The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Heroin Diaries

During the Christmas holidays I read The Heroin Diaries – A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rockstar by Nikki Sixx, the bassist and songwriter for glam rock band Motley Crue. I do not usually write book reviews as what may appeal to me person may not appeal to another person. So this post is not meant to review the book. It’s the thoughts that the book conjured up which set me down writing this entry. The book itself is all that you would expect from a rock star who has survived a fatal overdose and lived to tell the story. It is about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. But mostly it is about the drugs. And that is what spoke to me.

I worked with drug addicts for 2 years and strangely, it was the happiest and most rewarding time of my career. Was it easy? The job itself was nothing different from what I had been doing: dispensing medicines. The difference was in the patients. I took over from a 6'2''guy who yelled out orders like an army major. Then they were faced with me and I wonder what their first thoughts were. Probably that they would be able to get away with anything. I did keep the necessary order but I also managed to treat them all like humans instead of just like numbers. As the weeks passed I managed to gain their trust and I think that that was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. They trusted me enough to share their sometimes sordid lives with me. And they trusted me enough to come back and tell me that they had lied about something. Or stolen a booklet of prescriptions. Such were the small victories that I won as time went by.

Reading the book brought back many memories and conflicting emotions but the overall feeling was one of extreme sadness. How do some people manage to get themselves in these situations? The bottom line is that both Nikki Sixx and the patients I met on a daily basis blamed everyone for their predicament: their parents, their friends, the neighbour's barking dog … you get the picture. They blamed everyone except themselves. That is where the whole problem starts and ends. Unfortunately only very few of them actually face their demons and do something about it. For most of them, it is easier to continue taking the ‘easy’ way out. Nikki Sixx managed to get out of the gutter and embrace life. But he also learnt to forgive. Not just others but himself. I wish that there were more like him. For 2 years I tried my best to not just be a dispensing pharmacist but to actually listen to what these people had to say and I think that I was a measure of help for some of them. Sadly, at the time I worked with the government health services and the powers-that-be deemed that my services were required elsewhere. In an oncology hospital. Initially, I hated being there. Somehow it felt easier to deal with people who only had themselves to blame for the situation they were in than with people who had been dealt such a hard blow in life. It seemed ironic to me that these cancer patients were trying their hardest to stay alive while perfectly healthy human beings were literally knocking on heaven’s door. But such is life and it is from such experiences that we learn and grow.

Nikki Sixx is not an exception in the rock music world. The majority of people involved party hard, have an ego the size of the Himalayas and drink or drug themselves into oblivion at a young age. The difference is that he lived to tell his tale. And that he had the courage to stop listening to the voices in his head and face reality. My wish is that more people who are enslaved to some addiction will have the courage to face the real world. These days, Nikki is by no means a hero or a saint but he is a survivor and, in his own words: “If one person reads this book and doesn't have to go down the same road as me, it was worth sharing my personal hell with them."
As for me, reading this book made me realise that not matter if you're a rock star or a street junkie, heroin makes no exception. Its seduction is slow but once you're hooked the downward spiral is fast. So I will finish this somewhat thought provoking post with the words of an addict that have forever remained etched in my brain: "You start taking heroin on a whim and for the kick it gives you. You end up taking heroin because without it your body will not function properly."


  1. Enjoyed your response to the book. It is heartwarming that Sixx was able to turn his life around. Sounds like you've worked with some interesting people in your career. We can sure learn a lot from people who have different views and situations from our own.

  2. I've not known anyone on drugs, but after hearing so many dreadful stories of addiction and death, makes one wonder why anyone would travel down that road, even just to explore.

  3. I never read the book and I don't know Sixx either, but I think it was a good therapy to write a book ! Drug addicted is a terrible thing, it's so hard to get out of it. I really pity these people.

  4. Wow! What a thoughtful post. Thank you so much for sharing it all with us, the book and your personal experiences. It sounds like you did a lot of good with the drug addicts that you worked with, even if most of it appeared to be small victories. Both groups that you served were fighting in their own way I think. Both groups were lucky to have you.

  5. There have been many drug addicts in my family and it is so true - none of them want to take responsibility for themselves. My niece is finally clean and I hope she can stay that way.
    I really like what you said about it being easier to work with people who refused to change so that they could get better than it was to work with people who had no hope of getting better, but were willing to do anything to fix the problem - very profound. Awesome post Loree.

  6. Your personal story in dealing with drug addicts make the book more interesting, Loree! Great post!

  7. Howdy
    While we never meet in person ,
    I can always hope .
    Today you touched my life in a personal way .
    Of course you had no way to know this .
    My First husband went down the rocky rock of Heroin it was not on purpose that he chose this path it all began with a greedy DR./Football coach in college .Yes I know he still had a choice ,bu tthis is what happens way to often in life.
    The bottom line was he went down as far and as fast as a Heroin addict can go .
    He changed into an angry /strange person no one could recognize.
    He shot his own brother who was at the time in a full leg cast and trying to keep him from leaving home to go after more heroin.
    Later on he raped ,he stole ,and eventually he was shot to death as he was robbing a drugstore for more drugs.
    He did not start out this way in life .
    People who knew him way back when would not believe in the rumors of what he became .
    Thank you for this post .
    Blessings ans hugs
    Always your loving friend in Texas
    Happy Trails

  8. Howdy
    It's me again .
    I hope you can read my post there were so many
    memories and tears flooding my face at the same time that I am sure I made many mistakes as I was spelling.
    Bottom Line
    Thank you and God Bless You for being the person that you are !

  9. I get what you say about blame. I think that they all start to heal at the point of realisation that their lives belong to them and no one else. I feel really sorry for them, as I've had so many bad experiences in life also. Thank God, I chose to be happy. It's the only way to get back at all the people in your life you could blame.

  10. Hi, Loree, thank you for stopping by! How interesting to live on an island like you do. I love the places you do too, esp. Italy, my fave country. It's been too long since I was there & I hope to get back one of these days. I do hope to get my shop up & running soon, but I'm afraid they are only going to ship to the US & Canada. Maybe eventually it will be international shipping too. I'm excited to hand pick some items to go in there.


Thanks for stopping by. I read and appreciate every one of your comments. I will do my best to reply whenever I can.


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