Preferred Name: Misja
Misja is not currently working. He’s in a relationship has an adult child from a previous relationship. He lives with his partner and her mother. He describes his ethnic background as ‘German’: he was born in Sweden and his parents were born in Germany.
As a child Misja lived with his father and later with foster parents. After experiencing physical abuse throughout his childhood he ran away from home and found himself homeless in his pre-teenage years. He says he began taking ‘anything’ he could to ‘get high’ and in his early teens he started taking heroin regularly. In his late teens Misja started opioid pharmacotherapy treatment (methadone maintenance treatment [MMT]). During his twenties and thirties he went on and off MMT and occasionally took heroin. Misja is currently on MMT and no longer takes heroin. He now smokes cannabis daily but in the future plans to reduce his cannabis consumption, along with his dose of methadone, and eventually stop taking them altogether.
Around this time Misja became involved in dealing drugs and other illegal activity, feeling that this was ‘the only way [he] could survive’ and earn a living. He says he began ‘getting locked up a lot’ and had to detox from heroin when in juvenile detention. A few years later he started opioid pharmacotherapy treatment (methadone maintenance treatment, MMT) but was sent to prison shortly after. MMT was not provided so he had to detox from it.
After his release he didn’t take any drugs for several years. Then when he was in his late twenties he resumed taking heroin after separating from his girlfriend so and was again caught dealing. He restarted MMT through a court diversion program but had to detox again during another short period in prison several years later. In his early thirties Misja decided he wanted to reduce the risks of injecting and stop taking heroin so he voluntarily went back onto MMT. He has remained on it since then and no longer takes heroin.
Misja now smokes cannabis daily. He says that smoking cannabis alongside taking methadone gives him ‘a really relaxing, soothing, calming feeling’ and helps him to ‘be more open with people’. Despite these benefits, Misja wants to stop smoking cannabis as he has emphysema (chronic lung condition usually caused by tobacco smoking) and asthma (a chronic inflammatory airways disease), and wants to avoid aggravating these conditions. However, he feels ‘dependent on’ cannabis and says that cannabis and methadone are ‘the only things keeping [him] going’.
Over the next few years Misja intends to reduce his dose of methadone with a view to stopping it completely so that he can go on a holiday without having to visit the chemist. After having only limited contact with his parents and siblings for many years, he now hopes to build a better relationship with them. He also plans to marry his partner and start a family with her.
According to Misja (M, 40, not working due to illness, cannabis and heroin), being on MMT is the ‘only thing’ that prevents him from taking heroin.
This is my seventh time on the methadone program and every time […] when I’m with a woman and I split up with them, I just go back to my old ways. And now that I’m getting older, I’m not [keen to repeat that]. I’m trying really hard not to stuff my relationship up with my missus. And, you know, I’d like to keep that relationship and possibly have kids with her but I don’t ever want to go back on the heroin. So [if] worst comes to worst, when I get off the methadone, if there is a chance that I do go back to the heroin, I will get back on the program again. Like, [go] on the methadone program again to stop me from doing it because it’s the only thing that stops me from doing it.
Misja found psychotherapy helpful but couldn’t continue when his Medicare allowance ran out.
I was seeing a counsellor. I was seeing him for quite a while about two years ago […] I had to sit down and talk about whatever, all kinds of stuff. That’s probably the only counselling that I’ve done. It was helpful at the time because I could blurt everything out and [it was helpful to talk to] someone who actually listens to me, apart from my missus. But yeah, I found it quite okay. There was nothing bad about it […] I just stopped going because you can only get like 18 sessions a year on Medicare.
Misja (M, 40, not working due to illness, cannabis and heroin) says the police are very judgmental about people with addiction and often search them for no reason.
If you get pulled over in my area, the first thing [the police] say is, ‘What are you doing in this area? It’s a known drug area. Why are you here?’ I live in the middle of all of it but […] just because someone’s a drug addict, they got to be up to no good. And I don’t find that right at all because, like, I’m a drug addict, and I don’t cause any trouble any more and I don’t want to cause any trouble for anyone. But yeah, I just don’t like how they are so judgmental, and they actually taunt [you]. Yeah, when they pull you over and they try to pin you for something, they’ve got to search you […] To be pulled over in public and searched for no reason at all, just because you are walking down the street, that’s not right.
In the future, Misja hopes to improve his relationship with his extended family, get married and have children.
[In the future] I would just like to have a nice house […] any sort of house will do, but maybe […on the] coast somewhere, where it’s quiet and peaceful […] I’d like to have a relationship with my mother […] I don’t know what it’s like to have a relationship with my mother or my father, so I’d like to have a relationship with my father also, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, he’s too strict about his ways […] A better relationship [with my extended family] in the future would be nice.
[…I plan on] getting married and having one or two kids […or] maybe foster a kid, because I know there’s a lot of kids out there that need good care and haven’t got it. I’d hate to see anyone go through what I went through when I was a kid, so it would be nice to maybe have one or two kids.