Ask Andrew W.K.: Should I Start Doing Heroin?

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[Editor's note: Every Wednesday New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask:]

Dear Andrew,

I scored a big batch of Oxycontin not too long ago, and I have to say, I liked it a lot. It soothed me, and for the first time in my entire life, I truly felt pain free -- physically and emotionally. Even though I know it can be dangerous, I've honestly not seen any drawbacks so far -- I just finally felt good. The thing is, now I don't have anymore pills, and all I can think about is taking the next step: heroin. I've just lost my job and don't have a girlfriend or any close family, so I don't really have any responsibilities. But I've got enough money saved up to survive and just want the world fade away for a while. I want to go away from everything. Should I?

- High Right Now

See also: All of Andrew W.K.'s amazing advice

Dear High Right Now,

Why do some people go all the way into oblivion and give up on "regular" life? Why do other people never seem to even consider giving up? I think wanting to find a way out of life is a completely understandable desire. And in many ways, the entire human struggle is centered around finding a way out of suffering. Why do we keep on striving every day forever? What are we hoping to find? Why is it so hard just to get by, let alone to thrive? It takes an untiring commitment to the belief that if we keep trying to succeed, someday everything will be perfect and we'll finally be truly happy.

Does that perfect happiness exist? And even if it does, what's the point of getting to that state if 99% of our time is spent struggling to find it? There might not be any point to anything at all, so why not remove oneself from the entire process and just focus on feeling as good as possible right now? Why do we feel we must participate in this version of life, with all its efforts, jobs, drama, and social interaction? Who invented this version of the world? And is it really the best way to live? Did we really agree to it? Or were we forced into it? Who taught us how to live like this? And who taught them? Why bother trying to be a good person? Why not just opt out of the whole system and embrace the oblivion that we'll all face eventually?

Becoming a drug addict can be a perfectly reasonable reaction to the incredibly exhausting project called "being alive." We must do our best to remember how close each of us is to the edge of oblivion at any moment, and not be too quick to judge the person who chooses to take another path to get there. The easy way out is often the hardest way, and there is something strangely heroic about the person who chooses to venture into the no-man's-land beyond the trappings of "day-to-day life." Who are these people who fling themselves into the abyss, and then try to exist there?

The drug addict, the homeless person, the hermit, the ascetic -- the deviants both frighten us and fascinate us. As easy as it can be to see them as weak or crazy, we also sense some sort of courage in their decision to not live like the rest of us. Most frightening of all, perhaps we can relate to it -- perhaps we fantasize about it only to shove the thought back into the darkest parts of our mind. The amount of effort it takes to live is undeniable. We must have more compassion for those people who choose to live in another way. Their life choices shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as a negative judgement of our own lifestyle. Society doesn't like people who don't participate in society because it makes us think of jumping ship too. We should never feel that we're "better than" people who use drugs. The terrifying truth is that no one is ever really better than anyone, just different.

So, should you become a heroin user? I don't know. But I wouldn't think less of you if you did. And that scares me, and I hope it scares you too. One of my best friends who did heroin said he realized "humans aren't meant to feel that good." There are many paths that lead to many outcomes, and it all depends on what your ultimate goals are. If your goal is to achieve a bunch of "accomplishments" and "succeed," then becoming a full-blown drug addict might not be the best path. If your goal is to avoid pain by whatever means necessary, then becoming a full-blown drug addict might be the right path, at least for a while.

But always remember: the pain that comes from being alive is also what makes pleasure feel good, so we need that contrast in order to feel either. If all we felt was pleasure, then that pleasure would soon become pain. It's a law of nature that one can't exist without the other. The true scam is believing that there ever will be a perfect way to live. So you have to be careful which version of the scam you choose to believe. It's like someone always looking for the perfect way to win at roulette. The odds are always the same, no matter how many times the ball lands on black. And despite what many people believe, it's OK to not feel good all the time. No one knows what's really going on. Everything is neither true nor false, except that everything is neither true nor false... or maybe not. Try to stay in that state of mind, and the pain and pleasure will just be another aspect of this absurd and perplexing party called "life" -- it's the best party we can have -- it's the party of not being dead.

Stay strong and live it up, my friend.

- Andrew W.K.

P.S. I think all drugs should be legal.

P.P.S. About a month ago, I had the most vivid and lucid dream I've ever experienced. It was more detailed and believable than any other dream I've had. In this dream, I woke up to find myself living in some kind of shared squat, anarchist flop house. The more deeply I entered this dream-state awareness, the more extreme my feeling of horror. I slowly looked around in the dream and noticed an unsettling familiarity with my surroundings. It felt like I was actually emerging from another dream and I couldn't tell which was real.

Andrew's vivid nightmare continues on next page.

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Agree somewhat with Andrew. However, being a junky is a full-time job with serious stress that puts any job to shame. If money is not a problem, then you likely will never have a drug problem. 


Andrew, then if you can recognize the difference between those two lives, do you still believe that the junkie life was the courageous life? How can you not scream to this person,"Don't do heroin!" I feel like I want to cry because this is so sad to me. 


Dear high right now,

The more you use either oxys or heroin, the less they'll make you feel good. After a while you'll just feel normal on it & without it you'll feel the most pain you've ever felt in your life. Andrew is right on when saying that pleasure needs pain, physically your brain can only feel so much pleasure. Addiction & it's conjoined twin withdraw is the worst pain a human can feel, physically & worse psychologically. Once you've run out, and you will, everyone always does, as they say in trainspotting "the check's in the mail"! The only answer I have found is to find what else makes you happy, what else makes you feel good, playing music, art, cooking, nature, knitting, then focus your life on all the things, however small, that make you feel good & build your life around them. There are a lot of people who can emphasize with you & how you feel! if everything awesome was easy then life wouldn't be so hard. Good Luck!!!!!

Atcha John
Atcha John

On 17'th April, at 21,17 hrs here. I awoke and found I had to ring the services. After a chat, I found out what had occurred. I'd had my first lucid dream ever. I had to find out the hard way....being told. Are things ok now, you ask? Honestly, I can't say, still.


once you start, good luck stopping. addiction is a lovely bride who does not discriminate. i have lived comfortably for many years, working, maintaining a loving relationship with my "junkie" babe. our moral compass is determined individually. life is meaningless. sure, give it meaning, but that still means nothing. i must say, i can relate with a.w.k. dream because that is what my life became when it could of been more. my creativity was certainly offered up to the dark plant. my dude, on the other hand, can record three albums in one year and do 56 cover art projects for 45 different bands and then like learn how to, i dunno, do all sorts of weird shit.  i suppose i can live vicariously through his creative success but i know there was another reality that this could of taken. a stronger one where i pushed through. it affects people differently. one thing to always keep in mind is, the party ends and the law can come, illegally violate you, beat you, call you a junkie faggot with guns pointed at your skull. lock you away for an undetermined amount of time. the drug users "rights"  are a joke, you are the scum with no heart and soul. interesting how some of the most insightful and caring people i have meet are drug addicts. the ones you love can get hauled off to jail very easily. tread lightly, my friend. i love dope and believe all drugs should be legalized. your body, your choice. and it is your choice. but it can have a hefty price.

Deirdre Dowd
Deirdre Dowd

take away the pain....addiction brings an awful lot of pain

Paul Dutra
Paul Dutra

Beautifully written. Heroin is tricky. And besides, "humans aren't meant to feel that good."


 "Yeah, well I think anyone that does live a normal life deserves a Brownlow Medal because it's just's just so hard. It's tedious, it's never-ending. You know, like it's vacuuming and washing dishes and cooking and cleaning and, oh, the list goes on."

-- Mark "Chopper" Read, violent standover man, murderer, jail bird, larrikin, best selling author, paid public speaker

The first few paragraphs of your piece reminded me very much of Chop Chop's philosophy on life. And crikey! Didn't he make some life choices.

bearcat1953 topcommenter


Dave Rodway
Dave Rodway

ya don't need drugs to drop out of life...too bad VV doesn't have a native NY'r "taking questions". It really does make a NY that is.

Flo Francis
Flo Francis

Trying to live your best life, can be hard but be strong.


Excellent piece, but I have to take this one little line and run with it a little bit. Andrew SORT of touches on it when he talks about contrast, but not nearly enough. Let me preface this by saying that I used to scoff at people who said natural highs were better, because it really does sound ridiculously naive, but as a middle aged adult, I'm now realizing what those people meant.

Let me put it in these terms: you'll never get the EFFORTLESS high that narcotics give you from natural sources, you'll have to WORK for it. The best highs in life are not instant or high-reward, they are slow, or low-reward. I'll name a few:

Cooking and eating fresh, local and in season food with family and friends.
Learning to play and instrument and performing it.
Planting and nurturing a vegetable garden.
Becoming fit, especially lifting and running.
Cultivating intimacy and sexual ecstasy with a mate
Taking good care of oneself during pregnancy, birth and lactation
Cultivating mindfulness with meditation and other practices.

No-one really explained this to me. These are ACTUAL HIGHS. Your brain is throwing around the happy chemicals. The highs won't be as pronounced, mind you, but they are real and the effects are PERMANENTLY life-changing in a good way.

Life gives back, but you have to give first. Cultivating anything that requires discipline is a CURE for depression, since depression requires we give up. Activity, both in the immediate and in the long term help lift us up emotionally and physically and provide the context for perspective. Being present in the moment (as those activities force you to be) means your ruminations about the past or your worries about the future do not gain purchase in your mind.

The mind is malleable, but subject to natural reactions. It is not that unpredictable. 

Lastly, I have seen ALL of this in action on an organic farm that employed previously incarcerated people, many of whom had been addicts, and it was life-changing. Importantly, these people didn't go it alone, and they wouldn't have gotten anywhere without the fierce love of other people rather than the cold and ill-informed judgment of others.


I have struggled with addictions in my past with hard drugs.

I would love to speak on this topic.

1st I would like to thank you brave sole for opening up you deep feelings in life regarding hard drugs.

I would like to state that everything and everyone do not have the same effect.

In my early 20's i used alot of narcotics and i mean alot.

After years of my life passed i came out of my binge and back to reality with barley anything left to give in this life. 

It has take hard work to get to a more healthy place. 

Im not here to tell you that you should not do hard drugs. That is not my place to do so. But I feel it is my duty to inform you what happened to me. 

No im not completely sober and probably will never be (i enjoy drinking and herb) but i am clean from hard substances, now this is my choice. 

I had to make that choice to stope using thos substances mainly because the end result of things was not worth the high.

I lost everything friends family money jobs cars houses relationships

Now again this is not always the case for everyone so do not think this will happen to you because it might not. But it did to me.

It also gave me a huge empty spot in my memory in that part of life. 

Now that i look back i would not change a thing because it made me who i am to this day. But i cant help think what if i never did all that crap? Would my life be better today, in some ways yes, in some ways no. The point is my friend you need to look deep into your soul and ask yourself is this really worth it? . Again im not here to pass judgment but to just illuminate some thoughts on my behalf !

Take care friend!  


Excellent view by AWK.  However...

There should be bold print at the top that states:



I have a question. That is, would it be fine to use marijuana to relieve chronic migraines. Since I was 11 I have gotten dehibilitating migraines at least once a week. I take pills but I have a tolerance to them that makes it so they do nothing to relieve the pain and it takes a toll, having to cancel plans all the time Cuz of migraines. I know that pain is needed and I believe in that, but this is negatively affecting me as a whole, and the migraines are getting worse and worse. I am tired of litteraly throwing away entire days, I hate losing time and there is so much that I want to accomplish. But when all these days of being forced to lay down in agonizing pain, and puking everything I have eaten is really crappy. I love my life, I just want to be able to experience more of it.





Andrew, WAKE UP!

You're having that crazy dream again, the one where you're not a junky- It always messes you up, dude! Hey, cheer up, I just scored us some kickass black!!!


"the pain that comes from being alive is also what makes pleasure feel good" yeah, but I'd rather be dulled with ANYTHING rather than go thru depression sober again.


@MarianaEvica You are a brilliant person with an amazing insight. This is the best prescription for depression that I have ever heard. i have been depressed for 5 years and I now see the way out. It is so simple what you said and so easy to implement. I did what you said my whole life up until 5 years ago and I was never depressed. Then I stopped doing what worked. Thank you so much for reminding me


Respect for the man who has been there and mostly come back, I never went that far past the edge.

Had to twit Andrew about that dream sequence though... (Or was it really a dream?)


@retasemaj  Pot is not going to help you with your migraines in the long run - even though it has a lot of other uses for medicine.  Indeed, as pot increases the blood pressure in the small capillaries, in the long term it'll make it worse.

Now - recent studies on cluster headaches seem to have shown that some psychedelics like mushrooms in small, sub-trip doses have been very effective.  Perhaps do research in this direction?

Remember, all these drugs are illegal, and possibly dangerous without quality control.  I would never advocate your doing anything illegal...


@Whyawannaknow1  yes, i had to tweet to Andrew as well, also maybe it was not a dream at all, but a vision !?!? Some say our dreams are our subconscious trying to tell us something. Others say dreams are just a way for your brain to process knowledge. 

What ever it might be, im always grateful for Andrew's insight!

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