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What Does Addiction Feel Like?

By Signal 11 in Culture
Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:28:55 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Not satisfied with the answers given by the "Just Say No" programs around the United States and probably elsewhere, I have for a long time been doing my own research on the matter - why people start, why and how they stop, how drugs are distributed, what drugs are out there, and the most important question: What are the risks? Today I present the results of my interviewing of several users on answering the question: What does addiction feel like?

I have a friend who has used lots of drugs - crack, heroin, a variety of designer drugs, etc. about what exactly addiction was. Being that he used to be a real druggie, I thought he would be qualified to answer. The problem is it's not a straightforward question: it's partly psychological and partly physical. He described the symptoms of physical addiction to morphine: an aching inside your bones and extreme fatigue. It varies from drug to drug, of course. I reasoned that the physical symptoms would go away relatively quickly - and I was right. The problem with addiction is the more powerful and harder to correct psychological addiction. He informed me that of all the drugs he had taken, he'd found it the hardest to quit smoking cigarettes, by far. Even crack cocaine? Yes. Morphine was the hardest for him for physical effects - it can kill people with its withdrawl symptoms. But the success rate is high, if they are treated.

Why is it so hard to break the habit? He said that other drugs, like ecstacy, he could refuse if he wanted to. If he had work the next day he could pass on it without much regret. The same goes for many drugs, especially the "soft" drugs. Some drugs, however, don't work that way. Sometimes, you get addicted to a drug that really doesn't make you feel all that great. He said crack cocaine was that way - he didn't like the effect much, but he still had a powerful urge the next day to do it again. Imagine wanting something you hate, and that's about what you've got there. Cigarettes are one of those that you can't say "no" to. I didn't inquire too deeply into why right away, but what he said later made sense. He quit for a month straight once. He said the physical symptoms go away after three days, maybe a week. So why did he start again?

Is it all in your head? No. He said when he wasn't smoking he could go for a long time without wanting one - until he saw someone light up, or did an activity that he did while smoking (like playing on his computer). Then he would feign for about fifteen minutes or more - a desire that you couldn't put out of your mind. Obsession. Now, I think everyone has had something rattle around in their head they can't get out - a song, an idea, what that jerk said last night, etc. What makes this any different? Well, it's about "ten times worse".

That's not the only thing though. He described a physical sensation - like hunger. He described it as "a hole in your chest". When he quit smoking, he ate about three times more than he did while he was smoking. Smoking friends of mine report that a cigarette after eating is particularily satisfying. People who have fallen in love also report this "hole in your chest" when the object of their love is away. That actually surprised me, because for a long time, I didn't know what that sensation was - I assumed it was simply that I was hungry. Perhaps this explains why people get fat after they marry? I suppose addiction blindsides a lot of people this way, some much worse than others.

So addiction seems to me to have three separate components - withdrawl symptoms, the mental effects of repetitive thoughts (obsession), and an actual feeling of loss or hunger. Every drug (and every addiction, by extension) feels a little "different" in terms of the effects, but they all seem similar enough that someone who has been addicted to one thing can more easily identify when they're addicted to something the second time. And addiction needn't be due to drug use - although it's commonly-cited as a `drug only' problem - people forget about gambling, or love, or skydiving - things that people think are "natural" and hence less dangerous.

I'd like to hear your experiences with addiction, and with people who were addicted. I don't know that there's a substitute for being able to hear people, in their own words, describe things like this.


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What Does Addiction Feel Like? | 121 comments (119 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Sounds about right (3.42 / 7) (#1)
by wiredog on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 01:58:49 PM EST

The physical addictions are easy (well, relatively) to beat but the psychological addiction is not so easy. Also, people who get addicted to alcohol and marijuana seem to be wired differently than those who don't.

Programs like AA don't treat the physical addiction. They treat the thinking that leads to the addiction.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

Go read a story by someone who's been there (4.61 / 13) (#2)
by jep on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:05:20 PM EST

This is a very personal account of what addiction feels like and what it does to you.

I remember reading it for the first time a few months ago. I've read it a few times since then.

By the way, the guy lost his job due to that particular post on addiction. But that's another story.
"Wow this is my first diary entry! This diary thing should be cool! I'll update every once in a while!" (See comment #4).
Cigarettes (3.14 / 7) (#3)
by eyespots on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:12:05 PM EST

I can't comment on the other drugs, but I can say that the description your friend gave of trying to quit smoking is dead-on right.

I think the obsession part has always been the thing that has kept me smoking the longest. You not only get used to the physical sensation of the nicotine, but all the repetitive actions that go along with it .

As Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times."

Addictions in general (3.80 / 10) (#4)
by jd on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:15:52 PM EST

You can split addictions up the same way you can split crimes up: motive, means, and opportunity.

Motive: This is typically (but not always) some kind of attempt at substitution. The substance (or activity) is a replacement for something that the person craves but cannot (or will not) obtain.

The basis of much theraputic treatment for addiction rests on this. Sure, you can treat the physical stuff, but if the person still has the motive, they'll simply return to their addiction, or find a new addiction to replace the old one with. To treat a person completely, you need to completely treat that person.

Means: This is the substance or activity the addict uses. There's not much more you can add to that.

Opportunity: Even with the motive and means, the package is not complete. You need a flash-point - a point in which the person decides to act on their motive, and make use of the means. There are millions of addicts in the world, and millions of non-addicts who have had identical environments. The difference seems to be whether that flash-point ever happened.

It's hard to define what a flash-point might be, but there are good indications that it involves the motive in a context so extreme that the person "breaks". There is extremely limited research on the subject, but that what I've seen has shown that more people become addicts around exam time, wartime, when a person close to them is terminally ill, etc, than when there are no unusual stress factors.

One of the most amazing things I've seen over the years is the increasing acceptance of addiction and the increasing reluctance to do anything about it. It's not quite the same as sweeping things under the rug. It's more a case of defining dirt as the new standard.

Flash points (3.00 / 6) (#8)
by Signal 11 on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:35:29 PM EST

The flash points you're describing are what could be rephrased as "significant emotional events". Any event which causes a very strong emotional response could be a catalyst, especially a negative response, which gives someone a strong incentive to run and hide (fight or flight response) - turning to drugs as an escape is common.

~ siggy

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Just light up! (2.00 / 9) (#5)
by freddie on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:17:40 PM EST

Just smoke a few cigarettes, and you'll know what addiction feels like!

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein
I have, silly. (3.00 / 6) (#7)
by Signal 11 on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:32:23 PM EST

I have, I've probably smoked, er... 20 cigarettes so far in my life? I'm not addicted. Then again, I'm fairly cautious - I don't smoke more than about one a week. They have limited usefulness for calming frayed nerves, when I'm really agitated that can help. I don't plan on getting addicted.. thus far, I haven't. I think it's the frequency of use that causes it, and a lot of people seem to agree.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
We all say that. (3.00 / 6) (#12)
by Captain_Tenille on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:46:17 PM EST

I said it, too. I was smoking two packs a day within a week.
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!
[ Parent ]

Cigarettes (1.77 / 9) (#17)
by core10k on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:40:27 PM EST

Cigarettes are absolutely wonderful, but they aren't physically addictive (really! Ask anyone who smokes), so they're a bad example of addictive substances...

[ Parent ]
Oh I(you?) could quit ANYtime.. no really (4.25 / 4) (#54)
by Type-R on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:39:05 AM EST

They're never addictive until you wanna quit :)

[ Parent ]
What I do too (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by MindMesh on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 05:32:01 AM EST

This is what I do too. I smoke an average of about 2 cigarettes a month, usually when someone offers me one and I'm 'in that mood'. I get plenty of exercise by walking and/or hitchhiking most everywhere I go so I figure my body can probably handle a little bit of smoke now and then. (it has to handle the poor air quality of Salt Lake City, can't be too much worse than that)
I agree that it's the frequency of smoking that gets people addicted. I think it also has to do with will power. I will not be addicted, beholden to a substance. I will be healthy and respectful of my body. These are the ideas that keep people from getting addicted to things, even though they may experiment or even use occasionally or regularly. I preach and practice moderation, respectful of the substance and myself.

[ Parent ]
Fair enough. (3.50 / 2) (#91)
by Addict23 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 12:37:16 PM EST

But.. I've seen you before.

You won't get addicted, because you have a strong will.. so that becomes a reason why it's okay to smoke more and more often. Right now, you rarely ever smoke. later, you might smoke at the bar. But that's okay, because you have a strong will.

The question is: At what point do you decide that you are addicted? That you need to use your willpower to stop?
That point is elusive, and mysterious.. it's a gradual process, not an overnight one. You could smoke 10 smokes a day, for a week, and walk awy. You could smoke those 70 smokes one every night for 70 days, and maybe never walk awawy.

As for moderation.. you never know until you try.

[ Parent ]
On the way... (4.80 / 5) (#57)
by thenerd on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 05:58:11 AM EST

I think it's the frequency of use that causes it, and a lot of people seem to agree.

You are correct - when you say that they have limited usefulness for calming frayed nerves, you have tasted a tiny little bit of that addiction.

To feel addiction:

  • Buy a packet now, doesn't have to be a big one
  • After your days work, you feel stressed, have a cigarette
  • Do this each day
  • Ramp up to two
  • Then ramp up to three, have one just before you go to bed, to calm the nerves
  • Then ramp up to four, have one in the morning on the way to work or lectures, or whatever you do in the day.
  • Then use each of these three occasions as an opportunity to have maybe one more each time.
  • Start to use every occasion when you are waiting for something (usually someone to arrive, train, taxi, bus, etc.) for a cigarette. This probably will have already happened.
  • Start to have a cigarette when you are just relaxing with friends.

    This is basically what happened to me. Once I got to 10 a day, and did this for about six months, I realised that it would grow more insiduous and more powerful the longer it went unchecked.

    One can find so many reasons to think 'oh I'm stressed, I shall have a cigarette, I deserve it', that it isn't funny. It's usually tainted with 'but I shouldn't, but I will anyway'.

    I've had one cigarette since new year's day, and it's getting a little easier, but the chain of habit that must be established from a 40 a day habit of 20 years must be incredibly difficult to break.


    [ Parent ]

  • You're close to the answer. (4.50 / 4) (#74)
    by Addict23 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:00:51 PM EST

    See.. that's precisely the reasoning that gets people addicted. No, I'm not saying you are on the way or anything...

    But you have that first smoke, and you're all like "What's the big deal?". Kind of gross, kind of pleasant, kind of wierd... and you don't really crave another one. You can walk away.

    So.. maybe you're out at the bar, drinking, and you decide to have a smoke? Why not? You aren't addicted.


    Then, one day, you don't really NEED a smoke.. but you think Man.. what a shitty day. A cigarette might be nice.


    Then, one day, you are buying a pack every day.

    If you can discipline yourslef, and only smoke, say, when you go to the bar (I know people who do this, have done it for many years). I know a much larger number of people who SAID that's what they did, and ended up smoking a pack a day eventually.

    Nobody PLANS on getting addicted Sig... it's the same pattern with every drug. You do it at first because you *want* to and know you are in control, and, slowly, without you noticing, it starts to control you. Usually, by the time you decide you have a 'problem'you are already severely addicted.

    [ Parent ]
    Nicotine and Prednisone (4.12 / 8) (#6)
    by maynard on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:19:32 PM EST

    OK, so I can't admit to ever having been addicted to an illegal drug like Cocaine, Narcotics, or amphetamines. But I was addicted to nicotine for nearly ten years, and most recently I became addicted to Prednisone -- prescribed by my physician because of a disc rupture a month ago.

    I'll start with Nicotine: this drug is insidious. I've known heroin addicts who claim that quitting cigarettes is worse than smack. And I can say with certainty that it took me several years and numerous attempts before I finally quit smoking. This March it will be five years without a cigarette, yet I still crave smoking while drinking with friends in bars. I still dream about smoking. When I smell second hand smoke I still want to smoke a fucking cigarette! It's insidious.

    Prednisone: This is a corticosteroid which is commonly used as an anti-inflament after injury as well as a common treatment for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and asthma. Fortunately, I only took this stuff for a ten day course, carefully tapering down per my doctor's instructions. But my father took Prednisone for years, and I watched it's side effects change his body via localized weight gain (pretty nasty), as well as how it changed his personality when he tapered down. Taking it myself gave me new insight as to how powerfully removing a drug can affect personality. After stopping I found myself sleeping fourteen hours a night, depressed, and always always groggy. I've been off of it for about two weeks and only now am I starting to feel normal. This is nasty stuff. My recommendation: don't take it unless you absolutely must.

    Cheers, --Maynard

    Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

    Smoking dreams (3.75 / 4) (#46)
    by HoserHead on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:00:29 AM EST

    My mother smoked from around age 14 (say) until 33, when she was expecting me. I don't know that she was a heavy smoker, but I expect it was moderately heavy. My dad hated it - he'd routinely open every single window, even in the dead of winter, when she smoked, and he always asked her to quit, and yet she didn't, and likely couldn't.

    Then she was told by our family doctor that smoking would be bad for me, and boom, that was it. Cold turkey, and she's never gone back.

    But even to this day, more than 20 years later, she still dreams of smoking. She knows, one way or another, that if she has a single puff on a single cigarette, she'll be addicted again. It's only her exercising a supreme effort of will that she's able to control it, I think: My uncle, her brother, still smokes. He was out on the porch, having a cigarette, and Mom asked him "C'mon, give me a puff." He offered it to her, and she reached for it - and then yanked her hand back, realising what she was doing. This is all 20 years after she quit smoking.

    It doesn't get much better, it seems, I suppose in particular if you are someone with an "addictive" personality, as I suppose Mom and I are. (I'm not a smoker or pothead or anything along those lines, but I notice signs in myself that I can and would get addicted to things easily. Alcohol, for instance - which is why I've made it a point never to get drop-down drunk.) It takes a lot of willpower. But the nice thing is that studies show that after a period of time roughly equal to the time you smoked, your body has recovered, more or less. I like that idea: that means Mom's recovered now.

    [ Parent ]

    Prednisone (3.50 / 2) (#113)
    by rszasz on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 02:00:53 AM EST

    Prednisone is a steroid, as such I was unaware that there was even a risk of addiction (liver faliure, osteoporosis, etc.. are complications of longterm use however). Would you please explain this further as I dont quite understand the connection. Thanks

    [ Parent ]
    Prednisone (4.00 / 2) (#114)
    by nidarus on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 05:55:27 PM EST

    I think it's strange to mention Prednisone in the context of this article. Prednisone does have, ahm, interesting side effects like euphoria, depression, and may cause some changes in personality. Withdrawal can be sometimes hard - I remember being constantly depressed and sleeping for 12 hours a day after stopping taking the drug, and some people report even worse symptoms (more or less, the side-effects of the drug I mentioned, but about twice as bad).

    However, to the extent of my knowledge:

    1. Prednisone is not an addictive drug. I've read quite a lot about the topic, and I've never heard of anyone who got addicted to it. Withdrawal symptoms, sure, but addiction? Never.
    2. No one "takes it unless they absolutely must". It's a perscription drug. It's not sold by drug-dealers (as far as I know). If you take it, you got it from your doctor. Your doctor knows (probably better than you) that it's dangerous.

    [ Parent ]
    Prednisone addiction (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by maynard on Thu Jan 17, 2002 at 06:18:03 PM EST

    Another poster asked a similar question about prednisone. For brevity I'll try to reply to both here.

    1. Prednisone is not an addictive drug. I've read quite a lot about the topic, and I've never heard of anyone who got addicted to it. Withdrawal symptoms, sure, but addiction? Never.
    By definition if one experiences withdrawal symptoms after removing a drug from one's system, that person is physically addicted to the drug. My doctor agrees and warned me to expect physical addiction to prednisone very quickly. I've been off of the drug now for a few weeks and slowly I've felt better and better. But it was rough for the first week or so.

    2. No one "takes it unless they absolutely must". It's a perscription drug. It's not sold by drug-dealers (as far as I know). If you take it, you got it from your doctor. Your doctor knows (probably better than you) that it's dangerous.one "takes it unless they absolutely must". It's a perscription drug. It's not sold by drug-dealers (as far as I know). If you take it, you got it from your doctor. Your doctor knows (probably better than you) that it's dangerous.
    It most certainly is dangerous when misused. However, as a corticosteroid it's actually a pretty popular illegal drug among athletes. They use it to control inflammation from injury as well as to expand lung capacity. Never mind that long term it causes physical dependency, strong weight gain with localized (and ugly) fatty deposits, as well as potential internal organ damage. I agree with you, this is no drug to fuck with. But some people do.


    Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
    [ Parent ]

    Kuro5hin's Resident Drunk (and Smoker) Speaks Up (4.33 / 12) (#9)
    by Captain_Tenille on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:42:57 PM EST

    Siggy, you really have no idea what it's like, do you? I think if every one who has a "problem" on k5 told you about it, you wouldn't really be able to understand.

    Having said that, and having voted against this, I shall now make my attempt.

    Consider it something you do every day, no matter what. You do it when your liver swells, you do it when it makes your parents cry. You sneak around and do it when you've told your significant other that you wouldn't. Of course, every one of your friends is right there with you, and all of your lives revolve around it. Sometimes, you try to work on something else, be it a job or project for yourself, but you just get loaded instead and never quite get around to it. Even after you've gotten in trouble, ruined relationships, gone to work drunk in the morning more times than you can count, and figured out just how much money goes there, you still do it.

    Do I have a problem? Probably. Have I stopped drinking? Obviously not. Maybe I should, but even with all the bad things it's done in my life, I still do it. Maybe I'm just telling myself this, but I like it. I like smoking. I like drinking. I like the feeling of being drunk. Maybe it's because I was raised Mormom, maybe because I'm half Appalachian. Who knows?

    At this very moment, my girlfriend and I, who I love very much, may break up very soon anyway. Alcohol has a lot to do with it. Will I quit drinking over this, though? I doubt it. Alcohol is too much of my life now. It helps me feel normal. It's who I am now, and I can't concieve of myself with out it. So be it, I guess.

    Welcome to my world, Signal 11.
    /* You are not expected to understand this. */

    Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!

    No idea? (3.42 / 7) (#13)
    by Signal 11 on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:59:10 PM EST

    Siggy, you really have no idea what it's like, do you?

    No, I can't say I really do. I have some idea, but that's it, and that's all I want to ever know about it. That doesn't mean though I don't want to help others. My girlfriend is addicted to cigarettes. Most of my friends are. I honestly don't understand the attraction, but maybe by talking to people who do, I might learn enough to help.

    Society needs therapy. It's having
    trouble accepting itself.
    [ Parent ]

    A bit of advice (3.00 / 5) (#24)
    by Altus on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:21:51 PM EST

    regarding cigarettes.

    chances are that you wont quit unless you actauly want to...

    that is the single hardest part about it. the physical adiction is realy not that big of a deal, the real problem is not wanting to go back.

    and even if you think you dont want to go smoking again you may find yourself sorely tempted under certain circumstances... in particular during activities that are often mixed with smoking... ie. while drinking (tough! they go together so well) after smoking weed, after a big meal. If you can overcome in thoes cases you might just be able to quit.

    I know this can be hard to understand, but for you, the most important s making sure that they actualy want to before you start helping... otherwise your attempt is doomed...

    "In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
    [ Parent ]
    Cigarees and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women... (4.00 / 7) (#26)
    by Office Girl the Magnificent on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:29:35 PM EST

    I apologize in advance if this is semi-incoherent; my brain is less than functioning properly at the moment, though not because of any chemical additive. :)

    Although several people criticize Siggy's lack of direct experience with addictive substances as an author of such an essay, I think it's wise for those who have never had such experiences to attempt to understand in this way. This is *not* a "poor me, I'm an addict" story. It easily could have been, were it written by someone else. Instead, Siggy has taken a topic that is often only written about by those whom it directly affects, namely the addict, and has expanded it to make it relevent to those who choose not to partake of such substances. I think it's an interesting discussion, albeit one without much possibility for social change.

    As an ex-smoker for whom alcoholism runs in the family, I understand Capt. T's poignent description of what addiction is -- from a social perspective. However, what the Capt. describes here is an effect, while Siggy seems more interested in the cause. Yes, addiction is apparent when one continues to perform an action in spite of negative consequences, as the Capt. described. But Siggy and others wonder why? Is it genetic? Socialized? A combination? A disease, or a behavior?

    I can tell you from experience that there is no one answer for all people. Some may have a genetic predisposition; in my case, it is simply that I enjoy smoking. I love the way a cigarette feels between my fingers, I love the glow of the cherry in the dark, I love the taste of each drag, the smell that hangs in the air, the bulge of a fresh pack in my pocket. I have not smoked for several months, but before that I had quit for over a year at one point. I don't doubt that I will struggle with this for the rest of my life. But this is all of no importance. The point is, I have lived it, and although I still don't know what made me start, I know what those who are still struggling are going through. People who have never been addicted to anything need to know these things, too -- because everyone has a loved one who smokes, or drinks too much, or compulsively overeats, or something.

    Or maybe I just think this is a great article because I still have a crush on Siggy. :)

    "If you stay, Infinite might try to kill you. If you leave, the FBI definitely will. And if you keep yelling, I might do it myself."
    [ Parent ]

    Cigarettes. And drugs in general. (4.50 / 4) (#47)
    by jethro on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:04:57 AM EST

    I am that dork who's always bugging people to quit smoking.

    I am the most uptight person in the entire universe when it comes to drugs. Because I am so uptight, this includes alcohol and tobacco.

    My parents say that when I was about a year old, I'd crawl out of bed in the middle of the night (8:00pm for a 1-year-old) and tell them to stop smoking.

    I spent more birthdays in the hospital than I care to remember thanks to my parents' smoking. Doctors told them not to smoke near me, but they did anyway.

    I have lost more friends to drugs than I care to count. Some died, most I just couldn't stand because drugs make you a liar. Don't argue. You'll promise not to smoke near me, then you will. You'll promise you'll keep your appartment smoke-free so I can come over, but you won't. You can't. You're addicted.

    That said, I like to think I've played a part in getting at least SOME people to quit smoking. Here's how:

    You wait for THEM to decide they're quitting, and then you lend them moral support. You ask them if they're still not smoking, you go "That's cool!" when they say yes, you go to lunch with them and distract them from their usual smoking triggers, etc.

    Now having said THAT, I still bug people even though I know it won't help. Perhaps that's MY addiction - I bug people about their addiction.

    I have been working about making it more subtle though. I USED to go "Eww, you know what that's doing to your lungs? I happen to have a photo here..."
    Nowadays it's just acting in mild disgust and not letting them near me without several breathmints. Or if I really can't stand it, I'll go "I'm sorry, that cigarette smell is making me sick." and leave. I find that makes a much stronger impact.

    I gave up on trying to understand addiction fully years ago. I know enough to know I don't need it.

    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
    [ Parent ]
    And you are the person I sadly miss (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by Nick Ives on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 04:20:15 AM EST

    I'd like to start this post by saying that I appreciate your attitude when it comes to ciggerettes (and other substances that are smoked and hence caused bother to you when you're not participating), but your your topic seemed to indicate that this was your attitude to drugs in general, hence this reply =).

    My mother started smoking after I was born (I always find that thought a little disconcerting, I wasnt that bad was I? =P), so I know how you feel about your parents smoking. I was always ill as a child, mainly cold/flu, but never hospitalised. I now realise that my mother's smoking probably had more than a little to do with that, but it never bothered me at the time.

    Now I'm 19 (20 in 7 days) and a smoker myself. I've had friends with your attitude and I dont hang around with them anymore. My drug use also includes weed (which I smoke more than a fair bit of), acid (whenever I can get my hands on it, which isnt often enough for my liking) and the occasional ecstacy/speed (or combination thereof) pill. This New Year I also tried cocaine for the first time, and its just aswell that I dont have enough money or contact with a regular supplier for that particular wonder =).

    I didnt stop hanging around with my non drug-using friends deliberatly, they just tend to make themselves scare or always say they wont be there whenever I mention that I'm going to a place and doing some substance they dont feel comfortable with. Its not like I even pressure them to do it, they just dont want to be around me when I'm high on something, although this excludes weed as everyone I know either smokes pot or doesnt care about it as its getting to be pretty much on par with alcohol here in the UK. I do feel pretty bad about that, not in the sense that I should stop using drugs but I just wish they would open their minds and at least be around me when I'm on some of these things, particularly Ecstacy. I dont do E that much, but I think I really should do it more regularly. I've had some of the best conversations and experiences in my life on E and gotten closer to some of my friends than I thought possible, and we were pretty fucking close beforehand. Even just once I'd like to share that experience with some of my straight friends, but they tend to be so tight arsed about anything that comes in pill/powder that they'd probably just shrug it off with "your high".

    And thats why your the person I sadly miss, I've known quite a few people with your outlook and they've all drifted out of my life, much to my regret because they were otherwise really nice people.

    "We share a common bond, united in past, present and future"
    H: I love ya man

    [ Parent ]

    no, you can't. (3.66 / 3) (#52)
    by needless on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:12:51 AM EST

    I honestly don't understand the attraction, but maybe by talking to people who do, I might learn enough to help.

    Sorry, that's not going to happen. If there is anything I have learned, it is simply that you, as a seperate human being, cannot simply convince someone to change. People have to decide for themselves that they are going to change before anything happens. The harder you try to change them, the further you drive them from you. You can help them along. You can be encouraging, but any other success you may think you're having is simply delusional acceptance of what line they're feeding you.

    Sorry to be negative, but I've done far too much of my share of "helping" or "convincing" only to find out that I was simply causing things to get worse.

    [ Parent ]
    Hi, my name is Lion, and... I... Post to KuRO5HIN! (3.53 / 15) (#10)
    by snowlion on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 02:44:13 PM EST

    I know all about addiction; I post to K5... sometimes, well... Uh, say, 3-5 times a day...

    And I keep CHECKING it and CHECKING it- Good Lord, SOMEBODY install reply EMAIL notification!!!


    pUt mE In REHAB!

    K5 is a Disease.

    Map Your Thoughts
    Submission (1.72 / 11) (#15)
    by rajivvarma on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:09:17 PM EST

    Excellent submission, Signal 11!
    Rajiv Varma
    Mirror of DeCSS.

    Regarding the Comment Ratings ... (2.00 / 3) (#44)
    by rajivvarma on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:00:29 AM EST

    Just for anyone's information, I really am complimenting Signal 11 on this submission! I'm not trying to be sarcastic or negative. It's hard to get this meaning across through text only, so I apologize if I came across as negative.
    Rajiv Varma
    Mirror of DeCSS.

    [ Parent ]
    agreed (3.00 / 4) (#61)
    by kubalaa on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:30:24 AM EST

    Sometimes I wish people would understand that they don't have to rate EVERYTHING.

    [ Parent ]
    Hey Siggy... (2.16 / 6) (#16)
    by Zeram on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:16:48 PM EST

    go watch Leaving Las Vegas...

    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    and then follow that up with (4.00 / 3) (#48)
    by gtx on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:15:05 AM EST

    fear and loathing in los vegas...

    i don't have anything clever to write here.
    [ Parent ]
    Hahahahaha (4.00 / 2) (#64)
    by Zeram on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:21:46 AM EST

    Good one! Actually a better follow up would be Requium for a Dream.
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    Thanks (3.42 / 7) (#18)
    by meman2000 on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:46:41 PM EST

    I'm rather on the young side, have so far (until college) lived a semi-sheltered life, and have always been apart from these influences (I've had very limited exposure to cigarettes, my parents rarely drink aside from the casual beer, etc). However, as I begin to explore the world more, as more is exposed, its often extraordinarily difficult to come upon something new without trying it. Strong background teachings and episodes I've seen friends recently go through are really, aside from the D.A.R.E. program, all the knowledge I have of this sort. Even reading books and articles on the subject, it never quite hits home until people you can interact with start talking about their experiences. It's one thing to read information from a magazine, it's another to email a fellow k5-er about their experiences, and realize just how close to home the stuff really is.

    A post like this also helps you to sit back and realize what -also- constitutes addiction: have I spent too much time working/studying and neglecting my peers, or am I obsessed with this new computer game? Not to belittle pure chemical drugs at all-- I don't need to tell you about that :)-- but sometimes addictions can take place in forms we'd never suspect. If you haven't seen it yet, Requiem for a Dream is an incredible movie about addiction, through drugs and other things, and really helps bring to mind a lot of what's being discussed.

    compulsions (3.50 / 6) (#19)
    by Signal 11 on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 03:54:41 PM EST

    its often extraordinarily difficult to come upon something new without trying it.

    That's why I decided to try cigarettes - to find out what all the fuss was. Curiosity killed the cat, and all that. Also, I wrote a movie review of Requiem for a Dream, you can find it on Kuro5hin. If you're curious about things, I can provide some more resources to help you (I have the same problem - too much curiosity for my own good, and a desire to empathize with the situation others are in - most often by submerging myself in it), and hopefully at least make sure you make an informed decision - without the political rhetoric and stigma, although you'll discover as I have there is a good reason for it.


    ~ Siggy

    Society needs therapy. It's having
    trouble accepting itself.
    [ Parent ]

    You decided to 'try' cigarettes? (4.00 / 2) (#76)
    by Zapata on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:48:38 PM EST


    Put 'em down and walk away. You have no idea what you're fucking with.

    "If you ain't got a camel, you ain't Shiite."

    [ Parent ]
    Try not eating sugar for a similar effect. (3.81 / 11) (#20)
    by SnowBlind on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:06:31 PM EST

    Try not eating ANYTHING made with refined sugar. That means if you are not sure it has it, you can't eat it. Depending on how addicted you are, day 2 sucks. days 3 to 5 are hell, after that you either make it out, or you are back on the Snicker bars. Try it over a three day weekend if you don't want to be seen as a raving lunitic.

    There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
    So true (4.40 / 5) (#50)
    by valarauko on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:36:09 AM EST

    I tried this once in high school -- I quit sugar for a month with one of my friends, for Lent. I didn't notice withdrawal as much as I noticed that sugar was very very nice afterwards. When I started eating it again, it was like having a super-caffeine rush with every snack.

    [ Parent ]
    My experiences (4.41 / 12) (#21)
    by Wing Envy on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:46:06 PM EST

    I had my first beer when I was five (I drank my father's beer he had left unattended and downed it entirely by the time he had returned) and drank periodically throughout my childhood- just at family functions like holidays when I asked for a drink and was given beer or winecoolers and usually had 3-6 each time. (My family, including my mother, were alcoholics.) I began drinking on a regular basis at 16, before school, after school, on weekends, and eventually in school. (I was an honor student, straight A's, involved in many clubs and activities so no one even checked my to-go cup filled with whatever concoction me and my friends had made that day. I even turned myself in once to a teacher because one of my friends had been busted, but she told me that she appreciated and respected my honesty, so she just dumped it and let me go.) This continued until I was 19, when I quit completely, no side effects whatsoever, other than a lack of a social life.

    I began smoking at 16 and quit at 18, but I started again 3 years later. I lived 3 years of side effects that entire time. I began smoking not to fill a "void" but because at the time of development, I felt I would feel more comfortable around my friends who did. I think I must have grown into that behavior, because it isn't so much withdrawal as it is a sort of relation to "phantom pains" an amputee experiences years after their limb is gone. I felt crippled, like something was missing - my crutch.

    I smoked pot at 17 and did so quite frequently- before school, after school, and on weekends. I quit at 19 with no side effects. I smoked again at 23, but only as a social thing, and have smoked some since then.

    I tried crank, coke, crystal, and acid at 18, only as a social thing, and never really had any desire to do it again unless the situation presented itself. I think I only did crank about 10 times, coke maybe 5, crystal about 5 and acid 3. I had a horrible trip the last time which was why I quit drinking, smoking, and doing drugs entirely at 19 and lost all of my "friends" in the process. I would never do any again.

    I tried "X" at 25, did it about 10 times and would never do it again. I never had withdrawal symptoms.

    I've taken mini-thins since I was 16 and haven't really stopped. I cut back, but have yet to quit. I do have asthma and smoke, so in that respect I suppose it helps, but I have definately abused it on many occasions.

    My conclusion? Addiction is about feeling "normal", whether prior to the drugs effects or after. This is why many people think that alcohol helps a hangover- because it makes them comfortable with their state of mind.

    Drug use is about "feeling", whether prior to the drugs effects or after. This is why many people have a drink to "go to sleep".

    And drugs are an influence, not just in "feeling, not just in "feeling normal", but in actually altering the reality that exists and the one that you see at the time. Unfortunately, the conflict of these two realities have effects that no one, even one given a history of drug use, could possibly predict the outcome for another. That is the test of intelligence, strength, and sanity. How well someone can deal with whatever reality truly is and has become.

    You don't get to steal all the deficiency. I want some to.

    Question: what are "mini-thins"??? /nt (2.83 / 6) (#25)
    by maynard on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:22:56 PM EST

    No text. --M

    Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
    [ Parent ]
    mini-thins = Ephedrine tablets (4.33 / 6) (#39)
    by defeated on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:34:25 PM EST

    Mini-Thins are ephedrine pills, a stimulant. I have a friend who takes them to lose weight. Dieters and body builders say that taking an EAC (ephedrine-aspirin-caffeine) stack helps you burn fat without losing muscle mass. I had friends who used to buy them at convenience stores when we were in school and use them as speed. I could never handle them myself - they make my ears ring and my heart pound, which is probably because I'm already hyped up on diet Coke and cigarettes.

    [ Parent ]
    Misconceptions (4.50 / 4) (#75)
    by Wing Envy on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:26:02 PM EST

    As far as weight loss or muscle building is concerned, mini-thins may have a short-term effect, but as a continued vice, they actually deplete muscle mass and increase weight. If anything, once the ringing in the ears and heart-pounding effects subside (I, too, experience these occasionally) and with years of use, they provide the ability to respond quickly, both mentally and physically. You see everything, hear everything, and think about everything all the time. There have been times when I have felt panicked, paranoid, and completely lost in my thoughts- not so much as someone with ADD may experience (my thoughts are complete), but many exist at any given time. It mostly provides a sense of timing, association and awareness, ones in which most people have trouble understanding. I have driven 90 miles an hour many times, have never been pulled over, have never been in or caused any accident, but have certainly avoided many. I have the ability to concentrate fully, with no error and in less time allotted, on trivial calculations of order, patterns, unity, and meaning. I have definately become a type-A personality as a result.

    You don't get to steal all the deficiency. I want some to.
    [ Parent ]
    Infinite Jest (3.40 / 5) (#22)
    by CHIMPO on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 04:57:42 PM EST

    Read "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace for some insight into the nature of addiction.

    It's also a damn fine read, so if you are reading this, read that, 'cuz it's the best damn book I ever read.


    Infinite Jest (3.50 / 6) (#29)
    by CokeFiend on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:56:46 PM EST

    I was totally addicted to that book! I don't know why I read the whole thing. It was so long, and boring at times, and the footnotes were annyoing as hell (use two bookmarks, it helps). Even with all that, I just couldn't put it down! Overall definitely one of the best books I've read, but I hesitate to recommend it people.

    [ Parent ]
    Two bookmarks (4.00 / 2) (#35)
    by driph on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:53:20 PM EST

    Infinite Jest was about our need for entertainment, and how far we'll go to achieve that. Wallace asked the same thing just by the design of the book.. what would you be willing to go through to be entertained?

    It was easily the most difficult book I've ever read, in terms of physical dexterity required and length of time from start to completion... It was also a damn good book.

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    [ Parent ]

    Size (4.00 / 1) (#98)
    by priestess on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 08:38:32 AM EST

    I was looking at this book in the bookshop the other day since it was recomended by someone else but in the end decided against it because of it's size, it's absolutely massive and it won't fit in my pocket. I like to carry a book around with me, read on the tube or whatever. Carrying that thing would be like having a monkey on my back, I could only read it at home basically and I hardly do that at all recently. I need the thing split into handy sized chunks. Perhaps I should buy it and take a knife to the thing, cut it into four or five segments or something.


    My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
    [ Parent ]
    I got what you need (5.00 / 3) (#104)
    by rusty on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 04:42:23 PM EST

    Yeah, I can do that. I'll supply you with "the entertainment", but in small quantities at a time, so you can handle it. Don't worry, you can stop reading it anytime you want to. Just say the word and I'm sure I'll find someone else who wants the rest of it. No commitment, no obligation, no risk.

    The first chapter's free, of course. I'm an honest businessman -- I'm not gonna sell you something before you get a chance to see if you like it or not. After that, it's just a small fee for each chapter, to cover my expenses and so forth. Sure, it'd be cheaper to buy it all at once, but then you hyave to deal with all the hassle of holding such a large quantity. This way, I take all the risk, and you just get the pleasure of reading it.

    I can't guarantee that the price will always be the same though. Later on, chapters might cost more. You might have to buy the footnotes separately. Market conditions change, you know? But you've got a good job, plenty of extra money. I'm sure it won't be a problem.

    I've got Chapter One right here. I'll even throw in the footnotes. Just try a few pages. Here's my pager number. Call me when you finish this chapter...

    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    The things we'll do for entertainment... (4.50 / 2) (#112)
    by driph on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 01:14:54 AM EST

    Of all books, ever, Infinite Jest is probably the one that would be the biggest bitch to chop up. Not only would you have to cut the main portion of the book into sections, you'd then have to make sure you've got the endnotes that correlate to the section you've cut cut, as well as the endnotes to the endnotes. To do that, you'd have to find cut points where both the main portion and the endnotes for that portion both end on their own page, unless you want to move pages back and forth from the various cuts as you read them.

    Okay, I think that just confused me. Good luck. :]

    Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
    [ Parent ]

    I've "tried" almost everything... (3.42 / 7) (#23)
    by MisterQueue on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:12:37 PM EST

    Except meth (how can you do something made from Lye and tar?), Crack (self explanatory) and Heroin (too risky for moi.) But most everything else I've done at least twice, and out of everything (Cocaine, Vicodin, even the Oxicontin that's all the talk right now, when I took it I knew of them as low grade morphine pills but whatever) the only thing that "hooked" me was cigarettes. I had the worst time quitting, the most awful sensations. Regardless of what anyone says, there are physical addictions to them, the first two days you feel strange, light-headed, disconnected and surly...after that it's pretty much all psychological.

    I was smoking about a pack a day (and I'm young) and have not smoked in almost two years, and I STILL feel it as strongly as I ever did. It never goes away. Do I regret it? Not really, I think it was definitely a learning experience, hell, I still learn from it. But I know that while some of the others I can experiment with recreationally so to speak, I can't even have one more cigarette, because, for me, one leads to two and two leads to a lot more.

    I guess you have to know your own weakness to be able to do what you want and still be successful in life. *shrug* Or just enjoy every existential moment is the other option.


    "To err is human, hence everything said, thought, written, done, and/or enacted by said species must be taken with the largest grain of salt one

    quiting smoking. (3.33 / 6) (#28)
    by Icehouseman on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:52:25 PM EST

    I can't count the times I was hanging out with the smokers at work (I don't smoke, don't want to, can't afford it, etc) and I hear someone say "This is the last cigarette I'll ever smoke" and less than a week later I see that same person out smoking again during break with a pack in their pockets.

    I came to 2 conclusions. 1. They weren't serious about quiting. 2. They can't quit, no matter how hard they try. It's scary that cigarettes are so powerful that anybody can get hooked on it and fast and be unable to quit. My ex-girlfriend didn't smoke when we met and didn't start until after we broke-up and her mom kicked her out the house when she found out we were smoking pot in there. She just started hanging around people who smoke all the time and she did it just to fit in. I saw here a few weeks ago and she said she smokes a pack a day. On the other hand, I've only seen one person quit in my lifetime and not do it over 16 years and counting: my mom.
    Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory
    [ Parent ]

    Nobody likes a quitter... (3.75 / 4) (#40)
    by defeated on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:49:07 PM EST

    I have a friend who started smoking, smoked for about a year, then put the pack down. She smokes when we go out drinking together sometimes, but she can take it or leave it. I have another friend who was a heavy smoker of cigarettes and pot, found out she was pregnant, and boom, that was it, quit cold turkey.

    I, on the other hand, have quit several times, and like others have noted, it was the actual habit that brought me back, rather than any chemical dependency. I suspect that certain types of people are just more prone to get psychologically hooked, and I'm one of them.

    [ Parent ]
    Do you drink coffee? (3.62 / 8) (#27)
    by budcub on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 05:42:09 PM EST

    Coffee is the only addiction I've every really experienced. I'm not an 7/365 drinker who must have a cup first thing in the morning, but I've gone through periods of time where I drink it every day and really crave it when I don't have it.

    How bad do I crave it? Well, when I try to cut back for whatever reasons, I keep finding ridiculous excuses to have some. Just like William S. Burroughs describes in his book, "Junky". Only his addiction was heroin. I'd be driving back from the metro station in the morning and say to myself, "That sun rise is exceptional, I must celebrate this fact by having some coffee. Yes I must." Then I'm celebrating that fact that its Friday, then I'm celebrating Wednesday hump day, then I'm celebrating the weekend days, then I'm seeing a cool poster for Starbucks (must have more) and from there its, "I must have some coffee because it makes me feel good, and I need some cheering up." I have noticed that when I'm on an exercise program, I don't crave it at all.

    But that isn't a drug (oh wait) (3.75 / 4) (#58)
    by jcolter on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:16:46 AM EST

    I smoke cigarettes, drink more alcohol than I am comfortable with, and have tried/used almost all illegal recreational drugs at one point or another. You do have a good point about the coffee. When I was in the hospital getting my appendix removed, I did not have any drugs for about three days. That first cup of coffee that they gave me was unbelievable (it was instant). In retrospect in reminds me a lot of what cocaine fells albeit not nearly as strong and not as synthetic.

    Caffeine really is an incredible addiction. The only upside is I suppose you could wean yourself of it without the psychological affects that nicotine inflicts.

    [ Parent ]
    weaning (4.00 / 2) (#79)
    by budcub on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 09:40:01 PM EST

    Oh yeah, I'll switch from coffee to tea, and then nothing. When I drink coffee I got a strong powerful boost, but it tends to wear off leaving me feeling like I'm crashing. With tea I get only a slight buzz, my head feels clear, and I don't feel like I'm polluting my stomach. Good stuff tea.

    Orange juice is good stuff in the morning too.

    [ Parent ]

    Do you really want to know? (4.47 / 17) (#30)
    by jabber on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:14:55 PM EST

    Log off.

    That's right Sig. Unplug. No K5, no /., no email, no games, no IRC, no computer at all... Unplug all the cables, roll them up and bind whem with twist-ties. Put the monitor and case in the most inconvenient place in the house. Swear off the computer completely. And see how it feels. And see how long you, you personally, can last without that tweak, without that hit, without that addictive sense of belonging.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    Computer addiction? (4.50 / 6) (#36)
    by onyxruby on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:08:35 PM EST

    Log off.

    Did it once in california for a two week vacation. Hard for the first two days until you figure out there is life outside of computers. After that... I can go weeks at a time without problems... I only use my computer these days to keep up with friends, check e-mail, etc. I'm a reformed geek.

    You: Suck it down, example boy! :) In all seriousness though, most geeks aren't addicted to computers anymore than some people are to stamp collecting. They are however very much addicted to caffeine.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
    [ Parent ]

    Siggy here (3.50 / 2) (#37)
    by onyxruby on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:14:41 PM EST

    Did it again. Sorry onyx. :)

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
    [ Parent ]

    And you're here because...? (4.60 / 5) (#51)
    by isaac_akira on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 03:26:29 AM EST

    I only use my computer these days to keep up with friends, check e-mail, etc. I'm a reformed geek.

    And that's why you're reading and posting to a random thread on K5? =) Maybe it's time for an intervention.

    "Take your hands off that keyboard!"
    "But... I just need to email my friend back! Really!"
    "Suuure. I looked at your Mozilla history. This 'friend' is named Kuro5hin?"

    [ Parent ]

    Close, but far far away. (4.35 / 14) (#31)
    by Hechz on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:18:51 PM EST

    The addiction post written on the 16th of September 2001 shows some one that was ain a wading pool of addiction. Versus an all encompassing sea.
    I mean no disrespect to the author.
    Here is my story, first person present tense even though it was 5 years ago.
    IT will be followed by interpretations of addiction

    I'm 17, I am a nerd, and I am an honors graduate of my high school. I go to raves for fun, I NEVER do drugs.

    <snip> I'm 18, I am a college CIS/Engineering Major, and NT Admin, on my own, and I go to raves. I NEVER do drugs. ...
    It is a beutiful sunny day at work, We have a client in for meetings, his modem is broken and he asks me to fix it for him. I am working on it and need to go to the analog line across the room, I do. On hte way back I trip on the stupid phone line and fall; dropping the laptop!!!

    $3500, to fix it <FUCK!!!> I have a grand. I need $2500 now. Todd and Jenn, deal a bit. They get me acid to sell, 5 sheets (100 hits per) for $500, now I can sell them individually for $5 a piece! boom $2500.
    a week later it's almost all gone and I am set. One of my 'customers' says my stuff is no good. Well I can't sell bunk acid, so I decide to try it out. Todd and Jen and I are chillin' they have some to 'cause they've done it before. Within the next 18 hours I end up taking 5.5 hits. (A normal hit lasts 12 hours). I was just fuq'd up and did it cause it was there.

    Later the second day, we go to a rave.

    The lights are far too bright and the crowds too much. I tell Jen I've got to get outta there. She says we can't 'cause they need to get rid of the 'beans' they have; slang for ecstasy. I say I have to go, so she hands me two e, and say "This'll help!"


    Did I have a blast!!!

    I decide to do a little resarch. Merck 1913.... MDA... MDMA '60s... Seratonin.... Ganglionic Fibres... 2 mg per dose... HyperREAL GodSend!!!


    Three months later, I am doing 'E' every Fri, and Sat.
    Then Thu.,Fri.,Sat.
    4 days a week.
    There's mescaline in the 'e' I'll do that too. There's coke in the 'e' I can handle it. There's heroin, oh shit <snip> I am a heroin addict. I have no job, I've dropped out of school. I wake up one day and I am sick, real sick. I go to the hospital, I have hepatitis. I almost Die. I get clean.

    This is a very simplistic representation of 2 years of my life.

    I didn't plan any of this, addiction sneaks up on you. It slowly becomes a white noise that drowns everything else out. You don't mean for it to happen, and your barely notice it, that is why it is so hard to get out of it. It is a gradually all encompassing process. And damn does it feel good, until you hit that bottom and you realize you've burnt through everything, friends, family, jobs, yourself, and your mind. All ashes.

    Need some buzzwords (4.00 / 3) (#42)
    by Rhodes on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:06:34 PM EST

    Thought I would introduce "triggers" (those things that make you want to reproduce those experiences, like lighting up), and the concept aluded to in other posts: it's the behavior that it is so incredibly difficult to modify.
    To change behaviors that have become habits- that's the psychological addiction. Also, to truly end addiction, changing ones friends, and ones physical location is the most assured ways to reduce the triggers which one feels compelled to repeat the addictive behavior.
    I've smoked cigarettes for enough consequitive days to acquire the physical withdrawal, have been addicted to coffee enough times- the most difficult addiction for me is divided between food and TV.
    Food (as in overeating, but there's enough undereaters, and purgers) is difficult because a certain amount is required to live productively, but when I'm eating with my family, it becomes a competition, to see whom can eat more, faster. Wrestling in high school, and the requirements to lose weight also tended to shape an unhealthy relationship with food.
    TV can be addictive because it seems like you're so engaged.
    Well, gotta go.

    [ Parent ]
    I know addiction (4.08 / 12) (#32)
    by GreenCrackBaby on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:27:30 PM EST

    When I was 17, I discovered I was addicted to something completely bizarre -- scratch lottery tickets. I can't recall why I bought my first ticket, nor can I recall the progression of events that lead me to my addiction. All I know is that 6 months later I woke up and realized I had just spent $300 on lottery tickets the day before, and in looking over my past records found that $500 per week seemed to be the average. I stole money from my parents ("I'll give it back"), stole money from friends ("I'm just borrowing"), and stole money from work ("Hell, I'm under-paid anyway"). The day I realized I was addicted I stopped. Thankfully, this was lottery tickets, and not something that left behind a chemical dependancy.

    The strangest thing though was reviewing my behavior while I had been addicted. I stole money from friends and family! (I confessed and paid everyone back) I was spending 1 hour per day in a corner store desperately scratching tickets. And somehow my brain made it all feel normal.

    Terrifying experience!

    take drugs or skip all together? (3.00 / 7) (#33)
    by bra6a5Ej on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:30:50 PM EST

    I always run myself into an infinte loop thinking about this.... It's a lot harder to say no to a cigarette once you know how much pleasure you can get from it. It's a lot harder to say no to some weed when you know how mcuh fun it is. It's a lot harder to say no to a night of drinking when you know how many good times will be had. Is it more intelligent to skip drugs so you never have the desire to go back to them? Or is it worth the trouble to see what they are like and to learn something from them? It's kind of a Catch-22, don't want to take them yet want to experince them....

    catch 22 (4.37 / 8) (#38)
    by Trollificus on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 07:18:20 PM EST

    I've often thought of this myself. But in the end, I've never smoked a cigarette, nor have I taken any kind of drugs (besides medication, etc), and to be honest, I don't feel the need to.
    Do I feel like I'm missing out on something? Maybe. But when I look at my pothead friends, I don't feel like I'm missing much at all.
    There are other things in my life that fulfill me to the point where things like smoking, drinking or drugs really mean nothing. And I don't feel like the lessons learned would be beneficial to any degree.
    I would rather paint, draw, or play guitar than worry about substance addictions. It's just not worth it to me.

    "The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
    --Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL
    [ Parent ]

    Finally, a good story (2.00 / 4) (#34)
    by verbatim on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 06:41:04 PM EST

    Finally, a good story worth discussing that isn't a high society very intellectual type story.

    But anyways, my editorial problems is nit picky, so dismiss it if you wish. I just found that, although it was easy to understand, there were too many side-comments and things in quotes. This is a problem that I have too, so dont feel like Im picking on you.

    Never ever ever (4.40 / 5) (#41)
    by imadork on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 09:56:47 PM EST

    I've never smoked, never did drugs, and only drink occasionally (although I'm blessed with an Irishman's tolerance for Alcohol, which keeps me sane when mere mortals go loopy.) However, I don't think I will ever start smoking, not even try one to see how it feels.

    I've had these weird, vivid dreams that involve me smoking. I can almost smell the tobacco in these dreams, and I can feel the cigarette between my fingers. It's very weird when it happens. And even weirder after, when I still have these images in my mind during the day.

    It hasn't happened lately, because I tend not to have dreams when I'm not getting enough sleep. But just that little bit of weirdness is enough to keep me away. What causes them? I haven't a clue.

    Approximately 50% of us are below average..

    I just have to add.. (3.66 / 3) (#71)
    by Addict23 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:06:09 PM EST

    That I had those dreams, too, exactly as you described.
    Maybe you are my long lost brother?

    Before I'd ever smoked a cigarette. I think I had them around when I was 16, give or take a couple years.

    (I eventually did smoke, and smoked for 8 or 9 years)

    BTW.. everyone dreams, every night.. you just don't remember them.

    [ Parent ]
    Not every night. (3.33 / 3) (#99)
    by priestess on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 09:00:21 AM EST

    BTW.. everyone dreams, every night.. you just don't remember them.
    I didn't dream last Saturday night. Heck, I didn't even sleep last saturday night.


    My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
    [ Parent ]
    Smoking dreams (3.50 / 2) (#92)
    by nipper on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 03:28:32 PM EST

    I'm 18 years old, and have never smoked a cigarette in my life. Make of that what you will, but I also often vividly dream of smoking cigarettes. I wake up craving cigarettes. Nobody in my immediate family smokes, the only person I spend any amount of time with who does is my roomate at college, who smokes maybe 1 cigarette every 2 nights in our room. I can't explain the dreams, or the cravings. It really freaks me out sometimes.

    [ Parent ]
    My personal experiences (3.60 / 5) (#43)
    by ScrO on Fri Jan 11, 2002 at 10:39:53 PM EST

    First, my background. I've tried cigarettes less than 6 times (in high school or before), smoked pot twice (16 years old), and had 3-4 sips of alcohol. Nothing more than that. I'm 23, have tons of friends that drink and do drugs of all sorts, and my entire family, both sides, have severe alcoholism problems. Everyone on my mom's side smokes. I have plenty of opportunity to do any and all of these things.

    And yet I do none of them.

    I am a firm believer that addiction is mostly mental. I understand that with certain drugs your body needs them after a while, but quitting in most circumstances is simply mind over matter. I have never felt 'left out' because people were drinking or doing drugs around me. After my friends actually understood my views, they respected it. Yes, even my generous pothead friend that smokes all day every day respects it.

    Do I have an incredibly strong will? Yes. Am I bothered by 'peer pressure'? No. Did growing up with smokers and drinkers skew my view on those things? Probably. Do I look down on people who drink, smoke or do drugs? Sometimes, but not solely because they smoke, drink or do drugs. Do I have a severe aversion to these things? Yup. Has my severe aversion to these things put a strain on my relationship in the past? Yes. Do I feel I'm missing out on experiences? Not at all.

    I suppose I'm just in a tiny minority who has no desire for any drugs, drink, or smoke. Yes I drink things with caffeine in them, yes I eat things with sugar in them, but I don't drink coffee and I can go days on end perfectly fine without any Barqs or Mt. Dew.

    I'm not sure what point I'm making here, but I think it has something to do with the fact that personality plays a lot into addiction. Are addicted people weak-willed? Maybe, but that sounds too much like an insult. I surmise that most addicted people are that way for a reason that even they don't know or choose to consciously acknowledge. At least that seems to be the case with most of my experiences with addicted people.


    strong will (3.80 / 5) (#60)
    by kubalaa on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:24:42 AM EST

    There's a fine line between blaming (or thanking) everyone else for your life and taking responsibility for everything yourself. You're right that personality has a lot to do with addiction. You're wrong that you have "an incredibly strong will." People who break an addiction have an incredibly strong will. You're just cruising, and pretty damn lucky.

    [ Parent ]
    Thank you. (4.00 / 3) (#70)
    by Addict23 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 01:01:51 PM EST

    For recognizing that. It's true.

    [ Parent ]
    Strong, not lucky (3.66 / 3) (#80)
    by Lenny on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:13:17 PM EST

    You're wrong that you have "an incredibly strong will."

    For some one to stay away from all the things that others in his life are doing does take a strong will. That doesn't mean that every one around him is weak willed. But do not take away from him the strength that it takes to avoid doing what every one else around him is doing.

    You're just cruising, and pretty damn lucky.

    That's a crappy thing to say. It's not like he's playing russian roulette. If you avoid addictive things, you can't become addicted. Luckwould be someone who uses crack/heroine/etc. and never gets addicted.

    "Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
    [ Parent ]
    lucky, not strong (4.25 / 4) (#89)
    by kubalaa on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 07:15:34 AM EST

    Yes, I was harsh. But re-read his post:
    • I have never felt 'left out'
    • Am I bothered by 'peer pressure'? No.
    • Do I have a severe aversion to these things? Yup.
    • Do I feel I'm missing out on experiences? Not at all.
    • I'm just in a tiny minority who has no desire for any drugs, drink, or smoke.
    Like I said, you have to draw a line between things you accomplished yourself and things granted you by circumstance. From the sound of it, this guy has not gone through any test of will at all. Forgive me if I call his bluff. It's about like if I said, "you know, I've never wanted to stick my head in a toilet bowl. I guess I'm that strong-willed."

    [ Parent ]
    I think I know what's shaping this (4.75 / 4) (#63)
    by thenerd on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:04:15 AM EST

    Hi there,

    I don't know whether you'll find this belittling, it certainly isn't intended to belittle you.

    From what you've said, I think I know what's shaped your perception of your having an exceedingly strong will.

    Yes, you do have an exceedingly strong will not to really try any of these things.

    However it is just that tenacity to *not try* these things in your first place that enables you to have this strong will. In short, you haven't started doing them. That's why you don't need them. Without having a single taste of a drug, you can easily do without it. One will never hear of someone who has never done coke caving into an addiction, because it hasn't been built up in the first place.

    I would venture (though perhaps it is obvious to you), that you don't miss these things because you haven't ever tried them seriously. These things are exceedingly powerful, and our minds are pliable. A human can beat any addiction, unless it is vital to their own survival. Some humans can't, and I'd say that was simply due to formative messages they have learned while going through life that they cannot do things. Someone like yourself would probably beat cigarettes or heroin - but I'd say you'd also learn a lot more about willpower, and why people do these things, and that you aren't different to others. Sorry if this sounds patronising - I'm sure I could learn a lot from your tenacity as well. You haven't made the same choices, so you aren't subject to the same pulls as your friends and family. It's great that you have made these choices though. But you can't miss a cigarette while you are having a drink, because you haven't done it several times before.


    [ Parent ]
    Hey. Genetics. (4.33 / 3) (#67)
    by mindstrm on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:58:50 AM EST

    Some poeple just have an addictive personality, some don't. I think there is now strong evidence of a genetic link as well.

    Don't think it's your iron will that keeps you from these drugs. It's simply not your thing.

    You think that addicts often 'cave in to peer pressure'.. but that's not true. They just do something becuase it seems like no big deal, and end up hooked.

    Dont' get me wrong, It's good that you don't do these things.

    But let me tell you, if you were having a shitty week, and for whatever reason, perhaps for the very reason that you think you can 'control' yourself with your iron will, you happened to try cocaine one day, you might never turn back, iron will or not. It's not that you would have overpowering cravings.. it's precisely because you wouldn't. You'd say 'I like this' and do some more.. until it's too late.

    Addicted people weak willed? No, they most certainly are not. As I said, some people are more succeptible than others, it has nothing to do with willpower.

    And, as someone who's been there.. let me say something else..
    Don't get me wrong.. I'm glad you don't do drugs.. but..
    It's always funny to hear someone talk about how they've 'sipped alcohol' or 'tried cigarettes before', and then go on and on about how it could never happen to them. You'd be surprised.

    [ Parent ]
    Not me... (4.00 / 3) (#86)
    by trane on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 05:40:00 AM EST

    I surmise that most addicted people are that way for a reason that even they don't know or choose to consciously acknowledge.

    I was pretty much aware of everything I was doing on my way to heroin addiction. It's pretty hard not to realize with a needle...it was also pretty clear to me why I was doing heroin (depression, no girl likes me, blah blah blah). I made a conscious decision to fuck it and do heroin because it made me feel better.

    You can choose to be addicted; you can decide that the benefits outweigh the risks.

    IMHO, things would be so much better for everyone if drugs were legal. You would avoid a lot of the harmful effects (crime, people mutilating their bodies with abscesses and scars, accidental overdoses, having to give up everything else to stay well). Basically, you won't stop people from doing what makes them feel better by interdicting drugs. You will probably have better luck with education...

    (oh yeah, I quit heroin thanks to a methadone program. still do other drugs like pot and sometimes crack, though...heroin was the best thing I've ever found for me, if I could I would do it again, but because it's illegal it doesn't make sense for me to do it anymore.)

    [ Parent ]

    Strong will power (3.00 / 2) (#100)
    by dollar bill on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 09:40:48 AM EST

    Fuck you.

    In reality, you either haven't tried them to the point to get addicted (6 cigarettes haha) or you don't have a reason for an addiction. Ever heard of depression, social anxiety, bipolarity, or basically any other chemical-related condition?

    [ Parent ]
    My ramblings. (5.00 / 19) (#45)
    by Addict23 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:20:38 AM EST

    How wordy people get trying to describe addiction, and yet, how damn simple it is when you are actually doing it.

    I used to do a lot of drugs.. but the one that got me was heroin.

    Rather than go on and on about psychobabble and trying to scientifically break it down.. let me just give a few examples from my past.

    A friend posed the question to me once.. his girl had asked him, after I'd left their place, how I could possibly permit my life to be the way it was.. how could I not notice how terrible it was. (barely eating, really skinny, apartment a literal disaster, the cat that hadn't eaten in weeks, litterbox overflowing. How could I not notice what shit life had become? How could I deal with the misery?
    Trainspotting got it bang on folks. The life of a junkie is SIMPLE.
    My biggest worry in life was running out of heroin. Sometimes it was a minor worry, like something you really don't want to forget to do because your wife might yell at you. (You have the cash, you just have to find time to sneak away from work and meet your dealer before you start withdrawl cause you ran out at the wrong time of day) and sometimes it was a big worry, like if I don't find some cash and get some heroin, I'm gonna suffer and be unable to work until payday.
    "Nothing else mattered." Now. Don't get it in your head that a junkie has no morals, or a junkie is nuts and will kill people, or that a junkie doesn't care. I still cared, I still had morals... but beyond all that, there is the overwhelming fact: You need to have heroin, period. If my best friend came over, or I missed dinner at his place, I felt really really bad.. realized how fucked up my life was. But.. if the choice was between going into withdrawl or going out with a buddy... believe me, you would take sitting at home fixing up.
    You KNOW you are hooked. And you do NOT like that fact.. but you have no idea what to do. The longer you are hooked, the longer your habit takes over your life, the more stupid shit you will do, the less anything else matters. This is just a fact of life, like anything else. Say you were in a jungle with no food or water. Finding food and water would be your primary goal, no matter what other things you had. The longer you had to struggle to get food and water, the less and less you would care about anything else. Heroin is the same thing.

    Now.. I quit. Cold-turkey. Why? I ran out of cash way before payday.. I couldn't borrow anymore, my life was in shambles. And I knew in the back of my head all along that this couldn't last, that I had to stop. I left town, quit my job, stayed with my family, got better. (Side note: The change of location and environment had a HUGE effect on my physical withdrawl symptoms.. it was amazing)

    You know. Heroin is God. It's the best. You hear that.. yet when you do it, it's not really that spectacular. (A good joint is often far more euphoric and interesting than just going on the nod on some smack). But... when you are hooked, it's the BEST THING ON EARTH. Why? Simply because it makes your pain go away. No more cramps, headache, disorientation, panic, restlessness, racing thoughs, etc. At my peak, I would do enough heroin to put a non-user out of commission until the day after tomorrow just to stay normal for the next hour or two. Literally... loading up on smack only made me feel 'normal'so I could go shopping, or to work (programming). And in my life, from my point of view, that was the BEST I could feel. Normal.

    I remember sitting on the bus seeing some lady upset because she had an argument with her husband, another guy upset cause his boss was a dork, another guy upset about his stocks. I would have GLADLY traded any one of those peoples problems for my own. Their problems were petty.

    Now.. Now I'm 28 years old, doing fine. Quit smoking a couple years ago. I still drink occasionally, I still like a good joint now and then. Neither of those things ever caused a problem for me.
    And I've passed on the opportunity to do coke/heroin several times since I quit. I know where that road leads. I don't want to go there again, ever.

    People ask me "You are a smart guy! How could you get into shit like that?"
    Folks, don't ever kid yourself, and don't think you are 'smarter' than me. You aren't.
    A moment of temptation is all it takes. You know why? because.. the first time you do some Heroin.. it's not bad. You don't wake up with cravings. You don't go bonkers for more. You just liked it. It was no big deal.
    And by the time you realize it IS a big deal, it's too late.

    The "just say no" campaigns and their like.. they demonize drugs. But that's not enough. They psyche you up to thinking drugs are so big and evil and horrible. But if you DO them, you'll find they aren't. They're nice, easy to do, friendly even. You'll quickly decide all that stuff you heard was bullshit.

    We don't have a huge drug abuse problem because drugs are big and scary, you know. We have it because they are so damn GOOD.

    So.. on to the details Signal 11 asked for..
    though I don't think this really helps understand them (to understand them you have to do them, but please don't).

    What is addiction like:
    Cigarettes: You just like to have a smoke, especially after eating, after sex, and for some people, after waking up in the morning (not me though). If you get stressed out, you want a smoke. If you feel happy, you want a smoke. It's just something you do.. as much habit as addiction.
    Withdrawl: Widely varies... from none to severe physical symptoms.

    Cocaine/Crack: Never been that addicted, wasn't my drug of choice, but done it enough. Cocaine, and to a much larger degree, Crack, makes you feel just plain 'good' instantly. In large doses, there are other psychological effects, euphoria, the 'Ringer', etc, but the main thing is it just makes you feel GOOD. Clean and good. (plus stimulant effects, of course)
    followed quickly by feeling about as equally BAD, which is why coke users binge. Unless you have tons of it, you don't usually see people proportioning out their coke. They do it until it's gone, compulsively.
    Craving: Makes you feel good, instantly. Who doesn't want that? The reason people feel good about snorting corrosive powder up their nose (not comfortable) is because it makes them feel good.

    Withdrwawl: depression, mostly just huge cravings to do more coke. Even though I never had a real coke problem, I *still* get intense cravings for cocaine if I smell cracksmoke, or something similar while walking down the street. I recognize it for what it is.. but it's amazing how powerful a mental association it is. I've heard other addicts talk of physical pains.

    Heroin: Sedative effects.. drowsiness, sleeping, calm, warm feeling of contentment. Quiets the gut, painkiller, withdrawl symptoms go away very quickly.
    Addiction: You want more, at first, just because'you like it. Later, because it makes the sickness go away, calms you down.

    Withdrawl: Sucks. Often considered very physical and dangerous; can be. I think it's mostly mental (only due to my own experiences in trying to quit); the physical symptoms are mainly a side effect of the screwed up mental stuff... but I'm sure there are physicians who would disagree.

    Caffeine: OUCH! All I have to say is, I've seen a few people who say they are 'quitting coffee'and they get irritable.
    I beleive I've been through acute caffeine withdrawl.. all I have to say is it's the second worse headache I've ever had in my life.

    Come to think of it, the first worse, which I initially thought was from coming of a pretty bad Tylenol-3 abuse binge may have actually been due to the caffeine in those little buggers anyway.

    Sorry.. I know it's rambling. I should probably write A book.. I think I will some day.

    I have to say, though, I feel a bit uneasy now. Thinking about all this, remembering... it's difficult. I feel twinges of cravings I haven't felt in a long, long time, just from thinking about it. That's good, I suppose, to remind me.

    Just say no is still damn good advice.

    Well put! (4.00 / 3) (#65)
    by drquick on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:30:40 AM EST

    The "just say no" campaigns and their like.. they demonize drugs. But that's not enough. They psyche you up to thinking drugs are so big and evil and horrible. But if you DO them, you'll find they aren't. They're nice, easy to do, friendly even. You'll quickly decide all that stuff you heard was bullshit.
    This makes sense to me! I've always thought the anti-drug campaigns are crazy. They are very contra productive it seems.

    [ Parent ]
    Indeed they are (4.66 / 3) (#73)
    by arjan de lumens on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 03:39:58 PM EST

    Apparently, people who have been exposed to campaigns like e.g. the DARE program appear to be slightly more likely to do drugs than people who haven't....

    [ Parent ]
    been there... (4.00 / 2) (#87)
    by trane on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:01:47 AM EST

    Do you think the effects of heroin addiction were made worse by its being illegal?

    If you could get heroin cheaply (like methadone), so that you didn't have to spend all day thinking about how to cop, and if the shit you got was always the same quality (not cut with god knows what), do you think we would see the problems we currently see with heroin addiction?

    Yes, the life of a heroin addict is very hard, that's why I quit, but I don't see that it has to be that way; it would benefit everyone, I think, if it was legalized and we tried to minimize the harmful effects.

    Of course to legalize it we will have to get rid of the idea that addiction is "weak" or somehow "immoral"...

    [ Parent ]

    Agreed. (4.66 / 3) (#90)
    by Addict23 on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 12:29:46 PM EST

    It's absolutely true.

    99% of the problems associated with Heroin abuse are a direct result of heroin being illegal.

    Now.. I'm not saying 'Drugs should be legal, everyone do drugs'.. because I *KNOW* some of you think that every time you hear this... Drugs are bad, Mmkay?

    But look.

    The most common cause of heroin overdose is fluctuation in quality, It's black market, and there is no standardization process. The farther down the chain of dealers it goes, the weaker it gets (usually) as they try to squeeze more profits out.

    Thievery, violence, etc, to get drug money:
    Heroin is rather expensive. It need not be. Heroin is dirt cheap to produce; the only thing driving the price way, way up is the fact that it must be smuggled across several international borders.

    Disease, infection:
    Another direct result of the underground way in which addicts must do heroin. In many places, it's hard to get a needle, so you re-use them. There are impurities in the heroin. Cooking it up on a spoon with some lemon juice is not exactly sanitary.

    Also..everyone associates heroin with needles. It absolutely need not be that way.. that's just the most potent way to do it. You can get just as high off smoking it, with a lot less health danger. It just takes a bit more. if it was cheap, I bet a lot of people wouldn't turn to needles.

    Another.. people argue that, if it weren't so illegal, more people would do it. Nobody is saying stop the education.. and besides.. If you want heroin, it's *easy* to get just about anywhere.

    [ Parent ]
    this works (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by niklaus on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 03:10:46 PM EST

    In Switzerland, heroin addicts who failed to quit several times can get heroin from their doctor quite cheaply (heroin is not that expensive to produce, on the black market you pay for the risk of getting busted). It works great. A lot of junkies who lived on the street and became criminals to get enough money now have a home, a job, a social life etc. just because they can get clean, cheap heroin from a reliable source. Some of them even quit now, because they have something else worth living for than their drug now. Their health is much better too, because pure heroin isn't that bad for your body, the other stuff which is used to cut it is what's bad for your health.

    I'd still never do heroin, though :)

    [ Parent ]
    I have a question (5.00 / 2) (#107)
    by epepke on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 07:20:53 PM EST

    This is something I've been wondering for a long time, and perhaps you can help me. Why don't heroin users use insulin syringes? They're sterile, cost almost nothing, and you can get them OTC at every drugstore in the U.S. I've ever been in without even showing ID.

    So, why? Needle too small? Not enough capacity in the syringe? Needle not stiff enough? Not fast enough? I known that it is possible to draw blood with an insulin syringe, though it tends to come out haemolized.

    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

    [ Parent ]
    My Withdrawal (5.00 / 14) (#49)
    by strepsil on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 02:33:39 AM EST

    I wrote the following piece while I was in the middle of giving up cigarettes. At the time it helped to have a rant.

    So here's what it felt like for me, while I was in the middle of it all. This all happened about a year ago and for the record, I made it. I'm no longer a smoker.


    So here I am, trying to get some work done while dealing with nicotine withdrawal. Yep, I'm trying to stop smoking. Working in a job that requires thought is a really bad thing today. I wish I was packing boxes or something, you know?

    I've been a smoker for 12 years or so. Guess what? In that time, I have NEVER gone longer than a couple of hours without a cigarette (not counting sleep time, of course). It probably shows me up as the obsessive-compulsive that I am to say that I have always planned things so I'd have my cigarettes. I've rationed myself (I get paid in 24 hours and I have 10 cigarettes left so if I can sleep for 10 hours I can have another one in 45 minutes), starved myself to make sure I had enough money for cigarettes and I've gone though my house and my car in incredible detail to find change (I have a theory from the last time this happened - you can ALWAYS find five dollars if you look hard

    Of course, because of this obsession and ridiculous planning, I've never tasted withdrawal before.

    My hands are shaking when I try to hold them still, my brain feels like it's packed in cotton wool and I think my heart has the volume turned up to eleven. No matter how much I drink, my tongue is dry. I contantly feel like I need to eat, but I have no appetite. I want to kill people who ask me stupid questions, and all questions are stupid.

    Twelve years is an awful lot of habit. Being a smoker is one of those things that starts to define you. It certainly shapes your life. Going out of the house? Keys, check. Wallet, check. Lighter, check. Cigarettes, check. OK, we can go now.

    If I manage this, I'll be saying goodbye to a few things. That moment of bonding you share with a stranger when you both step outside on a cold winter night to light up, for one. The little built in alarm that makes you go outside and take a break every hour or so. That beautiful red glow in the dark. That one extra stimulant as you lurch into the daylight after not enough sleep again.

    Wondering what to do with the butt when standing in a friend's perfectly organised garden. Looking to see if there is an ashtray on the table when joining friends at a restaurant. Rushing to get out of the cinema.

    Leaving a warm room to stand in the cold rain. Leaving a cool room to stand under the blazing sun. Breathing in smoke in deep lungfuls as the train pulls up.

    All these things are so familiar to me. Twelve years - a lot happens in twelve years. I've smoked at a High School in Boronia, hiding a lit cigarette in my sleeve as a teacher walks past. I've smoked with gypsies in England while watching their horses graze. I've smoked in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane. I've smoked in bed with people I loved. I've smoked bongs, pipes and cigars. I've smoked while on the phone. I've smoked while reading. I've smoked while watching television.

    For twelve years, whatever I've done, my cigarettes have been with me. Now I'm trying to put them aside. I'm trying to ignore twelve years of habit and it's hell.

    All I can do is keep distracting myself until the cravings go away ... I'm told that they will.

    Distractions are all that I have. I can distract myself for five minutes. For thirty seconds. For half an hour. Distractions get me through the day.

    You have just read my latest distraction. You didn't have to read it, I just had to write it. Thanks anyway.

    Why'd you do it the hard way? (4.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Robert Uhl on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 03:57:05 PM EST

    Why didn't you quit the easy way? You should have switched to smoking a pipe. Many people report that it is an excellent way to go, as you still get the nicotine but you slowly break the psychological addiction of cigarette smoking. Once that's gone, the nicotine addiction really isn't all that bad. I've been pipe-smoking for about 6 years now, and I often forget to smoke, sometimes for a few weeks.

    OTOH, when in school I carried a cigarette case with some good European cigarettes in it for a few days. I stopped after the fourth day because already cigarettes were becoming part of my life. They are very addictive psychologically.

    I don't plan to quit smoking a pipe, as a) I enjoy it and b) I am not addicted (I feel no need or compulsion to smoke--it's just an activity I engage in). But I do recognise that for someone who wishes to quit cigarettes, a pipe can definitely be the way to go.

    [ Parent ]

    what does addiction feel like (4.00 / 2) (#53)
    by tincat2 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 04:35:30 AM EST

    i'd like to try to contribute something here because i've been there long ago in some respects and in others am still there. i'm not sure that "what does addiction feel like ?" is the question to ask because among other things if you don't know that you are addicted, i.e., you haven't felt the twinges of withdrawl, then addiction doesn't have a feel. this thought is brought mind by the comment on cutting out refined sugar for a time. i would not have realized my own sugar addiction had i not gone on a low carb diet(no sugar period starting now) and spent the next three days with the jitters and consuming saltines by the box to moderate the craving. dependencies are out there for all of us, even if we are like the hindu holymen in their dependency upon being independent of it all. and yes, i am aware that the current psych-lingo refines the definition of addiction into a psychological-physical dependency to the detriment of an individual's ability to seek and to achieve socially acceptable goals. beyond the questions raised by the real value of what is considered acceptable or worthwhile(read john nash's autobiographical rap on his own mental states and their relationship to those who labeled him out there{perhaps justly so}) the interest here is on what does it feel like to be strung out or hooked? all addictive behavior that i have practiced seems to have at its root the desire to alleviate some type of anxiety, whether it be an existential angst, or the need to fill up some time with a purpose, or idleness with activity, or so on. the thing about it was that this soothing of these various anxieties then turned into a much larger and more immediate anxiety, that of obtaining a fix. that becomes life's goal and nothing supersedes it in the case of the stronger attractions(heroin, nicotine, money and power for some). it is as if you had consolidated your obligations into one payment with an enormous interest rate. withdrawl is the enforcer and has its own very effective physical and psychological devices to perpetuate the behavior. which brings to mind, in conclusion, a comment upon the possibility for rehab, as it is known. that is, and i heard my own judgment echoed by a junkie in a european legal heroin treatment program, that when the necessity to spend so much time in seeking illegal heroin was removed, he was able to assess his predicament and to choose to wean himself away and to walk away from a life he did not really want.

    A Way of Life (4.50 / 12) (#55)
    by Canar on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 05:09:34 AM EST

    In today's world, aren't we all addicted to something? Very few people these days are moderate. We do things to excess, just because they feel good, and we enjoy them. Yes, cigarettes are bad. Yes, they can be quit. Yes, you have the willpower to stop it, so long as you really want to. However, addictions don't go away. Call it the Law of Conservation of Obsession or something. I mean, let's go over a list here of obsessions that either myself or people I know well have developed, without even touching on the subject of drugs.
    • Sex. Big one. Lotsa people really like it. Causes a build up, tension, heightening of emotional and physical senses, then a rapid release and relaxation.
    • Food. Produces serotonin responses in the brain, if my background serves me correctly. Yeap, that's the same chemical that gets released en masse under the influence of ecstasy. And mmmm... The joy of a nice big steak, at least for the non-vegetarians...
    • Sugar. A subset of the above, although a rather specific one. Talked about below. Also rather nasty.
    • Passive Entertainment. TV. Movies. Two senses are being stimulated here, which makes things harder to deal with.
    • Active Entertainment. Video games. Computers. Heh, this crowd is probably more susceptible to this addiction.
    • And something I've caught onto in myself just recently: Music. Try going a couple days without it. I can't, without withdrawl symptoms.
    • Exercise. Not necessarily bad, especially compared to some of the others, but it can be addicting as well.
    • Gambling. Anyone else remember the psychological experiments where by only rewarding the subject randomly, they can convince it to respond to a stimulus for a long time, in many cases adversely? With birds that literally pecked their beaks off, mice that starved themselves pushing a button for a food pellet?
    • Religion. Had to add that one there. I'm semi-Christian, raised in the religion, and sorta hazy on where I stand, keeping one foot there just for the sake of being afraid of change. But again, it reaches obsession in some people, produces rather profound, if only psychological, comforts and reassurances, and provides mechanisms preventing the "addict" from withdrawl. This one I know first hand.
    What I'm getting at is that we all have our addictions. I believe that very few people out there who have none. It's merely a choice of the greater evil, for the individual.

    Addicted to Music (3.00 / 1) (#116)
    by alexdw on Thu Jan 17, 2002 at 11:28:12 PM EST

    And something I've caught onto in myself just recently: Music. Try going a couple days without it. I can't, without withdrawl symptoms.

    I know what you mean! For several months, I coulndn't get away from it. I had to have it. In the car, at the computer, walking to class, even just to let me get to sleep! I had to go without for a while, and got these really weird withdrawl symptoms. I got really depressed, and whenever I tried to listen to music "casually", I got more depressed and had to stop listening. I'm back on it now, but I seem to be managing it a little better. I don't listen to it in bed or walking to class, and I can even drive for long stretches without hearing a single song!

    I am not making this up. Listening to music is certainly addictive, but has few negative side effects (draining your bank account to buy CD's and putting off important tasks to hear "just one more song" are probably the most serious). Whether or not it is a real "problem" probably depends on whether or not you let it rule your life.

    np: Waiting Room by Penelope Houston

    [ Parent ]
    It's not about feelings (3.50 / 6) (#59)
    by roffe on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 08:17:37 AM EST

    Human behavior is not controlled by feelings. Feelings are behaviors too. If you explain a behavior by a feeling, you have to explain the feeling as well.

    The behavior we are talking about here - drug-taking behavior - belongs to the class of operant behaviors. Operant behaviors are selected by the environment and shaped by their consequences.

    Feelings occur concomitantly to the other behaviors that occur alongside with the behavior in question. It is not the feeling of abscence that makes the dope-addict take more dope. What has happened is that the dope has change the organism, so that just about any occasion becomes an occasion for drug-taking behavior.

    This is why the addiction power of a drug is not directly correlated to the feelings that withdrawal generate.

    Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren

    Feelings? (3.66 / 3) (#77)
    by synaesthesia on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 06:51:47 PM EST

    I'm not sure what you mean by feelings. Try not eating for 24 hours. Feel hungry? Try holding your breath until you die. Feel like taking in some air? (see Aphexian's post). If human behaviour is not controlled by feelings, then what?

    Sausages or cheese?
    [ Parent ]
    post hoc ergo propter hoc (3.00 / 2) (#84)
    by roffe on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 04:02:06 AM EST

    when you hold your breath, your body will take action to make sure that you quit doing so. this is instinctive behavior. lack of breath will cause certain painful physical reactions, but it is a logical fallacy to conclude that since the unpleasent feelings came prior to quitting holding your breath, then the one is the cause of the other.

    Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren

    [ Parent ]
    it's a chemical world (3.50 / 2) (#105)
    by synaesthesia on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:27:43 PM EST

    when you undergo heroin withdrawal, your body will take action to make sure you quit doing so.

    lack of heroin will cause certain painful physical reactions.

    i'm still not sure what you mean by 'feelings'.

    Sausages or cheese?
    [ Parent ]
    painful physical reactions (3.00 / 2) (#109)
    by roffe on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 07:40:20 PM EST

    a feeling is a private behavior, observable only to the organism that has it, and can make the organism say such things as "pain",

    Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren

    [ Parent ]
    Your point being? (none / 0) (#121)
    by synaesthesia on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:53:14 PM EST

    Everything is only observable to the organism making the observation. Welcome to the Matrix.

    Sausages or cheese?
    [ Parent ]
    The worst (4.80 / 5) (#62)
    by John Thompson on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 09:56:27 AM EST

    In my line of work I get to see and deal with many people addicted to a variety of substances and behaviors. Contrary to your assertion above, opiate withdrawl is seldom life-threatening. It can be (and usually is) extremely unpleasant, and the person suffering the withdrawl may at some point might feel miserable enough to think they'd be better off dead but physiologically they are not in a life-threatening situation.

    The absolute worst substance to withdraw from in my experience is alcohol. Life-threatening withdrawl symptoms are a very real risk as the central nervous system tends to become hyperactive when the depressant effects of the alcohol are removed. Sedatives such as librium and valium are routinely used for seizure prophylaxis during alcohol withdrawl. It is not unheard of for people undergoing alcohol withdrawl to be chemically paralysed (using Pavulon or other curare-derived neuromuscular blockade drugs) and mechanically ventilated for several days. There is often permanent neurological and other organ damage. And the risk of relapse is very high because alcohol is legal, readily available and socially important.

    Just yesterday I was working with a man who endured and extremely serious withdrawl course about a year ago. He is having a great deal of trouble giving up alcohol because he "just loves the taste of beer." He has been to the emergency room at least four times during the past year with pancreatitis -- a direct result of his prior high alcohol intake, and often described as the worst pain a person can feel -- beacuse he thought "maybe one beer wouldn't hurt." This latest admission was precipitated because he had been drinking non-alcoholic beer, which BTW does retain about 1% EtOH content. He "likes the taste of beer" and drank several cans, and ended up in the ER, placed on a morphine PCA and hospitalized for seveal days. All this for a few cans of NA beer.

    I am not advocating abolition of alcohol. We tried that once and I doubt it would work any beeter now than then. But some people, for whatever reason, appear to be more susceptable to addition (whether EtOH, opiates, gambling or whatever).

    An anecdote (4.55 / 9) (#66)
    by Aphexian on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:33:52 AM EST

    I have a response to those who question my vices (mostly cigarettes and alcohol), which may seem silly on the surface but does display some truth in comparison.

    I tell them that, yes my vices are bad, but there's one I'm really trying to quit. The most insideous drug of all... Air.

    Here are my withdrawl symptoms:
  • If I don't have enough air I become obsessed with it.
  • I feel as though I may die without another breath.
  • Many physical changes - lightheadedness, nausea, craving, panic, irrationality.
  • If I think my supply of air is limited I will obsessively plan when I can take each and every next "dose".
  • I would step over my own mother just to get another "fix".
  • Feeling my whole life revolves around air, and without it I am nothing.

    Etc, etc. It might seem patronizing, but its not - coming from someone like me who has been (and probably still is) addicted to different substances, feelings, events, emotions triggers, etc.

    I'm trying to make people understand what it feels like to be addicted. Anything else can take on the same feelings of withdrawl, and while they may not be as severe, they are there.

    The main critisicm I hear from my little rant is : But that's different, if you don't have air you'll die.
    My response? "Ah, I see you're starting to understand."
    [I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
  • I'll back that up. (3.66 / 3) (#72)
    by Addict23 on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 03:37:37 PM EST

    I read your post yesterday, and just ignored it after the first 2 lines.. but today I read it through.

    Good point.. good way of describing addiction. The last line says it all.

    [ Parent ]
    Addiction and Depression (4.83 / 6) (#68)
    by selkirk on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 11:35:10 AM EST

    This discussion seems to focus on drug addiction (versus gambling or playing civilization).

    A lot of drug addiction is an attempt at self-medication for other problems, commonly depression.

    Take smoking for example. Hard core smokers may use nicotine to manage depression, ADHD, anxiety or bulimia. Drug companies are starting to exploit this link. The anti-smoking drug Zyban contains the same medication (Buproprion HCL) as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin

    Many smokers have probably never made the connection between their smoking, their mood, and the illness known as depression.

    Why can some people take drugs without getting addicted? Perhaps they don't have the particular symptoms that that drug is good at relieving?

    The effect of most of the addictive drugs on mood is immediate. The consequences are later. Its easiest to just take some more now and quit later. That is addiction.

    Why don't people get addicted to mood altering medications like anti-depressants? They take about 6 weeks before they start working. Imagine if it took 6 weeks between smoking pot and feeling its effects.

    What does addiction feel like? Imagine that you feel like this. Now you get drunk / stoned / high / buzzed. For a while you don't feel like that. Repeat.


    Addiction and Depression (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by stilletto on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 01:50:41 AM EST

    I would like to respond to the comment that people don't get addicted to anti-depressants. There are certain anti-depressants that are considered narcotic such as, prozac and lithium. Generally, doctors are very careful about prescribing these meds because of their addictive properties. Other anti-depressants are considered non-addicting, which I usually laugh at. When I went into a psychiatric hospital for depression and anxiety disorder, I was put on Zoloft, which is considered non-addicting. When I had my meds changed to Paxil, since my anxiety was more of the problem than the depression, I went through a week of hellish withdrawal, while I switched medications. Now, if I run out of my Paxil, I feel like my head is spinning around and I'm underwater. That is the same feeling that I had when I last tried to quit smoking. It is caused by the addiction that my body had to the medication. Now, I will qualify this with a little history on myself. I am a recovering alcoholic of 10 years. I picked up smoking when I was 13. I have a serious addiction to caffeine and I have been classified, by medical and psychiatric doctors, as having a very addictive personality. I also have a wierd reaction time to medications. Meds that usually take anywhere from 5-14 days to take affect, like anti-depressants, they affect me almost immediately. My main point is that when you mess with your body's natural chemistry, it is possible to become addicted, plain and simple.
    Be happy while you're living for you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb
    [ Parent ]
    zyban the wonder drug (4.00 / 2) (#97)
    by fonebone on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 10:37:29 PM EST

    Drug companies are starting to exploit this link. The anti-smoking drug Zyban contains the same medication (Buproprion HCL) as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin

    from what i understand, people who took Wellbutrin who were smokers were reporting that they lost cravings for smoking. so, the drug company released the same drug under another name, and marketed it for its particular side effect.

    PHP and Ajax Web Development
    [ Parent ]

    RL (2.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Mitheral on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 12:09:28 PM EST

    IE a Real Life: "It's not a bug, it's a feature" moment

    [ Parent ]
    antidepressants and addictions (4.00 / 2) (#101)
    by Shpongle Spore on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 01:49:26 PM EST

    About Zyban/Wellbutrin, although I've heard (and can certainly believe) that antidepresseants in general can be useful for people quitting smoking, bupropion in particular is useful for two reasons: it's a mild stimulant, so it has some of the same effect of niccotine, plus it actually prevents niccotine from working. I was once on Wellbutrin for a while and although I don't usually smoke, I tried it just for novetly's sake and sure enough, the cigarette did nothing but make me a little dizzy. Also, I've never heard anyone mention this, but Wellbutrin helped me with caffeine addiction, though in my case I eventually found the Wellbutrin to be more annoying than the caffeine so I switched back.

    On on subject of the delayed action of antidepressants, I just haven't found this to be true. I and several of my friends have used them briefly, and in every case the effect was immediate (i.e. within hours). None of us ever kept taking them long enough for them to theoretically start working. Do antidepressants start working differently after you've been on them a while, or is the whole thing just a bunch of medical dogma that's not actually true?
    I wish I was in Austin, at the Chili Parlor bar,
    drinking 'Mad Dog' margaritas and not caring where you are
    [ Parent ]

    An ood observation (4.50 / 8) (#69)
    by CaptainZapp on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 12:36:17 PM EST

    I smoked cigarettes for over 20 years.

    In the beginning to be cool, (did somebody start for another reason?) later because I was hooked.

    I made various attempts to quit, which where more or less successful for a period of time (the patch is a great crotch if you really want to try).

    January 1st 2001 I took a new attempt and found myself smoking again on January 19, with a twist:

    I lit up a cigar

    Since that day I smoked cigars. zero to 5 a day averaging two cigars a day and guess what: The habbit is kicked.

    The big difference is that while I was a cigarette smoker I had it glowing two to five minutes after getting out of bed every morning, with cigars this is very different.

    I usually light up number 1 of the day on an one hour train ride to get to work. (Nope, not in the loo, they still permit smoking on trains in Europe) But this is by no means a must. When I'm out of town on an assignment or I am working with my fellow colleagues from an art corporation, I am involved in, then the first stoogie might not go up before late or not at all. Of course there's sometimes an urge for a smoke but the addiction factor is just not there. On a 15 hour journey to Tokyo: No smoke, no problem.

    It's also a complete different kharma (in lack of a better word) to the object cigar (same goes for pipes) then for a cigarette. It's an object of beauty, hand crafted from the finest tobaccos as opposed to the chemical junk which you get in a cigarette (which is my take on the addiction thing).

    Now, do I condone smoking cigars? It depends. If you don't smoke at all and it feels fine, there is no reason on earth to change that. If you care for a nice smoke after a nice dinner then it's certainly better then a cigie (of course you are a nice person and don't light up that double corona, while they're still enjoying the veal on the neighbor table). It might not be a good idea for everybody in order to kick cigarettes, but it worked for me

    Cigars in my book have much more to do with enjoyment and lust for life then cigarettes. It's about like comparing a 30 year old armagnac with the alcohol from a carpet cleaning fluid filtered through a loaf of bread (disclaimer: not recommended)

    I agree with your friend, that cigarettes are the damns hardest thing to quit and I have some experience.

    Addiction vs. dependence (5.00 / 12) (#78)
    by %systemroot% on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 07:37:25 PM EST

    I've read all the comments to this story, and not yet read accounts of the drug I was addicted to for roughly a year -- GHB/GBL. Here's my story, as well as a comparison/contrast to the drugs I'm currently dependent upon.

    Until 1997 (when I was 28yo), I did no drugs apart from the occasional use of caffeine. This includes alcohol, which apart from tasting sips of beer/wine upon my father's recommendation (he's quite the gourmand) I never imbibed at all.

    I tried to keep my beliefs about non-usage individual, and (mostly) was able to keep from looking down my nose at my friends who drank or used drugs. In fact, this made for interesting turns of events when I started attending raves in 1990, I found out later that there were some acquaintences of mine who had a hard time about my non-usage, but at the time I didn't recognize that.

    In 1997, a unique set of circumstances led me to try MDMA, which I enjoyed very much. After several months, I beccame a regular user, but I never became dependent nor addicted.

    In the two years thereafter, I used a number of different drugs, many of which I enjoyed, some I didn't, and some I researched and decided that they were not for me (i.e. methamphetamine) without feeling the need to try them.

    In 1999, I tried a small amount of GHB at home after my then-girlfriend brought it back from a party that I didn't attend. I found the effects to be overall quite pleasant, and soon began to use it socially on the weekends.

    A peculiarity of my body chemistry is that where alcohol (I've since tried it and never really liked it) doesn't make me traditionally drunk vis-a-vis the social lubrication and warm-glow inebriation, GHB/GBL does in spades. I felt much more socially confident in groups, was much less inhibited, enjoyed dancing much more, etc.

    By that time, I considered myself to be an experienced and responsible user, and though I knew the dangers of overdosing (passing out being one of the primary ones), I believed that I could avoid doing so.

    Well, I was proved wrong at one party, where I kept taking more and more GHB until I passed out on a couch. Fortunately, a good friend of mine was there, knew what I was on, and babysat me until I came around, at which time he drove me home in my car and took a cab back to his (he was sober.)

    Needless to say, the next morning I was exceedingly embarrassed, and I vowed that I would never do GHB in public again. I never broke that vow.

    Some months later, I broke up with my live-in girlfriend of 18 months and went into a depressed state. In order to combat my strong insomnia, I began using GHB to get to sleep.

    This does work to an extent -- in fact, it was available for this use by prescription in some European countries (and may be still, I don't know). However, it didn't knock me out for a full night, only for 4-6 hours, at which time I needed to re-dose.

    Within a few weeks, I became completely dependent on the drug to get any sleep at all.

    I had bought a large supply of the precursor chemical (gamma-hydrobutyl-lactone) online before the drug was federally scheduled, and so I never had to purchase any from anyone else.

    Soon, the combination of my depression and GHB's side effects when I wasn't on it made my daily life miserable. I was still able to function at work (though not to full capacity) and didn't really think I had a big problem.

    I was wrong.

    I became socially phobic, and then nearly agoraphobic, relying on food/grocery delivery rather than facing the world outside. I had to take more and more GHB to achieve sleep, and even then the sleep was fitful and uneven.

    I eventually went to my doctor about my insomnia, but didn't tell him about my dependence. We went around and around with different ideas, but he (wisely) refused to prescribe sleep medication. I attempted to stop my use a few times, replacing it with various over-the-counter sleep medication (Nytol, melatonin, valerian, kava-kava) to no avail.

    Oddly, at roughly the mid-point of my addiction, I went to Burning Man 2000 and didn't take any GHB with me (IIRC, it had become illegal by then, and I didn't want to risk issues with the interstate trip.) I didn't have *any* problems with sleep while there, in retrospect I believe this indicates how much my insomnia was tied to my stress level in my normal daily life.

    A few months later, I realized that I was running out of GBL. I finally came clean to my doctor, and begged him to help me kick once and for all. He prescribed one week's worth of sleep medication, and though I had a rough 4-5 nights, I was able to stop my abuse.

    I've never used GHB/GBL since, and I don't think I ever will again.

    I personally consider my experience with GHB/GBL an addiction, though the severity was far lesser than what friends of mine have told me about heroin or cocaine. To that end, I can say I understand addiction somewhat, but I also know that I can't really know what they have been through.

    Way back in the introductory paragraph, I stated that I would compare/contrast to my current drug dependence.

    In October 2001 I was diagnosed with a terminal illness -- stage four biliary duct cancer. My oncologist prescribed me oxycodone for the pain, and I'm currently using 60mg OxyContin twice a day.

    OxyContin is a patented time-release form of oxycodone, which in turn is a member of the opiate family. A rough ladder of the available prescription opiate painkillers is, in order of increasing strength:

    codeine (Tylenol III)
    hydrocodone (Vicodin)
    oxycodone (Percocet/OxyContin)
    hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

    It took a while for the side effects to taper off, but I am fortunate enough that I am able to be on this much opiates yet am able to be almost completely mentally/physically unaffected save for the pain relief.

    I am able to drive safely (I have had friends and family ride along and verify this), talk normally -- in essence, I am able to have somewhat of a normal life for many hours of my day.

    Unfortunately, I'm still not normal -- I occasionally have to reach for words, and returning to work as a sysadmin wouldn't be prudent in my opinion. This may be that I set too high a standards for myself, but I just don't trust that I could live up to the responsibility that goes with the position.

    The difference between addiction and dependence in my view is that addiction for me was self-medication that quickly turned my life on a downward slope, and that I wasn't able to avoid it until I was forced to. (Yes, I could have found an additional supply, but thankfully that was a line that I was unwilling to cross.)

    Dependence is literally that -- I depend on my medication to keep me relatively pain-free and able to live a positive life.

    If a miracle happens and my cancer goes into remission, I am quite ready and willing to face withdrawal symptoms, however unpleasant. I will gladly accept a few days of pain in exchange for the months of pain relief I have enjoyed.

    addiction/dependence...hard to draw the line (4.50 / 2) (#88)
    by trane on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:20:03 AM EST

    I depend on my medication to keep me relatively pain-free and able to live a positive life.

    Yes, that is how I felt about heroin and methadone (though my pain is mental). If it were legal, perhaps a lot of heroin addicts who currently live on the streets and become criminals to feed their habit would be able to live more normal, even productive lives.

    [ Parent ]

    Thought experiment (3.50 / 4) (#81)
    by Lenny on Sat Jan 12, 2002 at 10:20:17 PM EST

    I hope this is not too far off the subject. I've had this wierd idea floating around in my head for wuite some time and would like to get some input from people who are more familiar with this subject.
    What would happen to a person if you (I know the logistics of this would be difficult) get them high every night when they slept? I would be talking about something like heroin or cocaine. How would the person react once their body became physically addicted? Would they have a yearning for something and not know what it was? Would they want to sleep all the time?

    "Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
    just a guess (4.33 / 3) (#93)
    by fonebone on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 04:51:16 PM EST

    i've thought about this for a while, and i came to the conclusion, that, yes, the person would still be addicted, but it'd be purely physical. you can think the effect would be the same as that which happens to babies born addicted to some drug. the baby sure knows they're withdrawling from something, but of course, have no concept of "drugs" or anything. still, the addiction is prevalant.

    PHP and Ajax Web Development
    [ Parent ]
    Addiction can feel like: (4.00 / 3) (#82)
    by joegee on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 01:18:26 AM EST

    A loss of control. What did I do last night? How did I get home? I only meant to have one. How did I end up doing so many.

    Tolerance. I can't get high enough anymore.

    Changes in moods and personality. I don't know why I get the way I do, it just happens.

    Craving. When I do not have the prospect of getting my fix, I feel anxious, I obsess over its absence, I fixate on getting it.

    Desperation. I'd do anything to get rid of it, or do anything to get it.

    It can feel like any combination of the above, to greater or lesser degree. The thing to remember about addiction is that you don't usually notice it until it's too late. You would be surprised, the addict is not necessarily only the toothless young-old man down in the trainyard who sleeps in a culvert. The addict is not only the hollow-eyed mother with bruised forearms screaming at her kids. A lot of addicts look just like you and me.

    In my own exxperience I know at least one practicing physician in my immediate area, as well as nurses, lawyers, students, a mortician, several successful salesmen, a few recording artists, and a pretty large group of everyday people who have been through one form of addiction or another. It happens to everyday, otherwise "normal" people who have within them the tendency to form a tolerance for <insert addictive item of choice here>.

    It happens to people, initially through their choices, but sooner or later the addict loses the luxury of choice. Addiction has the added "attraction" of being the only chronic illness that tells its sufferers they do not have it. For someone with the predisposition addiction is easy to acquire and a real bitch to kick. :/

    <sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
    Yeyo (4.66 / 6) (#94)
    by mvsgeek on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 06:25:49 PM EST

    I'm on a tail end of ending a cocaine addiction that lasted about a year. This will be a summarized version of my experience with that.

    I started using yeyo (cocaine) about 2 years ago when, out of curiosity someone at a party offered it to me. I had only seen movies with people doing coke, and it looked pretty glamorous, a fitting drug for affluent yuppies, I wanted to know what it was like.
    To my great surprise after doing that first rail, I wondered what the big deal was. I wasn't fscked up, I didn't feel anything at all, just more "awake". I chatted, acted in an extroverted manner, and had a great time, still not really attributing anything to the drug.
    I didn't touch it for a few more months until I was offered some again at another party. That night I did a whole bunch, gradually understanding that this was a great party drug, I could be totally rat arsed from booze, snort a line and be the king of the party again. Compared to my usual demeanor, I liked the feeling of being so confident and aggressive in fulfilling everything I wanted to do. And so it started, in a vain attempt to change my personality into the person I was on coke I would do it almost every party I went to (once or twice a week), taking frequent trips to the bathroom, if I was in "polite" company, or just off a glass table otherwise. I only started noticing that perhaps I had a problem when I realized I was spending about $1000 a month on it, which was more than my rent. By this point I would even slip into the bathroom at work and do little bumps to "keep me goin'". It's amazing to see some of the code i whacked out at those times - brilliant at times (when I was high) - 1st year student at others when I was "jonesing".
    Yeyo addiction, to me, consisted of an unbelievable amount of anxiety. The best metaphor I had for it, was the feeling you have when a loved one (at the early stages) is away and you can't talk to them, times one thousand... It was something that was amiss, that I didn't do, but I HAD to do in order to feel normal again.
    Another thing I have to note was that I had quit smoking cigarettes a few months before discovering coke. Try doing a coke binge without smoking, got me right back into it.
    In either event, I decided it was time to stop, so I became a hermit for about 3 months - I instructed friends not to invite me anywhere, that i had shit to take care of. So I stayed at home, coding or watching movies, desperately trying not to think about partying or social interaction. Having good self discipline was good for this. I spent those three months without any, and while it may have broken the anxiety attacks, and the *need* for it, I still *want* some today.
    I'd probably do the whole thing over again because it taught me a lot about myself not the least of which was the nature of addiction, but caution is definately in order for would be coke-users. Other friends of mine weren't quite so lucky, ended up selling household items to buy more, and getting into it junky-style all the way to the rehab clinic.
    Hope this story is enlightening to some. It was a catharsis for me.
    - mvsgeek
    If you want to quit smoking (3.80 / 5) (#95)
    by valency on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 08:02:07 PM EST

    Make a bet with a friend who is also trying to quit: the first one to smoke a cigarette has to do something incredibly embarrassing in a public place. For me, it was tying a rope around my ankles and manually hoisting myself into a tree.

    Believe me, the only force more powerful than the call of nicotine is the fear of embarrassment.

    If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.

    another type of addiction (4.20 / 5) (#96)
    by aelscha on Sun Jan 13, 2002 at 10:17:24 PM EST

    I've seen a nearly infinite quantity of posts about various chemical addictions, and a couple others about other psychological addictions, but seeing as nobody has brought up the one I've been fighting, I figured I'd post.

    Self-inflicted violence - cutting, and other forms of it - is becoming more and more common, especially among teenagers. Especially among the sorts of teenagers I hang out with, the ones that are overly stressed and/or depressed. It's a really insiduous addiction - as people have mentioned with others, it sneaks up on you, and gets worse and worse. I was lucky enough to stop before I got too deeply into it - my boyfriend eventually told me he couldn't deal with it, and I'd have to pick. I've... mostly stopped, although not completely, and I wish more than anything else that I could truly get over it.

    The story? I've always known people who cut themselves as a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with life, and who found it becoming addictive. Last May I was in a rather messed-up emotional state and figured "What the hell. Everyone else gets some help from it," and placed a knife-blade against my arm and cut three neat little lines of blood. Pain, yes, but not that painful, and an amazing sense of having lost a lot of my angst. It does work. Through May, June, and July, I was cutting more frequently, and it was starting to become habitual, rather than just a coping thing. My parents never noticed. I wondered how they could not notice the many many cuts on my left arm, but they didn't. Needless to say, this didn't help me. Starting around the end of last summer, I decided I would stop, but that only lasted about a month each time (twice). Then my beloved boy finally told me that he could not be with someone who does this, and I swore I'd stop. And I did, for a month. And I swore again to stop. And I did, for two months. Now there's nothing in my immediate posession that's at all knifelike, and I know that I have to stop if I don't want to lose my wonderful boy. And I still doubt whether I can, because my brain still turns to it when I'm unhappy. It's worst when I have a knife in my hands. It's just that I notice its sharpness and then I want, really crave, having that sharpness cutting my skin. It's disturbing and kind of scary.

    I just figured I'd throw in another example of something that's not a chemical and yet is damn addictive. I wasn't addicted badly. I've helped some friends through something worse than I can imagine, and I know it, and I am unbelievably thankful that I noticed what I was doing in time to pull out of it.

    Star Wars: Episode 18: Your Mom's a Sith

    I feel that pain (none / 0) (#120)
    by Cloaked User on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 12:37:18 PM EST

    It's just that I notice its sharpness and then I want, really crave, having that sharpness cutting my skin.

    This is something I've only told a handful (less) of people, but no-one here really knows me, so here goes...

    I've never cut myself, but I do have that tendency. For about 8 years now, on and off, when things get too much I scratch myself. I know it doesn't sound like much, but my nails are sharp and my back is tender; believe me, the pain is exquisite.

    Why do I do it?
    Simple - I dislike the sight of my own blood, so cutting is out (besides which, the scars can be so ugly and so hard to hide), and my nails go everywhere with me, so whenever I feel the need, I can...
    Yes, I know that's not what some of you meant by "why"; that's harder to understand, though, unless you've been there yourself. The closest I can get is what I said to a friend who did this, only with a knife - "It hurts, and it hurts and it hurts and it hurts, and then you pick up the knife." For me, it "makes the bad thoughts go away" - in that one moment of exquisite pain, all my thoughts are washed away and I am at peace again. It doesn't last long, but while it does, all is well. Well, better, anyway.
    I've not done it regularly for a few years, not so much because I've not felt the need, but mostly because I live my girlfriend now, and this is something I've never told here about and would rather hide from her. Even though I only scratch myself, the marks are there, are nasty-looking, and persist for a few days; I'd rather avoid the enevitable awkward questions (despite the fact that I know that she, herself, is verging on bullimia, so we're hiding something from each other... Doesn't make it right, but hey, that's life.)

    So, there you go - understanding, and a sort of confession, all rolled into one. To all of you still following this thread, thanks for listening.


    "What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
    [ Parent ]

    I'm a pothead and I'm semi-OK (4.50 / 2) (#106)
    by RepoMan on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 02:24:05 AM EST

    My big addiction is pot.

    It's one of the milder ones -- it's not known to be toxic or to induce physical withdrawal symptoms -- but it is DEFINITELY addictive. It's the classic slow, steady progression with me -- I started out having a bong hit once a week or so, progressing to a couple times a week, then once a day, then wake-and-bake. Finally got to the point where I was toking in the garage during lunch hour at work (this was in Silicon Valley), and then going upstairs and interacting with co-workers who had no idea I was stoned.

    I tend to be an introvert, and for me, pot makes it all the easier to spend many many hours geeking out and gaming / reading / hacking (all of which I enjoy whether stoned or not, but pot tends to reinforce those behaviors).

    I go through cycles, it seems. I started being a serious smoker in about 1991, and quit for three months in 1996. Then I quit for a year and a half in 1999-2000. Then I quit again on New Year's Eve 2001, and am planning to stay off until at least mid-year. My fiancee' asked me to quit this last time, and I knew the timing was right (I'd been overindulging even for me, and when I get that into it I notice myself getting borderline depressed).

    Quitting pot is actually fairly easy for me, especially since I've done it a couple of times now... I know there aren't going to be many withdrawal symptoms, and even the cravings are easier to handle than the first time I stopped cold. I don't think, though, that I'm going to stay sober forever; pot is in my future.

    I have a general question for any addict or ex-addict K5'ers still reading this thread: do you manage your addiction cyclically like this? i.e. do you go through cycles (perhaps many-month cycles) of using, then not using, then using, then not using? Typically the only alternatives we hear about are either being altogether clean; being a sustainable (low-dose, low-frequency)) user; being a heavy user; or being a totally clean ex-user. But what about alternating between those (latter three) states?

    My pot addiction has never been serious enough to threaten my love, work, financial, or personal life, which is largely why I contemplate continuing the cycle this way. (If it'd been worse to me, I'd be more committed to sobriety.) Anyone else in the same boat?

    Repoman (is always intense :-)

    Observation (3.00 / 2) (#110)
    by carwashi on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 08:44:30 PM EST

    From my own experiences i have noticed that people tend to quit one drug and then get started an another to replace the first. This can lead to cyclic behavior where you quit a drug (pot) for 6 months and then start again for 6 months and while you were not smmoking you were drinking like a madman or eating shrooms way too much.

    [ Parent ]
    Not yet :-) (3.50 / 2) (#111)
    by RepoMan on Wed Jan 16, 2002 at 12:57:24 AM EST

    My fiancee' and I are actually doing a detoxification program -- we're not drinking at all, and we're giving up sugar (she already has and I will be starting this coming weekend), and no other drugs either. So, haven't gatewayed yet :-)

    We'll see!

    [ Parent ]
    Remember the show 'Love Line'? (4.00 / 1) (#118)
    by derek3000 on Fri Jan 18, 2002 at 01:24:57 PM EST

    Dr. Drew always used to say that alcoholism had less to do with frequency and more to do with consequences. If every time you got smoked up you did something that had an adverse effect on your life, yet you kept doing it, then you'd have a problem.

    I smoke just about every day, although I can still get ripped off one hit of schwag. It's never affected my life in a bad way--only good things have come out of smoking, for me. It breaks down social barriers sometimes, makes you appreciate simple things a little more, etc. I've also calmed down a lot--I don't get worked up over stupid things like I used to.

    Hope this answers some questions.

    Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
    [ Parent ]

    Short Answer (3.50 / 2) (#108)
    by phatkat on Tue Jan 15, 2002 at 07:39:27 PM EST

    Addiction is anything that offers itself as the solution for the problems it causes.

    -- Paraphrased from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace.

    Inflicting Physical Pain - Strangulation (4.00 / 1) (#117)
    by alexdw on Fri Jan 18, 2002 at 12:20:24 AM EST

    I've noticed an interesting example of inflicting pain upon onesself becoming addictive: strangulation. Back during my high-school days, I noticed that a lot of people enjoyed strangling themselves on a regular basis: on the bus, at lunch, during study hall, etc. It seemed silly, but with my knowledge of human biology, I could see why it might work.

    I tried it once, but didn't really appreciate the feeling that I got. You can get a much better "version" of the same rush through intense physical activity, IMHO. :-)

    (I personally never became addicted to this, but I have several friends who have... I don't think any of them have taken it to the level of endangering their own lives yet, since you tend to lose your grip when you run out of oxygen, but I wouldn't be suprised if someone killed themselves in this manner...

    What Does Addiction Feel Like? | 121 comments (119 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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