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Full Review
The Heroin User’s Handbook
by Francis Moraes
Loompanics Unlimited 
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Llew, 6/2/2005

The Heroin User’s Handbook, by Francis Moraes, bills itself as neither “glorifying nor demonizing the drug.” The words “Don’t Try Heroin” are printed in bold across the middle of the very first page. But the last page of the book lists the “Ten Commandments of Responsible Heroin Use” and the pages in between are completely crammed with useful and interesting information, tips, and anecdotes for readers who are interested in heroin, especially those who might be interested in trying it.

According to Moraes’ web site, the original title of the book was intended to be Heroin: A Chipper’s Guide, and the book’s tone seems to lean towards enjoying heroin recreationally without becoming a junkie. (A chipper is someone who uses heroin recreationally without being addicted, although some define a chipper as a “pre-addict,” according to the book.) He says, “I know that being a chipper can be fun because heroin is a part of your life. But being a junkie sucks, because heroin is your life.”

It is written in a conversational tone, as if Moraes was presenting from a stage. He includes information about how to acquire heroin (with an interesting chapter on how to spot junkies and how screwed you are if you get busted), the risks of using (dealing with cops and jail, health issues), social issues (heroin culture, lovers who use heroin together), addiction, and detoxification. Throughout the book, Moraes insists that heroin is only as dangerous as it is today because of the way that it is treated by society and the law.

By his own admission, Moraes, now completely clean, has been a chipper, a junkie, a recovering junkie, and then a junkie with a $200/day habit. So, even if you aren’t sure whether what he writes is completely well-researched or reviewed, at least you know that he is writing from his own extensive personal experience. He details the many health and legal risks associated with heroin use, including police psychology and how to deal with cops, what to do if you are arrested and have to go to jail or rehab, how not to inject heroin, how to try to avoid OD’ing, and how to deal with dealers and junkies.

He also covers acquisition quite extensively, including how to spot a junkie, the benefits of working with an acquirer who gets it for you rather than working directly with the dealer, and how you can use prostitutes as a less risky path to acquire heroin. He doesn’t provide any easy answers, and since dealing or buying heroin carries such stiff penalties, we shouldn’t expect any. At best, you’ll be able to understand a little bit about how the process works, but it would be incredibly risky to attempt the methods he describes. You had better be completely aware of the risks involved if you decide to try them.

He does provide a list of rules he claims can help you use safely. “When these rules are followed religiously, it is almost impossible for a user to become addicted to heroin.” The rules basically describe a constrained schedule of use designed to prevent you from becoming addicted. It might be more comforting if he had included some backup references for his claims from respected sources. You may wish to consider them to be more of a baseline for future research rather than as hard facts as they are presented.

But this is a Loompanics book. We may not see another comprehensive book on recreational heroin use for a while to come. Until we do, The Heroin User’s Handbook is going to be invaluable just because of its uniqueness, like most titles from Loompanics.

Other Reviews of this book:

1 Comment »

  1. I purchased this book along with two others specifically regarding Heroin. Now that I am clean and have been for over one year, I realize that without the valuable information in this book regarding the proper techniques of using and preparing your needle, the potential dangers and risks associated with heroin use and injecting drugs I quite possibly would have ended up seriously damaging my body (far more than what I had already done). To those that currently use, plan to use, or even those who have ever used heroin or other drugs administered parenterally, I recommend purchasing this book. It takes a realistic look at both the pro’s and con’s of heroin use and may possibly just save your life.


    Comment by alkaloidaholic — 6/4/2005 @ 5:21 am

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