Nodding of on heroin
March 8, 2009 9:20 PM   Subscribe

When heroin addicts talk about 'nodding off,' what does that mean? Is it just like going to sleep? Why would they want to go to sleep when they went through all that trouble to get high?
posted by sublimetym to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apparently, it is the high itself.
posted by _dario at 9:24 PM on March 8, 2009

I have never done heroin, but I have read about it. Basically I think the reason people do it is it puts them in a state of total bliss where they feel no pain, physical or emotional. While in this state they are really only half-conscious, so sometimes they "nod off."
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:24 PM on March 8, 2009

After the intense euphoria, a period of tranquillity ("on the nod") follows, lasting up to an hour. Experienced users will inject between 2-4 times per day. After taking heroin, some people feel cocooned and emotionally self-contained. Others feel stimulated and sociable. Either way, there is a profound sense of control and well-being. The euphoria gradually subsides into a dreamy and relaxed state of contentment. Higher doses of heroin normally make a person feel sleepy. At higher doses still, the user will nod off into a semi-conscious state. The effects usually wear off in 3-5 hours, depending on the dose.

posted by kingjoeshmoe at 9:25 PM on March 8, 2009

Oops, missed adding the link.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 9:26 PM on March 8, 2009

A workmate of mine many years ago had a bit of trouble getting on and off the horse. He wasn't a bad bloke, we all knew about it, and we tried to be as supportive as we could, except for one time when he got high... just before he was about to drive us in the work bus to North Sydney, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
When we got out from the work bathroom into the driver's seat of the bus he was smiling, pretty peaceful, just happy. By the time we were on the southern approach driving up the hill he'd started to get really sleepy, and we realised what was going on. "Nodding off" was exactly what it was; he wasn't asleep, and he didn't look all that tired, he just had his eyes half-shut, and his face was red, and he had a lot of trouble staying in the lane. He was that blissed-out and peaceful, he couldn't see what was wrong, and he didn't notice the rictus faces of utter terror on the other three of us.
I'm still alive, he made it. Of course as soon as we got to North Sydney and he parked the rest of us nearly went of our f&*king heads.
Don't drive on heroin, people.

posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:45 PM on March 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Go rent the movie Trainspotting. Wait for the scene about halfway through the film where Renton shoots up at Mother Superior's and imagines himself sinking into the lush, red velvet carpet. There you go.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:48 PM on March 8, 2009

Read some Jim Carroll: The Basketball Diaries and Forced Entries both have numerous vivid descriptions of being on the nod. (One of his poetry collections is even called The Book of Nods.)
posted by scody at 10:50 PM on March 8, 2009

erowid on heroin, including descriptions of use. I can't speak from personal experience, but everyone I know who has done it describes nodding as a pleasurable aspect of the experience.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:01 PM on March 8, 2009

From the perspective of someone watching a user during that period, they get very still - almost like insects - and some of them will fall forward at the waist, if they'd been standing, and do a drooling waterbird pose until their experience is over, at which point they become even less interesting. Some fall over or start their adventure while seated in order to prevent either of the other outcomes. I was surprised by the number who can't even wait to sit down to get going or who believe they're still capable of walking around immediately after using. Strange, strange drug.
posted by batmonkey at 2:28 AM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go rent the movie Trainspotting. Wait for the scene about halfway through the film where Renton shoots up at Mother Superior's and imagines himself sinking into the lush, red velvet carpet.

Just a thought, but the scene that you’re referring to is in fact Renton overdosing. The velvet he sinks into is lowering him into a grave and it isn’t until he’s taken to hospital and injected with adrenaline that he’s pulled out of it.
posted by dmt at 4:44 AM on March 9, 2009

Based on my post-root canal experience with hydrocodone - which I thereafter referred to as "diet heroin" - the "nod" is a state of warm indifference so profound as to approach satori. I recalled the introduction of Naked Lunch where Burroughs said that he could look at the end of his shoe for hours on end and realized he hadn't been exaggerating.

It's a vacation that would be well worth taking were it not for... well, you know.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:35 AM on March 9, 2009

I've experienced something similar when being dosed up on various opiates post-surgery. Obviously heroin is stronger, but for someone who has no tolerance to opiates (me) these have a very similar effect. You feel warm inside and out, you don't care about anything and you fall into a sleepy other world, eyes closed mouth open. It's like having a blanket put over you, your mind and your emotions. I can only imagine that heroin is like that but however many times stronger. FWIW, the moment I could stand the pain I stopped taking the pills, I don't like having a mind like mush and I could very easily see how this could get addictive.
posted by ob at 9:56 AM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: it's a warm dark place to shrink away into, to come as close to ceasing to exist as you can without actually evaporating into nothingness. dreamy visions swim before the insides of your eyelids, everything makes sense and nothing matters. you know that what you're doing is self-destructive, self-sabotage, but your priorities at that point are so skewed that self destruction is perhaps the whole point of the exercise. all pain- physical, psychic, emotional- is no longer relevant to you. you know it's still there, waiting for you when you come back to- but you just don't care. that's something for the future you to worry about. it's a selfish kind of fun, that's for sure.

it's not really like going to sleep- in fact, sometimes it's just about completely impossible to get to sleep when you're proper high. it's a bit like a waking dream- but you wake into something of a nightmare. stiff limbs and sore muscles, foul and grumpy, despondent: but never to worry- there's one obvious solution to that little problem!

damnably inviting, hellishly seductive, harshly comforting. holy cats, i could do with a taste right now.

alas, no such luck. no rest for the wicked, as they say.
posted by Philby at 5:52 PM on March 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, this helps me understand something I'll never personally experience, much better. I actually saw someone doing this on a subway once and had no idea it was because of heroin until now. I wonder if the nod is the place that the heroin user seeks out. Is this, besides that first rush, the best part of being high? Is there good music or situations that would go along with this experience, or can you be anywhere and it wouldnt even matter?
posted by sublimetym at 3:42 PM on March 12, 2009

Listening to fuzzy droney rock on opiates is pretty fantastic.
posted by herbaliser at 2:28 PM on December 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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