Dangerous Drugs

sayarsan's picture

DD's as they call 'em in the trade or profession i should say, as in "Nurse, can I have the keys to the DD's please". What makes them so dangerous is ignorance and that is quite dense around illegal drugs. Really i suppose it's pretty dense around any drug until people are cluey about it and this clueing in can come through education and experience personal and vicarious. The dangers that lurk are not necessarily those one expects.
Doing a bust has inherent risks regarding the law but in the joyful exhuberance that comes with arriving safely home after a night's work with a bag if not bursting hopefully loaded with pharmaceuticals there lurks unexpected, unthought of dangers. One time early in the piece we came home with loads of boring stuff, a meager haul of pethidine, loads of ketamine and some hype tabs called themalon which the brains of the outfit assured us was an opioid. The third in our group did that neat trick hype tabs are designed for and stuck it in his arm only to collapse in a coughing fit which was terribly alarming to me but being an asthmatic he was terrified until the fit subsided. The brains recommended that we inject it slowly and this was satisfactory. Inject until you feel a tickle of a cough then stop until it subsides and things were fine. We still got a rush of sorts and the stone was an opiate. A few hours later my urine was tinged red like petrol and worse, a day later it was tinged green. I didn't know at the time that this indicates blood in the urine which means here that the kidneys were being bombed pretty hard by this ominous sounding substance. By now the sites where i had injected it were inflamed and if i used one again the blood came back to the fit in clumps rather than a cloud. Soon it was impossible to use that site at all.
Unidentified pharmaceuticals are not the only source of danger. Hallucinogens especially LSD have no identified lethal dose but a quarter of a milligram is a strong trip. Too much isn't lethal but there are fates worse than death and this one sent a few of our company to psych wards and premature death through suicide. It became a test of one's grip on one's mind and the 12 hours of an acid trip was a true test of mental endurance. Mushrooms were of comparatively short duration and more benevolent in that sense. With experience we knew what to expect from their number and size but with acid there was a period of apprehension while waiting for the effect to kick in which is not a good way to start a trip. Some years later we could inject the acid and avoid the wait but by then our interest in hallucinogens had waned as had the hallucinogens themselves - mushrooms had been eradicated from most places where we used to get them and there were more lucrative markets to interest the traffickers.
It seemed that some if not most of us were developing compulsions for heroin to preserve our sanity on the verge of what seemed a dismal horizon and it worked superbly in the short term. Over time though as a habit progresses, tolerance goes up and the precious grip on sanity is undermined by a different strategy. The logic of junk enables the mind to be perfectly sound while it comes up with the most insane reasoning to justify the most outrageous notions. The excuses we invent, as if we need to invent them become apparently absurd to the observer but have an inherent logic to the user that is unshakeable. Likewise the doomed strategies to kick which seem to entail anything except stopping. This can go unchallenged or at least tolerated for a long time since a crazy bit of logic isn't dangerous and sometimes is entertaining but when the usage gets to a sufficient level such logic can become lethal. I suppose that's what Bill was talking about when after four years spent in a room in Tangiers shooting a few grams of methadone a day he "decided Jonesy wasn't really my friend after all" and headed for Dr. Dent and his apomorphine cure. There is good cause to wonder whether it was the apomorphine that made the cure so effective or was it the simple decision that jonesy wasn't his friend. The dangers associated with drug use are often dependant on the amount of the drug and the period over which it is taken. Often they are unexpected especially to those foolish enough to think they know it all.


felix's picture

Impossible to read your vivid piece without me overlaying your reality with my own mixed up memories from my youth - a combination of Drugstore Cowboy (that staple entry-level addict's movie, with its cameo by Bill, and the 'good ol days' of wooden DD cabinets), and my own real but hazy memories of hopeless drugbusts done years too late - long drives to nowhere through Melbourne's night to a medical practice, the only score being a handful of lignocaine vials that did nothing but give one a cold feeling through the veins, the feeling of someone walking over your grave brought to chemical actuality, a single morph vial from a doctor's bag that was claimed proprietorially by the now deceased Mal, and a few IV valiums, for those so stressed they couldn't wait for a tablet to come on.
While completely ill-advised and scoring incredibly low on the risk-to-return scale that dictates the every move of the modern rationalist, I completely empathise with that exhilirating feeling that only comes from spreading out the meagre score across the bed of a friend's flatmate, the only room that had a door that locked.
In the days before the internet, we owed our continued existence to that lexicon of pharmaceutical lore, the Mims. Sometimes it was only a chance reading of a line buried amongst arcane latinisms that saved us from a night of hell if we had gone ahead and injected some anti-psychotic chanced upon. Like all inventions, the internet's builders could never have foreseen the lives saved by being able to instantly determine the provenance and even user community reviews of esoteric drugs...or, as you say, there are worse things than death, so in some cases it was sanity that was saved rather than continued metabolisation of foodstuffs to energy.
Sanity though, is relative, and your reference to crazy logics rings true also. I have always seen users as mostly mad, and tried to measure my own sanity relative to the herd. A pointless and subjective exercise I know - basically you will always come up with the result you want, be it sane or insane, you will just choose the markers that point towards the goal you want.
'Oh, I've never sold my body for a taste', or 'Well I've never heard god telling me to kill someone' are the kind of things you may pay credence to, whilst ignoring the fact that you have lived in poverty for the last decade, happy to drive to work with only a few kilometres petrol in the tank because you spent all your pay on gear. Or justify the fact that you've just spent a week injecting oral morphine despite all the negative reviews you've read of such a practice.
It's a tired truism that we see what we want to see, and sad that the constraints of 'straight' or 'non-drug' lifestyles are just as pervasive in the using community as they are in the depths of suburbia.
The only saving grace I can think of is that I am aware of my hypocrisies, I avow my delusions and I acknowledge my deceptions. Perhaps this is what it takes to be able to die and classify yourself as having lived?