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Remember the beginning of “Annie Hall,” where the kids deadpan into the camera where they all end up in life, and one boy laments “I used to be a heroin addict, Now I’m a methadone addict”?
Well, that was happening to me. I was withdrawing cold turkey, by choice, from methadone on my parents’ couch in Daytona Beach, 250 miles away from my clinic and conspiring ways to teleport the pink syrup, realizing what happened to me. I used to be a heroin addict, then I was a methadone addict.
I sank my sweaty, twitching body into the cushions. Seventy two hours for the stuff to get out of my body, and a lifetime of convincing myself the grass isn’t greener on the methadone side.
If opiates were horrible, no one would do them. I loved heroin, and subsequently methadone, more than I loved my strings of hookups and semi-relationships I’d form and break up once someone discovered my track marks. Sex was awesome, and lasted forever when I was high, but the rush was better.
For the first two years of my addiction, starting when I was 18, I had a boyfriend supplying the dope; I’m now almost 21 and I’ve spent around 40,000 dollars just on opiate-related drugs. I could have many of my overdrafted bank accounts paid back, all of which were drawn and the bills stuffed into the hand of dealers with names like B, G, and J. I could actually own furniture that hasn’t been cobbled from cast offs and Little Havana corners.
I thought for awhile that methadone therapy would work. Methadone is essentially a replacement, acting as an agonist on our brain’s opiate receptors to flood them and keep opiate-dependent users functional without giving the high and rush that heroin and painkillers do, and it’s used in conjunction with therapy to help people wean off the illegal stuff and, if taken daily, get back to living a semi-normal life. Oh, boy.
I got high on dope, and higher on methadone. My roommate I met as a fellow call girl (because how else could I afford a hundred dollars a day of junk?), was an ex-girlfriend of a fellow drug buddy. She and I would have our daily expedition via foot and train to the hood, stuffing black balloons of heroin in our crotch and our clean “works,” or needles, anywhere else.
Ten bucks a pop for a tenth of a gram is all it takes to take over your life.
I was showering only between calls, making anywhere from two to four hundred an hour after my agency’s cut. I had stopped going to class, all in the name of enjoying my new money by getting incredibly loaded and shopping. And that was if I didn’t just fall asleep.
I had sex with a, sorry, unnamed rock star and was more excited to shoot up than divulge the details. When I didn’t feel the effects one morning, courtesy of increased tolerance, and the dope went through a monthly quality drought, my roommate suggested I start methadone with her.
All the energy that dope gave me in the mornings after a shot, methadone zapped, and then some. It was supposed to save me from spiraling out of control, and did the opposite.
Half the thrill of being an addict is the hunt of the drug, and doing it. Not even the powerful rush and nod are as fun as just getting the stuff can be. I loved the thrill of evading shrill police sirens singing under the brutal Miami sun and hauling my sweaty, grimy behind to the train in the mornings.
Now, I got up in the morning and my roommate and I lugged ourselves on an hour plus bus commute to the clinic. Thirteen dollars, or 26 because she never managed to hold onto cash, for a dash of medicinal-cherry syrup that I could feel inch down my throat like a slug. Fifteen minutes later, and I’d be out like a baby.
I’ve lost wallets, bags, phones from my methadone hazes. Shoplifted, you name it. I was too zonked to even make plans. I was fine in time to make my money that night, and dose the next day. Weekends, I was on the bus at six a.m. to dose.
It took over a gram of cocaine a day to keep me energetic enough to do anything, but I soon lost the drive to do much of anything but get my dose on time. Naturally, I never passed the random monthly drug test at the clinic. I spiraled down hard and fast, wanting to get back to having a life, but needing a cocktail of drugs and dealers’ numbers to resemble normal in any way.
Methadone is supposed to be a fix, a treatment, a way out. It ended up causing more problems than even my worst days of heroin. It took crying on my best friend’s floor while he called my mom miles away explaining my mooching roommate, my repeated attempts to taper off, my dwindling bank account, to get me to realize I needed to make a change.
I’m not proud of anything. I thought I was living the life, and everything around me stated otherwise. Today I’m still fighting the mental obsession that addiction causes, knowing not too far from me are those little baggies with bitter powder in them waiting to be poured into my burnt spoons I keep tucked in a drawer as a distant reminder that the grass isn’t greener.
But the legal “alternative” caused me more damage physically and mentally than poking holes in my arm ever did. I still crave methadone sometimes more, crave the routine of the dispenser handing me the little cup to drink and taste the bitter cherry.
Opiate addicts are somehow reviled more, it seems, than most other types of addicts. The only choice for us seems to be getting addicted to another replacement substance, or since Miami has no needle exchange, hoping to find a clean one somewhere and hoping the dope is OK.
I’m not clean. I’m trying. The only option for me now is go one day at a time and try to find inspiration to stay away. I'm writing this to reach out to others, and maybe find hope.