Title:   A 19 Year-Old-Girl and Poet Allen Ginsberg Talk About Speed
Author:   Allen Ginsberg and Anonymous
Publisher:   Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date:   1969
Catalog No:   Archives

This story was written by a 19-year old girl who was shooting speed. She had been using for two years and wanted to help others who were considering getting into the speed scene.

I get off when I see someone getting off. I dig to get off because I dig to rush. The high, the out-of sight chills, I just breathe....When I see someone else get off I get all excited and practically rush with them. I feel what they are feeling, especially if they are having a bad time. When I saw Benny, a friend of mine, O.D., I was really nervous. I was trying to tell Benny what to do, and he just got his book out and started to read for hours and hours. I told someone to put Benny into a bath and to start massaging his hands and legs to get the circulation back, but he would get up and start rubbing the bubbles in his veins, and he would get the bubbles to go down his armpits, and down into his legs, they were like blood clots. The other day I saw a girlfriend of his who said that the doctor said that his leg might have to be amputated. That scared me as it happened over a year ago, and I can still remember his leg turning yellow.

I was in the hospital for two weeks from sort of ODing. I had kidney and bladder trouble as well as hepatitis all at the same time. It really scared me when I OD'd, but after it was all over with, and I was out of the hospital, I went right back to fixing the next day. The day I OD'd, I had fixed up many times in the morning, and then this dude came over and he offered to turn me on to some more, and I wasn't going to say no, so I fixed up some more and then he handed me some acid. I was so spaced that it looked like a Vitamin B tablet or something. I didn't really care what it was, I just took it; Then everyone left the house and I was all alone. When they came back that night, they found me underneath six blankets. I was freezing and I had a fever of 103. I screamed every time someone touched me; it felt like things were crawling over my hands and legs, like bubbles in my head and all over my body. My veins collapsed and I had a blood clot in one vein which was red and two inches long and as hard as a rock. I was hallucinating. The Speed had speeded up the acid. when I overamped, it was good at first, but after everyone had gone it began to hurt, but I was glad to be alone as I was going through a lot of changes.

When my friends found me in bed, they took me to the hospital, and I went under a phony name, saying that I lost my ID. I was put in a wheel chair and then they strapped me to a table. All the time I was trying to stop them from seeing the tracks on my arms. The nurse, who was big and fat, tried to take my pulse, and she got scared when she felt it. The doctor took my blood pressure and couldn't believe it, but I was more worried about my friends and myself getting busted than anything else.

The first time I fixed speed, I felt wired, good, awake and very aware. It was really good, out-of-sight, but it does get ugly sometimes, but sometimes it is good again. If I was with a lot of people, I would get scared and very nervous, and sometimes I still get that way when I am with a lot of people and I feel that spreading thing, paranoia, and I used to hear so many things. People would talk who were really heavy, but I didn't know what they were saying, I couldn't under-stand. It got to be really bad. It made. me happy when I put down, it made me unhappy when I was strung out, but I would not admit it to myself, I was always scared to express myself in front of people, the words wouldn't come. When I put down, it made me able to feel more, and be able to say things easier; before I could hardly talk. Now I hate speed freaks because I can see how ugly, how mean and cold they are. I know I was like that, but I didn't know it at the time, people would tell me and I would just ignore them.

The first time I fixed speed, I wanted something to keep me awake, to keep me going through the day. I was just coming down off acid, and this dude came to my girlfriend's house and wanted to fix up in the bathroom. I wanted some too. I had fixed smack (heroin) before and I dug the needle and the groovy rush. If I had a needle and nothing else, I would fix water.

I met Lenny in the Canyon, and the only reason I was going around with him was to cop crystal. I didn't really dig Lenny but we decided to move and live together. I began to. really like him, but I didn't love him. As soon as we put down speed, I really began to love him and things got better, and it felt so good. Speed numbs your feelings and all you have to live for is speed. I thought I was going to be doing a speed thing for the rest of my life, speed was my whole thing.

When I met Lenny, I couldn't see the bad in it. I think he meant something to me, but speed overcame it and he helped me to know. Lenny was going to put down speed and I started to like him. Everything he said began to mean something. Lenny could see it was ugly, and he felt dirty, but I couldn't see it at the time. All my friends were speeders, they were my people, but now I don't want anything to do with them; they are all dirty, cold, awful; they steal and burn things from the stores--pacifiers, etc. Vicks nasal droppers-I was always stealing them. A man would say, "Put back the Vicks you stole," and I would look at him and say "What Vicks?" and walk out of the store. Now I am so glad that I put it down.

I wish I had put it down sooner. I would like to go through the experience for a couple of weeks, but not for as long as I did. I wish somebody had got to me before I got carried away. I used to know a lot more things, like words and how to express myself easily, but when I did speed I lost so many things, now I have lost a lot of my vocabulary and things I learned in school. I can still express myself, but not so easily, as I never bothered to express myself for two years, and it takes time to remember how to. Before I did speed I was conscious of what people thought of me; when I was on speed people told me I was ugly, but I didn't give a damn, and I can see the changes in them now and when I see them now I just want to love them. They were right and I was wrong and I didn't even know it.

GINSBERG: Let's issue a general declaration to the underground community, contra speedamos ex cathedra. Speed is
anti-social, paranoid making, it's a drag, bad for your body, bad for your mind, generally speaking, in the long run uncreative and it's a plague in the whole dope industry. All the nice gentle dope fiends are getting screwed up by the real horror monster Frankenstein Speedfreaks who are going around stealing and bad mouthing everybody.

The answer to it, I would say, is somehow put the speedfreaks in relation to doctors and nature again. What the government ought to do is establish quiet farms-mountain-wilderness-fresh air-heated log cabins, where speedfreaks can go with their girl friends or boy friends, if they have any, and get out of the city where speed is available and get back to the refreshing influence of nature. They're getting all dirty fingered handling the garbage in the city, and they're getting all sorts of electronic horror vibrations: It's the worst thing in the whole drug scene that I know of, the one thing I can't figure out what to do about.

I've used speed briefly, like for a day for writing, but the use of speed over. two days tends to lead to irritability and insistency and a kind of Hitlerian fascist mentality, which may be the byproducts of real perceptions of interest. But generally, the interpretations are over-forced, with too much will power and insistency, so they're always leaning on everyone else around them, trying to force everybody else into their universe. It's not a common universe that is the problem, it's not one everyone can participate in--the speed-crystal universe. Speed was originally invented by the Germans for use by the pilots in bombing England, so it's originally a kind of totalitarian synthetic.

The physiological problem is that if you stay up three or four or five days, you tend not to eat well enough to nourish your body, and pretty soon there comes to be a metaphysic of despising your body out of that crystal universe. Since you don't sleep, you don't get your necessary 45 minutes of dreaming each night, and so after a while the unconscious dream life begins to erupt during waking, walking around consciousness, and you begin to act out your dream life and mistaking hallucinations from the unconscious as being manifest sensory realities that other people can pick up on, which is not true, so there's a disjunction of realities. Or there's the insistence on your reality being the only reality, if you're the speed freak, which is undemocratic, and that's where it's totalitarian.

Since 1958 it's been a plague around my house. People that I liked or who were good artists have gotten all screwed up on it, and come around burning down the door, stealing. All the stuff I brought back from India was stolen by speed freaks.

The junk problem's an easy problem to handle compared to the speed problem. With speed you don't have a physiological addiction, but you do have a psychic addiction, which is strong and is followed by a long depression. It takes several months for the metabolism to stabilize itself, and there's a depression that lasts during this time. Apparently getting off speed requires a great deal of attention and care and love and nature. But the speed addict has generally so offended everybody by the time that he wants to get off that he's created a social void for himself.

The ideal government agency to deal with speed freaks would be a whole bunch of lumberjacks up in the mountains and strong peasant girls to cook flap-jacks and make a fire; and let the speed demon sleep off his depression and lie around for a couple of weeks until he finally feels like going out and smelling the evergreens and then maybe building a fence or a bridge back.

Although the above is about Speed in particular, many of the incidents described are true with all injectable harder drugs--including Downers, Heroin and Morphine. Whenever anything is injected in less than clinical surroundings, the user subjects himself to a number of dangers.

Among these is the chance of abscess--or a vein collapse. Hepatitis also runs very high when more than one person uses the same needle. Overdoses are common on downers and opiates, with resulting death. Impurities found in homemade drugs also take many lives.

We at the DO IT NOW Foundation urge young people everywhere to stop shooting harder drugs into their bodies NOW. Mainlining isn't now, and has never been, a turned-on thing to do.


This is one in a series of publications on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation.
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