You’re A Junky!

The word junky conjures such graphic images these days, some of which seem to be diametrically opposed. On one hand, our society shuns the junky. Labels him (or her and the case may be) dysfunctional, socially inept, lazy, weak willed, a danger to society everything that’s wrong with this world. Most people would shudder to think there is a junky living next store. At the very least they buy a beefed up security system to protect their precious belongs from us. At worst, they would call the police and have their junky neighbor arrested just as soon as they can conjure up a reason. One the other hand, society also glamorizes the junky. The lone wolf, living on the fringe of society, dabbling with the dark and forbidden. An artist. A poet. A musician. We make exceptions for the musician junky for some reason. We want a voyeuristic peek into his life – the taboo underworld where most people dare not venture. Just the word junky brings powerful imagery to mind. Whether you think of the dirty street dweller, passed out in near a dumpster with a tie still on his bloody arm and dirty needles scattered around, polluting the streets and making them unsafe for your children, or the dark and mysterious artist, quietly brooding as he lay next to a gorgeous blond in bed half naked, quietly searching for that vein, until a plume of blood fills the chamber and he’s finally able to achieve the solace, the ultimate escape the he longs for, hopefulness lost in the clutches of addiction. Yet for all the negative or taboo connotations, the word junky is still thrown around as “hip”. Heroin Chic is alive and kickin’ in the fashion industry. People jump at the chance to label themselves a food junkie or a film junkie, or whatever the fuck they want to call themselves. But not a drug junky. “No, no, that’s not what I meant. And CERTAINLY not a Heroin junky. God, what you think I am? A loser?”

Even more disturbing to me? I was on twitter and decided to look up #trackmarks. There were literally dozens of people showing off their blood giving needle pricks and saying things like “OMG. Just what I wanted. To look like a heroin addict. Great.” First, you look nothing like a heroin addict. Track marks don’t mean one needle prick. Second, if you don’t want people to associate you with heroin and track marks, why are you posting pictures of your “track marks” for the world to see and talking about heroin?

People have many variations of what the word means and how they associate themselves with the word. I’ve heard undeniable opiate addicts swear they aren’t junkies, because they don’t slam. Total bullshit. If you are addicted to opiates – you’re a junky. If you’re constant thinking about your next fix – Where it’s going to come from? How will you pay for it? How you’re going to get it in you? Don’t even bother to deny it. You’re a junky. Heroin addicts do not have the monopoly on the word. If you’re addicted to Vicodin, you’re a junky. And in addition, you’re a stupid junky. Stop taking all the Tylenol. Heroin addicts, especially the ones that mainline, are simply the most efficient junkies.

But let’s look at the topic more subjectively, I decided to see what some of the more common or reputable dictionaries had to say on the matter. Here are a couple of the samplings:

Dictionary.com –
For the word Junky:
1. Of the nature of junk; trashy
2. Drug addict, junkie, addict, freak, nut

For the word Junkie: (slightly different)
A drug addict, especially one addicted to heroin.
A person with an insatiable craving for something: a chocolate junkie.
An enthusiastic follower; fan; devotee: a baseball junkie

Okay – that was a rather lenient definition. At least it’s void of prejudice.
The Oxford English Dictionary.
* A person with a compulsive habit or obsessive dependency on something: power junkies, a drug addict.

Ah the good ‘ol OED. Like, the English, it’s diplomacy reigns supreme.
But sadly this definitive source of the English language will no sooner change any one’s personal beliefs on what a junky is than it will start injecting heroin on its own.

Urban Dictionary. This is where you go when you want to find the real State of the Union, since it’s written For the People, By the People. What does the critical mass consider a junky?

*A heroin addict, one that is was and will always be. Before the crackheads and the crackwhores, Way before the dexheads and the E-tards wasting his life away, for pure bliss and contentment.
*Someone who dabbles with illicit drugs.

Ha! I like the way he’s thinking! Sure, I “dabble” with illicit drugs, lol. How progressive, yet cavalier.

I looked up one more reference for the word junky. I searched for it under Google images. I found a variety of anorexic looking junkyrunway models, gaunt faced skeletons, “hip” street people passed out (OD? Maybe?) with ridiculous looking needles falling out of their limp hands (all staged of coursed) along with the term “heroin chic”. Oh, and I think I even saw Lindsay Lohan posing with a needle. No comment.

Now I don’t know about you… But in all my 35 years I’ve never seen a junky look anything remotely like those photographs. It’s like a caricature of a junky. Where did this concept come from? I’m not really sure. But the whole notion of anti-glamorization makes me nauseous. As does the naive and close minded notion that if you choose to IV drugs you will:

A.) be worthless to society.
B.) Most likely will whore yourself eventually and
C.) Will definitely die from it, soon.

“Of all society’s outcast, few are more reviled then those who inject narcotics, even among other drug users”

For this reason I was a closet junky for many years. I never had the same intolerance for opiates or opiate addicts as my friends. So i used in the closet for a long time. When I was finally exposed for what I really was… an IV injecting, heroin using, drugged up junky. It was then I discovered just how deep the stigma ran. The black plaque of drug users. I’ve lost my best friends, friends I thought I’d have for life, simply because I IV. No other reason. Some told me to my face, gave me a “choice” – their friendship or IV drugs. Some just stopped returning my phone calls. Some tried to help at first, but when I wasn’t receptive, silently slipped away. Luckily, my family have all stuck by me, allowing me to make my own decisions, no matter if it hurts them. They really are quite progressive that way. They practice true Mormon Christianity. I am extremely thankful to them for this.

IMHO, a junk habit is just that. It’s not glamorous, it’s not disgusting. It can have its draw backs. For me, it has some rewards. There are a lot of ex-junkies, people sober for weeks or for years, who say there are no real benefits, no true happiness comes from drugs of any sort. But I’m a drug user who has made the conscience decision to use drugs for the rest of my life, at least on some level (and reserve the right to change my mind). So at this point in time, I avoid the whole “complete sobriety is the only way to true happiness” argument. But I have experienced in my own life how unhappy drugs can make you as well.

Junkie
No, we’re not all stark raving mad lunatics who will rape your mother and eat your baby for our next fix. Stigma is hurtful people.

At times, my life was the typical junky stereotype. I’ve lied, I’ve been fired, I’ve stolen, I’ve broken the hearts of those who meant the most to me. I’ve done terrible things for drugs. There are no directions on a ball of dope or a bag of tweak that tell you how to fix your life if you become addicted. Your only hope is to catch yourself one day and realize that you aren’t different. Maybe you have a degree, maybe you make a few bucks, but in the end, we all have to deal with the same problems and are accountable for our own actions. I choose to live a life “outside the law” because the government decided to make heroin illegal and can throw me in jail at any time. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve chosen to be a criminal in any other respect other than the buying and using of heroin and other drugs. Being a junky does not have to equate to a life of crime. Although for some it does, please, don’t judge us all that way. Our lives are hard enough. Inaccurate stigmas just makes it harder.

So, if you are a junky you have two choices. 1.) You can become the junky that society says you are and sink down to their level. 2.) you can be a safe, practice harm reduction and be respectful of other’s beliefs, even if they conflict with yours. You might not change anyone’s mind, but maybe you will. It can’t hurt to try, right?

If you aren’t a junky, you have two choices too. You can… 1.) Keep perpetuating the negative stereotypes and hurtful stigmas.  Or, 2.) Be a little more open minded and consider that not all junkies are the same. Realize that IV drug use is just that, another way to use drugs and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to ostracize someone. And maybe the next time you see someone’s track marks, rather than sneer and label them a pathetic junky, you could find out what that person is really like. I promise, we don’t have cooties and you can’t catch “junky”.

As always….

☮ ♥ & ♪♫♬

 

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10 thoughts on “You’re A Junky!

  1. I had a guy I was hooking up with… OK I was bag bitching it… pounding on the door after I’d been in there a couple minutes yelling “you aren’t shooting up are you?”

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  2. Ha! That’s ridiculous! it reminds me of my old meth dealer. He and my bf were just kicking it one day have some in-depth discussion about drug chemistry and making DMT and all of the sudden he says, “Hey, let me ask you something. You’re a smart guy. Why do you fuck around with heroin?” Like meth was totally okay, but heroin? No way. haha. He would never, ever let us slam there either.

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  3. People always need to be able to point to another group and think “at least I’m not as bad as them”. It’s the same way with tweakers who smoke it believing that it’s the slammers who are the bad ones and slammers not understanding what smokers even get out of doing it that way. It’s true that some people who slam turn into instant crazy people, but that’s not the case with everybody. I even had one dealer who claimed he refused to sell to sometime who slammed. That shows how much he knew

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  4. Even to this day, after a decade of heroin use and years of sobriety, I will call myself many things, but I never refer to myself as a “junkie”. And you are right. It is about the stigma. I also was happy that you pointed out that “we don’t all rape your mother”. Addicts use drugs as an easy excuse for doing terrible things. I’m not saying that the drugs didn’t make it easier to do whatever, but heroin won’t change Mother Teresa into Satan, you know?

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  5. I think that’s a great lesson. Heroin doesn’t define a man. How we treat people, the lessons we teach and absorb, how we raise our families. These are hallmarks of an individual. What we choose to put in our bodies is not a reflection of who we are, especially because we all use for different reasons. It makes me sad to see so many heroin addicts separated from their families, merely because the state decided heroin use automatically equates to unfit parenting. Some heroin users are unfit. Some can be great parents. Heroin use on its own does not necessarily correlate to parental neglect and (in my admittedly very controversial opinion) should never automatically preclude anyone from raising their children, unless there is evidence of further neglect or mistreatment. As with straight parents, some are fit and some are not. It seems that your father was a shining example of how a heroin user can raise a well-adjusted child who was able to make good choices despite overwhelming popular belief. Thanks for reading my blog 🙂

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  6. One of my first memories in life was watching my Dad “shoot-up”. More of his story in my blog. I’ve heard the terms “Junky”, “junkie” countless times used in the context you so well described. Until this moment, it never dawned on me that my dad would be seen in this light. No doubt he had been by others. Historically I used the term, Heroin addict. He was clean the last few years of his life. Addict, junkie, ExCon, … No matter, he was a man who loved us and taught us to love others. He also taught us that his choices were his and we had to make our own. I chose not to use. I saw what it did to not “the junkie” but to a loving decent Human being. Peace .

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  7. As a struggling addict, my problem with AA, NA etc is that when one constantly talks and hears about addiction it can be like positive reinforcement. Of course, the tales are often horrible and sad, but I find there’s this element of “oh, you were bad, but I was worse” and a vicious little thrill in the memories of a life lived out of the norm. Yeah, I felt like shit, but at least I had heroin!

    I really like this post; well written. And don’t stress about the pot 🙂

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  8. Yeah, and so many of them truly believe that NA is the ONLY way to stay sober. Nothing is going to work for everyone. Besides, even if I did give up heroin, I will NEVER stop smoking pot. So I would never be considered a success in the eyes of NA addicts. Dr. Gabor Mate, the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, said that one of the reasons addicts continue to use is that when they’re high it’s the only time they feel free from their addiction. I think there is a lot of truth to that.

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  9. Amen. I really despise the self-loathing ex-junkies who preach about how they were basically scum and now they’re saved and all. There seem to be a lot of them in the drug reform movement, which really irritates me because it’s so self-defeating, it should be a human rights issue not a religious conversion. And personally, I never felt more like a junky than when I quit 🙂

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