Do I really need to say it? I don't speak for all junkies, even for a subset. I can only pass on the experiences I have directly been involved in. I can try to extrapolate those results to a wider community, but this does not make my extrapolations correct. I know I am drifting into the whole "can we ever confirm anything outside our own senses" argument here, but I make the point regardless...
A lot of it is pride. Taking the gay movement as an allegory, how much of junkies lives are suffering not from the drug but because of the status of the drug-user. Just as the negative effects of heroin stem not from any pharmacological properties of the drugs but form the legal status of the drug and false stereotypes perpetuated by various bodies, I see a separation between the ability to use heroin, and having a ruined life.
One does not go hand in hand with the other.
Of course, the illegality of the drug results in exorbitant prices for its supply, so it is hard to use and remain solvent. Choices:Prostitution, theft or trafficking - these are the main three. And if you are a supporter of the continued illegal status of heroin, please be aware that if you have a child who ends up using, they will be forced like all users to choose one of those three career paths. Regardless of how many choices you think their schooling and upbringing may have given them, use can only be supported through illegal methods in today's society.
The smarter junkie may minimise their illegal profile - that part of their behaviour that attracts police attention, but they will have one. You may think you could be the type of parent who will supply cash for your child to buy drugs, and that will remove their need to generate a criminal income, but just the act of scoring and dependency will put them in touch daily with people who choose a criminal lifestyle for reasons that may be other than addiction. You cannot protect your children whilst heroin is illegal.
Back to the gay analogy - this site helps me maintain pride. To remind myself that I am not the scum portrayed on television and social media. That I am more than a consumer of opiates. Pride.
So what's this site about?
Well, take the statement -
"...much of the damage associated with heroin and other illicit drugs is caused by their legal status rather than any inherent quality of the drugs"
So perhaps this gives you an idea of my take on the whole "illegal drugs" issue. That it's not a straightforward "heroin is bad" case, that perhaps there are other agendas motivating the illegal stance on opiates than the health aspect. If we were really trying to minimise the harm associated with the use of this substance, is handing the production and distribution of it to unregulated and underground third parties. If we allowed all pharmaceutical production, for instance Viagra production, to be handled in the same manner as we allow heroin production to occur, would you really be surprised when the bodies of middle-aged men started turning up in their underpants? What I am saying is that the lethal nature of gear is not purely a result of it being gear. Rather it is a result of an uncontrolled production and distribution process. If it was regulated, buyers would know what they are getting, and an accidental overdose would be as rare for gear as it is for aspirin.
But it serves those who seek to keep heroin illegal to have the image of a young dead junkie in a squalid room. If so many of my friends had not joined the ranks of this stereotype I'd perhaps be less cynical about the lawmakers' stance. But after nearly two decades in the industry, I know I am biased towards legalisation and control. I am not saying "hey everyone should be able to buy heroin over the counter", but rather I think its purchase should be on par with its risk-level.
And of course there's the added benefit of the legalisation of a drug de-romanticising the whole scene. I know the romance of gear-taking was a big factor for my initial involvement. Funny how there's no similar romance with methadone, a more powerful drug in the same family. Could that be because methadone comes in a bottle with a manufacturers stamp and is sold by dour chemists in sterile stores? If you had to travel miles to buy it off some shady character in a beat up sports car, maybe it would enjoy a larger audience.
Legal drugs are not as attractive as illegal drugs, in my opinion. Take away the myths and fairytales surrounding its origins, package it in the same boring wrappings as haemmoroid cream and half your market is gone.
Part of the ritual of heroin use is the process of scoring - the contact with the criminal fraternity, the brush with the law, the hours of waiting, the thrill of the purchase, the risk of the rip-off, the uncertainty of the products' contents - all or some these things can be attractive to the mind that seeks substance use. Remove them and you de-romanticise the drug.
I used to have a mantra - deromanticise, demystify, decriminalise. By that I meant that gear needs to be openly available and understandable.
What is the site made of? That's easier. It's a collation of self-pitying diary entries, obsessively collected data on the daily levels of junk usage, transcripts of police interviews, photos of friends who have succumbed to slowed respiration, articles from the media highlighting the efficacy of a War on Drugs. My personal view, after nigh non 20 years spent chasing the dragon, is that heroin should be decriminalised, as laws against usage have served in no way to improve my life or the lives of the members of the Qld population. Economics of pricing determined by prohibition of a highly addictive substance means a good that costs around a dollar a thousand grams to produce is sold for a thousand dollars a gram just by virtue of being moved 7000km - from one jurisdiction of law to another.
Most of all this is a website that chronicles waste. Wasted time, money, emotions and lives.
So in a nation where removal of rights is an everyday event, I don't hold a lot of hope for progressive reform in the health ministry. Opiate users are still treated as deviant criminals, the methadone program is an underfunded dead-end health division, it seems to be where civil servants get sent for punishment if you don't toe the line in Qld Health. A morose bunch of dour bureaucrats who seem to think that bureaucracy is the path to opiate treatment. I'm so glad I had the funds to go private with methadone. I haven't been treated shabbily for over three years now, and this has contributed to a gradual increase in my self-esteem.
Enough ranting. It's a democracy, use your mind to make it up!
* Wodak & Owens - Drug Prohibition