I AWOKE FROM THE SICKNESS...
EXCERPT FROM THE NAKED LUNCH INTRODUCTION
By William S. Burroughs
I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and
in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of
borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness... Most
survivors do not remember the delirium in detail. I apparently took
detailed notes on sickness and delirium...
The Sickness is drug addiction and I was an addict for fifteen years.
When I say addict I mean addict to junk (generic term for opium and/or
derivatives including all synthetics from demerol to palfium). I have
used junk in many forms: morphine, heroin, dilaudid, eukodal,
pantopon, diocodid, diosane, opium, demerol, dolophine, palfium. I
have smoked junk, eaten it, sniffed it, injected it in
vein-skin-muscle, inserted it in rectal suppositories. The needle is
not important. Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up
your ass the result is the same: addiction.
When I speak of drug
addiction I do not refer to keif, marijuana or any preparation of
hashish, mescaline, Bannistria caapi, LSD6, Sacred Mushrooms or any
other drug of the hallucinogen group... There is no evidence that the
use of any hallucinogen results in physical dependence. The action of
these drugs is physiologically opposite to the action of junk. A
lamentable confusion between the two classes of drugs has arisen owing
to the zeal of the U.S. and other narcotic departments.
I have seen the exact manner in which the junk virus operates through
fifteen years of addiction. The pyramid of junk, one level eating the
level below (it is no accident that junk higher-ups are always fat and
the addict in the street is always thin) right up to the top or tops
since there are many junk pyramids feeding on peoples of the world and
all built on basic principles of monopoly:
* 1--Never give anything away for nothing.
* 2--Never give more than you have to give (always catch the buyer
hungry and always make him wait).
* 3--Always take everything back if you possibly can.
The Pusher always gets it all back. The addict needs more and more
junk to maintain a human form...buy off the Monkey.
Junk is the mold of monopoly and possession. The addict stands by
while his junk legs carry him straight in on the junk beam to relapse.
Junk is quantitative and accurately measurable. The more junk you use
the less you have and more you have the more you use. All the
hallucingen drugs are considered sacred by those who use them--there
are Peyote Cults and Bannisteria Cults, Hashish Cults and Mushroom
Cults--"the Sacred Mushrooms of Mexico enable a man to see God"--but
no one ever suggested that junk is sacred. There are no opium cults.
Opium is profane and quantitative like money. I have heard that there
was once a beneficent non-habit-forming junk in India. It was called
soma and is pictured as a beautiful blue tide. If soma ever existed
the Pusher was there to bottle it and monopolize it and sell it and it
turned into plain old time JUNK.
Junk is the ideal product...the ultimate merchandize. No sales talk
necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy... The
junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the
consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his
merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client. He pays his staff
Junk yields a basic formula of "evil" virus: The Algebra of Need. The
face of "evil" is always the face of total need. A dope fiend is a man
in total need of dope. Beyond a certain frequency, need knows
absolutely no limit or control. In the words of total need: "Wouldn't
you?" Yes you would. You would lie, cheat, inform on your friends,
steal, do anything to satisfy total need. Because you would be in a
state of total sickness, total possession, and not in a position to
act in any other way. Dope fiends are sick people who cannot act other
than they do. A rabid dog cannot choose but bite. Assuming a
self-righteous position is nothing to the the purpose unless your
purpose be to keep the junk virus in operation. And junk is a big
industry. I recall talking to an American who worked for the Aftosa
Commission in Mexico. Six hundred a month plus expense account:
"How long will the epidemic last?" I enquired.
"As long as we can keep it going... And yes...maybe the aftosa will
break out in South America," he said dreamily.
If you wish to alter or annihilate a pyramid of numbers in a serial
relation, you alter or remove the bottom number. If we wish to
annihilate the junk pyramid, we must start with the bottom of the
pyramid: the Addict in the Street. And stop tilting quixotically for
the "higher ups," so called, all of whom are immediately replaceable.
The addict in the street who must have junk to live is the one
irreplaceable factor in the junk equation. When there are no more
addicts to buy junk there will be no more junk traffic. As long as
junk need exists, someone will service it.
Addicts can be cured or quarantined--that is, allowed a morphine
ration under minimal supervision like typhoid carriers. When this is
done, junk pyramids of the world will collapse. So far as I know,
England is the only country to apply this method to the junk problem.
They have about five hundred quarantined addicts in the U.K. In
another generation when the quaratined addicts often die off and pain
killers operating on a non-junk principle are discovered, the junk
virus will be like smallpox, a closed chapter--a medical curiosity.
The vaccine that can regulate the junk virus to a land-locked past is
in existence. This vaccine is the Apomorphine Treatment discovered by
an English doctor whose name I must withhold pending his permission to
use it and to quote from his book covering thirty years of apomorphine
treatment of addicts and alcoholics. The compound apomorphine is is
formed by boiling morphine with hydrochloric aicd. It was discovered
years before it was used to treat addicts. For many years the only use
for apomorphine which has no narcotic or pain-killing properties was
as an emetic to induce vomiting center in the back brain.
I found this vaccine at the end of the junk line. I lived in One room
in the Native Quarter of Tangier. I had not taken a bath in a year nor
changed my clothes or removethem except to stick a needle every hour
in the fibrous grey wooden flesh of terminal addiction . I never
cleaned or dusted my room. Empty ampule boxes and garbage piled to the
ceiling. Light and water long since turned off for non-payment. I did
absolutely nothing. I could look at the end of my shoe for eight
hours. I was only roused to action when the hourglass of junk ran out.
If a friend came to visit--and rarely did since who or what was left
to visit--I sat there not caring that he had entered my field of
vision-- a grey screen always blanker and fainter--and not caring when
he walked out of it.
If he died on the spot I would have sat there
looking at my shoe waiting to go through his pockets. Wouldn't you?
Because I never had enough junk--no one ever does. Thirty grains of
morphine a day it still was not enough. And long waits in front of the
drugstore. Delay is a rule in the junk business. The Man is never on
time. This is no accident. There are no accidents in the junk world.
The addict is taught again and again exactly what will happen if he
does not score for his junk ration. Get up that money or else. And
suddenly my habit began to jump and jump. Forty, sixty grains a day.
And it still was not enough. And I could not pay.
I stood there with my last check in my hand and realiuzed that it was
my last check. I took the next plane for London.
The doctor explained to me that apomorphine acts on the back brain to
regulate the metabolism and normalize the blood stream in such a way
that the enzyme system of addiction is destroyed over a period of four
to five days. Once in the back brain is regulated apomorhine can be
discontinued and only used in case of relapse. (No one would take
apomorphine for kicks. Not one case of addiction to apomorphine has
ever been recorded.) I agreed to undergo treatment and entered a
For the first twenty-four hours I was literally insane
and paranoid as many addicts are in severe withdrawal. This delirium
was dispersed by twenty four hours of intensive apomorphine treatment.
The doctor showed me the chart. I had received minute amounts of
morphine that could not possibly account for my lack of the more
severe withdrawal symptoms such as leg and stomach cramps, fever and
my own special symptom, The Cold Burn, like a vast hives covering the
body and rubbed with menthol. Every addict has his own special symptom
that cracks all control. There was a missing factor in the withdrawal
equation--that factor could only be apomorphine.
I saw the apomorphine treatment really work. Eight days later I left
the nursing home eating and sleeping normally. I remained completety
off junk for two full years--a twelve year record. I did relapse for
some months as a result of pain and illness. Another apomorphine cure
has kept me off junk through this writing.
The apomorphine cure is qualitatively different from other methods of
cure. I have tried them all. Short reduction, slow reduction,
cortisone, antihistamines, tranquilizers sleeping cures, tolserol,
reserpine. None of these cures lasted beyond the first opportunity to
relapse. I can say definitely that I was never metabolically cured
until I took the apomorphine cure. The overwhelming relapse statistics
from the Lexington Narcotic Hospital have led many doctors to say that
addiction is not curable. They used a dolophine reduction cure at
Lexington and have never tried apomorphine so far as I know. In fact,
this method of treatment has been largerly neglected. No research has
been done with variations of the apomorphine formula or with
synthetics. No doubt substances fifty times stronger than apomorphine
could be developed and the side effect of vomiting eliminated.
William S. Burroughs ~ 1955
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