Matt: What’s up guys, this is Matt.
Greg: What’s going on everyone, it’s Greg here.
Matt: With Project Unbroken. And today we wanted to talk a little bit about what a heroin addict looks like.
Greg: Good topic.
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Well I know that, especially before we found ourselves in the field of heroin addiction, I had a very distinct picture of what I thought a heroin addict looked like, like the stereotypical heroin addict.
Matt: And I don’t know if that’s just from popular culture or things I saw on TV, or whatever. But I think it was a little bit confusing because when I found myself getting ready to open up my first heroin bag, it didn’t feel like I thought it would feel.
I thought it would be a much grimier feeling, like I would be in a crack house or something.
Matt: It was confusing because I was like, “Oh, this isn’t as bad as I thought.” And it absolutely can end in a much worse situation, and it did for us. You know, you start with the one bag and it makes its way from there.
Before we got into heroin, what was your-
Greg: I mean I thought of a really skinny man or woman living on the street, shooting heroin in their arm. Track marks all over them. Bad hygiene.
Greg: Yeah. Just where you could tell they’re a heroin addict. I mean that’s a big thing, is where you can tell they’re a heroin addict. And it’s not always like that, and I think that’s really, really important for people to understand because there’s many reasons.
Of course, you got the parent aspect, where we want parents to realize that just because your son or daughter doesn’t look horrible, doesn’t mean they’re not on heroin. Because when we first started using heroin, the first year, we actually … no one would probably ever guess. I mean we were still in pretty good shape from working out before. No one would have been able to tell we were on heroin.
Matt: No, not at all.
Greg: And actually, we run into many people where they’re like, “You were on heroin then?”
Greg: “Like really?”
Matt: Yeah. You know, I think we’ve kind of covered this before, but I think anybody that’s been through addiction, or anyone that’s had somebody that they care about go through addiction, you see that addicts become really good at acting. They become really good at manipulating people to think what they want them to think and believe anything, to allow them to continue in their addiction.
Greg: Including their self.
Greg: I don’t think I manipulate anyone more than myself.
Matt: Yeah, I mean you can definitely lie to yourself. And a lot of that is physical appearance.
Matt: I mean I know for a fact, because when I was going through heroin addiction, I was still living at home. If I came home looking like what I used to think a heroin addict looked like, immediately I know that my cover would have been blown. So I got really good at just keeping myself cleanly shaven, or whatever, just to pull off the facade of being clean.
Greg: It’s funny, I found a picture when we were going through pictures for Project Unbroken, and there was a picture of me with my shirt off, and I knew I was on dope because of the time stamp on it, and because of my eyes, I was so fucked up. And I was looking at it, I was like, “Damn, I was jacked,” and I was on heroin then.
Like I was jacked when I used to lift all the time. And I couldn’t believe even looking at that, like if you saw me on the street, there’s no way. Like that dude is jacked, he lifts some weights, you know what I mean? But really I hadn’t lifted weights for a good six months to a year at the time, and you can fall into it quick.
Matt: Yeah, I mean not … Even beyond just physical appearance. I mean we had jobs the whole time. We were going to work every day, I mean early. Greg and I worked at the same job for a lot of the time that we were doing heroin, and we were up at 5:00 or 6:00 AM, even earlier sometimes.
So I think from the outside, people look at somebody who’s a heroin addict and they don’t expect … that’s somebody who’s again in our minds maybe a homeless person, or they can’t keep a job. And a lot of times that’s true, but we needed money to fuel our addiction. We had a pretty comfortable set up there.
But again, I think that pulled the wool over a lot of people’s eyes, so to speak. They were like, “Oh, they’re working every day, they’re showing up on time.” So I mean that’s a whole ‘nother side of … it’s kind of more the lifestyle picture of it. But again, it can be a little deceiving.
Matt: And I think this is also, you can get into … Again, if you are a parent or if you’re concerned about a loved one having an issue with pills, or heroin, or anything really, a lot of it is, what do we want to see? I know there were probably clues out there that would lead my parents to probably believe that I was doing heroin, but I don’t think they wanted to think that.
Matt: I don’t think they wanted to see that.
Greg: And you didn’t want them to think that, so of course you did things to help them not see that.
Greg: And you know, we talked about manipulating yourself. I think going into it, you know when you … as an addict you think of that, or before you’re an addict, you think of that stereotypical heroin addict. And you know, you’re doing pills, and you’re doing pills and you do that first bag of heroin, you’re like, “Well, it’s kind of like the same thing … it wasn’t that much different.”
Greg: “I can control it. The person I did it with, they’re not all messed up. They’re somewhat normal still.”
Greg: Usually when you start with someone, they’re fairly new, usually, I would say as well.
But we knew people who were from where we were, to they had a job, they’re completely functional, still in shape, at least at the beginning of the addiction. All the way down to maybe, eh, they don’t have a job anymore, they’re starting to steal, they’re starting to do things, down to the people who live that … were the stereotypical last step of living on the streets, shooting and extremely skinny, no hygiene, all you’re worried about is dope.
Greg: It’s everything from the person you wouldn’t expect, all the way down to the person you would expect, and everything in between. I think that’s really important to understand that.
Matt: Yeah, and I think to your point, that is almost … maybe it’s just a timeline of addiction. Because even the people that we saw start at point A and end up at point D, it didn’t happen overnight. You know, things start slipping, maybe you do lose your job and you kind of figure out a way to make ends meet. Then you get kicked out of your living situation, or whatever. I mean we know a lot of people that were kind of living motel to motel.
I think every step down that ladder, you just become desensitized to it, and it becomes the new normal.
Matt: You start hanging out with people that are little bit deeper in their addiction, so that becomes the new normal.
Greg: And you almost kind of get used to that, like a little step further, ah, you get used to that. A little step further, ah, now I’m kind of … You know what I mean?
Greg: Like you said, you desensitize. That’s a very good point.
Matt: Yeah. It’s easy to kind of trick yourself, to trick your loved ones, into looking like something that’s it not, I guess.
Greg: Yes. So I think that covers most of what we wanted to talk about, but the main point of this was to kind of … just because someone looks a certain way, don’t discount that they could be using heroin or pills, or whatever the case. Obviously if they’re using pills … if they’re addicted to pills, 80% of heroin addicts come from pills, so you got to be very careful going down that slope.
And we just want to make sure people are aware that, really what heroin addiction looks like, you can’t really put a face to it.
Matt: Absolutely not. I mean it’s … especially right now, we’re just coming into 2018, the heroin epidemic, at least as far as I see, is as bad as it’s ever been. I mean it’s been able to creep into every community into America.
Greg: Now I was watching a show called Dope on Netflix, you said you saw it. And they moved from using fentanyl to carfentanyl or something like that. It’s like an elephant tranquilizer. It’s like a 100 times more potent than heroin. And that’s why the overdose deaths are skyrocketing, because they’re cutting the stuff with elephant tranquilizer. I mean it’s crazy.
Matt: Yeah, a really scary kind of side note of that is, is a lot of times when people are deep in addiction, they seek out these things, because apparently they think the high is supposed to be the best you can find.
Greg: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Matt: Knowing that the chances of overdosing with something like that is-
Greg: That tells you how strong this addiction is.
Greg: It’s crazy.
Matt: It’s scary. So if you’re out there and you’re struggling with addiction yourself right now, and you’re trying to find a way out of it, just keep in mind about Greg’s point. Try not to lie to yourself, try to look at what’s really going on and find the best way to move forward.
And if you’re out there, and there’s a loved one you’re concerned about using, really try to see through the façade. Again, you can’t put a face to heroin addiction.
Greg: I think you said before, go with your gut.
Matt: Yeah, go with your gut.
Greg: Just because they don’t look like they’re using maybe at the time, if there’s some signs popping up, dig a little deeper outside.
Matt: Absolutely. I mean this is an absolute life or death situation here. So if you have a feeling, there’s probably a reason that you have that feeling and go with it, 100%.
Matt: All right guys, thanks for watching. If you have any topics or questions that you would like us to expand on, leave us a comment below and we would be happy to kind of discuss whatever our experiences are, and hopefully they can help somebody out there who’s dealing with addiction, or struggling with any of these issues.
So we look forward to talking to you soon, take care.
Greg: Have a good one everyone.