The drugs (treatment centers) don’t work, they just make ya worse….(apologies to the Verve!)

I have been looking around for a free detox for my old bastard of a druggie booze soaked mess. He is still alive and instead of kicking is in a morass of speed shootin’ booze drinkin’, DMT droppin’ pill snortin’ elder hooligan misbehavior. I coaxed him into an ER, only for them to treat him like shit, give him two Ativan and send him on his way, when he was begging them for help and a booze detox. There was no detox, because he has no money.

He did as I asked, I had had to beg and cajole him there, only for him to be kept waiting in the delirium tremens, with a history of seizures and stroke, and treated with total inhumanity. No one is interested in treating drug addicts with no money, they just want you to hurry up and die as soon as possible, without being a drain on resources that are needed by people they deem worthy of saving. They diagnosed him with charcot foot, and packed him on his way. There is no way after that kind of reception that I will get him to return for treatment. Why is kindness in such short supply!

I have been poking around reading some literature to see if things had changed since the days that I used clinics. It is still unhelpful, judgmental, hostile and absolutely nowhere close to hitting the mark.

There are barriers put in the way to treatment, not thought given into how best to treat addicts, particularly heroin addicts. There is a huge emphasis on services to young men, and women are either ignored or written off entirely. Female addicts have different needs, and their lives no less valuable, but you would never know that by reading the blurb from treatment centers. Long term female opiate addicts, in my experience, are not as loudly needy and troublesome as men. They tend towards a little more care in their habit, and are more vulnerable to falling into prostitution to fund their needs, rather than stealing and thuggery. Aiming services towards young men, whilst failing to provide adequate support to women is unconscionable, though typically patriarchal. In my experience women get more harshly judged, especially if they fall pregnant.

The dull regurgitating of facts that every junkie knows – that tolerance means you don’t get the buzz to the extent that you do to start with, combined with a holier-than-thou talking down approach is a total turn off and won’t wash with my old friend.

Methadone, liquid handcuffs, is even harder to kick than smack, and often tips people who use opiates into overdose. It is a rare junkie that wont use heroin as well as their methadone, and the combination is often fatal – it killed many of my friends, yet I see this is still being pushed. “Screening for motivation” strikes me as gatekeeping, and asking a junkie to wait for a space in detox also killed many of my friends. Yes, I lost a lot of friends. If someone has the urge to stop, strike on that motivation immediately, get them in right away, don’t make them wait months on a shitty replacement program, hoping they don’t use on top of it and die!

Come on, people deserve better! It would be safer to prescribe actual legal heroin that is fentanyl-free and have safe injection sites staffed with nurses, except that would not be punishment enough, would it? Let’s face it, all this screening for motivation, focusing on helping young men, insisting on months on suboxone or methadone, adding to the problem, not solving it, is just punishing people for doing drugs. It is society kicking you in the teeth when you are down, just so they make sure you know that you are the scum of society. Don’t tell me it is any different. Experience proves otherwise.

The absolutely uncaring gumpf about heroin users and life trauma really boiled my piss. Anyone who labels those they treat as “emotionally unstable” is setting up a “us and them” pattern for the relationship with the drug addicted people they claim to want to help (for the small price of $$$$$ otherwise, fuck off and die)…Irritable. Fucked up. Sensitive! It is just a list of insults which totally fails to understand the dynamics of addiction.

Instead of sounding as if they want to help heal, they instead come off as looking down upon, judging and othering. The questions asked should be about how they can help their patients feel more comfortable, more supported, more involved in their treatment. Helped and not sneered at as defective. Except judging is so much more fun than helping! Piling on and gatekeeping is so much more satisfying! Don’t you have more fun putting the boots in and delivering society’s verdict on these dirty habits?

I think this helped me realize why I get so irritated at big rock stars (Patti, Keef, Waters…etc ad nauseum) claiming in their later autobiographies that they only did “a bit of hash”, or “acid just twice”…or “never mainlined”. It doesn’t help break the stigma. Hey if Keef never mainlined smack, you filthy junkie, what excuse do you have? If Patti never shot smack, but still produced Poppies, then you disgusting female who doesn’t deserve to breathe, you have no excuse whatsoever. Not down here with the rest of us, they are saying they are better than us. It actually hurts, and it really shouldn’t. Who fucking cares? Well…me obviously…

Yes, heroin kills – do these clinics have to emblazon it across their literature! We all fucking know that. I have only once met a fellow user who didn’t seem to comprehend this. She had been shot up with “brown sugar” as she called it, by her pimp, and couldn’t work out why she was in pain, and her stomach was bad. She appeared to have learning difficulties, and it broke my heart. There was nothing I could do to help her, and to be frank, some community clinic, that was more concerned with young men and their needs, that I took her along to, absolutely failed to help her or treat her with dignity. She had a need of complex social and medical treatment, and instead was thrown away like trash. I often think of her. I hope she made it.

I will say, hand on heart, I only survived because an older junkie told me methadone was a death sentence. They looked old enough to know, and were still alive…so I believed them. Best advice anyone ever gave me. I paid for one detox, which I leapt upon because at that particular moment I wanted to do it. No therapy. No twelve step – really not my thing. Just a case of wanting more out of life. I simply decided I wanted to live, and was unlikely to do so if I carried on. By this point, I was beyond a home detox, I was in big trouble. I was too weakened physically. I can’t say I felt like I was treated with kindness. It was thankfully ambivalent towards me, which was enough. It was at least a step up from hostile and judgmental. I’ve had abscesses cleaned out with no pain relief in the ER being told “You aren’t feeling any pain.” Bullshit I wasn’t. It was punishment and that was all. Society never gets tired of kicking a junkie. I’ve been clean a long time now, but still have that stigma. I don’t think it ever leaves. I decided to embrace it instead.

The rest of the times I detoxed myself. I was addicted to doctor prescribed benzos. The doctor gave them to me for “anxiety.” Instead of trying to help me with my situation as a beaten woman, instead I got medicated. It should be criminal. I took myself off those too. There was no help to do so, and that was a very painful, very distressing kick. I didn’t step down, I never do, it isn’t me. I cold turkey’d it and hoped not to die.

This combination of people who haven’t been there trying to treat people they have no respect for, treating drug addiction programs as a job, not a calling, and by and large dismissing the needs of female users, is costing lives, make no mistake.

…and people wonder why I won’t see the doctor! No thanks. I don’t want to be reduced to the sum of my abuse. I recently have had the absolute pleasure of talking to good doctor in a social setting. It made me hopeful for humanity – she is a good and principled woman – unlike these treatment centers and their condescending useless drivel. All this hostility and all the barriers don’t save anyone. But I figure society don’t want to help, it’s easier to feel superior.

It doesn’t look like my old warrior will get his detox. I have no idea how he will survive. No one else seems to care, anyhow. Ain’t that the way it goes…

Heck, even I am losing patience….


  1. The Paltry Sum

    My oldest friend, I met him back in NYC many years ago. He is much much older than me, and was a boyfriend on and off for years. Now I call him on the phone now and again and see how he is – since no one else bothers. He is not doing very well at all..

    1. The Paltry Sum

      He has been trying to do this for years. I got him to go to the hospital, only for him to be treated very poorly indeed. I just hope his passing is an easy one. He is too old for such hooliganism, David. All it would have taken was a detox and some social service care getting him into an elders care facility. The USA can be brutal.

      1. The Paltry Sum

        It is sad to see him not himself. He had many years sober. This is him saying enough. I hear him. I can cope with one call a day, and I do not ask if he will go to the hospital now. He doesn’t sound like himself. He helped get me and my children out of Japan – he helped us escape. If it was not for him, I would be dead.

      2. Maria Prosecuter

        I’m sad to hear this. I’m in long term rehab right now. The behavioral health system has a lot of learning to do. However, I’m grateful for how far it has come. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to go to rehab.

      3. The Paltry Sum

        I am so very glad that you found a rehab which has made a positive difference in your life, and was affordable to you! As far as I am concerned drug addiction treatment is in the dark ages. They don’t get it, do they…I never got that assistance, but it was a long time ago. My old friend has been turned away, refused even a detox. Two ativan and fuck off, instead of actual real help. It is heartbreaking.

      4. The Paltry Sum

        There is no one that will take him. I have spent weeks calling round, and after coaxing him into the ER, which should have funnelled him into rehab, he will no longer co operate. That was the chance he gave the system to help him. They didn’t. So he will die because he sure won’t stop what he is doing.

      5. The Paltry Sum

        I’d rather not say, I feel bad enough talking about him, and he really wouldn’t appreciate it! Services in the area are well aware of him, he gets visited by cops and emergency services regularly. He is known by the local clinics, and the ER are aware of the state he is in. No one gives a shit who can do anything about it. Thank you for caring about him. He is a sweetheart. I even got him to go to AA…once…he got in trouble there too. Elder Hooligan, I tell ya!

      6. Maria Prosecuter

        That happens with a lot of elders. Many don’t do drugs their whole lives until their sixties. Sad part is that States like jersey that have the most addicts and tons of money also have the worst services.

      7. The Paltry Sum

        He is a life long addict, Maria. We used to be ‘drug buddies’ back in the day….I gave up…he didn’t. He had a long sober period, where he just had his pain pills. Then fell off the wagon.

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