Excerpt: Description of Dope Sickness

People must wonder what dope sickness feels like.  It is different for everyone, but excruciating for each addict.  I always puked.  I felt like I was going to puke.  I kind of wanted to puke so I would feel better.  All I could think about was feeling nauseous and all I could think about was dope.  Round and round in your head…dancing images of pills, and powders, and prescriptions, and pandemonium.

I puked through the flashing images.  Diarrhea…gushed out like burning liquid acid…and the images kept flashing, rolling like the same old movie reel of distorted obsession.  The same image hammered my brain for a while…a pill…a particular pill…a particular girl with that particular pill…oh, I might know where I can find her.  And my Sickness entertained the thought of going to the bar she is probably in with her pocket full of pills.  Her pills that I want, that I need.  I think there must be someone staying at this hotel that has an injury.  Surely, someone here has some morphine.  I vaguely think about asking around, but I know I am too weak to stand.  Uncomfortable.  Everything hurts.

I puked up yellow bile.  I believed that it was pure liver toxins being aspirated from my stomach.  Yellow bile, acid diarrhea.  Coming out of every pore sometimes.  Pure anguish mental, physical…I never felt worse.  Never before, and certainly never since.

Dope sickness is the worst feeling in the world.  It is what all addicts fear.  It is what keeps us sick, in so many ways.  The avoidance of the Sickness and the pains of withdrawal are what really keep us sick with our addictions.  Dope Sickness is fucking unbearable.  Three days of pure physical hell coupled with an insanity plea to the distorted judge.  Thoughts overriding your already dark, dark mind, the sweating, the tossing, the pacing, the water, the running water that soothes.  Cold, cold air soothes.  I was absolutely insane in withdrawal, most of the time.

I had this water thing.  Running bath water felt so good, running all over my body, distracting me from the pain.  I sat in the tub for hours, until the water had run cold for quite some time.  Many later baths were taken in various junky infested motels around New Orleans.  I remember one particular room in the Empress Hotel where the tiles of the shower were falling into the dirty wall behind it, revealing a maze of plumbing and ancient dirt and rot.  I was a little fearful of what could be lurking in those moist, wet chambers between the walls of the dirty old hotel.  My fear was far outweighed by my Sickness, and I just lay there in the tub with water running for hours, as the tiles fell out one by one until at least ten of them lay in the bathtub with me.

The good thing about living and kicking in a hotel is that they have a lot of hot water.  I eventually got out of the tub, exhausted, and I climbed into bed soaking wet, with the air conditioner pelting me full blast.  Shivering insanely…I was somehow able to finally fall asleep like that.  For three days, in and out of the tub.  My bed was soaked, and the faint smell of mildew always hung around the motel room as those three days of hell drew to a close.

A few brief moments of sleep, intermitedly spaced throughout the longest nights.   When you kick dope, it is almost impossible for me to sleep.  The insomnia really killed me because the whole time my mind ran through the gamut of insanity, like battling a gauntlet course in your own head.  I would have done almost anything for a few moments of sleep…a few moments of reprieve from this hell.  For just a small handful of minutes, my brain would shut down in its feeble attempt to rest, until moments later I tossed and turned once more in the utmost uncomfortable feeling.

Three days later, you rest.  You sleep.  You wake up feeling a little better.  You wake up moving very slow because you are completely exhausted.  You wake up, thinking about dope.  You think you are over the worst, and you are no longer contemplating running to the man for relief.  But, the thought of dope is still all pervading.  It takes more than three days to get rid of something like that.  The first three days are physical hell, but the next few months are the real hell.

Thoughts of dope constantly running around in your head.  Images flashing of needles.  Blood squirting back, blossoming like a poppy and taking your breath away.  You think about where you got it, where you did it…how you could get it, and where you might do it.  Insanity in the form of obsession.  Involuntary obsession.  Oh, did I mention pure madness?

You feel a little crappy for months, not the hellish crappy of the first three days when you can barely move…but crappy just the same.  That is why it is so hard to quit.  It is hard to quit because it is just so much easier to be high…even in the most desperate times.  Being high is avoiding the impossible.  Staying high, you avoid the painful kick.  Staying high, you also avoid responsibility…and you definitely avoid the law.  You avoid society, at least the respectable parts of it.  It takes a lot of effort to be a junky, but it takes even more to get clean, and an insurmountable effort to stay clean.



About elizaplayer

I am a rock and roll wild child, who spent too many years living the party lifestyle before the winds and rains of Hurricane Katrina began to wash away all the madness, nearly drowning me in the flood waters. I stayed behind in New Orleans for thirteen dark days, floundering around with the pains of addiction and withdrawal. Five years later, I managed to come out clean on the other side, and now it is time to get back to my roots. I am a writer. I have always been a writer. This is the story of a writer, struggling to make it in the real world. I studied Mass Media Communication with a minor in Journalism. I write anything and everything. This is a sample of my work, and a slice of my mind.
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4 Responses to Excerpt: Description of Dope Sickness

  1. stephania cruz says:

    My boyfriend is going through the first day of withdrawl, he is at my apartment and I am currently at work til midnight. I’ve been out since 9am this morning at working… he wants to find a ride back home so he can get his hands on seboxsin(sp?) I’m neither encouraging him or discouraging him… I try to say some good words but ultimatley leaving it up to him to make his own descisions… I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst… I stand as his support to better himmself but I know there isn’t much I can phyiscally do and I wouldn’t hold our relationship up for him to pick. I can’t be mad at him or upset with him because I choose not to be iggronant about the whole situation.. he has been nothing but honest with me from the start about his problem that I feel he is so very close but he just needs to overcome this last battle. Reading your story opened my eyes a little more to what I didn’t know, the phyiscal pain that he is going through right now in my bed while I’m at work wishing I could be there for him… I don’t know what to do but I’m trying to be there when he needs me. I am 19 years old and my boyfriend is 27, he’s the sweetest guy I have ever had in my life and I truely love him as much as he loves me… I feel he may still be home and choosing to stay for me.. because he doesn’t want me to leave but I don’t believe that will keep him there and I fear it may get worse when he finally throws in the towel… the way you described the first 3 days, I just worry for his safety.

    • elizaplayer says:

      Suboxone is really helpful for detox. It has a ceiling effect, so one cannot really get high from it, but it really helps to stop the withdrawal symptoms, and is good to use for detox, for a week or two. A lot of doctors recommend that people use it for longer, but using it just to detox is good to try, too. It does really help. And it will probably help to keep him there, staving off the withdrawal, and making the detox a lot more comfortable. Hang in there!

  2. Leah says:

    My boyfriend was recently in the hospital for overdosing on heroin, and he said he’s been feeling really dope sick lately. This article really helped me learn what exactly he may be feeling. I care about him a lot and I want to help him and I think this article has given me a really helpful insight on how to do just that.

  3. Joe Doe says:

    And don’t forget the paradoxical feelings when you’re dopesick. You’re hungry, but the thought of food is disgusting. Eating is extremely difficult. Mainly because you completely fall apart when you’re dopesick and can’t manage to walk to your own kitchen, remain upright for enough time to toss something filling into the microwave. That’s like climbing Mt. Everest right there. Walking to the bathroom is a chore. This is no exaggeration, either. Many times in withdrawal I laid in my own bed in pain from an over-filled bladder simply because just dragging my rotting dopesick body 30-feet down the hall seemed unbearably tiring.
    You’re also cold and hot at the exact same moment. You have goosebumps almost permanently during the numerous days of withdrawals. To the point your skin always feels dry, scratchy, and painful, like your own pores are about to ooze blood. Luckily they don’t. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
    You can’t think about anything meaningful but your mind is totally obsessed with dope.
    Withdrawals are truly maddening.

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