Heroin has been a strong influence on me indirectly. From growing up with junkies in the neighbourhood to the music I’ve listened to being written and performed by addicts. It has felt omnipresent.

I remember the story of the poppy field during the Great War that was told to me in primary school. Soldiers having their last moment alive with morphine running through their veins.

Tales of one of my barmen who had managed to kick his addiction but who had lost many friends to the needle.

A disconnection, a deadly joy. Running from pain and the world. Running from the joys of life to find a quick fix. Were they always broken? Did they always find life that bland or hurtful that they needed to invite Death in to give it flavour or a means of escape?

Even those who escape their addiction alive have that longing in their eyes as if they had found the meaning of life but couldn’t make any sense of it.

Of course there have also been films such as Trainspotting and Requiem for a dream. Trainspotting became a cultural phenomena and for a time a representation of Scottish people. I’ve even had a few pints in the bar where some of the film was shot.

I saw requiem for a dream at a time when i was a frequent cinema goer. I remember coming out from the film at the time and feeling depressed as if it had summarised a part of my life’s experiences. My girlfriend asked me what I thought of it and I replied that I liked it but I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to see it again.

Before that there was the drug squad cop who came to our school to give us a lecture on drugs. We watched a slideshow of pictures of people who had died from overdoses. I knew a couple of them and felt a bit stunned that they were being used in this way.

It felt like revenge when I asked the cop about addiction to marijuana after he gave a long speech about it. I knew he wouldn’t be able to say anything about it and he didn’t but I could tell by his eyes that my question had singled me out.

An old school friend of mine is now a junkie. Rumour had it that he’d been running heroin back and forth from Paris for years and he looked like Death warmed up last time I saw him. I don’t even know if he’s still alive now.

Another couple of friends did time for dealing. One of them set up a third friend who ended up in jail for something he didn’t do. He had a record for other things so I guess that was enough to make the lie stick. He’s dead now. He tripped at his front door, banged his head and bled to death. He’d been clean for months after years of alcoholism. I still owe him a drink.

Even the tattoos on my arm evoke heroin use. Some sort of subconscious symbolism.

I guess I can conclude that you don’t need to take a drug for it to strongly effect you.

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