Nerida’s Story: Owning It — When His Way Is The Wrong Way
My ex-boyfriend Dale introduced me to opiates. Along with using heroin, he doctor-shopped, first getting oxycontin, and then when the formula changed, getting MS Contin. Dale was a long-time user and I saw him as someone who knew everything and generously imparted his knowledge to me, his girlfriend and follower.
When we were first together, I never doubted a word he said. I didn't feel that I had any right to. After all, I was relatively new to injecting, and completely new to pills, whereas he was a veteran. What’s more, Dale had the power in our relationship in many ways. He got the pills, he knew everyone, he went to the NSPs, he held onto the drugs, he even injected me.
I felt that however he did things must be the right way - and if I doubted it, I wasn't in a position to be vocal about it. It seems like a lot of women find themselves in this powerless position- in the shadows and at the mercy of their partners.
Dale mixed up pills with hot water, heating the water with a lighter until everything was dissolved, and used cotton or cigarette filters to filter. With the MS Contin, I felt more nervous about doing it this way - the mix was thick, gunky and cloudy, and even though I knew nothing of harm reduction at the time, I still worried about putting it into my veins.
Further on in our relationship, I started seeking out my own information from NSPs, the internet and User’s News. I read that you shouldn't use hot water to mix up pills, and you should use a wheel filter to get out the gunk. Before reading that, I didn't even know wheel filters existed. On the internet, I found information about the different filters and how effective they are, and I learned of the risks I'd been taking.
Contrary to what he told me, cold water doesn't waste or weaken the shot. In fact, hot water can be dangerous because it creates a false reality. You think the gunk has dissolved but in fact it all goes into your body to lodge in your veins and organs.
I eventually asked Dale what he thought about using cold water, but he was adamant that it would be a waste. Even when I presented him with all the evidence he wouldn't allow me to do it because I'd be wasting “his” pills. I continued doing things his way.
Our relationship came to an end for many reasons shortly after this – although the control issue certainly contributed. Looking back, I feel like I should not have trusted him blindly, and I should have changed my habits after learning of the proper way to do things, even if I could not get him to change his. I spent my money on drugs for both of us just as often as he spent his money or got pills. More importantly, I have come to believe that I have the right and responsibility to keep myself safe and healthy and make my own decisions. I am owning my own body and veins.
For the most part I stopped injecting pills after we broke up, but the handful of times that I did, I used cold water and a wheel filter. From what I can tell, there is no difference in potency using cold water rather than hot. The only difference for me is that I personally enjoy a shot more if I know that I'm not putting binders and other gunk into my veins.
Learning to use a wheel filter was not the trauma I thought it was going to be. It just isn’t that difficult. The trick is to put a few drops of water on the filter first to prime it. That helps you not lose any bang from your shot. Another tip is to go slowly and gently so the membrane won’t tear and all the crap can be captured. It’s an amazing tool and doesn’t take a special skill to learn. Once you have done it a couple of times, you won’t ever forget how. It’s worth taking a little bit of time to learn how to say goodbye to dirty hits and keep your veins glassy smooth!
I've learned and practiced many harm reduction measures since then. I’m very proud of myself that I can make my own decisions and put my health first.