I am a heroin addict. My life is limited to three concerns. The first thing I gotta figure out every morning is how to get a bag of heroin into my arm no more than ten minutes after I wake-up. If I fail, I’m dope sick. The cramps inside my lower stomach go on a full-scale attack. I can’t stand. I can’t walk. The diarrhea squirts out like a water hose. The second issue is drawing a “hot shot.” The drug dealers cut the heroin or add fake shit to stretch quantity for profit. Some dealers cut it in half and double their money. But most drug dealers aren’t rocket scientist; they never get the proper distribution of cut to heroin every time. Too much pure heroin in a half-gram package equals a “hot shot.” Five minutes after you shot the package into your vein, your heart stops.
But my major concern is called “cotton shot rush.” It’s when a dirty piece of cotton fiber used to filter the heroin makes it into your bloodstream. Most addicts don’t carry sterile cotton balls or Q-tips in their back pocket. If you’re lucky you have access to a clean filtered cigarette. But most of the time you have to find a cigarette butt on the ground, in an ashtray, or a garbage barrel.
But there is no mistaking it when it hits. Ten to twenty minutes after you pull the trigger it whacks you like you’re in the third day of the flu virus. The ears give it away: if they start to ring you’re fucked. Pressure begins to mount on each side of your temple like a vise squeezing slowly together. Sweat pours off your brow but at first there is no temperature associated with it. The shakes progress quickly to trembles. Chills hit immediately after and the body’s temperature spikes to over 102. If the bacteria takes up residency in your heart and you don’t seek medical attention, you’re dead. I roll the dice about a dozen times a day.
It’s been twenty-three years since I shot a bag of heroin into my arm. But I’m still a junkie, every morning I wake up and vividly recall the hell I once lived. I’m blessed.