‘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​ ​bobble head​ ​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. ​I​ ​let​ ​him stay​ ​with​ ​me​ ​simply​ ​because he​ needed a place for his probation officer to think was his home. ​He​ ​was​ ​homeless 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 only 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 leacher. For the price half of 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 in a heap on my kitchen 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 cold-water​ ​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 the trunk of my neck.

“​WHERE THE HELL IS IT?!”​​ He was ​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​n eager 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 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 bags holding .1 grams of heroin within each wax 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, then anything of value I could get my hands on, I reconciled myself 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 daddy’s 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 less than subtle advances.

A few months before Vic’s overdose, I was living with a waiter who had one blow up mattress on his bedroom floor and nare a stick of furniture in the rest of the 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 the fight but I landed in the ER. I was prescribed opiates, upon my request, and from there the thick fog of opiates influenced every step I took. Again.

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 and had already found a street dealer. I quit going to my college classes and in the coming weeks the lights and water in my apartment were shut off.  Desperate for money, I recalled an older gentleman acquaintance of mine who offered me gifts that I had continually denied. One afternoon in a frantic state, I called him in tears, my need 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 $50,000 dollars into my bank account. I rented a beautiful home in South Charlotte with the intention of bringing my children down from Virginia 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.​ It became my mission to heal. I soon discovered it was my ​responsibility​ ​to​ ​trash​ my negative thought habits ​and​ replace​ ​them ​with healthy behaviors which would serve to create new neural networks in my brain.

 It all begins with thought. 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, or just look at your life and see the fruit of your negative self thought.

 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​ ​saw​ 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​ ​​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​ had to attune​ my​ ​ears​ ​and​ ​heart in order to hear.  After a few weeks​ 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​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.   

Black Widow from upcoming album Organ Donor. 
Never Again from our upcoming record, Organ Donor. 
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. Edited by Alys Sink: alys.sink@gmail.com, Rachel Moore-Schaeffer: Rakmoore@gmail.com and my dad, Joe Bocchi.  Artwork by the amazing Mark Molchan www.markmolchan.com  About​ ​the​ ​author:                 Out of the cool Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Amanda Bocchi emerges as an Americana neo soul songstress. Her songs combine musical elements from jazz harmony, hip hop rhythms, roots music, and an intoxicating soulful vibe to create a visceral sound Amanda calls -Americana Soul Flood. Her lyrics rush from the sweetness of motherhood to the death rattle of addiction. Her songs often change time or key suddenly following the intensity of the her lyrics. Organ Donor, Amanda’s upcoming sophomore album, is a memoir of her experience through heroin addiction and her transformation into recovery. Organ Donor is being recorded through Fall 2018 and will be released Spring 2019. Cereal Box Murder, Amanda’s debut, was independently released in 2006.

Amanda is also a speaker, writer and podcaster. Her speaking and writing focuses around opiate recovery advocacy and personal growth. She is a host on the Kingdom of Rock podcast for DIY musicians which is centered around shaping musicians into successful music entrepreneurs. Amanda interviews best selling authors, legendary performers, business and marketing gurus and independent artists to increase dialogue surrounding feminism, music and entrepreneurship.