Another important aspect of my father’s death was the drugs which were rushing through his system. The death certificate confirmed, ‘cocaine, methadone, morphine/heroin’. I wasn’t entirely sure what the effects of these drugs were so I asked Frank:
Taking cocaine makes users feel on top of the world, wide-awake, confident and on top of their game – but some people are over-confident on it and so may take very careless risks. Its effect is much like speed (amphetamines), but is usually stronger and doesn’t last as long.
It can also have other effects:
- Raising the body’s temperature
- Making the heart beat faster
- Reducing feelings of hunger
- After a big night on cocaine, it’s not unusual for people to feel like they’ve got the flu.
The effects of crack smoking are virtually immediate, peaking for about two minutes and lasting for only about 10 minutes.
When snorting coke it takes longer to peak but the effects still don’t last that long, only around 20-30 minutes-my father snorted
When the effects of any cocaine use start to wear off there can be a very strong temptation to take more, particularly with the long ‘come down’, the crash period sometimes lasting for days afterwards.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate manufactured for use as a painkiller and as substitute for heroin in the treatment of heroin addiction. It has similar effects to heroin but doesn’t deliver the same degree of buzz or high as heroin.
Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They slow down body functioning and reduce physical and psychological pain.
A patient who is addicted to heroin will often be prescribed methadone to take instead of heroin and the dose of methadone is gradually reduced over time. This means that the patient can give up heroin avoiding acute withdrawal symptoms.
The key effects of methadone include:
- Reducing physical and psychological pain.
- Feelings of warmth, relaxation and detachment.
- Overdoses that can lead to coma (and even death from respiratory failure i.e. when breathing stops).
Heroin gives users:
- A feeling of warmth and well-being
- Bigger doses can make people sleepy and very relaxed.
- Slows down the way the body works and is a very strong pain-killer.
- The first dose of heroin can bring about dizziness and vomiting.
The effects of heroin can last for a number of hours so it is important to be careful using any other drugs or alcohol in that time.
After understanding the effects the drugs my father had consumed, there is one recurring effect, ‘ease physical and psychological pain’. Combining this knowledge with my fathers’ mental disorders (psychosis, schizophrenia and severe depression) I had to think past just the walk he took, if I wanted to create a video from his perspective. I remember my dad complaining continually when I was younger that he thought someone wanted to kill him and was watching him. He also sometimes felt as if bugs and insects were crawling all over his skin (one occasion after feeling this sensation I saw my father take heroin). I want to bring my fathers damaged and strange perspective of things into my video.