    The part about the child making himself breakfast and saying “don’t sweat it” broke my heart 😦

    http://www.danikamaia.com

  30. 

    Reblogged this on trips take people and commented:
    One of the best entries that I’ve ever read

  31. 

    Never did any drugs, however, I’ve worked as HR director at a rehabilitation facility. Just know that I’m happy for you, and wishing anyone whose desire to be clean or stay clean the best.

  32. 

    this could be about anything that you think makes you feel good but is killing you…bad love, bad drugs, bad drinks, bad spending, bad gambling….people listen when you write about what you really think. xxx

  33. 

    Reblogged this on Flowering Adolescence.

  34. 

    Heartbreaking story. Beautiful prose. I quit 5 years back. But not till today, did I have the urge to write about it …to at least tell myself what I had really become.

  35. 

    Im in tears. I can’t even speak.

  36. 

    Very brave Samara and thanks a lot for sharing this with us. All the best in your recovery.

  37. 

    Thank you. You’ve put somethings in perspective of me.

  38. 

    Thank you for linking to my post.

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