Cold turkey off Heroin

Cold turkey off Heroin

Following is a gleaning from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts ISBN 0-349-11754-3We all cope with anxiety and stress, to one degree or another, with the help of a cocktail of chemicals produced in the body and released in the brain. Chief among them is the endorphin group. The endorphins are peptide neurotransmitters that have pain-relieving properties. Anxiety and stress and pain bring on the endorphin response as a natural coping mechanism.When we take any of the opiates-morphine or opium or heroin, in particular-the body stops producing endorphins. When we stop talking opiates, there’s a lag of between five or fourteen days before the body begins a new endorphin production cycle. In the meantime, in that black, tortured crawlspace of one to two weeks without heroin and without endorphins, we learn what anxiety and stress and pain really are.

What’s it like, Karla asked me once, cold turkey off heroin?

I tried to explain it.

You fall from a great height in a dream, or you stand on the very edge of a steep cliff. Someone hold you under water and you feel the breath gone, and you scramble, fight, and claw you way to the surface.

You lose control of the car and see the wall rushing into your soundless shout. Then add them all up, all Think about every time in your life that you’ve ever been afraid, really afraid. Someone sneaks up behind you when you think you’re alone, and shouts to frighten you. The gang of thugs closes in around you.those chest-tightening terrors, and feel them all at once, all at the same time, hour after hour, and day after day.

And think of every pain you’ve ever known-the burn with hot oil, the sharp silver of glass, the broken bone, the gravel rash when you fell on the rough road in winter, the headache and earache and the toothache. Then add them all up, all those groin-squeezing, stomach tensing shrieks of pains, and feel them all at once, hour after hour, and day after day.

Then think of every anguish you’ve ever known. Remember the death of a loved one. Remember a lover’s rejection. Recall you feelings of failure and shame and unspeakably bitter remorse. And add them all up, all the heart-stabbing grieves and miseries, and feel them all at once, hour after hour, and day after day.

That’s cold turkey. Cold turkey off heroin is life with the skin torn away

The assault of anxiety on the unprotected mind, the brain without natural endorphins, makes men and women mad. Every junkie going through cold turkey is mad. The madness is so fierce and cruel that some die of it. And in the temporary insanity of that skinned, excruciated world, we commit crimes. And if we survive, years later and become well, our healthy recollections of those crimes leaves us wretched, bewildered, and as self-disgusted as men and women who betray their comrades and country under torture.

Two full days and nights into the torment, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. Most of the vomiting and diarrhea had passed, but the pain and anxieties were worse, much worse, every minute. Beneath the screaming in my blood there was a calm, insistent voice; You can stop this…you can fix this… you can stop this… take the money.. get a fix… you can stop this pain…

Nazeer’s bamboo and coconut-fiber cot was in the far corner of the room. I lurched toward it, watched closely by the burly Afghan, who was still sitting on hi mat near the door. Trembling and moaning with pain, I dragged the cot closer to the great window that overlooked out on the sea. I took up cotton sheet and began to tear at tit with my teeth. It gave way in few places, and I ripped it along the length, tearing off strips of cloth. Frantic in my movements and close to panic, I hurled two thick, embroidered quilts onto the rope bed for a mattress and lay down on it. Using two of the strips, I tied my ankles to the bed. With a third strip, I secured my left wrist. Then I lay down, and turned my head to look at Nazeer. I held out the remaining strip, and asked him with my eyes to bind my arm to the bed. It was the first time that we’d ever met one another’s eyes to bind my arm to the bed. It was the first time that we’d ever met one another’s eyes in an equally honest stare.

He rose from his square of carpet and walked toward me, holding the stare. He took the strip of cloth from my hand and bound my right wrist to the frame of the bed. A shout of trapped, panic-fear escaped from my open mouth, and another. I bit down on my tongue, biting through the flesh at the sides until blood ran past my lips. Nazeer nodded slowly. He tore another thick strip from the sheet and twirled it into a corkscrew tube. Sliding it between my teeth, he tried the gag behind my head. And I bit down on the devil’s tail. And I screamed. And I turned my head to see my own reflection tied to the night in the window. And for a while I was Modena, waiting and watching and screaming with my eyes.

Two days and nights I was tied to the bed. Nazeer nursed me with tenderness and constancy. He was always there. Every time I opened my eyes, I felt his rough hand my brow, wiping the sweat and the tears into my hair. Every time the lightening strike of cramp twisted a leg or arm or my stomach, he was there, massaging warmth into the gag, he held my eyes with his, willing me to endure and succeed. He removed the gag when I choked on a trickle of vomit or my blocked nose let no air pass, but he was a strong man and he knew that I didn’t want my screams to be heard. When I nodded my head, he replaces the gag and tied it fast.

And then, when I knew that I was either strong enough to stay or too weak to leave, I nodded to Nazeer, blinking my eyes, and he removed the gag for the last time. One by one he untied the bonds at my wrists and ankles. He brought me a broth made from chicken and barley and tomatoes, unspiced, except for salt. It was the richest and most delicious thing I ever tasted in my life. He fed it to me, spoon by spoon. After an hour, when I finished the little bowl, he smiled at me for the first time, and that smile was like sunlight on sea rocks after summer rain.

Cold turkey goes on for about two weeks, but the first five days are the worst. If you can get through the first five3 days, if you can crawl and drag yourself into that sixth morning without drugs, you know you’re clean, and you know you’ll make it. Every hour, for the next eight to en days you feel a little better and a little stronger. The cramps fade, the nausea passes, the fever and chills subside. After a while, the worst of it simply that you can’t sleep. You lie on the bed at n night, twisting and writhing in discomfort, and sleep never comes. In those last days and very long nights of the cold turkey, I became a Standing Baba: I never sat or lay down, all day and all night, until exhaustion collapsed my legs at last and I sank into sleep.

And it passes, the turkey passes, and you emerge from the cobra bite of heroin addiction like any survivor from any disaster: dazed, wounded forever, and glad to be alive.

Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) before and after her addiction to heroin and cocaine.

Nazeer took my first sarcastic jokes, twelve days after the cold turkey began, as the cue fro my training to commence. From the sixth day I’d been walking with him as light exercise, and for the fresh air. The first of those walks ahead been slow and halting, and I’d returned to the house after fifteen minutes. By the twelfth day I was walking the length of the beach with him, hoping to tire myself so much that I could sleep. Finally, he took me to the stable where Khader’s horses were kept. The stable was a converted boathouse, one street away from the beach. The horses were trained for beginning riders, and carried tourists up and down the beach in the high season. The while gelding and grey mare were large, docile animals. We took them from Khader’s stable-master and led them down to the flat, hard-packed sand of the beach.

Footnotes by bunpeiris

Narcotics including heroin and opium are banned in Sri Lanka. Importation of Narcotics such as Heroin into Sri Lanka is an offense that carries the death penalty. However the capital punishment hasn’t been carried out recent. The most notorious case of capital punishment was that in respect of the assassination of Prime Mininster S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake. The Sri Lankan seized to smile. Courts of Law found Buddhist monk Somarama guilty; but the nation wasn’t convinced at all. There was a notorious local name & name of a foreign Intelligence Agency in the winds of conspiracy. Those were the days of the assassination of another nationalist, Patrice Lulumba. Ceylon’s Warren commission + John Kennedy + Edgar Hoover + FBI + CIA + Mob + Marylyn Monroe + Lee Harvey Oswald + second gunman + Oliver Stone maze. Please refrain from bringing narcotics to Sri Lanka even for private consumption. You are bound to lose all your smiles. And Sri Lankans too will have the their smiles frozen.

The only criminal that ever walked to the gallows with a smile in his face in Sri Lanka was said to be Koti Albert that was in the sixties. Defiant Keppetipola and Defiant Puran Appu (Francisco Fernando) weren’t criminals, they are national heroes who fought against British colonialists in Sri Lanka , then called Ceylon. In the last day too, at the Sacred Temple of the Tooth at Kandy, Kepptipola wished to be born again Sri Lanka to fight against the British; Puran Appu facing the firing squad, proclaimed that if there were another ten men like him in Ceylon, the British would have been wiped out .

During the seventies Sri Lanka Holidays Hikkaduwa of South western coastal belt swarmed with European counter culture stinking long-haired hippies smoking narcotics. Following the decline of Hippie counter culture, Hikkaduwa too got cleansed. Today Hikkaduwa is one of the major beach tourist resorts of Sri Lanka Holidays.

Opium is grown in great secrecy, on a small scale, in the deep jungles of some of the dry zone areas of Sri Lanka. Consumption of opium that is called “Ganja” in Sri Lanka (Uzbek, Moldavian and Ukrainian girls too call it Ganja) is a punishable offence though not strictly enforced. However Ganja in larger quantities in possession could land you in unnecessary trouble in Sri Lanka.

Images are by courtesy of

To read about Poppy fields viist here.

The Featured Image is by the courtesy of


Please follow and like us: