London is a drugs supermarket
Posted: Wed Nov 9 2005
The addictRoger – 42, restaurateur ‘I started smoking cannabis when I was around 14 years old'. 'There was a gradual increase until I was 16, when all my mates smoked too, and I was at it pretty much every day until I was 20 or so. Got into speed when I was 17, when I found out that it was no more harmful than pot, although I didn’t particularly enjoy it. I first took acid around the same age, and that was quite an experience. I took it once a week in my early twenties. Then I got bored after a couple of years and took ecstasy when that first turned up. By my mid-twenties, I’d pretty much tried every drug. I hadn’t tried heroin, but I’d taken opium, which was seen as more socially acceptable. I started doing heroin in my late twenties because it was a drug that I’d never really explored. ‘By my early thirties, I was smoking heroin regularly. Heroin’s like cannabis or a glass of wine that you can take at home to wind down. But before you know it, you’ve got a habit. It’s that old cliché that you think you can manage it. There wasn’t an exact moment when I realised that I couldn’t. You don’t want to admit to yourself that you’re a heroin addict. Looking back, it took about three years from starting to use it maybe once every three months for the time to decrease, until it was once a fortnight, once a week, twice a week. Not long after realising that I had a proper habit, I was about 33, and I went cold turkey at home and got off it. ‘I started taking it again because I thought I was stronger than it, that I had beaten it. I began taking it to maintain a normal existence. I wasn’t ever getting stoned, just taking it like a diabetic takes insulin. I’ve tried to get off it several times since and failed. People think a smackhead is the beggar they step over in the street, but you don’t hear about the addicts like me because we don’t steal to maintain our habits, we’re not really a problem to society. I was arrested on New Year’s Eve, caught smoking heroin in my car because I had guests staying in my flat. I wasn’t charged, but my girlfriend left me a couple of weeks later.’
The dealerHenry – 29, studio engineer ‘For me, dealing is a way of making sure I’ve got enough without having to pay for it'.
When you’re consuming loads, you want it on tap. Later you may end up having really good contacts and it could become more, but not for me. I don’t take drugs any more; I haven’t since January, although never say never. Now I’m thinking: What can I make from this? It’s more of an earner. I don’t have a moral issue with it, but that’s our generation. I never push, I only deal with people who have made an active choice to seek that experience. It’s a mythical thing, dealers wreaking destruction on the youth of today. People consume drugs because that’s how they choose to have a good time. I think that you have your twenties peak, then you’re more inclined to slow down. You still get caners who are in their late thirties, but they always look haggard, showing signs of wear and abuse. London’s got its own hellbent attitude. It’s a very uncaring, selfish place. Things are expensive, people haven’t got time, and it’s that self-focused attitude that you can feel in the drug culture. London’s more varied in the type of drugs you can consume compared to up north, and that should never be forgotten. It’s a supermarket sweep, I suppose. If there’s a new drug, you’re going to find it in London. Ketamine’s fascinating. It started as a crusty, squatters’ drug; it was seen as dirty. But in the last two years, that’s really turned around. Everything eventually becomes trendy, and the thing about ket is that it really kicks your arse. It’s cheap and it works. Suddenly it’s Hoxton-esque but, to be honest, those kids are only doing tiny bumps (a small amount on the edge of a card or key); the people on the crusty scene ended up injecting it. They’d snort metre-long lines; don’t laugh, I’ve seen it! ‘The thing about London that’s unique is that there are lots of pockets consuming in their own ways. Just because you’re part of one drug culture doesn’t mean you’re part of all the others. Each is governed by its own social regulations. You go to a dinner party – for example – smoke a joint then, after dinner, chop out some lines; it’s fairly accepted. Get out your needles and start up with heroin, they’d kick you out. What’s next? I really don’t know. 2CB (liquid mescalin) turned up for a while, and drug combinations are around, sniffing different things on the same night. London’s hellbent on getting out of it.’ All names have been changed.
- Add your comment to this feature