7 – THAT first time… (1986)

Please note that this blog contains a partial description of intravenous drug use.

“Paddy, gies a lennae a fiver, wee P has tems and Ive only got 20 quid.”

K was very matter of fact. She knew I worked, she knew it was payday and she knew I would give her the fiver. I was like that. If I had it you got it. I seriously thought though, that I would get the fiver back later on.

I was 16, working in Alex Munro Butchers in the Buywell (Shandwick Square), and already hooked on speed and acid. In fact anything at that point that would give me a buzz.

J and the guys I mostly hung out with were speed freaks, with the odd acid tab and plenty of hash thrown in, but I had my feet firmly planted in both camps. Another bunch of the locals were already mainline users. I was fascinated with my mates that injected, and I was very, very curious to try it. J (our very own Morten Harkett lookalike) for his part was constantly trying to persuade me to lose interest in it. But I was always looking for excuses to leave wee T’s house to go find them.

This night the excuse was to get my fiver back “so we can put it towards a deal” I lied. Not sure if I was even convinced by this.

I had my own house at this point. K lived with her mum, just outside Easterhouse, but pretty much always hung about our area.

When I hunted K down, to my very real surprise she handed me two of the little white tablets and said, “here is your fiver back”. I protested, but not very much. As I said I was curious and wanted to try it.

So, I took them and we went off searching for someone to give me my first “hit”.

We found P and up we went to my house. It was a proper mad situation. As we stood and put the tier around my left arm at the elbow (remember as curious as I was, I had never actually done this) I was looking at my arm like some passive witness instead of the owner.

“You’ve got great veins Paddy, this’ll be easy”. Of course, it wasn’t and at one point we stood on my bare living room floor with blood spurting out of a hole in my arm. I mean seriously this was a fountain.

It took her a good six or seven attempts to get the holy grail of a “show of blood” in the needle. And the needle, man it wasn’t the 1ml syringes I finished my addiction with, no this was a monster 10ml set with a proper spear on the end of it.

As I finally got the mixture in my veins I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got as a big fat nothing.

I was so disappointed! What was all the fuss about? All the others kept going on about the rush and the stone and the buzz. All I got was annoyed.

I headed back down to T’s to connect with the others. “Couldn’t find her.” I lied, as I never had the fiver I said I had gone to get.

But J knew. At that point in my life, he was the closest I had to a real friend, as I didn’t make friends easily. I could see the disappointment in his eyes as he shook his head and walked back into the sitting room.

I remember waking up the next day and heading straight down to S’s house. I knew he knew where to get more tems. And I was very stubborn. I wanted to experience what the others said they had experienced. S lived with his wife in her mother’s house. Which happened to be next door to my sister. S laughed at me when I told him what I wanted. “Don’t be stupid ya eejit.” He said. “You’re better than that. You don’t need them.”

The more people tried to dissuade me from stuff, the more determined I was to do it. How stupid is that?

I finally found out where I could score. I made the long walk over to Provvy to where I knew these stubborn little tablets could be found. I wanted so badly for them to unlock their secrets in me.

As I made my way back to my flat after scoring, I wondered how I was gonna get those white chalky lumps inside my veins. Who could I trust that would not moan, or even worse, ask me to share?

I hunted P down, and we made our way up the stairs. The dried blood staining the floor from the previous night’s attempt was a forewarning of the future.

I paid nothing more than a passing glance and “I better clean that later.”

As we sat and went through the ritual of preparation all I could think was ”This better be good!” No thought to what I might be beginning. No thought to the future. Just the immediate.

Tems in the works, add the hot water, shake till dissolved. Tier on my left arm, just above the elbow. Prepare the vein. Grit the teeth. Needle in. Just the merest hint of red as the blood revealed that P had been on target this time. As she gently began to push the plunger in, each mil of liquid pushing its way into my vein, my circulatory system, and finally my brain, it never occurred to me that each drop was wiping away the next 11 years of my life in a haze of opiate addiction.

All I was aware of was my heightened expectation as my whole consciousness focussed hard on the now. There it was, I could feel it. I could feel the rush of the drugs working their way through my system. I could feel the fog of opiate stone beginning to take over, and my body going limp under the sheer, counterfeit, bliss of it all.

As the last drop was pushed in, my first thought was, “How can I get more?”

I have used only initials, instead of names here, as my intention is not to apportion blame or tell anyone else’s story – but to relay my own journey.

This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.

Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.

If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:

The Haven
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Street Connect
Bethany Christian Trust
Jumping Jacks Outreach
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church
Stuart Patterson

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