Heroin: An addict’s perspective

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EAST PROVIDENCE — He swears up and down this time is different, that he’s on the straight and narrow, that he wants to understand and control his addiction.

One of the East Providence Police Vice Squad’s Confidential Informants said recently his reliance on heroin, the worst of all his addictions, has brought it all to a head. It was time to stop or die, plain and simple.

An addict for over 30 years, heroin has been his drug of choice for the last 10. He’s been in and out of rehabilitation programs, five according to his latest count, but felt the urge to get high almost immediately upon stepping foot back into everyday life.

“I don’t know why I did. I’m still trying to figure it out myself,” the CI said. His name was withheld at his request and that of the EPPD.

For most of his teenage years, he said he never touched a drug. He came from a good family, had money and was an athlete. That all began to change when the thrill-seeker side of him crossed the line into criminal activity. His addiction began once he was incarcerated for the first time, using prison painkillers known as “delotas” then moving on to others.

“I never did drugs and then when I went to prison I never wanted to shoot up. But then one day I said, @$!# it, I’ll do it, and it went from there,” the CI explained. “A lot of people start off by using pills to get off, but then you can’t get them no more. You need stronger juice, so a lot of people go to heroin.”

His story of heroin addiction is much like the countless others who have come under the drug’s spell. The “partying” as he called it would last deep into the night. The next day at some point, he awoke, struggled to get out of bed and readied to find the next fix. Unable to maintain a job and after monetary support from family ended, he turned back to crime, usually break-ins. He’d take whatever money or possessions he stole to his dealer, got the heroin and started the whole process over.

“You’re always anxious. You’re always worried how you’re going to get the stuff and you’ll do just about anything to get it. It’s bad. You scam, you hustle. I’d do a quick B&E and take the stuff right to my dealer,” he said. “You spend the whole day either getting high or thinking about getting high. If you don’t get it, you’re as sick as a dog. You throw up. You have diarrhea. You’re bones are aching. It’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life.

“But then you do your fix and almost immediately you’re ready to go again. You do anything you can to stay ahead of your next fix, but it doesn’t always work out,” the CI said.

Like the police, the CI believes increased dependence on prescription pills is one of the leading factors to the spike in heroin use locally and nationally.

“I see it all the time. Doctors start people off with vics, perks, oxy (vicodin, percoset, oxycodone). The doctors stop writing the scrips and they realize they’re hooked. They need to get off,” he said. “I see the doctors and the lawyers and the cops, the firemen, all of them in the meetings I go to. It affects everybody.”

Having suffered a number of life-threatening health scares because of his addiction, the CI over the last year decided it was time to seek treatment once more and finally take it seriously.

“I’m married. I’ve got kids. There was no other way. I was going to die if I kept going,” he said. “It’s a living nightmare. No one asks to be a junkie. No one wants to be an addict. It takes over your life. I finally had to stop. I couldn’t do it for anyone else. I had to do it for me first. I truly believe if you want the treatment to work, you can make it work. You can try to get someone sober. You can tell a junkie anything, but they’ve got to want to do it for themselves.”

To stay clean, he goes to meetings, tries to avoid the pitfalls of former acquaintances and situations that may lead to a relapse. So far, at least for the better part of the last six months, what he’s doing works.

“You’ve got to go to the meetings. You’ve got to see the people and hear what they’re going through. You’ve got to see how good life can be,” the CI said. “You’ve got accept yourself for who you are. You can be sober and have a good time. It’s all about getting that second chance, but a lot times with your addiction you don’t get no second chance. But it’s definitely better to be alive, I can tell you that.”

Editor’s note: This if the fourth installment of a week-long series of stories pertaining to the recent increase of heroin use in East Providence and nationally.

Part Five, Friday, Narcan and treatment

The following is a list of local outpatient drug rehabilitation centers:

East Providence
CODAC Behavioral Healthcare
(401) 434-4999
850 Waterman Avenue

East Bay Center
(401) 431-9870
610 Wampanoag Trail

Providence
Family Service Inc
(401) 331-1350
55 Hope Street

Butler Hospital
(401) 455-6214
345 Blackstone Boulevard

Discovery House
(401) 461-9110
66 Pavillion Avenue

Providence Metro Treatment Center
(401) 941-4488
160 Narragansett Avenue

MAP Behavioral Health Services Inc
(401) 785-0050
66 Burnett Street

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