Trigger warning for fairly obvious reasons. This was written primarily for the purpose of catharsis. Please take this warning seriously if you’ve struggled with addiction, especially opiates, and aren’t fully confident in your ability to handle evocative descriptions of such experiences, or if you’ve had traumatic experiences related to a loved one who was or is dealing with addiction. This is not meant to “glorify” heroin addiction, but is intended as an honest and personal account of certain aspects of its pathology, as I experienced it. “Down” is the common slang for heroin in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
There’s a reason that generally, people refer to themselves as “recovering addicts”. Not recovered addicts. Not ex-addicts. Recovering.
Initially I kind of resented this, and I wasn’t the only one, thinking of it as mostly being a construct and a bit of a con set up by twelve step organizations, as part of the overall cult-mentality with which they’re run. It would keep the addict’s identity perpetually inseparable from the addiction (“Hi, my name is Natalie, and I am an addict”), hamstring their ability to move on with their lives, and keep them emotionally dependent on the groups and meetings. But in that initial distrust of the language, I was leaning into an assumption that there was some sort of “post-addiction” state, a place you could arrive at where you had in some real sense “moved on with your life” such that it no longer was in any meaningful way an aspect of yourself.
I’ve since learned that that assumption was a mistake, and at least for many people, no matter the distance you place between yourself and the addiction, it never stops being meaningful, or stops demanding attention. Once it’s there, it’s there, and you don’t get to forget.
At least for me. [Read more…]