My Methadone Clinic is the Happiest Place on Earth
You may remember Andrew Horn from our piece last week that invited you to look at his 'Taint'. Andrew is a recovering heroin addict from the North Central neighbourhood of Regina, Saskatechewan which is infamous in Canada for being one of the most dangerous and crime ridden areas in the country. Well, he's here now to tell you about his experience gathering his methadone treatment.
My alarm jarred me awake again, and ripped me out of my dreams. I couldn’t be more thankful. Being a full time drug addict comes with insanity of course, but getting off drugs can be pretty gnarly too. All my life I’ve had vivid dreams, but as anyone who’s gone through rehab knows, getting off drugs makes them 100 times more vivid, and a 1000 times more deranged. Anything from monsters casually ripping the throats out of the people I love, to finding my father skinned alive with his epidermis hanging from a chandelier, being locked in the basement of a serial killer’s old farm house, or mountains of drugs and snowstorms of meth pouring into my body. More than a few times, I’ve woken up drenched in sweat or screaming. But I digress, it was doctor day, and I needed to move my fucking ass if I wanted my methadone prescription renewed.
I had no time to shower, eat, or perform any hygienic tasks except for the inevitable morning piss. I grabbed a shirt lying on my floor, some jeans, my leather steel toes, and got my ass outside. On this particular morning I had a small pack of soccer moms on their morning jog stare at me in mild disapproval as I pulled up my pants, put my dick in place, and threw my “PIG” tanktop on. One of them stared at me with that unmistakeable look of lust in her eyes. If only she knew the dicks I’ve sucked. I laughed at them a little. Clear throat, spit phlegm, zip up, leave.
I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I don’t expect any American readers to know where that is. As for my fellow Canadians, I know many of you are probably laughing, or getting some stupid ass smirk on your face as you inflate your ego because you’re from “somewhere better.” Let me just say this, unless you’ve lived here, know what it’s about, and understand what it’s like to live in this bizarre, crime driven, and drug riddled town, you’re gawking out of pure ignorance. So wipe that stupid smirk off your face, and shut your fucking mouth.
Here is your monthly education – and don’t work those brains too hard you scum bags: Regina has approximately 200,000 people, and it’s flooded with drugs. It’s officially a city, but it kind of feels like a really big town trying to be a city. It’s lacking that urban feel, although with recent development that is slowly changing. Regina is filled with gangs, rednecks, whiney-spoiled-coked-out-know-it-all-club-kid-hipsters with zero life experience, students, gays, bikers, families, lots of closet case homo(phobic) jocks, self-entitled rich assholes, drug addicts, and the rapidly growing population of the mentally ill. We’ve had the highest crime rate per capita in Canada for years on end – although I think our northern Saskatchewan neighbour’s Saskatoon nabbed that title from us this year – and I believe this past year we’ve taken the title of highest rate of IV drug use per capita. Being a gay junkie in Regina with some of the ignorant redneck mentality that floats around isn’t fun, and having thick skin is a necessity here. Moving on my pretties...
I had to make it to my clinic before they stopped doing check-ins; I managed to pull up with five minutes to spare. Outside the doors, there was a herd of my fellow opiate and opioid dependant addicts sucking back cancer from their cigarettes. I briefly flashed back to my first time arriving here. I had presented my provincial health card to the man working behind the desk while my insides felt like they were being ripped apart and someone was ringing out my stomach mercilessly. Every second I could feel the loss of color from my flesh increasing, my mouth drying up like the Sahara, and the size of the sweat drops pouring down my face getting bigger and bigger. Just standing there, focusing on trying to keep my composure and what little dignity I had left just made it worse. I couldn’t do it anymore so I bolted outside and projectile vomited all over the building. I keeled over and puked for another few minutes. That was my initiation.
As I walked in, the poor and particularly disgusting hygiene from my fellow patients added a pungent nauseating aroma to the air, surprisingly enough, you kind of get used to it. The staff is great though and I couldn’t ask for a better crew. They’re always happy to see me, and I’m always on the receiving end of a smile. A little kindness like that goes a long way in a place like this, it helps make you feel less like some detached foreign sub species devoid of any connections to the rest of the world. Some of them are a bit weird but I suppose you need to be to embrace that environment everyday. Perhaps that’s also why we get along so well.
The clinic itself is kind of dingy, but running an independent methadone clinic isn’t really the most lucrative business, so clearly renovations aren’t a top priority. It’s really its own life giving, life sucking, dreary, broken soul filled corner of the world. It has weekly family reunions, a slew of criminals slanging drugs, police rushes and take downs, every kind of person imaginable, and of course a surplus amounts of drugged lemonade.
I waited patiently while my tailbone slowly developed bruising from the painfully uncomfortable chairs. Every so often you’ll perk up because someone screams “Aunty!”, “Uncle!”, or “Hey Mom!” It’s quite common for family members to bump into each other here, Moms, Dads, kids, cousins, aunts, and uncles all on methadone, trying to kick the dope like one big scabby family. Regina’s North Central community is scary, and entrenched in a very sad state of affairs. Kids here are born into heavy cycles of addiction where there is just no other option. Little girls between 12 and 14 years old are being put out to work the streets by their deadbeat parents, just to bring in money for more dope. But I don’t pass judgement. If people from good homes can get sucked into and lose everything to drug addiction, how can anyone blame people born into these lives for turning into junkies? It’s pretty much inevitable.
However, being an addict isn’t an excuse for being a piece of shit human being. There is one family who comes to the clinic that I absolutely loathe. They have a kid that maybe just turned four, and is probably about 65 pounds overweight, they call him “Chunky”. They consistently laugh at the poor child waddling around trying to carry all the excess weight. They saunter around the clinic like a pack of gas huffing, drunk, sedated hyenas, like it’s a free for all, scavenging what they can. Every time they’re in, and I mean every time, one of the ladies heckles the staff and groans, “GGIIMMEEE SSOOMMEE WWAAATTEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” It’s a medical clinic attached to a pharmacy, not a fucking Denny’s, you dumb bitch.
Luckily my boiling annoyance was interrupted by the staff informing me I needed to leave a screen. Every two weeks they check your piss to see what chems are residing in your kidneys. I made my way to the single shared bathroom. On doctor days it smells like a rotting cow carcass covered in shit, and I only dare breathe through my shirt as a filter. There is nothing worse than inhaling the taste of human feces because of its high concentration in the air. Just the thought of it all makes me want to dry heave. I am required to half fill two test tubes so I get it done as fast as I possibly can and get the fuck out before I pass out. For this article I took an extra minute to get my phone out to capture a photo, so you assholes better appreciate it. Later my name is called, and I’m escorted in to see the doctor.
Doctors and I generally don’t get along. I’m always sweet as sugar, but if you openly tell them you’re a drug addict, all politeness goes to shit. Silent judgements and accusations are made, and depending on which quack you’re seeing, this can either moderately or extremely influence the treatment you get. Luckily I get along with my methadone doctor quite well. He’s kind of blunt, cold, and can be somewhat short when you first start with him. But since I’ve been doing really well, not abusing doses, providing consistent clean screens, and am actively in post-secondary studies doing something with myself, he treats me like an equal, and even addresses me as “my friend”. That’s huge for me coming from a doctor.
I told him how I’m feeling, what my cravings are like if any, how life is; and depending on the situation I either raise, keep it the same, or lower my dose with him. On that day I went down 5mg (90mg to 85mg). He handed me my script and told me to be safe. I hit the attached pharmacy to sign my prescription and my drink was ready for me in about five minutes. I glugged it down and gave my thanks to the staff. Then I was ejected back out in public, to be part of the societal swarm and to frolic around with the rest of my human beings, trying to get by in this crazy world.
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