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Getting sober sucks.


It’s difficult to put down the one thing you’ve come to love, especially when it has seeped into every cell, thought, and perception of your being.

Heroin defined me.

Walking away from your confidant (the dope) and those you considered friends creates an internal battle that would rival training for a marathon, losing 50 pounds, learning a new language, going to church every Sunday, (insert your ultimate struggle here).

You name it nothing compares to kicking a dope and coke habit. When you decide to quit doing heroin, you are signing up for days, weeks, and months of physical and mental hell.

Why, bother, especially when you’re a homeless street-kid with Nothing to get sober for? 

Getting sober sucks, especially when you believe with every cell of your being that there is nothing to get sober for.


Being a junky is a full-time fucking job. And it is much harder the further you get away from a big metropolitan area. Dope prices go up; methadone programs go down.


Of course, when you have endless supplies of money, you can be a junky wherever you fucking want, but when you have resources to maintain a dope habit effortlessly it means most often have a family to lean on.


You need a reason, drive, and motivation to force yourself to get dope-sick. Not my case. I had me. And my self-worth, love, and aspirations to do something with my life slipped through my hand like sand years ago.


The first time I got sober I was poured into a 6 X 9 cell.


And no intention of sobering up. Once the heroin left my body, I was able to come out of my cell to joke, fight, scheme, and dream. I made a decision during those 2 years to stop getting high, and I did. It wasn’t easy. I was a tattoo artist inside and had access to all the dope I wanted.


But I had a reason to quit, my family was open to talking to me after 10 years of silence. They would help me start anew. I had a chance. Plus, I was extremely tired of maintaining a 29-35 bag habit a day. It’s not easy. But it’s much more comfortable than getting and staying sober.

Why getting sober sucks


  • Having to face life without dope, sucks.
  • It’s scary forcing yourself to feel like shit from dope-sicknesses and sucks 
  • Meeting, talking and trying to have fun with people when you feel so detached from them without having a fix first, sucks.
  • Being accountable for your actions, admitting when you’re wrong, acting assertively without heroin to blame it on, sucks.
  • Living life without the encompassing warmth, tightly-wrapped, and secure in heroin’s arms, sucks.
  • Knowing that nothing is real, no one is your friend, all those feelings I paid for will leave just as fast as I felt them,  sucks.


So yeah, I was willing to quit to experience something real.

Full blown relapse-getting sober sucks- Johnny heads out to the Land of N.O.D

Maybe for the first time in my life. Recovery was going to be difficult, and I was not willing to do the work. I was not ready to start learning to love myself, associating with sober support, talking about how I felt, and participating within a recovery community.


Besides, I would never be able to love myself. I couldn’t stand who I was, I never liked myself let alone loved. My self-hatred went deep, and I was not ready to cross that bridge, look inside and talk about what I saw with another human being. Instead, I created a new persona and became a narcissistic prick and bullshitted my way through one-on-one counseling.


So when I got out of the joint, I stayed sober for about 9 years. I didn’t ‘get gone’ for 9 years, not even a fucking aspirin. I was a purist. I was pompous. I wore my abstinence on my sleeve like a swastika. I was like Nikki Sixx talking shit about those still getting high. I forgot the 15 years of heroin addiction that got me to where I was standing.


FTR: 1- I don’t belittle anyone’s journey no matter where they are at in their addiction.

        2- Nikki Sixx’s comment motivated me to write about my addiction, recovery, and aim to

            help others through what I have experienced.


I wore my past like a badge of honor. Heroin still defined me.


Never went to meetings, got a sponsor, and lost contact with every person in recovery I knew. When I first got paroled, I had to attend outpatient treatment, have a clinician, and go to meetings. Once I maxed off of parole, my recovery was left to my own devices. Needless to say, I didn’t have time for all that bullshit.


Wanna guess how that ended?


In pain in agony-homeless, alone, hungry, and cold, sitting on the streets of NYC begging for money, too tired and dirty to steal or fuck my way into my next fix. Yeah, I was fucked. It took 6-short months to be in such a dreadful position, but I believed I figured out how to shoot dope and maintain my new life.


Fucking impossible-for someone like me. I go all in.


Once back into the routine of maintaining a dope habit, life became familiar. I knew this terrain. With only one goal in life-chasing the big demon, dope-sickness away, life was comfortable once again. I went back to NYC 6-months after I lost everything upstate. I left for NYC with the clothes on my back and a small pack of what I felt was essential.


Once back in NYC, I went to my old clinic and got back on the PG. In NYC, there is a methadone clinic in every neighborhood, it’s easy to not get sick. Getting into methadone maintenance is easy and was always a priority. I would manage to get through the 2-day intake (about 5 hours) and get on a PG, to keep from falling further down the spiral.


How I got sober the second time


When I got sober the second time in my life it was the furthest thing from my mind. I slid into a daily routine quite easily. I didn’t have the stress of family, kids, career, rent, you name it. Once I was on methadone my day comprised of: get the motor running with an eye-opening speedball (so much faster than coffee), panhandle until the clinic opened, get medicated, shoot some coke, make more money, cop a gram of coke and a bundle of dope, get back to the squat, hide morning speedball, and ‘get gone.’

So you’re thinking if your life was so shitty why not change?


At first, dope let me quiet the noise in my head. It let me stop the shitty images of my life from depressing the fuck out of me. I believed when I was gone on dope I was in control what I let in and what gets out, And that was a Big fucking lie.


Here is the other problem, I loved who, what, and where I was in life-all I owned were the clothes on my back, a small pack with my journal, whatever book I was reading, a cheap cell phone, sleeping bag, and my gear to fix. Dope took everything from me, but I came to love the simplicity of homelessness.


Sitting on the corner of Pine and Broadway watching the city wake up, seeing the sunrise, at first there is a slow trickling of the early risers The Overachievers. The men and women who get downtown before the sun was up. The closer the sun got to filling the sky the busier the streets became. Until they were filled with loud, noisy commotion and everyone rushing about.

One minute Broadway would be asleep, but you could tell when it was about to get busy because the 4 and 5 train increased the frequency of trips. Every minute a train would screech to a halt underneath me. People started coming up out of the ground everywhere, and the city was awake. But I’d sit in my spot, make my money-begging, and be grateful that  I was never part of that rush.


Getting Sober Sucks-In this picture Johnny the writer is shown-Sickly thin from heroin abuse. Malnourished weak, and blood constantly poisoned because Johnny chooses to hold himself captive to the deceptions of street junky life.

Sickly junkie thin


I loved the way I looked clothes hanging off my bony frame, cheeks sunk-in, the tracks on my arms, even the missing teeth. All scares of my trials and tribulations


Layering my clothes, easily sliding into a pair of 28” jeans, with another pair over those to protect them from the filth I sat and slept in was heaven. The little aching hunger pang in my stomach let me know I still could feel. I loved the smell and look of my naked bruised body. When I saw it in a mirror, I would get excited. I’m sure it repulsed most of the tricks I laid down for., but probably not NY is full of working boys, and the Pervs get their pick.  


I safely protected my body,  under layer upon layer of crusty clothing. I still layer my clothes to this day. My husband is always complaining about it, but old habits die hard. I fear the days of 28” skinny-fit jeans hanging loosely from my bony hips are long gone. And this is dangerous. One of my biggest triggers used to be weight gain. If I started to gain weight on or off a dope run, I would immediately stop eating and start shooting more drugs.

Really? The Grateful Dead


In the ’80s and early ’90s when I cruised the country with the Grateful Dead Family,  used to eat LSD by the handfuls to chase away the hunger pangs. Another family I never quite fit into, the music did grow on me and live the Grateful Dead could get fucking heavy- (I.E., Live-The Other One, Cryptical Envelopment, and Estimated Prophet could wrestle with Antisect anyway. ha.)


I would go days without food. I would live off of coffee and water. I always stayed hydrated because I had to keep my veins plump and easy to find, especially in those homeless, cold winter mornings.


All of this defined me. I was a street junky. And there was no reason to try and change this fact ever again. I accepted I would die from an overdose and those who loved me would never suffer another day. Selfish I know.


I had one more goal to drive to Baja California, mix up the inevitable hotshot and die on the beech with a close friend or two by my side, but when I told friends who were NOT in my street junky tribe of my plan. No one wanted to travel with me so I could die in front of them.


(Today that ending has been put on hold. I’ve to much to live for, so much left to do.)


For the record, I pay attention to what I put in my mouth and have been drinking at least 100 ounces of water for several months. But it is so hard when you have a choice. Isn’t that what recovery is all about making a conscious decision to live life to the best of your ability?

So what changed to get me sober?

I can’t say for sure. Honestly, I think I just got tired. I got tired of street kids fucking me over and sleeping on concrete. I wanted to write more, read more, and leave the city more often. I always made plans to go places, but I could never save up the dope. I was so strung out I would do it all the night before I was to leave. Then there was the cocaine addiction. I would have to miss my heart-busting, an ear-ringing shot of cocaine to signal a job well-done end my day. The shots that would break my equilibrium and buckle my knees bringing me to the ground and vibrating with the low droning hum of mother earth herself.

George R.R. Martin can Dance with Dragons, I preferred to dance with death.

But I was tired of all of it. Tired of getting out of bed to beg people for money. It was a real slow change, and it wasn’t intentional. I started to let my methadone work for me. I increased my dose so it would hold me longer and I took weekends off from the world. After the clinic on Saturday mornings, I would spend time with a few friends. Make a few dollars panhandling and then escape to a few choice sleep spots, I only knew about. I would pack myself in, curl up with a book and my journal. Learning to enjoy reading and writing again took time because I was physically and mentally spent. Sleep always came quickly, but my dreams did not taunt me. I was becoming accustomed to sleeping through the night and not waking with cravings to shoot dope or coke.  

Baby steps – Positive changes


When Monday morning came, I felt refreshed. Proud of myself. I was able to stick to a plan which didn’t involve getting high. For the first time in my life, I felt accomplished. Of course I had achieved many other goals by this time in my life, but these goals didn’t have purpose.  I could make it without craving myself into a worrisome heap of flesh. This was something new and I wasn’t sure where it would go. Because any way I broke it down I was getting sober but I would still be homeless, alone, hungry, and cold. Heroin gave me something to look forward, too.

This was a start.
A small step towards -Progress.

And life went on.