sat 17/08/2019

My Extreme Drugs Diary, Channel 5 review - the tedium of taking heroin | reviews, news & interviews

My Extreme Drugs Diary, Channel 5 review - the tedium of taking heroin

My Extreme Drugs Diary, Channel 5 review - the tedium of taking heroin

Documentary series featuring substance abusers wearing metallic masks

Jacob, six years on heroin: 'It is a curse'

Jacob has just managed to shoot up. No easy matter because his veins are, he says, non-usable, and are like those of an 80-year-old man. He’s in his twenties and has been on heroin for six years. Unusually, he works full time, has a car and a flat – blood-spattered ones. When the heroin kicks in he doesn’t feel stoned but as if he could “work on some graphic design or art work”. Not quite Edward St Aubyn or William Burroughs territory, though he also says that it “removes any sort of sickness in your mind”.

Sadly, watching people talking about their drug habits tends to be boring, especially when they’re mainly wearing metallic masks that only show their eyes. Everyone looks the same, even if their stories are different. Maybe that's the point. But Louis Theroux’s brilliant Heroin Town a couple of years ago was an exception to the boring junkie rule, and you find yourself longing for his embedded, mask-free mode of interviewing.

In My Extreme Drugs Diary, we jump from one user to another, with Harry Hepple as narrator, giving us sensational statistics along the way with a north-eastern, Big Brother-y twang. Great Britain is high as a kite, he tells us with relish, the drugs capital of Europe, with 330,000 opioid users, almost twice the number of people who own electric cars. Take that, Tesla.

These five heroin addicts – the second programme features cocaine (Pictured below), the third ecstasy, both slightly jollier but still, by the end of the series you never want to see another line being snorted, so job done, I suppose – possess a grandiose fatalism combined with quasi medical know-how. They like to describe the intricacies of burning off the foil before you smoke it, so as to avoid emphysema, or how to tie a tourniquet so you don’t rupture your veins and die, or how near to internal bleeding and death they are every time they inject into their groin (a grisly spectacle).

cocaineAnd indeed, heroin deaths are at their highest in over two decades. Sam and Kate in Wales, whose “relationship is built around a passion for heroin” as Hepple puts it, know people who’ve lost legs and who’ve passed away. The trouble is, it’s hard to tell if they’re dead or just nodding off, until it’s too late. Jacob was in bed with two friends. When he woke up the next morning, “they didn’t look too well”. They were both dead. As soon as the police had gone, Jacob went straight out to score.

Joe, a painter and decorator in Leicester, is the only one not wearing a mask or with his face blurred. He has a jaunty air. “We’re going to buy some drugs but on the way let’s talk.” He’s been on heroin for 22 years. Recently he was on a methadone programme but didn’t turn up for two pick-ups at the chemist so it was “yanked away from under him". Heroin, he says, is shockingly easy to buy. Dealers knocked on every door of the 100 flats in his building, asking, “What do you use, darks or whites?” meaning heroin or crack. He longs for normality – friends, a barbecue, nice music on the stereo.

Joe sings the praises of Naloxone, the miracle drug that can more or less bring you back from a fatal overdose and which has revolutionised the opioid epidemic in the USA. Every junkie is taught how to use it. He administered it to himself once, wacking it through his jeans. Kate’s done the same for Sam, when she thought he’d “gone over”. His ears and face were grey and he was struggling to breathe.

You sometimes find yourself struggling to breathe through this series. Watching Jacob during three days of groaning withdrawal is grim. (He does get through it, just.) And there are some terribly sad moments. “We’re trapped in our own living hell,” says Sam (clichés are another junkie hazard) as he and Kate attempt to score in their local town. But when he says, “It’s a waste of a life, I’ll never get today again, and today’s been hell,” you believe him.

By the end of the series you never want to see another line being snorted

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Just watching My Extreme Drug Diary - Cocaine. Knowing quite a few people who are hooked on the drug..this does not show the reality of the consequences....it is has been produced to make people think that it is ok to take...where are the examples of people who have no septum or whose noses have collasped. Where is the medical research as to the impact to the body that years of taking cocaine can do - they could have had at least one nasal surgeon give their experience of those that come through the door with the result of cocaine abuse. They should show the dark side of the drug...not the glamour that was projected by those in the programme. Just an opinion

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