How I came off heroin
Addiction can be debilitating, but there is always hope. Nicola*, 25, tells us how she got her life back on track after becoming addicted to heroin
I became addicted to heroin when I was 17. It all started when I discovered that my boyfriend was a user when I found needles in his pockets. I was mad at him for a bit, but I didn’t want us to split up because I thought I loved him.
I just wanted to try it
Since nothing bad had happened to my boyfriend on heroin, I started to think it wasn’t that dangerous. So, I asked him a couple of times if I could try it, but he always said no. I found a way around this. One night, when he was really high, I asked him again and he gave me a hit. It made me really sick but I liked the high, so I kept taking hits. Within two months I developed a habit.
To pay for my addiction I sold furniture, jewellery and anything else that would bring in some extra cash. It got so bad that I even worked as a prostitute for three months. I’d come home every night and cry in the bath, scrubbing myself till I bled.
One day my leg became sore after shooting up in my groin. I went to the hospital and was told that I had a blood clot. My nan was really worried and asked me to live with her so she could look after me – I didn’t want to disappoint her so I agreed. The doctors prescribed me dihydrocodeine to help wean me off heroin. I was offered methadone, the stronger drug, but refused it. It was a lot harder to stay clean with dihydrocodeine, but I managed with the help of my nan.
Ending up in hospital was a wake-up call
I owe my life to her because I don’t think I could have gone through my recovery without her support. Sadly, she passed away last year due to cancer, but I will always remember what she did for me. I used to tell her how much I appreciated her help and she’d say, “Nicola, you did it on your own, I just gave you a little push”.
Eight months after I came off drugs I went back to hospital with a sore chest. I was horrified when the doctors told me I had bacteria in my heart valve, kidney failure, blood poisoning and blood clots in my lungs and legs.
My health deteriorated very quickly. Technically, I died three times in intensive care and had to stay in hospital for three-and-a-half months. I eventually recovered, but am still suffering. I regularly get pains in my chest, which the doctors tell me will never go away. Apparently, my body was so reliant on heroin that even when I stopped using it continued to rot away my insides.
I’m still in recovery, but life is so much better
My life has completely changed since I came off heroin. I’ve got a new boyfriend – who’s never touched heroin – and we’re really happy. We have a two-year-old daughter and are planning on getting married soon. My boyfriend has a good job and I’ve recently started working as an administrator after getting qualified. Honestly, my family is how I came off heroin.
Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t been a bed of roses. Throughout my recovery food has been a big comfort to me, so I’ve put on a lot of weight. I’m now very self-conscious about my appearance, so don’t go out much – I worry about people judging me. I know I have to do something about it so I’m trying to lose a few pounds; my family is my comfort now, not junk food.
It’s been a slow and painful process but I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I went off the rails for a while, but I’m happy to say that I’ve nearly got myself together. In a few months I’m hoping to come off dihydrocodeine and then I’ll be completely drugs free.
*Name has been changed.
A message from The Mix
If you, or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to contact us on our free, 24/7 support service. There are also some amazing charities who specialise in drug addiction. These include the Amy Winehouse Foundation as well as FRANK. They provide non-judgemental support as well as expert advice on the topic.
Please know that you are not alone, there are so many people out there routing for you, us included.
- FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
- Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
- Release offers free and confidential advice on everything to do with drugs and drugs law. 0845 4500 215
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
By Nishika Melwani
Updated on 19-Aug-2021
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