Drugs have long been a part of everyday culture; from celebrity scandals to national talk shows, drugs are universally understood as negative and scary things. Recently, one of the most dangerous drugs has gained popularity on the social media platform ‘Tumblr’. Specific fan pages and pages endorsing its usage have been created, posting the owners drug possessions, and in many cases, videos and photos of themselves injecting heroin. There are also ‘smaller’ pages that use the hashtag ‘#heroin’ to connect with other ‘users’ in the world – a community of addicts and recovering souls.
In the following series, I will talk to some of the largest names on Tumblr that openly post their tales and images of heroin usage and to better understand their world.
In part 1, I talked to ‘Vanessa’, a young looking brunette who has struggled with heroin usage for about a year. She talked to me of the problems heroin gave her, the prospect of homelessness and her advice for those thinking of using heroin.
Hey Vanessa, thank you for talking with me.
Thank you for being interested in talking to me as well. Heroin addiction is so taboo in today’s society and I’d love to help set the record straight.
No problem, it’s always great to hear the opinion straight from those most affected by the drug; the user. What record would you like to set straight?
That the cliché “junkie” people picture in their head is so far from the 21st century addict. This addiction can affect anyone at any age, race, or income level.
How long have you been using heroin?
About a year now. I was snorting it for ten months, and started using needles in the past two months.
Was there any reason why you moved on to injecting, chasing a bigger high perhaps?
For me it was a financial thing. My tolerance went up and to keep sniffing, it would be crazily expensive due to the amount I’d have to do to ‘get right’. Not even high, just not sick.
A lot of people say heroin seemed glamorous when they first started. Was this the same for you?
No, I used it to numb the pain of the long term physical, sexual and emotional abuse I endured throughout the preceding five years. I was in love at the first sniff, but it was far from glamorous. I knew exactly what I was doing and knew it was going to turn into a major problem.
What sorts of problems did heroin create or highlight for you?
Health problems. Being constantly ‘dope sick’ on a daily basis, waking up in a pool of sweat, shaking and throwing up not knowing when or how I’ll get my next fix. My PTSD is always really bad when I’m not high.
So you use heroin to almost medicate yourself for a number of issues?
Have you ever tried ‘real’ medication or professional help?
Yes. I had a psychiatrist for my childhood until I was 18 and then I lost my insurance. I’ve been diagnosed with severe clinical depression and PTSD with panic episodes, and ADD. I’ve been on every psychoactive medicine there is, pretty much. At least 30 different medications.
And you feel heroin medicates these issues better than the specific medication intended?
Yes, but if I had insurance I would go to a suboxone psychiatrist and get help. I applied twice for state assistance and never heard anything, so in the meantime, heroin is my medicine. I’m ‘sick’ right now, waiting until I can ‘pick up’ later this afternoon. I need a shot every 10 hours or I enter withdrawal.
How big are your typical shots?
I’m really careful when I shoot, usually two bags. If the bag is big, or some type I haven’t tried, I sniff it to test it first.
What are two bags in terms of grams?
Probably a quarter of a gram. Typically, I do at least half a gram a day – up to a bundle (about a gram) a day when things are good money wise.
Did you know that roughly between 0.07g and 0.37g of pure heroin can be lethal?
Wow. That’s crazy. My tolerance is high at this point, but that must mean all the stuff I get is very ‘cut’. Everyone around here, who does dope, fears the fentanyl bags. Some dealers lace it with fentanyl and its killing people in New Jersey where I live. I had two friends overdose on that. I must admit, I know I’m taking a chance when I put the needle in my arm, I just can’t stop. It’s an obsession. That sounds about right.
Does it not scare you that you essentially gamble with death every hit?
Yeah. I’m so depressed and lost in my life. Part of me doesn’t care if I die, but I can’t do that to my family. That’s cruel. I’ve been trying to sniff bags to avoid that danger, but it just doesn’t get me ‘right’ like shooting does.
How are you with the actual safety involved in doing it – like clean needles/ clean entry points?
Yes, always. I use cotton to filter the dope – always. A lot of people don’t filter and it causes abscesses which is a major fear of mine.
How do you feel about yourself?
People always tell me I’m beautiful, but I don’t really see that unless I’m high. I feel like a loser. Everyone else is moving on and I’m just stuck. I’ll most likely be homeless in a matter of weeks. I hate myself. I feel I have failed my parents and my entire family.
If you become homeless, what do you think you’ll end up doing?
To be honest, I have no clue. I’m doing what I can to stay where I am; most likely, I’ll couch surf, or try to go to a rehabilitation unit on scholarship.
As a final point, what would you say to a young person thinking of trying heroin?
Don’t do it. Think about the life you have. Heroin takes everything from you, down to your soul. The high isn’t nearly worth the low. Stay safe, and quoting from ‘Trainspotting’, choose life.
I wish you the best of luck, Vanessa. Thank you for speaking.
All future parts will be linked here.
-Benjamin John Wareing