Why do people get addicted to drugs like heroin? The drug is a well-known painkiller, for both physical and psychological pain, and leading experts have claimed that people use street heroin to kill the pain of past traumatic experiences, such as physical, sexual or psychological abuse. A number of former heroin addicts have told me they never felt they fitted into their skin or into mainstream society before they started using the drug. Some people argue that there is a genetic predisposition to addiction.
I’ve known a number of former heroin addicts who have thought a lot about why they started using heroin. Some have written their Story. Marcus Fair, who spent 25-years addicted to heroin and crack cocaine, has also thought a great deal about this question. Here are his reflections from an interview he did with Wulf in which he describes his younger days.
Marcus says that he felt very committed as an addict. It wasn’t a hobby. The longer he goes on in his recovery, the more he realises that his addiction ‘had nothing to do with drugs whatsoever.’ It was a symptom of the disease of obsession. He could see this obsession during his youth, be it for food or chocolate, then computer games and a bit of gambling as a teen. ‘Whatever I enjoyed, I kicked the arse out of…’
Marcus went to a comprehensive school in Middlewich, Cheshire, at a time of Grange Hill on the TV and Nancy Regan’s message, ‘Just Say No.’ He and his schoolmates were all saying ‘Yes’. They were all looking for a new high, even trying dried-out banana skins. In his third or fourth year at junior school, Marcus won a raffle and receive a digital watch and a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry as prizes. His dad got the watch, while he went to the toilet, pulled the cork out of the bottle, and ‘glugged’ all the sherry back! His family had to break into the toilet to get him out.
‘There was always excess about me.’ At school, gas and solvents were available, weed when he was fourteen, and by sixteen Marcus was completely addicted to cannabis. He started clubbing with older kids, a night out involving speed and acid. When ecstasy arrived, everything changed. He developed a love affair with the weekends. He worked in his dad’s factory, just longing for Friday. Out Friday, out Saturday, coming down on Sunday. This went on until Marcus was eighteen when, along with three mates, he was given a jail sentence in Scotland for selling ecstasy.