Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gray Death

A friend was telling me about a new drug that has killed over 35 people in her home state back East.

It's called "gray death."  It reportedly has a gray cement-like consistency and contains various types of opioids. One of the ingredients is apparently an elephant sedative that's a thousand times stronger than heroin.

Now logic would tell us that anyone who heard about this drug would run the other way when it showed up. But people who think that don't understand the nature of drug addicts nor know much about drug addiction.

I recall back in my using days over 26 years ago that when a new batch of heroin would begin killing users, addicts would become excited. But they weren't excited because they wanted to avoid the drug. They were excited because they wanted to find out where it was coming from because they were looking for the strongest heroin they could find. To them, the best advertising for the heroin was if it was killing their fellow users. That may sound sick, but it's the reality in the drug world.

The nature of addicts is that they will use most anything that they think will get them high. I recall one time when I was in the Orange County jail in California the jailers had coated the handball court with a new rubberized surface that contained various toxic chemicals. Two of my fellow prisoners peeled up a piece of the surface and smoked it when they returned to the cellblock. Both were dead within a few hours.

I remember an addict who had a relative that was dying of cancer. When the relative died, the addict retrieved the painkiller cocktail that the hospice workers had left the patient. He and another addict shared a large drink of the cocktail and were dead within minutes. Obviously, they hadn't calculated how strong or deadly the mixture was. And even if they had known they probably would have drunk it anyway.

The reality is that until we addicts get into recovery we take many risks with our lives. And not all risks are deadly or life-threatening. Sometimes the chances we take with drugs cause us to lose our families and freedom. We lose jobs. We lose friends. We destroy our social networks because we steal from our friends or do other things that are way outside of the norm.

Drugs cause us to become different creatures. And the only way we can return to normal is by getting into recovery.