Anecdote – Heroin and the guy upstairs.

Anecdote – Heroin and the guy upstairs.

During the late sixties and early seventies I lived in London. I had a bedsit. Upstairs from me was a young guy, we’ll call him Joe, who lived with his partner and liked heroin.

Every now and then he’d go off and score some heroin and, because he didn’t use it regularly and never knew the exact strength as he always got it from different sources, he would occasionally overdose.

There would be a knock on my door and a distraught partner would explain that he had passed out, collapsed on the floor and would I help. I’d send her to the phone for an ambulance, go upstairs and get Joe into a recovery position, check his pulse and breathing and wait for the ambulance.

On one occasion he still had the needle in his ankle, which seemed to be his preferred site for injecting. On another occasion he actually stopped breathing and I had to give him mouth to mouth to get him going again.

The ambulance would arrive. They’d assess the situation, cart him off and within hours he’d be back.

I sat him down and talked to him. I explained that one day I might not be in, the ambulance might be delayed, and that would be it.

He shrugged.

I asked him if it was worth it. It was quite apparent to me that if Joe had sufficient funds he would have bought a bucket of heroin, sat in his arm-chair injecting and nodding off for the rest of his life. I doubt if he would have eaten, drunk or got up to go to he toilet.

He said to me that I shouldn’t knock it until I’d tried it. He explained that it was like some endless orgasm. You were floating on a warm ocean in euphoric peace. Nothing mattered. There were no worries.

He offered me some – just to try.

I declined. The worst that could happen was that I would love it. I did not want to spend my life in a chair.

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