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Experiences using drugs aren’t pleasant stories, but should be told

By Brian Wood - | Jul 11, 2016

Yesterday, I was in a class called LIFE offered here at Central Utah Correctional Facility. The instructor came into the room and said, "Everyone into my office, right now!" In his office he played a saved voicemail that was only minutes old. It was from a father of a very recent inmate whom we all knew.

In a quivering voice he explained that his son was found deceased that morning in a hotel room. It was heart-wrenching to listen to this grieving father explain that he had just learned his son was dead, and he had no idea how he was going to tell his grandson that his daddy had passed. The ex-prisoner had only been out for about a month.

I personally had only met that prisoner a few times. I have only been close to one person who has died from a drug overdose, and that's one too many.

I think about how close I came to that very fate. My drug of choice was especially dangerous because it is the mix of two drugs, heroin and cocaine, called a speedball. At the height of my addiction I would shoot speedballs about every twenty minutes.

I went through about 2 boxes (200 syringes) per week, with every shot being a roll of the dice with my life. Eventually the veins in my arms had all collapsed and I resorted to injecting into my neck, where I developed an unsightly scar or "track-mark".

I used to play a game my friend and I called 'Go Big or Go Home". To get ready we would move my furniture out of the way in my living room, so there would be about 30 feet of running room from my kitchen island to the TV against the opposite wall. I would measure out the drugs on a digital scale to ensure I was continually pushing limits, mix it all up, and then inject the cocktail. I would then attempt to high-step/run across the room. It felt like I was running on a large blanket and people were on both sides pulling back and forth, which would result in me face-planting on the floor.

When the room would stop shaking and I once again regained control of my motor functions, I would get up, go back to the kitchen island, and wait for the color to return to my skin signaling it was time to do it again. I would get carpet burn on my face from convulsing and seizing on the floor, and this was entertainment. As I wrote this, I started to feel ill as I summoned the memories of my drug abuse, and what I used to do to myself.

When I was alone, I would mostly shoot up in my bathroom, because I liked to look in the mirror and watch my pupils grow to the edges of my irides and then shrink down to pin pricks as the competing drugs took effect one after the other.

On one memorable occasion I remember pressing the plunger slowly down and as my pupils shrunk down darkness rolled in like a black cloud from my peripheral until it strangled every bit of light. I woke up over an hour later soaking wet from sweat.

I remember pulling myself up from the bathroom counter and looking in the mirror. And at this point did I think, "Wow that was scary. I'm lucky to be alive?" No, I remember feeling sudden elation, like a kid on Christmas morning, because I saw the syringe sticking out of my neck was still half full and I was going to get to do it all over again. This just goes to show how utterly skewed my thinking was. It's chilling now to think how close I came to death.

After listening to the sad tale delivered on the instructor's voicemail and after much silence, I asked the instructor how he can do a job in which this type of story is a norm. He responded by saying, "That's exactly why I do this job! This makes me want to work that much harder so I can reach more guys and hopefully make a difference."

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