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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:37 pm 
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I am a 51 year old male living in London , UK. This is my story, I hope it gives you some idea of the current scene in England regarding drug use and treatment....in my experience.
Back in the summer of 2000 I was working nights for a courier company in the post room. We were a happy bunch, young and not so young. One thing many of us had in common was that we used cannabis, so during break times we would leave the building for a smoke. Some of us were into more immediate pleasures, and it was not uncommon for three or four of us to lock ourselves in the bathroom for a snort of cocaine, or 'charlie' as the colloquial term is here.
One of our number was a slightly odd, but very intelligent young Indian guy, who happened to live less than a mile from me, so I got into the habit ( no pun intended) of giving him a ride home at the end of the shift. This guy, Jags by name, confided in me one day. He explained his nightly sessions in the toilet cubicle and the resulting 'fishy' aroma left behind by the fact that he was 'chasing the dragon' on a regular basis, and offered to show me what it was like.
For those of you who haven't heard the term before, Chasing the Dragon is the act of pouring heroin powder onto a sheet of baking foil, heating it and inhaling the smoke through a straw, also frequently rolled out of foil rather than paper in order to collect the residue and smoke that later.
Well, to cut a long story slightly shorter, we pulled into a parking space away from prying eyes, and Jags showed me how to first flatten the sheet of 'jimmy' (foil) and burn off the antioxidant coating prior to smoking on it. Then he took out two .2g bags of gear and emptied them into a small heap on the foil, and ran the flame of a cheap lighter under it until it melted into a shiny round blob or 'beetle'. He tipped the jimmy first one way, then the other, following it with the end of the tube that was clenched between his lips. He got a great deal of enjoyment out of this, certainly a lot more than I did from watching him. Jesus, what a stink!!! It was like rotting fish. Then it was my turn.
He passed me the tube (which he pocketed afterwards, that was his wakeup smoke for the next day) and ran the flame under the foil once more, while I did my best to follow the beetle and inhale at the same time. Well between us we must have done something right, because it hit me like a damn triphammer. God. I thought, why am I wasting my life smoking hash when this is so much better? I was an instant worshipper at the Temple of Shit. I became a fellow inmate of the toilet cubicle with Jags every lunch break, the two of us crammed in there like giggling schoolboys bent over the foil and getting wrecked. Pretty soon I was scoring a bag of my own from him every day, smoking half at work and the other half when I got home. My wife and three sons were unaware of this as they would all be fast asleep when I got in. This went on for about six months or so. Then one day I got real careless, and my wife found some of my burnt jimmy lying on the floor. There was a big tearful row, during which I repented and swore on my kid's lives never to touch it again. Sound familiar to anyone?
I soon found out how easy it was to quit. By 8 o'clock that evening my eyes were streaming, my nose was streaming and my arsehole was streaming. I thought it was a bad case of flu, and phoned in sick at work.
Jags phoned me at about 4 am, after work and told me what it was.....I was hooked, right through the bollocks! Well, let me tell you, I had always laughed at addicts before, being like everyone else in this world. Jags told me he would meet me at the end of the street and fix me right up. I crawled from my bed , made an excuse to the wife about getting some fresh air and backed the van out of the drive. Jags was waiting in the bushes just as he had promised. A ten pound note changed hands, a roll of foil was produced and the bag was smoked. Within yhe space of smoking four lines I was well again, that's when I really knew I had a habit.
Now, things had been going well for about another six month, when the unthinkable happened. Jags got sent to jail! He got pinched with a couple of ounces of smack, and got a 3 year sentence. I knew nobody else who used except for Jag's younger brother Nags ( Jags and Nags, they would have done so well on stage) so I kept on scoring from him. Then DISASTER!!!!!
The second Gulf War resulted in a severe drought of heroin in Britain, and times were hard. I bumped into an old aquaintance who had that look about him, hunched, always looking for something that wasn't quite there yet, sniffing, you know the look. That was my look too by this time. Now I had another source, and the smoking and looking for smoke took up more and more of my time. Meanwhile, my wife was going quietly insane, she loved me and knew what I was up to, despite my frequent denials. Looking back, perhaps I regret the lies most of all.
Time passed, and so did the drought. I started smoking more and more daily, getting up to about a gram and a half a day at one point. I had about 16 jobs in 4 years, gradually sinking lower and lower down the wage scale, and our standard of living got less and less. My wife had to get a job to make ends meet, just so that we could eat and pay the bills. Life settled into a haze for the next 6 years, during which time my only purpose in life was to score every morning before going to work. I started having breathing trouble in the summer of 2005, which got progressively worse until the winter of 07, when I was hospitalised for the first time. I had been watching tv one evening, when my chest froze solid, and I could neither breathe in nor out. I blacked out, coming to in the ambulance with a ventolin nebuliser strapped to my face.
I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or C.O.P.D. acronomically, brought on by heroin abuse through smoking contaminated gear. Of course all gear is contaminated over here, everyone wants a cut. I spent 2 weeks in hospital, during which time I was given DF118 tablets, 60mg every 3 hours. This is a strong codeine based painkiller, and it kept me from withdrawing very effectively. Upon release, my first stop was the dealers, and I got 2 bags for when I got home.
I carried on working, but the job and the breathing was getting harder by the day, until I was once again hospitalised. Same symptoms, same treatment. By this time my own doctor was prescribing DF118s to me on a regular basis, in order to keep me away from the street drugs, but of course I took them and kept on smoking on top. With my third trip to the Respiratory unit in December 2008, my doctor finally recommended me for treatment at the local Substance Misuse Offices. This was to be the turning point of my life, and my introduction to Buprenorphine. By now I was too ill to work, and was on Incapacity Benefit.....a cripple at the age of 50.
I was given a preliminary appointment, during which my habits were noted, and I was given a day to report for initial Tolerance Tests, for which I had to be in a state of withdrawal, or 'clucking' as we call it here. So 48 hours before my first session, I smoked my last bag of gear and went to bed. The following day and some odd hours were pretty bad, but I managed to resist scoring. I was determined to give it a good try at least.
At the appointed time I presented myself for treatment, shaking and sniffing like an old hound. They took a urine sample, which showed positive not only for heroin, but also benzodiazepenes, which is one thing I have never knowingly taken. This was obviously what my last supplier was cutting the gear with, so that explained that. They gave me 4 mg of Subutex, 2 measly little 2mg tabs under the tongue, and told me that if it didnt hold me through the day to come back and they would give me another 2 mg. After about an hour, I felt the witdrawals lessening, and managed to make my way home. I felt pretty good until about 8 that evening, by which time it was too late to go back for more. I attended the following day and they gave me 6mg this time, which held me a little longer, but still not all day. On the third day I was given 8 mg, and this was the business, it held me all day, all night and even into the following morning!!!
I spent the next two weeks making daily visits to the Centre, getting a nice fat 8mg subutex. After the fortnight was up they gave me a script for 2 weeks, which I had to pick up daily from an accredited pharmacy, and take the dose supervised by the pharmacist himself. This went on for 3 months, after which the script was changed to 3 times a week, and no longer supervised. I got 2 tabs on monday, 2 on wednesday and 3 on friday. Aslo at around this time, they changed the medication from Subutex to Suboxone. The reason for this was that some people were crushing the tabs and injecting them, so the naloxone element was introduced to stop this.
Well. it's been 11 months now, with only 2 lapses. Once was after about 4 months of treatment, when I just wanted another hit to see if I still wanted it ( I didnt) and the second one after about 6 months when the pharmacy closed early one friday and I was left high and dry for the weekend. I managed to stay off all day saturday, but by noon on sunday my tank was empty, so I scored a bag to tide me over. For the last 5 months I have been a good boy, sticking to my tablets and even missing one every now and again just to see how long it takes to wear off ( it's about 36 hours, then I'm clucking like a chicken again). My wife is still with me, she is either very dumb or loves me more than I deserve. I strongly suspect the latter.
That is my story, perhaps not as dramatic as some you may hear but mine for all that. This is SneakyElephant signing off for now, and wishing you all the ver best of British Luck with your own struggle to stay clean.
Stick with it, you know it makes sense!!!!
Peace and Love,
Sneaky


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:54 pm 
Wow!! I have no idea how I missed that post....but I sure did! I was going to reply on the other thread you've got going, but decided to not to contribute to that thread any further in hopes that it will die soon!! You have not made a mistake coming here! RonnieSr has some anger management problems I think. He tends to 'go off' from time to time on people's posts when it really isn't necessary. He has his good points, as do most of us, he just obviously has a problem being, shall we say, diplomatic.
Your story is really quite interesting and very well written. You painted an excellent picture of what your life was like...not pretty, but truthful and beautifully descriptive! I also found it interesting to hear how your induction to bupe came about and how it is done there in the UK. Doesn't sound terribly different than the way it's generally done here with the exception that as far as I know, here in the US most of us are given as much as a month's worth of medication at a time. But not that much different otherwise. Are you required to attend meetings or get counseling or such?
I'm glad your wife has stood by you. That's one of the hardest things to hang onto when you're in active addiction, or actually even when in recovery as the truth starts coming out. It's really painful for the spouse/partner and the relationship suddenly has to change in many ways when we get into recovery. It takes a real strong and deep love to stay together after all that.
Anyway...again, glad you are here. Loved that post. Maybe by my replying here, it will 'bump' it up so more people will see it. I hope so.
Keep up the good work!


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 Post subject: Thanks Setmefree
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:20 pm 
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You guys have been so welcoming, it is totally appreciated. There is nothing as far as I know anything like this site in the UK. I only discovered Dr Junig when my meds were changed from subutex to suboxone, and I was looking for info on Youtube. He seems like a very caring man doing a great service for recovering addicts.
As for Ronnie, he took the trouble to read my post, and the time to respond to it. At least he is not apathetic about recovery, but perhaps a less serious attitude would be no bad thing.I have no beef with him, his words are strawberries and cream compared to some of the reactions I have provoked during my addiction phase.
I am still trying to understand the American way of prescribing and supporting the recovering addict. At one time subutex was prescribed in large amounts here, but people were selling the tabs in order to buy gear so it is much more strictly doled out now. Even after 11 months of almost constant treatment (2 lapses as told in my story) I still have to pick up my script 3 times weekly. This is hard now as I can no longer walk more than 20 feet without a few minutes rest.My lungs got burnt out from 8 years of smoking heroin, and before that I was a cannabis smoker from the age of 15. At least we do not have to pay for medication here, if we are unemployed or unable to work. Our National Health System is still the envy of the world, despite it being a shadow of its former self.
If there is anything at all you would like to know about the scene here, I will be only to pleased to answer if I can.
Thank you once more, it is all much appreciated,
Sneaky


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:24 pm 
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your story.....Isn't it a miracle we are all alive. I am also an alcoholic and attend AA. I used to look at differences instead of similarities in people's stories and say I am not that bad and that only kept me back out there 10 more years. When I finally put my story on paper or shared some said I am glad I wasn't that bad.hahaha. Wow it is amazing that no matter where we live we are people with this disease and suboxone has allowed us all to get are lives back. I am fortunate that I get my scripts with a monthly supply but I would go 3 times a week if I had to in order to stay on it. Stay in touch with us and let us know how you are doing. I was on suboxone for almost 9 months and my doctor switched me to the new generic subutex...I am grateful because it is only $5 a month. I was never an IV user so this is not a problem..besides since I have been on sub it is the only prescription I have ever had that I take as directed...that is a lifestyle change right there. Good luck to you and again welcome to the forum.


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

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