I had gone to India to sort myself out – kick the heroin and get some hash to smuggle back to London once things had calmed down. Several years later and I was begging on the streets, scamming tourists, and my heroin addiction had gone from smoking to injecting. India wasn’t turning out to be my saviour. I was dying and it had nothing to do with where I was. It was the alcohol and drugs killing me – but I couldn’t stop.
I remember the moment of clarity. It was in a seedy bed and breakfast with my junkie girlfriend Debbie, her neck stuck out begging for a hit, a prostitute and her pimp boyfriend in the corner. For the first time I was watching myself from above. I didn’t recognise me. I wasn’t a big time dealer. I wasn’t a popular guy. I wasn’t even a half decent petty criminal. I was a junkie. A junkie with a needle in my arm and no friends who were any different. Worse than all that – I had a full-blown disease that needed medication every minute of every day and what was cheap before was now becoming impossible.
The worst of it was I couldn’t muster the energy to care. I accepted this as my life. Nobody was coming to save me. It no longer mattered if it was India or London. I just had to do it until I died, which, by the look of me, wouldn’t be long.
Shortly after my moment of clarity I returned to London, leaving Debbie behind. A few months later she was found slumped against a toilet door, dead. I was on the streets. A homeless bum mugging people and scamming people. I couldn’t get any lower – I just stayed there for several years, as low as I could be. I got stabbed, almost burnt to death and overdosed more times than I can remember. Somehow, I was still alive. I contemplated suicide, but couldn’t even do that. The change came for me in St Thomas’s, hitting up in the toilet. I was sloping down the wall, passing out, finally dying.
I woke up. I didn’t know how long I had been out, but I woke up and I couldn’t see anything. I thought I was blind. It was the last straw for me. Then I saw a light from under the door as my eyes adjusted – I had just fallen asleep, which was worse. Nobody had checked on me for hours and the lights had been turned off. I had overdosed, passed out, and been left to die. Yet, here I was – still alive.
Tears were shaking down my face. I was crying and I was shaking and I was begging. I was on my knees and I was praying.
If there’s anything out there, if there’s anything… please help me. Take me from this miserable life or save me. I know I’m a waste with a waste of a life but please – save me. Give me life.
Mark Dempster is author of Nothing to Declare: Confessions of an Unsuccessful Drug Smuggler, Dealer and Addict, available on Amazon.
Next issue: Will Mark get the help he needs?
Read the previous instalments of Mark’s story HERE