Monday, 2 July 2007

Chapter 25 - A working Junkie

November 1999

After getting fired from GAIN I didn’t work for several months until I saw an advertisement for a mental health support worker. There was a job with Gold Coast Family support that consisted of supporting people with a mental illness who were re-integrating into the community after lengthy stays in mental hospitals. I thought yeah I can do that, sounds interesting, put my degree to use.

The day before the interview for the job I had a shot of heroin. Jeff had phoned and asked me to score for him and his girlfriend.

“Hey Dave how are ya mate.”

“G’day, Jeff great to hear from you man, whats up?”

“Oh ya know same old same old, cruising along, but I was hoping to catch up with you mate.”

“Oh yeah”

“I was hoping you might be able to help us out with a bit of harry”

“Yeah I could probably give ya a hand, havnt had shit for ages now man, but I’ll just call Ralph and see what he can do.”

Which I did and in the process had a taste myself. I told myself that since I had not used for months I felt that I was in control of myself and so I could handle it.

Trudy was my boss at the Gold Coast Family support centre, she was the head psychologist a girl from Inala who had made good. She was tall and gawky, chain smoked and spoke with an irritating nasal voice, and a broad Inala accent. Her boyfriend was Alistair a pom, trained as a chemist but now working as a support person.

“Have you read Peter Breggin Toxic Psychiatry?” I asked Tracey. Breggin wrote a critique of psychiatric medications criticising their efficacy and highlighting the toxic nature of these preparations.

People like Breggin, Thomas Szasz , Michelle Foucault, RD Laing and others have challenged the medical model of mental illness highlighting the inconsistencies, contradictions and failures of such approaches. Yet the modern mental health system has failed to apply many of their revolutionary ideas, instead clinging to security of the medical model life preserver.

Breggin talks of Iatrogenic illness, or illness that are created by physicians, by well meaning people using the wrong methods, that focus on identifying problems rather than creating solutions. People once labelled respond by fulfilling the requirements of the role they have been given, it becomes a self-fulfiling prophecy. Phillip K Dick wrote about this idea in, “A Scanner Darkly”, where the ones who heal you of addiction are the ones who created the addiction in the first place.

In the novel “A Scanner Darkly”, Phillp K Dick has created a character who loses touch with reality, and his identity. Addicted to the powerful drug death he lives in a share house with a group of social misfits and drug addicts. In the end he finds that the treatment facility that cures addicts also produces the drug that gets them addicted in the first place.

“Oh yeah, I’ve read Breggin, but I wouldn’t worry yourself too much with that stuff, he’s a bit extremist I think.”

“Yeah, I don’t know about that it seems pretty on the ball to me.”

“Well I suggest that you put it out of your mind and focus on how you can help your clients, rather than causing unnecessary alarm. I think that you will find that such ideas will only create anxiety for out clients and lead to issues with medication compliance, something that is already a major problem for us. “

Well there was no point trying to push the issue, she was obviously not receptive to critiques of traditional psychiatric treatments. But as someone who has received them and seen the impact they have on people I had no doubts about their limitations.

"Soylent Green is people!"

Thorn (Charlton Heston)

It is similar to ideas that suggest the elite permits and actively facilitates the distribution of drugs in society to control certain groups and make vast sums of money. The criminlisation of marijuana by Ainslinger in the US was aimed at the Meixcan population, while in the US today penalties are higher for crack cocaine, used in the ghetto, than the penalties for use and possession of cocaine.

Ouroboros, “the tail devourer” represents completion and the endless cycle of existence. Images of a snake or serpent eating its own tale are used to represent this idea. The idea of the beginning and the end as being a continuous unending principle. It represents the conflict of life, that life comes out of death, life feeds off itself.

The snake eats its own tale to sustain its life. It is also akin to the homeopathic idea that the ones who heal are the ones who create the pain. "As Above, So Below" - we are born from nature, and we mirror it, because it is what man wholly is a part of. Just as each cell in our body contains a complete set of our DNA so too each aspect of nature is an entire model of the whole.

“You see each atom is a minature model of the universe, in each cell of our bodies is the complete DNA for our selves. A nucleus with proton and electrons revolving around it, like tiny planets revolving around the sun", Roscoe said, moving his hands in elaborate patterns to show the way the planets moved.

"In an episode of Red Dwarf in which Dave Lister creates his own destiny, there is a message inscribed on the side of the box in which Lister was abandoned as a baby."

"The word was a message to the future Dave Lister that when he fathers a child he must return back in time and leave the baby abandoned in the ouroboros box. This creates a paradox in which Lister is his own father, and through this endless cycle the human race will exist eternally."

"The movie Adaptation., directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman also makes some references to Ouroboros. It would be the basic symbol for Donald's movie, The 3, in which a killer, the cop and the victim are all the same person. The fun part is: in Adaptation, Donald is Charlie Kaufman's twin brother, actually meaning he is a part of Charlie's real life persona, who dies midway across the movie (i.e.: the snake devours its snake, becoming itself)."

“The wise man knows that he is weakest we he thinks himself strong.”

It was about 7am, and I was ready to go. Even though I shot up a fifty last night I was still going to the gym this morning. Since I had started back on the roids I found that I could do that. Although half way through my workout I had to rush to the toilets to spew and as I opened the door to the lavatory stall I couldn’t hold it any longer and I projected a solid mass of spew in the general direction of the toilet.

I loved to train and I had done it since I was a teenager. I had competed as a junior and made it to the Junior Mr Australia, where I placed 3rd. Disappointed with my result I gave up training and roids, took up professional bong smoking, and generally doing sweet fuck all.

Dealing pot, shooting speed and heroin and finally dealing speed and heroin and taking steroids. But the final stage didn’t last long.

I was sick of all the discipline and routine I wanted to bust out. The switch from roid junkie to heroin junkie and then both was a steady process, though both required a certain discipline.

Bodybuilding and the heroin, speed, pot use is an interesting mix and going to gym the night after using and running from the gym floor with the spew building up in my thoat, and projectile vomiting in the toilets as soon as I opened the cubicle door and solid spray exploded forth and spattered the toilet with a chunky orange green pattern.

Being asked if I am a cop, by dealers due to muscularity.

I wandered out the front of the house to check the mail and grabbed one letter out of the box. Glancing at the enveloped he noticed it was from the Queensland ambulance and then a flash of images flooded my mind.

It had been two weeks since the OD and now I had the bill for the ambulance $280. It was tangible proof that it had happened. It was the second bill I had received in 2 weeks. Two ambulance trips in two weeks, now that was something of a record for me. When I didn’t pay they rang to pursue the money, apparently the cost of saving my life would accrue a late penalty payment in addition to the original charge, and if I didn’t pay they would send debt collectors around to break both my legs, a quite wonderful service really. Two weeks later I got another letter for the same amount, my legs were still intact but with this new letter I was seriously concerned that it might up the ante and therefore lead to death squad being dispatched with my name on the death warrant.

Roy and Steve Rifle, the Rifle boys had an awesome reputation on the coast. He owned two 40 metre yachts, a Ferrari, Lambourgini, Pent houses in Surfers and a fuckin mansion on a hill in Mudgeeraba.

They were big on speed production and distribution. I would often score go-ee from these guys and notice that Steve had chemical burns all up and down his arms from cooking the speed.

The gym was the best way that I had found to treat my depression and feel good again. The endorphins that flowed through my body when I exercised were very similar to the artificial opiates I injected.

Two very different paths to the same destination, bliss. One the one hand exercise requires discipline, effort and practice while heroin addiction requires discipline, effort and practice. But one is life affirming and the other leads to destruction pain and death.

But once the money started to flow in (you have to remember I had been unemployed so although I was not on a large wage it seemed like at the time) and the stress started to build up heroin became even more appealing. Initially I was able to balance the heroin use with my work roles, but as the habit took hold, my body craved more and more of the drug. I was also having great difficulty managing the stress of working with severely disturbed people who are abused by a rigid ineffective system of treatment and support.

Mark was one of the guys that I had to look after. He had been in and out of psychiatric wards for about ten years and had received dozens of ECT treatments. Mark had long curly hair, a beard and usually wore a denim jacket and jeans. He looked like Joe Cocker in the sixties, but the drugs and ECT had burned out his soul. There was an old acoustic guitar in an open case against the wall. He seemed empty and lost. When he spoke his voice was barley a whisper and he would not look you in the eye but kept his focus directed toward the floor.

Mark had a Clozaril gut, a side effect of anti-psychotic medication was the gaining of weight around the mid section, until some male clients appeared to be pregnant. He really liked Steely Dan and out of the blue one day he says in a soft low voice, “ Do you know where the name Steely Dan comes from man…..?”

“Ah no Mark I don’t why don’t you tell me.”

“sure man, its fuckin freaky dude, well you know that book the Naked Lunch by that fucked up junkie cunt who killed his missus doing a fuckin William Tell act, you know fuckin apple on the head, and ole Billy has a shot a shoots the bitch right through the fuckin head, well he wrote this book called Naked Lunch, about fuckin junkie fagots, yeah but anyway there is this chick who gets a dildo from Japan and its called a “Steely Dan III” , and so that’s where those dudes got their name.”

He lived in a housing commission unit and the day before he was due to have an ECT someone would have to stay the night with him to make sure that he did not “freak” out or consume any food or drink.

But I knew this sort of treatment was barbaric. It slowly destroyed the minds of those subject to its use. Mark had received about 30 ECT treatments and despite their failure to cure him he was still put through this ordeal. Research in Europe has shown that ECT can permanently damage parts of the brain and impairs memory function. Therefore it is an illegal practice in several European countries. I felt a great internal conflict in regard to my role, I was complicit in an activity that I felt was deplorable, it was a painful contradiction, I craved heroin to assuage my guilt.

Within myself I felt torn between my beliefs and the requirements of the job I was doing. I wanted to tell my clients to get off their drugs, run away from the psychiatrists, because the so called treatment they were receiving was just a cheap and simple way to render then harmless. It was nothing more than massive sedation, a kind of chemical incarceration. It made me sick.

So on this particular night I found himself with Darren and Mark playing scrabble.

On some days I would phone in sick still hung over from the previous day. It left me with an empty feeling and everything seemed to hurt, I became emotionally bereft and vulnerable to the slightest comment. In such I state I was in no way capable of giving assistance to others.

This was when my addiction would really gain hold. Regular income, low overheads, a passion for smack and a good dealer is a deadly combination, these were the ingredients for my downfall.

I would usually score from Ralph who I had met years ago while working at the needle exchange.

I went to staff meetings on a number of occasions when I was pinned (Because the pupils dilate when under the influence of heroin).

“Dave, I will be quite frank with you, are you gay?”, She stared at me with an aggressive look, as though I had done something wrong. Nicole had dark black hair down to her waist, she was very attractive and often dressed in short skirts.


“Are you gay? We need to know”, her voice was grating in its insistence.

“What the hell, need to know, well I’m not OK, whats that got to do with anything anyway?” I blushed and crossed my arms.

“Its just that some of the guys have mentioned it that’s all...and we thought well that it might be a problem in your work, but look its not like we have a problem with it, its just that some of the clients might, we need to think of their welfare, I mean I couldn’t care less what you do but …….”

This was absolute fucking bullshit to be asked something like this in front of a group of people was so bloody rude.

Ralph had borrowed “Half-life” from me, a computer game, in which you play a scientist trapped in an underground research facility with a mass of deadly monsters. It was a First person shooter, or FPS for short and I loved the game and so did Ralph.

When I visited I would wait while Ralph phoned his contact. He would ride down to the local shop to use the payphone or borrow my mobile. While I was waiting I would read old computer magazines or the previous weekends newspapers.

Ralph would not let me shoot up at his place, but I couldn’t wait to get home so I would shoot up in the car park just down the road. Often with the engine running I would mix up and shoot in the car. I would buy a can of lemon squash and use the up turned base as a mixing bowl for my injection. I used it so often that after a while I started to get excited when ever I saw a can of lemon squash.

After scoring from Ralph, at Miami I began the 15 minute drive back to Mum’s place at Southport. On the way the heroin started to kick in. I was swerving up the road, when I noticed a guy in an early model Daihatsu 4x4 waving and shouting at me. I continued to drive erratically down the road wondering what this guy’s problem was. I spend past him but he eventually caught up and by this time he was side by side with me and in his hand I could see the silver badge of a copper.

I slowed the vehicle, pulled over to the side of the road while the off duty policeman parked behind me. He called the police on his mobile and some uniformed constables arrived to take me away. This was my first DUI charge.

A week later I went to score from Ralph and after having my usual shot in the car park I drove to a service station, a song called “Ends” by Everlast was playing on the radio, “ends, some people would rob their mother for the ends”, and then I passed out.

Someone at the petrol station had called the police and I was awoken from my slumber, by two young uniformed coppers holding torches. They searched the car and found needles and drug paraphernalia. I was arrested and taken into custody for questioning.

“This is a record of interview with Mr David Robert Hawkins”

“Dave can you please tell me your date of birth and address”

“Yeah……sure, I wath born on tha 13th of Octoba nineteen theventy-one”

“So Mr Williams do you understand why you have been held by us?”

After being caught three times in a one month period for DUI, I was now eligible for a jail term. I was terrified of going to gaol. I had seen plenty of prison flicks and knew ex-cons. Images of beatings, rape, and stand-over tactics filled my mind, Madge from Prisoner was trying to push me around in my dream and she wanted my ass, it was terrifying.

In preparation for my possible detention I grew a goatee beard and started back at the gym. I had to get my heroin use under control and I wanted to look good for the court. So I went on methadone. My trial was not for 4 months that should give me plenty of time.

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