Heroin Assisted Treatment: Participants' Stories
Julie* (46 years old)
Julie first took heroin at 22-years-old when she given some by a friend. She has been addicted ever since. She says heroin has ruined her life and the life of her husband and children.
Prior to joining the HAT scheme, Julie would get up in morning and take heroin and go into town to do some “graft” (shoplift).
She believes HAT has worked for her because there is a structure to fill her days.
She attends the clinic, visits her daughter and grandchildren, helps to make beds, clean up and play with them. She will then reattend the clinic for her second dose.
Julie vows never to go back to where she was. She is now afraid of street heroin and considers it to be dirty heroin, as you don’t know what it has been cut with.
Julie is now looking to the future. She is hoping to get into Middlesbrough Recovery Connections and then work to help others to get off drugs.
James (42 years old)
James* first took heroin in 1996 aged 18. He was given it by his cellmate whilst serving a sentence at Northallerton Young Offenders Institute. His cellmate told him it was very similar to marijuana.
Within four weeks, James was taking heroin every day. It was paid for it by shoplifting and dealing drugs. He would shoplift in Central Middlesbrough, Stockton and at Teesside Park. He would steal items he knew he could get rid of easily, such as joints of meat, big jars of Nescafe and blocks of cheese.
These items would then be sold in pubs or clubs. The best James could hope for is half the value of the items – he would steal £80s worth of goods every day, to fund his £40-a-day habit.
When James was dealing drugs, he had to steal more as he was taking more and more heroin – could be up to £200-£300 a day.
Two years ago James came out of prison and wanted to go into rehab. He was told he would have to be six weeks clean to do take part. Unfortunately that wasn’t a possibility as he was back on Heroin before then.
A friend directed James to the HAT programme. They had been on it for just two weeks and he noticed a massive change - they looked better and spoke better.
James says HAT works because it removes the temptation of street heroin and the self-injecting deals with the ‘needle fixation’. He says it is hard to explain but he needs to feel the needle going in.
James says even if someone put a gun to his head he wouldn’t take street heroin again. He worries about what he has put in his body over the years. He plans to get off heroin and then into rehab.
* Not their real names