‘It’ll get you well’ is an expression used by heroin addicts and dealers to indicate that a ‘brand’ of dope will not get you high, but it will stave off dope sickness, thereby making you well.

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 bluish ​purple​.​ ​Your nail​ ​beds​ ​lose​ ​their​ ​pink​ ​softness​ ​and​ ​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 ​was ​eight years​ ​older than me,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​let​ ​him stay​ ​with​ ​me​ ​simply​ ​because he​ ​asked. ​He​ ​was​ ​homeless, so he said, and​ ​I​ ​invited​ ​him​ ​in​ ​as​ ​some sort​ ​of​ ​lonesome​ ​alliance.​ ​Vic was tall and stocky with blonde buzzed hair and husky blue eyes. He once was a talented chef working for the Hilton, but God knows what happened to him since. He was quiet. We attempted to be romantic, but in reality he​ ​was​ ​my​ ​drug​ ​dealer​ ​for​ ​those​ ​few​ ​months we knew each other. For real for real, I wouldn’t even call him a dealer. He was more like a drug leecher. For the price half your drugs he’d hook you up with the right dealers to buy the fire dope from.

Black Tar heroin

“Black​ ​tar”​ ​is​ ​a​ ​type​ ​of​ ​heroin​ ​that​ ​is​ ​less​ ​purified​ ​than​ ​China​ ​White​ ​heroin. The​ ​come​ ​on ​isn’t as​ ​strong, but the effects last longer. 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.​ ​

I bought a whole gram and shared it with Vic. He ​did​ ​half​ ​a​ ​gram​ ​in​ ​one​ ​shot​ ​and​ ​fizzled out like a balloon losing air before me. Cold to this world on the floor. I’m always surprised how quickly a person dying loses color, Vics lips faded to blue in less than a minute. I started to panic, desperately pulling my hands through my unbrushed blonde hair, the knot in my stomach growing the size of a baby. I​ ​had seen​ ​other​ ​friends​ ​revive​ ​people​ ​who​ ​were​ ​overdosing. I​ ​slapped ​him in the​ ​face over​ ​and​ ​over again.​ ​I​ ​pounded ​on​ ​his​ ​chest.​ ​Losing​ ​my​ ​own​ ​breath​ ​from​ ​fear,​ ​I ​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​ ​literally kill​ ​me.​  

When you’re caught up in the drug life there’s a prevailing attitude of disdain for police, hospitals, ambulances and rehabs.

For fifteen​ ​minutes, ​I​ ​splashed​ ​water​ ​on​ ​his face while ​pounding​ ​on​ ​his​ ​chest​ ​and​ ​screaming​ ​at him​ ​not​ ​to​ ​die.​ ​I​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​his​ ​friends’​ ​suggestions​ ​on​ ​the​ ​phone.​ ​I​ ​gave him​ ​CPR. Counting ​breaths​ ​and​ ​compressions. ​As​ ​soon​ ​as​ ​his​ ​friends​ ​arrived​ ​to​ ​help,​ ​we​ ​dragged​ ​him​ ​outside​ ​onto the​ ​back​ ​porch​ ​to​ ​continue​ this violent coldwater​ ​revival.​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​what​ finally​ ​breathed​ ​life​ ​back​ ​into​ ​him,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​a​ ​flash​ ​Vic​ ​was​ ​awake, on his feet with his rough hands wrapped solidly around my neck.

“​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​ it ​away​ after he overdosed,​ ​or​ ​I​ ​did​ ​the rest​ ​myself. Did​ ​we​ already ​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​ ​ ​rework ​the cottons​ ​when​ ​you​ ​​completely run​ ​out​ ​of​ ​dope.

Vic was psychotic in his rampage for the missing dope, pillaging my house, screaming the lamps off the tables, smashing them into the cherry floors. He was determined​ ​to​ ​find​ ​the​ ​dope​ the way ​a​ ​desperate hound​ ​searches​ ​for​ ​a​ ​dead​ ​bird​ ​in the​ ​woods.

I fled my house, disappearing into Charlotte’s dark winding streets. My Ford Explorer dangerously weaving in between the cars on I85. Cry-singing to Katy Perry’s least detestable song, Black Horse. It kills me when the song gets to the part in the song where Juicy J raps, “lil mama’s so dope I messed around and got addicted.” I cry-sing harder. Heroin is everywhere. It’s touching every part of my life. This thing I need, hate but love so desperately has infiltrated to my last holy altar, the radio. Not even bubblegum Katy Perry is sacred.

Overdose was always a possibility. Although I was terrified of overdosing, I pushed the limits of what any person should be able to handle. A gram of black tar or a bun a day was my primary diet.

A bun refers to a bundle of heroin, which is the sum of ten small white rectangle wax bags holding .1 grams of heroin in each bag. China white and brown powdered heroin-or baking soda, if it’s fake-come in the bags which make up a bundle.

Dope is expensive. Like, really expensive. Easily $120 to $200 a day to get high. I couldn’t come up with that kind of cash every day. After I had pawned every instrument that was near and dear to my heart, and then anything of value I could get my hands on, I decided to find a benefactor. A game as old as time, I discovered my greatest resource was my ability to hustle love, or the appearance of love. I flirted and intellectually entertained much older men who were potential revenue streams for my habit. I had loads of sugar daddies throughout the span of my drug career. Shopping excursions, medical bills, rent, cars, guitars, equipment and of course, heroin were mostly provided for by lonely men well past my daddies age. I justified my talent for finding rich broken men by constantly reminding myself that their intentions weren’t exactly pure. I was well aware of their attention and not so subtle advances.

The winter I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina I was teaching in a music store in South Charlotte. I was living with a waiter who had one blow up mattress on his floor and nare a stick of furniture in the entire apartment. Tom was sweet, motherly almost. Until one evening when we got into a terrible fight while we were drinking. I don’t remember a thing about it but I landed in the ER. I was prescribed opiates, upon my request, and from there the thick fog of dope clouded each step I took. I had been sober for about 7 months when I relapsed on that prescription of hydrocodone.  

Within two weeks I was hooked on oxycontin again, I quit school and the lights and water in my apartment were shut off. 

I remembered an older student of mine who offered me gifts that I continually denied. One afternoon in desperation, I called him in tears, my sob story perfected. Within one hour he met me in a bank parking lot and handed me $500. Over the course of the following weeks he deposited fifty thousand dollars into my bank account. I rented a beautiful home in South Charlotte with the intention of bringing my children down there once I was healthy.

Healthy never came. Instead it became a house of horror.

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​ ​are​ ​threatened?​

For the tortured, lost, and ragged, for the ones struggling to heal: Tragedy​ ​weaves itself into our ​existence.​ ​Thought​ ​patterns​ ​you​ ​were​ ​either raised with​ ​or​ ​you developed​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​your​ ​environment,​​ ​result ​in​ your current ​mindset.​ I discovered it was my ​responsibility​ ​to​ ​trash​ mynnegative thought habits ​and​ replace​ ​them ​with healthy behaviors which serve to create new neural networks in my brain. We​ ​sew​ ​and​ ​manifest​ ​our 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 the consequences these limiting thoughts will make 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.​  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​. Promiscuous behavior coincided with the misunderstanding that my value lie in being attractive​. The​ ​world delivers​ ​messages​ ​to​ ​us​ ​about​ ​our​ ​worth.​ What messages have you learned? Are they messages worth retelling yourself? ​

​I​ ​believed​ ​I​ ​was​ ​separate​ ​from​ ​everyone,​ ​and​ ​fiercely​ ​alone. I was so isolated spiritually, from my family and my community that I couldn’t see my value. I​ ​had​ ​no​ ​belief​ ​in​ ​God​ ​or​ ​a​ ​power​ ​greater​ ​than​ ​myself.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​destroying​ ​my body​ ​with​ ​heroin​ ​daily.​ ​I​ ​hated​ ​myself.​ ​I​ ​could ​see​ no evidence of ​divinity​ ​present in​ ​my​ ​life.

First day home from “Treehab

During​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​rehab​ ​visits, I​ ​was​ ​placed in​ ​a​ ​wilderness​ ​experiential treatment​ ​program​ ​called​ ​Four​ ​Circles​ ​(a.k.a​ ​Treehab)​ ​in​ ​Asheville,​ ​NC. 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​ traumatic ​experiences​​.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​lowest​ ​of​ ​valleys,​ ​I​ ​met​ ​my​ ​Creator.  

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​ ​your life​ ​can ​thrive.

​It​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​me.  

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.

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 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 industry. Amanda’s mission on Kingdom of Rock is to create dialogue surrounding feminism and music.