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 2, I talked to ‘Aibreann’, a young adult female who has struggled with heroin usage for around a decade. She appears to have one of the largest Tumblr communities on her page, and talked to me of cultural influence, relationship breakdowns and issues with addiction.
Hey Aibreann, thank you for speaking to me about this topic.
I guess to get right into it, how long have you been using heroin?
I first tried it when I was 18 or 19, and that was almost a decade ago. So I’m not a typical junkie cause’ I’m a long term user who doesn’t use daily and I’ve never needed rehab, never went to one. I still manage to have long period breaks from heroin.
Do you mind explaining why you turned to heroin in the first place?
At first it was only curiosity. I always liked to experiment with drugs. Later, it became a coping mechanism and a way to make me feel better.
Did you ever try other, ‘less serious’ drugs; was it a straight leap to heroin then others came afterwards?
I’ve tried other drugs before heroin; MDMA, speed and coke per example. I was a regular at raves so I loved ‘uppers’.
So did it start of as a social sort of thing?
I guess it has. People around me were using, so I wanted to see what it’s like for myself. But, besides that, I wanted to try drugs since I was young – reading books like ‘Christiane F’ and watching movies and documentaries about heroin.
So there was a degree of cultural influence that aided your decision to take heroin?
I wouldn’t say cultural influence, I just knew drugs were there and I was very curious. Most people are scared of trying heroin, I wasn’t.
That takes me onto my next point; heroin (injecting) is pretty damn dangerous. Do you ever think of the possible negative effects?
Yes, every user thinks and knows all the negative side effects, but that still won’t stop anybody from using heroin. If you’re using, you have to make sure you safe; take small test shots so you don’t overdose, always use your own clean needle. I’ve never learned to shoot myself (other people injected me) so I snort now. It’s a bit safer that way, but there are still risks. Some users consider snorting a waste of heroin, but I don’t.
Heroin is very much stigmatised in the media. Do you ever feel there isn’t enough support for the issue as a result of this, if you want it?
There are addiction centres where you can talk to experts, get clean needles and learn about harm reduction, but, most people on the streets will look down on a user. They don’t understand that mind-set, therefore its’ hard to find support sometimes. Even your friends and family have hard times trying to help you and understand you.
Have you noticed your personal relationships change due to your heroin use, such as with family, friends and intimate relationships?
I lost one friend who disagrees with my lifestyle, and I have a majority of friends who don’t use. So, if I’m going to score, I must lie to them and act like I’m sober. My family doesn’t know I’m using although they heard rumours ages ago.
Are you worried your family would find out?
At the moment, no cause’ I’ve been clean from heroin for almost a whole month. But, yeah, it might happen in the future if I don’t stop and that wouldn’t be pleasant.
Do you think they would be supportive, or would they be dismissive and wholly negative towards you?
My mom would be worried and she would freak out. I know her too well. And dad, he would be negative. I’m sure of it.
Does that not deter you at all?
It does, but like I said, I’m still a high functioning user and my breaks are so long without triggers. I could even stop doing heroin for good. I need to work on myself a bit, still.
You say you could stop for good. Do you not class yourself as an addict?
I consider myself a user. Lately, I use only once a month or so, and most typical addicts have to use daily. But, if you put heroin in front of me, I wouldn’t be so strong to turn it down. In that way, I could be considered an addict.
Heroin is often seen as glamorous by some young people. What do you say to this?
It’s not glamorous at all and I hate people who glorify heroin. In the beginning, it’s intriguing and fun. But nothing’s fun about withdrawals and hiding things from your family and friends and being down whenever you’re not high.
I discovered you initially because you tagged a picture of needles filled with heroin with the hashtag ‘#heroin’. Why did you do this?
For the drug community here at Tumblr. We connect that way, talk about harm reduction, watch each other pictures; I like to call it ‘drug porn’. Haha.
Are you not worried that someone may see the tagged pictures that shouldn’t, such as a child or recovering addict?
Not if they don’t look for them and if they do, there’s a bunch pictures of heroin and other drugs on the internet.
So you don’t think it’s your problem?
People find what they are searching for. I didn’t give anyone drugs and l don’t consider books or movies I’ve seen as responsible for my drug use. I just had it in me. There are always gonna’ be drug users. There were drugs before the internet – remember the 90’s.
As a final point, what do you say to people considering using heroin?
Think twice and don’t even try it.
Thank you for your thoughts, Aibreann.
No problem 🙂
-Benjamin John Wareing