Jesus took a healthy pull of beer and eyed Collins. Jesus was a large, heavy set man with a relaxed demeanor and and casually watchful eyes. He couldn’t help being aware of the people in a room, their motions, conditions, and likely motivations. His eyes naturally moved to the doors as people entered and left, rose as people climbed off bar stools and settled as others lowered themselves into booths. Like an attentive waiter, he could anticipate peoples’ needs and time their progress as they moved from drinks to appetizers or the bar to the bathroom. He didn’t frequent dives like this one but was comfortable almost anywhere and ascertained people and places as opposed to judging them. Condition or situation was a function of time and fate. There was plenty in this life you could try to control or manage and it was worth the effort to do so, but there was only so much anyone could do.
Jesus measured his position in life relative to how many unexpected disasters he could withstand. A medical emergency or accident involving himself or a family member he could afford. He could stand up to a major arrest or even a string of them. He had enough money and relative power to disappear if he had to and keep cash coming in. By the general rules of this world and the world he operated within it would take a lot to take him down. A stray bullet or a fatal car accident or other acts of fate, to Jesus it was not worth worrying about what one was helpless against. And to a certain degree, we were all helpless. The trick was to accept that helplessness while fighting to live anyway. Life was a fight for everyone, even for those who tried avoid it. For most of them, it was too late. The fight was already lost. But as long as there was life there was a chance. Fate worked that way, too.
Jesus looked away from Collins and down at his beer as he placed it back on the table. Like Jesus, Collins preferred booths. Jesus always found him in one if there was one available.
“If you’re really thinking about quitting, I can help you. It’s going to be painful for you, no amount of money can change that, but we can make it less painful. For someone like you who’s been using for over 15 years, your entire body is going to revolt against the change. Most of the pain of withdrawal comes from your blood pressure rising, returning to whatever’s normal for it. Your organs feel like they’re being crushed from the inside because they are. The other pains are caused by neuro-chemical imbalances and dietary deficiencies in general. You’ve probably been eating candy and donuts for the better part of your life on top of all the booze. Your body is craving the sugar it should be getting from regular meals.”
Jesus took a lit a Marlboro red cigarette and continued. “Methadone or fentanyl or a combination of those opiates and others can ease you off the opiates slowly. Changing these opiates as you reduce dosage is best, as your body doesn’t become to reliant on any one. But the end is always difficult, and the slower you go, the more difficult the end will be. I’d recommend moving faster, dealing with a little bit of pain as you go along. Clonidine and other blood thinners will help with the physical pain, the organ crushing feeling I was talking about earlier, but they will make you feel dizzy and cold. The methadone and fentanyl will allow you to eat and sleep, but as you get closer to the end, eating and sleeping will become almost impossible, and your body will ache despite the clonidine.
“I’ll put you on klonopin or other benzos as well”, continued Jesus, “anxiolytic hypnotics. They’ll help you to relax and take your mind off things. Don’t mix up the clonidine with klonopin, Too much klonopin and you turn into a puddle. Anyway, the biggest problem in the beginning and at the very end is mental. At first, you can’t stop thinking about heroin, but this passes within a few days, once your body accepts the other opiates and understands that it isn’t in danger of physical pain. And you’re going to have to quit drinking. Don’t worry, it’ll be easier than you think. Your body will be too weak handle it and you’ll stop craving it after a few days. Most people stop drinking once they start using, but some special cases like you, somehow you remain addicted to both. Some recommend quitting the drinking first, but I think it’s better if you quit both at once. Both leech magnesium and calcium and other vitamins from your system. This is also responsible for a lot of muscle aches and cramps, and this is easily fixable assuming you stop drinking and using.”
Jesus wondered why Collins was coming to him with this instead of a doctor or his law firm or just going to a rehab clinic. Maybe he didn’t want a public record or paper trail. Maybe there were some things he didn’t want his lawyers to know. Lawyers make deals with each other all the time, supposedly confidential information has a way of finding itself to all interested parties. There were several possible reasons.
“This is just a brief outline of the hell you’ll have to go through” continued Jesus, “but once you make it past all this, you’re almost home free. But what comes next, in some ways, is the hardest part of all. After quitting heroin, after doing the impossible, a part of your mind is going to think that you can do anything, that anything is possible. And your mind is not going to be right for a long time, even after you’re off everything. For at least six months your brain is going to go haywire. 15 years of stalled emotional processing and development is going to come rushing back at you. Do you remember or know why you started using in the first place? Most people don’t, but you’ll find out. Not a specific cause, but a set of circumstances and patterns. No one really knows why, but you’ll see what rationale allowed you to let this happen. You’re going to find yourself back at that place and time, right before you started using regularly. My advice to you right now is to forget about it. There is no good reason why and there’s nothing to fix and no way to fix it. Just be wary if you ever feel yourself slipping back, and you’ll know this without having to understand anything. I’ll remind you of this again someday.”
Collins took a pull of his beer. “What makes you so sure I’m going to make it, that we’re going to make it that far”
Jesus laughed. “Because you have to be.”
TO BE CONTINUED…