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Experiences with Heroin

Preferred Name: David

Gender: Male

Age: 26


David is engaged and has four children. He lives with his fiancée and wasn’t working at the time of the interview. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Australian’: he was born in Australia, his mother was born in the UK and he is unsure of his father’s birthplace.

Brief Outline:

When David was in his mid-teens he first tried heroin with a cousin and then started taking it on his own. After about three years of regular consumption, he decided he no longer wanted to take heroin. His partner persuaded him to try methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), an opioid pharmacotherapy treatment. David didn’t like the experience of being on MMT and after some time stopped treatment and resumed taking heroin. Since then he’s stopped taking heroin and isn’t on treatment. He smokes cannabis for stress relief and has no plans to stop.

David's Story:

David lives with his fiancée and at the time of the interview they’d recently moved into a new house. He has four children, whom he describes as his ‘pride and joy’. His goal for the future is to ensure he has a happy family and ‘gives [his] kids the best [he] can [to] keep them out of harm’s way’ and give them ‘the childhood and family that [he] never had’. At the time of the interview, he and his partner had recently got engaged and were planning their wedding.

When David was in his mid-teens he first tried heroin with a relative, who helped him inject. After that, he started taking it on his own and gradually his use increased until he was taking it every day. For David, heroin ‘blocks a lot of things that you don’t want to deal with’. At the time he also smoked cannabis regularly and says it helped to ‘numb everything’. Several years before the interview, he was diagnosed with hepatitis C. He hasn’t experienced any symptoms to date and isn’t on treatment.

After about three years of regular heroin use, he says he ‘started getting sick of it’ and realised he didn’t want to take it any more. On several occasions over the next three years, he tried to stop taking it but says he ‘couldn’t stop because of the sickness’ he experienced when he didn’t take it. A few years before the interview, his partner persuaded him to try methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), an opioid pharmacotherapy treatment. He says he didn’t like the experience of being on methadone because it ‘just felt like heroin again, being sick and needing it […] you still get the withdrawals’. At the time, he was working and found the daily dosing regime difficult as he had to juggle his work hours with going to the chemist to collect his dose. He had to go to the clinic before or after work, which he says was a ‘hassle’, and he found it difficult to get there on time. He also no longer wanted to associate with people taking heroin but says he found it hard to avoid them at the chemist.

After weighing up these factors, David decided the daily trips to the chemist weren’t ‘worth it’ and stopped treatment. After he stopped, he was really sick and says he found the effects of stopping methadone worse than those associated with stopping heroin. But after about two weeks, he felt better and was able to resume his daily activities.

Some time later, David resumed taking heroin. Since then, he has stopped taking it again and isn’t on opioid pharmacotherapy treatment. Having tried MMT, he says he doesn’t believe in treatment programs. As he puts it, ‘I believe if you’re going to quit, you’re going to quit’. He also recently stopped smoking cannabis for a few months, and has since resumed smoking cannabis for stress relief.


When David (M, 25, unemployed, heroin) was on methadone maintenance treatment, he didn’t tell his employer because he was concerned about being judged or even fired.

[I never talked to my boss about going to the chemist…] I just didn’t want him looking at me as a druggie […] I always had to [get my methadone dose] before work or after work. And with getting there on time and just a lot of hassle just to make it to the chemist, I thought to myself, it’s not worth it [trying to get my dose during work hours… I thought if I told my boss he would] just look at me different and I know I’m better than that […I was] scared to get sacked or discriminated against.

David is now focused on his family and doing everything he can to give his kids a happy childhood.

[I feel good about the future…] Like I said, I’ve got kids and my main goal is to be a happy family, give my kids the best I can. Keep them out of harm’s way and danger’s way and give them the childhood and the family that I never had. They are my pride and joy, my kids.