“Opium: that terrible truth serum. Dark secrets guarded for a lifetime can be divulged with carefree folly after a sip of the black smoke.”
~ Roman Payne, The Wanderess
Here’s the truth about addiction: drugs are fun until they’re not. Even the most casual drug use can quickly turn into addiction, and addiction can turn into all kinds of desperate actions.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way, first by becoming addicted to heroin and then by being sent to jail.
Here’s the truth about me: I’m a recovering heroin addict, but I am very thankful for where I am today.
I don’t have any inspirational quotes or profound wisdom to jumpstart this post. All I have is my story – hopefully it’s as sobering for you as it was for me.
The Beginning: My First Introduction to Drugs
I never intended to become a drug addict. Does anyone? I never even intended to try heroin. It’s not like I had a sudden urge one day to jump in to the hard stuff and hit up my local drug dealer. I didn’t even have a local drug dealer.
But I did smoke marijuana in high school. I went through a few years with relatively uneventful, supposedly casual drug use. That’s how it started, anyway.
Just a couple of years after graduating high school, someone introduced me to heroin. I had never tried an opioid drug before, and the idea was more intriguing than anything.
Little did I know just how dangerous and powerful of a drug heroin is. I soon found out. I’ll be honest: I enjoyed the first high well enough. Who doesn’t? But I never got that first high back, and all that high school advice of “not even once” came down on me like a ton of bricks.
Drugs Quickly Became My All in All
At first, I didn’t even know I was addicted. I continued to use heroin, needing more and more of the substance every week. I ran out of money, but I still needed more of the drug.
Soon enough, I turned to stealing money and valuables from homes to pay for my drug habit. This wasn’t some innocent teenage fun. I was breaking and entering private homes with the sole purpose of stealing as much as money as I could – to get as much heroin as I could.
In short, my drug addiction put both myself and my family members through the worst experience that life can bring.
It’s no surprise that this criminal activity eventually landed me in jail. Because I was arrested with heroin in my possession as well, I was sentenced to three years in prison. It turns out that may have been the best thing that happened to me.
Coming Off Drugs in Jail – The Sobering Experience
Being a heroin addict in jail is no joke. Being in jail at all is no joke, but coming off the toxic effects of opiates in prison has to be the worst thing that I have ever been through. But it also changed my life, and may just be the best thing that has happened in my life. It was, quite literally, a sobering experience.
After just a day in jail, I started to see the effects of my heroin addiction. I was sweating, shaking, and nauseous beyond belief. After a couple of days, I started feeling nervous and depressed at the same time. These withdrawal symptoms kept up even after the more physical withdrawal symptoms subsided.
But there wasn’t anything I could do about it. All I could do was wait. At that point, the prison system didn’t offer the opportunity for medical detox or a gentler therapy approach. It was about getting through withdrawal any way you could.
After that experience, I swore I would never touch an opioid drug ever again. The pain of physical withdrawal without any mental or personal support was just that painful. To this day, I haven’t touched the stuff.
The Happier Ending: Three Years Later & Still Sober
I was in jail for three years, and now I’ve been out of prison for three years. I am happy to report that I am still sober. Through the most difficult experience of my life, I have triumphed over my addiction.
But that doesn’t mean the work is over. My happy ending very easily could have turned into an overdose or a life-threatening withdrawal process.
“Incarceration typically severs prisoners’ ties to the main sources of their drug habits, but it doesn’t necessarily liberate them from the plague of addiction.”
~ Zeeshan Aleem, writing for Mic Magazine
Like this insightful article states, becoming completely free from addiction requires treatment – and sometimes a great deal of it. I am thankful that my stint in jail was sobering enough to keep me clean after being released from prison. But this is not always the case.
If you have more questions about heroin addiction, feel free to reach out and contact NorthPoint Recovery.