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…]

Blogathon: 15th Hour

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

I can type over 100 wpm.

A dear friend of mine just came by with a cup of coffee for me. She’s had a rough day. In addition to the unbelievably dreary weather and being vindictively stalked/harrassed by a neighbour (likely the FPS gamer who lives next door) through a variety of channels including this blog, which serves as a creepy reminder about internet safety for trans women, today was the anniversary of the death of a very close friend of her’s from an overdose. [Read more…]

Blogathon: 9th Hour

I was reading Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn the other day. I’m not much of a Marvel girl, but Runaways is particularly good. It’s young, it’s energetic, it’s fun, it’s clever, it’s funny, it deals with queer themes in an interesting way, it’s got a very original spin on the Team of Teen Superheroes concept, etc.

But there was a scene that really rubbed me the wrong way, and brought to mind something that I’d sort of been thinking about before but hadn’t yet really pulled all the way together. Hadn’t quite pissed me off in just the right way, I guess. [Read more…]

Whitney Houston: “Just Another Dead Drug Addict”

As you’ve all undoubtedly heard by now, pop star Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday in Beverly Hills, likely as a result of a drug overdose.

When I heard this news, I braced myself for the inevitable. I knew exactly what I was about to be subjected to, because it happens every time a celebrity dies as a result of an ongoing addiction. I was going to hear, over and over and over, variations of “just another dead junkie”, “yeah, I saw it coming”, “she deserved it, brought it on herself”, “hard to feel sympathy for someone like that”, “threw her whole life away”, etc.

Happens every time. [Read more…]

Secular Addiction Recovery Part Two: Alternatives

I’m rather sick today. Lungs full of gravel again. That’s twice now over the past few months… grrr. I didn’t get sick at all last year while I was all super unemployed and idle, but now that I have a (fake) job and (fake) responsibilities, it’s all WHOOO! VIRUS PARTY IN NATALIE’S MUCOSAE! BRING YR FRIENDZ!

So I’m afraid I’m going to just take it easy and initiate lazy weekend mode a day early.

Anyway, I’d like to revisit the theme of dealing with addiction from a secular standpoint, mostly to remind you all that I am totally keeping this as one of the recurring topics here, and didn’t suddenly change my mind and decide this blog will be exclusively about trans-feminism and ponies. So I just wanted to quickly assemble a little list of alternatives to 12-step for atheist and secular addicts in recovery. [Read more…]

Secular Addiction Recovery Part One: Just A Little Endorphin Deficiency

I seem to have somehow found myself in the business of publicly discussing highly stigmatized aspects of my identity, history and experiences, displaying them on the internet for anyone to see. I reconcile the associated risks and feelings of unease by reminding myself that if everyone were stealth, there would be no one left to speak about us, our lives, to advocate from a position of direct understanding and shared oppression. There would be no one left to demonstrate, through simple, visible being, that we do exist and share this world with the rest of you, and that we are, like anyone, complex, multi-faceted, individual, fallible, struggling, confused, suffering, thinking, hoping, feeling, participating, speaking human beings. Though it can spare an individual a great deal of hassle, cultural invisibility has never done any good for a minority group, collectively.

But so long as I’m doing this, so long as I’m being a voice, presence and advocate, why restrict myself to only one aspect of who I am? Why only one particular stigmatized and hated group to which I belong? Why not go for broke?

The thing is, I’m a recovering heroin addict. [Read more…]