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How I Became a Junkie

A guy I met in rehab shot me up for the first time. And then the needle and I had a love affair all our own.

When I checked into Promises in 2005, I had been doing so much cocaine that my nose bled onto the intake papers as I filled them out. I was so high I don’t remember what I signed but I was quickly escorted to a bed where I promptly slept for three days. A month later, I was released into the world. And then, after my father paid a staggering $7,000 for outpatient treatment, I dropped out after three days and started using again.

I remember being in my apartment, doing coke alone to a soundtrack of the Twilight Singers, wondering whom I could get high with. I cracked open my rehab-given Big Book. In the front, just like in my high school yearbook, were sweet inscriptions from fellow clients along with their phone numbers. I used my deductive reasoning to decide who among them would have already dropped the ball and be down to party. I picked a handsome rich kid junkie who was a chronic relapser that I’d been semi-friendly with. I called. Bingo. Within a few hours, he was at my house with cocaine, heroin and syringes. As he shot up speedballs, I snorted thick long lines off my enormous mirrored coffee table.

“Why aren’t you shooting?” he eventually asked. “It’s so much better and you use so much less.” He sounded very matter of fact about it all. 

Up until that point, IV drug use was a line I had vowed never to cross. But I had just relapsed after my second rehab and a part of me felt doomed: I’d almost come to accept the fact that being a drug addict was going to be my fate. “So why the fuck not?” I thought. “I’m hopeless. Might as well embrace that shit, take it to the wall.”

I watched him mix up a concoction of cocaine and water in a spoon and draw it up in a syringe. Then he took the belt of my robe and tied it tightly around my upper arm. My veins bulged. He inserted the needle, drew back again and blood shot into the barrel—I’d come to find out later that this is called registering— before slowly pushing the plunger in. I watched in fascination and horror, my heart pounding furiously. And then the high hit me. The feeling was overwhelming: like you were about to have the biggest orgasm of your life while riding a terrifying roller coaster. Oh my God. From that moment, I was hooked.  

For the next few weeks, this guy and I shot coke, drank milkshakes and scored dope together. My pants got looser as he got sweatier and more paranoid. I would wake up to find him in his backyard armed with a gun and a flashlight, waiting for the cops who weren’t coming.  

I never shot heroin (although I smoked it once and promptly fell asleep) because I’m an upper girl at heart. Plus I wasn’t ready for the commitment. I knew at least with coke, you could sleep it off for a few days and there was none of that kicking sickness. Because I’m epileptic, it probably would have been smarter to shoot dope but oh, well. Of course shooting coke, with or without a seizure disorder, is dicey; Russian roulette at its finest. But I was deep in it now and felt invincible. Or maybe I just didn’t care anymore. Either way, the result was the same: confident recklessness.

The entire time this had been going on, the guy had been shooting me up. I was still the novice while this guy had been a junkie for years and knew all the tricks. He knew, for example, to put White Out on the tip of my needles to make sure we didn’t mix ours up. But one night, after we scored some coke off one of his dealers, he went directly outside after shooting himself up.

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