Charlotte, NC 2014 

 How can I describe the particulars of what it takes to revive a dead man? 

Charlotte, NC

The​ ​‘coming​ ​on’​ ​of​ ​a​ ​black​ ​tar​ ​heroin overdose​ ​feels​ ​like​ ​a​ ​flood​ ​of​ ​tingling​ ​in your​ ​entire​ ​body,​ ​especially​ ​behind​ ​your eyes.​ ​“Oh​ ​shit, oh shit,”​ ​you​ ​think​ ​as​ ​you begin​ ​to​ ​panic.​ ​Too​ ​much, ​I​ ​shot​ ​too much.​ ​Your​ ​heart​ ​slows​ ​to​ ​a​ ​crawl​ ​in your​ ​chest.​ ​You​ ​can’t​ ​keep​ ​your​ ​eyes open​ ​or​ ​your​ ​head​ ​standing on your neck.​ ​Your​ ​bobblehead​ ​falls​ ​to​ ​either side​ ​of​ ​your​ ​body,​ ​hanging​ ​low​ ​like​ ​a child​ ​who​ ​falls​ ​asleep​ ​in​ ​the​ ​car​ ​once​ ​the wheels​ ​start​ ​to​ ​turn.​ ​Color​ ​rapidly drains​ ​from​ ​your​ ​face​ ​and​ ​turns​ ​an unsettling​ ​hue of blue​ ​and​ ​purple​.​ ​Your nail​ ​beds​ ​lose​ ​their​ ​pink​ ​softness​ ​and​ ​also​ ​become​ ​cold​ ​and​ ​lifeless.

He​ ​was​ ​dying​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​me on​ ​my​ ​kitchen​ ​floor.​ ​My​ ​drug lover​ ​whom​ ​I​ ​housed​ ​and supported​ ​in​ ​Charlotte,​ ​NC. Victor​, aka​ ​Vic,​ ​was​ ​a​ ​few years​ ​older than me,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​let​ ​him stay​ ​with​ ​me​ ​simply​ ​because he​ ​asked.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​homeless, and​ ​I​ ​invited​ ​him​ ​in​ ​as​ ​some sort​ ​of​ ​lonesome​ ​alliance.​ ​We attempted to be romantic, but in reality he​ ​was​ ​my​ ​drug​ ​dealer​ ​for​ ​those​ ​few​ ​months.  

Black Tar Heroin

‘Black​ ​tar’​ ​is​ ​a​ ​type​ ​of​ ​heroin​ ​that​ ​is​ ​less​ ​purified​ ​than​ ​China​ ​White​ ​heroin. The​ ​‘come​ ​on’​ ​is​ ​stronger. Black tar is a sticky brown goo that is carefully folded into wax paper. With​ ​a street​ ​price​ ​tag​ ​of​​ ​$120​ ​a​ ​gram,​ ​Black​ ​tar​ ​is​ an expensive poison.​ ​

Vic​ ​did​ ​half​ ​a​ ​gram​ ​in​ ​one​ ​shot​ ​and​ ​collapsed​ ​directly​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​had seen​ ​other​ ​friends​ ​revive​ ​people​ ​who​ ​were​ ​overdosing-​I​ ​slapped​ ​his​ ​face over​ ​and​ ​over again.​ ​I​ ​pounded​ ​on​ ​his​ ​chest.​ ​Losing​ ​my​ ​own​ ​breath​ ​from​ ​fear,​ ​I frantically​ ​called​ ​two​ ​of​ ​his​ ​friends​ ​for​ ​advice.​ ​​Calling​ ​the​ ​police​ ​wasn’t even​ ​an​ ​option​.​ ​If​ ​Vic​ ​did​ ​wake​ ​up​ ​and​ ​the​ ​cops​ ​were​ ​there,​ ​he’d​ ​kill​ ​me.​ ​For 15​ ​minutes,​ ​I​ ​poured​ ​water​ ​on​ ​him,​ ​pounded​ ​on​ ​his​ ​chest​ ​and​ ​screamed​ ​at him​ ​not​ ​to​ ​die.​ ​I​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​his​ ​friends’​ ​suggestions​ ​on​ ​the​ ​phone.​ ​I​ ​gave him​ ​CPR.​ ​Counted​ ​breaths​ ​and​ ​compressions. I​ ​searched​ ​for​ ​his​ ​faint​ ​heartbeat.​ ​As​ ​soon​ ​as​ ​his​ ​friends​ ​arrived​ ​to​ ​help,​ ​we​ ​dragged​ ​him​ ​outside​ ​onto the​ ​back​ ​porch​ ​to​ ​continue​ this ​coldwater​ ​revival.​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​what​ finally​ ​breathed​ ​life​ ​back​ ​into​ ​him,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​a​ ​flash​ ​he​ ​was​ ​awake​ ​and​ ​choking me.

“​WHERE THE HELL IS IT?!”​​ ​He​ ​began​ ​screaming​ ​and​ ​shaking​ ​me​ ​by​ ​the throat.​ ​“Where’s​ ​my​ ​dope?!”​ ​I​ ​think​ ​his​ ​friends​ ​intervened,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​can’t remember.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​also high​.​ ​I​ ​either​ ​threw​ ​away​ ​the​ ​dope,​ ​or​ ​I​ ​did​ ​it​ ​myself. Did​ ​we​ ​do​ ​it​ ​all?​ ​We​ ​each​ ​had​ ​our​ ​private,​ ​secret​ ​stashes​ ​that​ ​we​ ​lied​ ​to​ ​each other​ ​about​ (you​ ​can’t​ ​be​ ​a​ ​good​ ​drug​ ​addict​ ​without​ ​keeping​ ​secrets). Most​ ​dope​ ​addicts​ ​save​ ​even​ ​the​ ​cottons​ ​from​ ​burnt​ ​spoons,​ ​hoping​ ​heroin still​ ​lingers​ ​in​ ​its​ ​fibers.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​junkie​ ​move.​ ​You​ ​only​ ​resort​ ​to​ ​reworking​ ​the cottons​ ​when​ ​you​ ​have ​​completely run​ ​out​ ​of​ ​dope.

Vic​ ​insisted​ ​this​ ​is​ ​the​ ​only​ ​time​ ​that​ ​he had​ ​ever​ ​put​ ​his​ ​hands​ ​on​ ​a​ ​woman. He​ ​didn’t​ ​have​ ​an​ ​excuse,​ ​and he​ ​actually​ ​appeared​ ​rather​ ​embarrassed​ ​by​ ​his actions.​ ​This​ ​doesn’t​ ​change​ ​the​ ​reality​ ​that​ ​Vic ​overdosed,​ ​died,​ ​and​ ​came back​ ​to​ ​life​ ​​INFURIATED.​​ ​He was determined​ ​to​ ​find​ ​his​ ​dope​ ​like​ ​a​ ​desperate hound​ ​searching​ ​for​ ​a​ ​dead​ ​bird​ ​in the​ ​woods.

Vic​ ​later​ ​became​ ​a​ ​pimp,​ ​selling prostitutes​ ​and​ ​dope​ ​out​ ​of​ ​two adjoined​ ​motel​ ​rooms​ ​in​ ​Charlotte. At​ ​the​ ​height​ ​of​ ​his​ ​entrepreneurial prosperity,​ ​he​ ​expanded​ ​his​ ​business to​ ​include​ ​three​ ​girls.​ ​Trust me…you​ ​don’t​ ​ever want​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​heroin dealer-addict-pimp​ ​selling “discounted​ ​erotic​ ​services”​ ​out​ ​of​ ​a $40​ ​motel.

Eventually,​ ​Vic​ ​cleaned​ ​up​ ​and stopped​ ​his​ ​hustle​ ​after​ ​both​ of ​his kidneys​ ​and​ ​liver​ ​failed.​ ​He​ ​is​ ​now 2+​ ​years​ ​clean​ ​and​ ​has​ ​a​ ​10​ ​month​ ​old​ ​daughter. ​ ​By​ ​all​ ​accounts,​ ​both​ ​are doing​ ​well…but​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​hard​ ​row​ ​to​ ​hoe.

Why​ ​do​ ​some​ ​of​ ​us​ ​need​ ​to​ ​experience​ ​extreme​ ​danger​ ​and​ ​lose everything​ ​before​ ​becoming​ ​well?​ ​And,​ ​by​ ​well,​ ​I​ ​mean​ ​whole.​ ​Why do​ ​we​ ​value​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​only​ ​after​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​themselves​ ​are​ ​threatened?​

For the tortured, lost, and ragged, to the ones struggling to heal: Tragedy​ ​weaves itself into our ​existence.​ ​Thought​ ​patterns​ ​you​ ​were​ ​either raised with​ ​or​ ​were developed​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​your​ ​environment,​​ ​resulted ​in​ your current ​mindset.​ ​It’s​ ​likely​ ​not​ ​​your​​ ​fault,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​​is​​ ​your​ ​​responsibility​​ ​to change.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​your​ ​responsibility​ ​to​ ​trash​ negative thought habits ​and​ replace​ ​them ​with healthy behaviors which will serve to create new neural networks in your brain. We​ ​sew​ ​and​ ​manifest​ ​reality​ ​with​ ​our​ ​thoughts,​​“I’m​ ​stuck.​ ​I’m​ ​poor.​ ​I’m​ ​ugly.​ ​I​ ​hate​ ​my​ ​body.​ ​No​ ​one​ ​loves​ ​me.​ ​I owe too much.​ ​I’m​ ​evil.​ ​I’m​ ​worthless.​ ​I’m​ ​hopeless.​ ​I’m​ ​stupid.​ ​I’m​ ​sick.​ ​I’m​ ​an addict. ​I’m​ ​homeless.​ ​I’m​ ​a​ ​felon​.”​ Imagine what constant thoughts like these will manifest​ in your life. No​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​your​ ​path​ ​has​ ​been,​ ​or is,​ know that ​you​ ​are​ ​intended​ ​to​ ​prosper​ ​by​ ​the very​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​being​ ​a​ ​creation​ ​within​ ​this world.​ ​Just​ ​by​ ​thinking​ ​something​ ​is​ ​so,​ ​that​ ​something can become​ ​real. If​ ​you’re​ ​going​ ​through​ ​a​ ​struggle,​ ​take​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​that​ ​your struggle​ ​is​ ​the​ ​shaky​ ​ground​ ​upon ​which​ ​your​ ​testimony​ ​will​ ​stand.

  First my thoughts had to change. 

Internally,​ ​I​ ​degraded​ ​myself​ ​constantly.​ I believed I was worthless​. I​ ​had​ ​been​ ​told​ ​my​ ​whole​ ​life​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​pretty​ ​or​ ​-​ ​my​ ​personal favorite​ ​-​ ​hot,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​being​ ​attractive​ ​was​ ​my​ ​sole​ ​value.​ Promiscuity coincided with the misunderstanding that my value lay in being attractive​. The​ ​world delivers​ ​messages​ ​to​ ​us​ ​about​ ​our​ ​worth.​ What messages have you learned? Are they messages that are worth retelling yourself? ​The​ ​messages​ ​I received​ ​from​ ​my​ adoptive and biological fathers were ​unified: ​”You are​ ​worthless.”​ ​​I​ ​struggle​ ​everyday to fight that internal programing.​​​ ​My​ ​identity came​ ​from​ my ​dysfunctional familial ​relationships​ ​instead of​ ​the​ ​knowledge​ ​deep​ ​within​ ​that​ ​I​ ​am​ ​a​ ​child​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​Creator​ ​of​ ​the Universe.​ ​​

I​ ​had​ ​no​ ​belief​ ​in​ ​God​ ​or​ ​a​ ​power​ ​greater​ ​than​ ​myself.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​destroying​ ​my body​ ​with​ ​heroin​ ​daily.​ ​I​ ​hated​ ​myself.​ During​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​rehab​ ​visits, I​ ​was​ ​sent​ ​to​ ​a​ ​wilderness​ ​experiential treatment​ ​program​ ​called​ ​Four​ ​Circles​ ​(a.k.a​ ​Treehab)​ ​in​ ​Asheville,​ ​NC.

The day I left Treehab.

Somewhere​ ​in​ ​the​ ​woods,​ ​while​ ​hiking​ ​8​ ​hours​ ​a​ ​day,​ ​I​ ​brushed​ ​up​ ​against The​ ​Creator.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​magnificent​ ​whisper​ ​that​ ​I​ ​attuned​ my​ ​ears​ ​and​ ​heart to hear.  ​The​ ​trees​ ​suddenly​ ​became​ ​alive​ ​and​ ​swayed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rhythm​ ​of​ ​my​ ​soul.​ ​With the haze of heroin diminishing, I was finally​ able to ​recognize​ ​God’s​ ​perfect​ ​presence​ ​breathing​ ​energy​ ​into​ ​every​ ​living thing.

Gradually,​ ​and​ ​all​ ​at​ ​once,​ ​I​ ​shifted​ ​from​ ​living​ ​in​ ​fear​ ​and​ ​believing that nothing​ ​but​ ​pain​ ​was​ ​real, ​​to​ ​experiencing​ a feeling that​ ​everything​ ​in​ ​life​ ​is connected.​ ​Life​ ​is​ ​unfolding​ ​in​ ​perfect​ ​order:​ ​INCLUDING​ ​my​ ​use​ ​of heroin,​ ​and​ ​INCLUDING​ ​my​ ​experiences​ ​of​ ​emotional,​ ​physical,​ ​sexual, and mental​ ​trauma.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​lowest​ ​of​ ​valleys,​ ​I​ ​met​ ​my​ ​Creator.

 There is purpose to our pain. 

I​ ​know​ ​where​ ​the​ ​darkness​ ​hides.​ ​It​ ​hides​ ​in​ ​our​ ​repressed​ ​anger​ ​and​ ​in​ ​our self-loathing.​ ​It​ ​hides​ ​in​ ​the​ ​secrets​ ​we​ ​take​ ​to​ ​our​ ​graves.​ ​It hides in the grief we feel and don’t express. It​ ​hides​ ​in​ ​the trauma​ ​that​ ​others​ ​inflict​ ​upon​ ​us,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​trauma​ ​we​ ​inflict​ ​upon​ ​others. Darkness​ ​hides​ ​in​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​not​ ​capable​ ​of​ ​becoming​ ​whole.​ ​It thrives​ ​in​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​separated​ ​and​ ​have​ ​no​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​energy which​ ​created​ ​us.​ ​However,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​something​ ​that​ ​is​ ​very​ ​useful​ ​about darkness.​

​A​ ​seed​ ​grows​ ​by​ ​being​ ​buried​ ​in​ ​the​ ​darkness​ ​of​ ​soil.​ ​It​ ​first receives​ ​nourishment​ ​from​ ​within​ ​itself.​ ​Before​ ​becoming strong​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​bust​ ​through​ ​the​ ​soil​ ​into​ ​the​ ​sun, ​​the​ ​seed​ ​pulls​ ​nutrients​ ​from the​ ​soil​, ​while​ ​bearing​ ​roots​ ​down​ ​into​ ​the​ ​rich​ ​dark ground.​ ​

The​ ​darkness​ ​we experience​ ​can​ ​become​ ​the​ ​fertile​ ​ground​ ​through​ ​which​ ​recovery​ ​and​ ​life can​ ​thrive.​

It​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​me.  

I​ ​relapsed​ ​again​ ​and​ ​again,​ ​even​ ​after​ ​coming​ ​to experience​ perfection in ​The​ ​Creator. But each​ ​time​ ​I​ ​got​ ​back​ ​into​ ​treatment​ ​more quickly​ ​than​ ​I had before.​​ Always try again

Organ​ ​Donor​​ ​is​ ​the​ ​title​ ​of​ ​my​ ​upcoming​ ​sophomore​ ​record.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​the music​ ​memoir​ ​encompassing​ ​the​ ​music​ ​I​ ​wrote​ ​throughout​ ​a​ ​decade​ ​of heroin​ ​addiction,​ ​but​​ due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​addiction, ​I was​ ​unable​ ​to​ ​record the album ​until now. I began recording at Blue Moose Studio in Durham, NC on Jan 15th 2018! I launched a pledgemusic campaign to crowdfund the cheddar for Organ Donor! You can support Organ Donor by pledging here. Every person who supports the presale of Organ Donor will be named on the album in the thank you section. 

artwork by Mark Molchan

 If you’re reading this, and you’re still suffering from addiction, ​​keep trying. Keep asking for help. Go to ​​Narcotics Anonymous (818.773.9999) or ​​Alcoholics Anonymous (212.870.3400); go to rehab for the 30th time; go back to the hospital. Stop trusting street pharmacists to heal your pain. Addiction is a symptom of a greater problem. I believe the true problem is rooted in spiritual, mental, and emotional trauma, and it ​​can be healed. 

About the author: 

Amanda Bocchi emerges from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia as an Americana soul artist. She marries together jazz harmony, roots music and a soulful voice to create her own brand: Americana Soul Flood. Her lyrics swing from the sweetness of motherhood to the death rattle of addiction. Organ Donor, Amanda’s sophomore album, is a memoir of her experience through heroin addiction and her transformation into the light of recovery. Cereal Box Murder, Bocchi’s debut, was independently released in 2006. 

Amanda is also the​ co-​host, along with Matt Gibson, on the Kingdom of Rock podcast for DIY musicians. Kingdom of Rock podcast is centered around shaping musicians into music entrepreneurs. Amanda and Matt interview authors,legendary performers, independent musicians, social media guru’s, marketers, and influencers​ that are slaying it in the new frontier of the music business.

Edited by:

Alys Sink @ 

Rachel Kathleen Shaffer-Moore @