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Success Happens


William S. Burroughs

'Junk takes everything and gives nothing but insurance against junk sickness. Every now and then I took a good look at the deal I was giving myself and decided to take the cure. When you are getting plenty of junk, kicking looks easy. You say, "I'm not getting any kick from the shots any more. I might as well quit." But when you cut down into junk sickness, the picture looks different.
During the year or so I was on the junk in Mexico, I started the cure five times. I tried reducing the shots, I tried the Chinese cure with a solution of hop and Wampole's medicine. Every time you take some of the hop solution you add an equal amount of Wamplle's medicine. In ten days or so you are drinking plain Wampole's Tonic, and the reduction was so slow you never noticed.
That is the theory of the Chinese cure. What generally happens is this: You start taking a little more hop solution than your schedule allows and that means you put in more Wampole's and dilute the hop that much quicker. After a few days you don't know how much is in there and you take it all to be sure. So you wind up with a worse habit than you had before the Chinese cure.
An eating habit is the worst habit you can contract. It takes longer to break than a needle habit, and the withdrawal symptoms are considerably more severe. In fact, it is not uncommon for a junkie with an eating habit to die if he is cut off cold turkey in jail. A junikie with an eating habit suffers from excruciating stomach cramps when he is cut off. And the symptoms last up to three weeks as compared to eight days on the needle habit.
When you kick the spike you get worse until you hit the third day and you think, this is it: You couldn't feel worse. But the fourth day is worse. After the fourth day relief is dramatic. And on the sixth day there is only a pale shadow of junk sickness.
But with an eating habit you can look forward to at least ten days of horrible suffering. So when you are taking a cure with hop you have to be careful not to get an eating habit. If you can't make it on schedule, best go back to the needle.
After my Chinese fiasco, I made up some papers and gave them to my wife to hide and dole out according to a schedule. I had Ike help me make up the papers, but he had an inaccurate mind, and his schedule was all top-heavy on the beginning and suddenly ended with no reduction. So I made up my own schedule. For a while I stayed with the schedule, but I didn't have any real push. I got stuff from Ike on the side and made excuses for the extra shots.
I knew that I did not want to go on taking junk. If I could have made a single decision, I would have decided no more junk ever. But when it came to the process of quitting, I did not have the drive. It gave me a terrible feeling of helplessness to watch myself break every schedule I set up as though I did not have control over my actions.

Forget about alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, crystal meths, tranquillizers, and coffee [notice I don't mention reefer, LSD, mushrooms, or peyote], tell me this doesn't apply just as readily to soda pop, chocolate, candy, watching TV, shopping or sex or gourmet eating or addiction to fame, favours and gains not to mention living.

The whole book is like this. Ruthlessly honest. Two sorts of people should read this book: anyone thinking of using junk, and anyone trying to walk the Buddha's path.

Nina van Gorkam and the DSG crowd will say that there is no sense in trying. There is nobody there to exercise control. It's out of our hands. Etc. What they are missing is the fact that every attempt at the cure sets rolling kamma that makes the next attempt at the cure a bit easier. Habits are complex things. They must be attacked with great patience, tolerance for failure. We beat a habit from one angle but miss a thousand others. The thousand others present themselves and we relapse. Having relapsed we see the problem again. Having made an effort, when we see the problem anew we have a broader perspective. A renewed effort at a cure is made with a broader scope, more cunning strategies. The renewed attack sets up another kammic cycle. Sooner or later, with unbending intent, somehow success happens.

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