Thursday, 20 March 2008

Diary: Adapting

DIARY: The battle to balance my days is getting easier as I adapt to morphine instead of methadone. I no longer get the slight 'high' I got from methadone and is the hardest part to adapt to. This gave me a full morning to work solidly before the depression sets in. This slight 'high' is the equivalent of what most people call normal. I don't have that morning reprieve anymore but my afternoons are no longer hell. One bonus is I don't feel the need to use heroin as much. I have gone nearly 2 weeks without it since I went through a bad patch of using when I first moved over to morphine. I am going to use this weekend and I have to admit, I can't wait. After that I am going to reduce to once a month and then once every 2 months. One of the biggest worries for junkies is money. Even though I work, the depression and some personal problems has made me use for short periods where I have wasted savings, blown large payments or borrowed to fund the using. This always puts financial pressure on us at a later date. The move to morphine from methadone had me using too much and now without any significant income for the last month, it is getting very uncomfortable. Luckily though a few big projects have dropped and this week starts a good period for me. Over the several few months, I should be clearing some nice dollars and will get my financial state back in order. A few people have emailed me about my morphine dose so I hope this answers any future queries. If you are given morphine for pain, you get dosed at about 10mg. For people suffering terminal illnesses, that dose slowly goes up as you tolerance increases and the pain gets worse. For others, morphine is highly addictive so the withdrawal process is very much a reason not to prolong treatment or increase the dosage too much. If you get addicted, you're a junkie and there are many people who never used heroin until they were treated with morphine. An average size person could take about 10-30mg as their first dose but anything over that would probably kill them. I take 600mg+ each day which just stops me going into withdrawal like methadone would. For those who don't know, substitution treatment just replaces heroin with another opiate. I am still addicted to opiates but heroin carries such a social stigma that some governments will do anything to avoid giving out heroin as treatment. Opiates incidentally are relatively non toxic and I could safely take heroin/morphine 3 times a day for the rest of my life with no physical damage. Heroin is like Aspirin in that it is being rediscovered. Once demonised and removed from nearly every countries' PBS(except a few countries like England), heroin is now starting to become a potential miracle drug for depression and drug addiction. Addicts who have been given free medical quality heroin in 8 different countries has proved without doubt the it is the most effective drug to get addicts clean. One day heroin will be prescribed to heroin addicts in most countries except maybe the US. This would be the end of heroin epidemics and the illegal heroin trade which would allow millions of addicts to live normal productive lives and drop crime by an estimated 25% on average per country.


Paul Hindt said...

I read a good amount of the posts on your blog. Its interesting to read about your perspectives and experiences pertaining to addiction in Australia. Sounds like your government has similar negative attitudes towards drugs as the USA does, though I think the US has taken it to ridiculous heights. I have gone through heroin addiction over the last few years but I have been clean for about 11 months now. I went to rehab twice in the last 2 years and was subjected to the 12-step program mentality of staying clean but that didn't really work for me. I'm still on buperenorphine right now but I still consider myself "clean". Not sure when I will get off it completely but I do hope to someday. I totally empathize with your experiences and I definitely have had similar ones. Just wanted to drop a line and wish you good luck with your journey through addiction.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Paul
Yes, our governments are pussies giving in to moralists and using addicts as fodder in their "War on Drugs". Australia uses the slogan "Tough on Drugs" and though our drug policy is officially based on Harm Minimisation, the politicians often throw around "Zero Tolerance(ZT)" which is the US policy.

As you would know, ZT is unworkable and causes more suffering and death than any other policy on this planet. I would hate to live there Paul whilst in my current situation and it must be hell for you.

Australia doesn't have strict controls that the US has. For example, we can stay on methadone for as long as we want. There is no pressure to cut back or be clean by a certain date. It is customised for each patient. We rarely have drug testing and if you do get tested, there is no penalty for a positive result.

Marijuana laws and policing are different too. There is no medical marijuana here but we don't have military style busts either. Most cops don't give a rats arse about grass and when I was younger I had a few cops even give back my stash.

Drinking is our biggest problem by far. We can drink at 18 and drinking is very much part of our culture. The current government is starting a huge crackdown on "binge drinking" which should be interesting because it is just a push by the moralists, religious right, conservative politicians and a sensationalist news media. I am a fan of trying different approaches and this is a start at least. I am fairly sure that if it doesn't work, the strategy will be just get tougher.

The biggest difference between Oz and the US is the law enforcement approaches. Most busts in the US involve heavily armed military style officers. The US has more than half of their officers dealing with drug related crime. At least a third are just for drug crime and nothing else. Your crack cocaine drug laws are particularly vicious and so is the 3 strikes policy. Your jail situation must send off alarm bells ... surely?

I doubt if even 10% of drug raids involve guns in Australia. There is no automatic machine guns or flak jackets etc, as drug dealers here are not involved in gangs very much. The penalties for drug dealing are much lighter than the US so if caught, they go peacefully. As soon as a gun is drawn, it's front page news. I hope LEAP starts a branch here.

Good luck with your treatment. Buperenorphine is great for some people and I hope it works for you.

Bron said...

It's crazy to think heroin was once used to assist with pain reduction, and socially acceptable as an 'aspirin' of sorts.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Bron.

Heroin was mainly for colds and coughs. It was later used to treat morphine addiction which didn't turn out for the best :)

I remember reading an article about the chemist in country Victoria who gave the last dose of heroin in Australia. The pharmacist explained he had to give the dose by spoon like cough mixture. He said the elderly lady would never miss her daily dose and he had open especially on Sunday for her and a few others.