Sunday, August 28, 2011


It is rare for me to criticise my peers in public.  We have enough enemies as it is; why give them more ammunition? And yet it would be dishonest of me to ignore the reality of heroin and its effects on prisoners.

As a hard-line libertarian, I defend every person's right to use or abuse their body in any way they choose.

Not that I understand some of these choices, least of all a decision to become enthralled by heroin.  We all know its effects - it can rapidly turn people into selfish, lying, thieving ratbags whose whole personality becomes an extension of finding the next bag of gear. I just don't see the attraction, but if that's a life someone opts for then good luck to them.

I may be indifferent to the corrosive effects heroin has on the individual, but I care deeply about the corrosive effects that heroin has on the prisoner society.

There is a myth that "back in the days" prisoners has a greater solidarity.  My view has been that such solidarity was sporadic and temporary.  Nevertheless, in whatever degree, solidarity existed.  And such solidarity, being feared by the Prison Service, was always under challenge.  In retrospect, we did not resist as well as we could have.

Challenges to prisoner solidarity from our keepers is to be expected.  But I argue that heroin has divisive effects upon every part of the prisoner society - from our economy to our friendships - and that this is a self-inflicted blow to our solidarity.  In a community where a significant number of its members are ruthlessly competing against each other for the next bag of smack, then the opportunities for organising around prisoner solidarity are greatly reduced.  This is my concern - that the personal choices to use heroin have effects far wider than the individual.

Not only does heroin corrode prisoner solidarity, it also plays into the hands of the system which takes every opportunity to degrade and disempower us.  Humiliating searches of our families on visits is the most obvious example.

The joys of heroin are lost on me, though they obviously exist for some.  Conversely, the effects of heroin on prisoner solidarity seem to me to be obvious and negative.

This is a tragedy.  Prisoners are in a good position to organise politically, economically and legally, yet many of us have chosen to take our eye off that ball - and fix our gaze on the next bag of smack instead.


  1. "Heroin - its my life - its my wife." (the Velvet Underground). And its so sad.

  2. Heroin does what it says on the box; it is a painkiller. Prison is painful.

  3. INteresting take on heroin inside.

  4. @ddddd, I have tried many street drugs, but I drew the line at cocaine or heroin although they have been offered to me.

    A partner of mine a while back also took drugs and we did them together. He did try heroin once, he told me all about it and I thought his experience and his views about it insightful.

    He told me that it did obliterate all your problems, you felt absolutely no pain, but he said that the 'come down' from it was completely unbearable, the worst he had ever experienced and on that basis he would no longer and indeed has never touched the stuff again.

    So, part of the problem with the drug seems to be dealing with the pain of the aftermath of it, the temptation would be to take it again immediately or as soon as you can to avoid that awful coming down.

    I am really glad that my ex was able to stop it right there and get through that pain, others unfortunately are not so lucky.

  5. I write as the 'victim' of a heroin addict. I have been used, manipulated, lied to, and just two days ago, spat at in the face but someone I have only tried to help. After a long time of trying,caring,crying,praying,enduring, I have come to the end of my rope. Heroin is an evil substance that destroys your dignity, your personality, your friendships and your life. It is a cowards way out not to face up to your pain and instead inflict it on others who care about you.

  6. @Jules, afraid you can't save people from themselves. A lesson i've had to learn too.

    I have never tried heroin, and never will, as i have only ever seen the misery it causes, including the death of two young girls i know,so never let anyone tell you how much fun drugs are, as there were not laughts at either funeral. I had to take a neighbour to score the other day, he wants to go to re-hab, but is being made to jump through hoops. He loved his ex partner, but she got fed up, as they could never enjoy a day out, before he sorted himself out....

  7. What was the heroin problem like in prison before the introduction of random drug testing in the 90's? I've been told that prior to that, cannabis was the prisoners drug of choice, but the use of H in jail soared after drug testing was introduced as cannabis remains detectable for much longer than heroin.

  8. For anyone who is interested, heroin is practically *never* brought into prisons by visitors. Prison staff know this. This is not the reason for searching. Visitors are much more likely to bring something like cannabis, benzos or sim cards.

    Most 'heroin' in prison isn't actually heroin anyway, it's a synthetic substitute prescribed in the prison, e.g. subutex or methadone. And yes Kevin, the drug testing policy has increased the amount of gear being traded/used, but so has the general fashion of the times. Most prisoners who fail drug tests these days tend to fail for cannabis anyway, even though as you rightly state it is detectable for much longer than heroin. *Typically 28 days as opposed to 2-4 days.

  9. It is one of the saddest things to see when someone you know is going through an addiction. Most addicts can not help themselves and need the support of family and friends to get them healthy. Having the moral support of loved ones and a good drug rehab to be placed in can lead to the road to recovery. Please do not ignore anyone struggling with disease.


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