Heroin use: Ex-junkie describes the effects of heroin

How do junkies use heroin? Richie Farrell describes heroin use and the possible effects of heroin in this excerpt from his book “What’s Left of Us”. An honest and frank look at heroin use from the mouth of a former heroin addict.

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Heroin use

Heroin is not a cold-shake like cocaine. The impurities used to cut heroin need to be cooked off in boiling water before you shoot it intravenously. Down here we all do it the same, bite the heroin package open carefully, taste it, gag or dry heave on the bitterness, empty the heroin into a cooker, (either a spoon or the bottom of a tonic can), draw 50cc of water into the syringe, fill the cooker until the heroin drowns, and light a match.

After you see tiny bubbles dancing in the cooker you place a small sliver of cotton or a piece of a cigarette’s filter into the liquid. With one hand firmly steadying the cooker, the tip of the needle is guided into the cotton or filter with the other hand. The plunger is moved upward slowly by biting firmly on to the tip and moving the head upwards. If all goes well the syringe fills with about 20cc of heroin. The task of hitting a good vein is next. And nobody down here takes the time to wrap a belt around their arm and whack the skin over a vein. That’s fuckin’ Hollywood. If you make it to where I am– you’re an expert at veins. After contact, you watch your blood snake into the syringe, you pull the trigger, hot liquid moves quickly up your arm, your heart tingles, and you feel an immediate rush of adrenaline guzzle your brain in one swift sip.

The effects of heroin: cotton shot rush

From there it’s a crapshoot. 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. “Cotton shot rush” is perfect example of life as a heroin addict. You live for the moment. If it happens, it happens. 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.  Sometimes the brain fogs and things appear that aren’t there. I’m not sure why some cases are more extreme than others. On occasion it can last only an hour, most times it resolves itself within 12 or 24 hours. But 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.


Anyone want to add to this description about heroin use or the effects of heroin?  Just click and comment below.  And if you’re a resident of The Big Apple and you know someone who is hooked on heroin, you can show that you care by bringing that person to the nearest New York heroin addiction treatment center.

About the author
Richie Farrell won the du-Pont-Columbia for directing the HBO documentary film, High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell. That film inspired the 2010 major motion picture The Fighter that went on to win academy awards for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Farrell's memoir What’s Left of Us: A Memoir of Addiction has been optioned for a movie and currently in development. Richie Farrell is one of the top substance abuse and motivational speakers in the United States. More Info @ My Heroin Life.
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