Tramadol: The Three Pound High



True Story.

There he was – the cold blade of the knife pressed against the thin, frail palm of his hand.

“All four of them,” he thought to himself with gritted teeth. “I’m going to slash all four of his tires. I’m going to teach him a lesson. No one yells at me like that.”

“Ya man, don’t.”

It was the sound of reason. The voice of a friend.

“He was going to run me over.”

“Dude, he wasn’t going to hit you.”

“And he yelled at me.”

Jay turned to the man he had known his whole life, the person begging him not to escalate, and stared at him – wide eyed, pupils dilated, nostrils flaring.

“Man, it’s the Tramadol man, it’s making you way too aggressive.”


He breaks into a wide grin followed by a series of hideous giggles.

“I was just kidding man. I’m not going to slash the tires of a 50-year-old man with his kids in the car.”

And with that, he popped another red and walked on.

mandepressedEvery day is the same for Jay.

He wakes up depressed, lonely and aimless.

He’s 26 and unemployed. No prospects. No university education.

He’s talented though – a natural artist, makes magic with markers.

Every morning, he reaches for his laptop, hangs out on Facebook for a while – staring at all the lives he could have had.

The job. The family. The kids.

He starts to feel sick.

He opens his favorite porn site and browses through his usual selections.

His preference is lesbians. Who doesn’t like hot lesbians?

He tries and tries – but he knows he won’t be able to finish.

Just like every day.

He knows it’s a side effect and he angrily tosses his computer to the bottom of the bed.

He reaches for his dirty jeans on the floor next to his bed and rummages through his pockets till he finds the thin metal sheet of pills. Tramadol 225 – the words already start to get him excited.




He’s down to two pills.

He digs his thin fingers into the other pockets desperate to find more.

A Tramadol suppository falls onto the sheetless bed. He saves that one for later.

Two go in – he winces at the distinct sour taste of his high.

He closes his eyes in relief, then opens them. It’s only a matter of time before time ceases to exist.



He studies the suppository, stares at the flawless, sleek white plastic that encases his tiny potion.

His sister walks in. He quickly hides his prized possession.

She places 10 LE on the filthy bed and walks out.

They all know – everyone knows.

He doesn’t care.

He grabs at the money. Eight years ago, in 2005, 10 pounds would have bought him a whole sheet of Tramadol.


Well now, it will only buy him three pills – maybe four if he goes down to the guy in Midan Lebanon.

The same guy who tried to sell him a grenade for 500 LE.

That guy is nuts, he chuckles to himself.

Eight years ago, all it took was one pill. In 2013 it takes more – much more.

He reaches again for his jeans and the same t-shirt he wore yesterday and the day before that and walks out of the house without so much as a goodbye.

Even though today, it very well could be.

He pulls at his pants after every other step. He’s lost so much weight and keeps forgetting to buy a belt.




Energy starts to pulse through him as his senses become acutely aware of everything around him.

He can smell the burning corn and exhaust.

He can see the sweat drip off the skin of hundreds of thousands of people in the world.

The sun hovers, exhausted over the skyline.

What time is it, anyway?

He keeps moving – he has to, for if he doesn’t, that horrible itchy feeling will conquer every inch of skin on his body.

He slips on the earphones of the iPod he stole six months ago. The beats of the track match seamlessly with the beats of his intoxicated heart.

His body is an overwhelmed electrical circuit.

Emotional overdose.

He feels the euphoric rage build and grow.

It can’t get better – can it?

He reaches for the suppository in his pocket, cracks it open and swallows the contents whole.

He can’t stop – and why would he?

Whenever he does, it’s biological warfare in his body.




Cold sweats, constant vomiting, excruciating muscle pain, an itch he can never relieve. Oh, and an intense depression.

Why would he stop now?

He meets his friends who donate to the high with a hearty joint of grade A hash.


Bollheimer_K_Drawing_SmokeItOut (1)


He needs to score soon – before it’s too late.

He frantically dials numbers till he finds someone willing to meet him.

It’s set – the grenade dealer will meet him in front of club.

The exchange happens. Jay passes the 10 pounds and receives eight pills. Today, the dealer is feeling generous. He pitches really hard to sell the grenade. Jay promises he’ll find someone to buy it.

They agree to see each other tomorrow.

The club is dark, guided only by the melodic thumping of bass.

He’s given a drink.

Then two.




He stumbles to the bathroom and lets his pants fall to his ankles.

He gently leans his head against the cold concrete wall above the urinal and waits for a stream that won’t come.

He needs to go so bad – so bad it even hurts.

But he can’t.

The drugs won’t let him.

Finally a few drops pour out. Satisfied, he reaches for his ankles.

He knows he’s made a mistake mixing alcohol with Tramadol – he knows his liver is going to ache tomorrow.

He washes two more down with some low-end vodka.

tramadol3This party is only getting started.

Girls everywhere want him. He can sense it. Even his friends’ girlfriends want him. His appetite for company is ravenous, but unquenchable.

No girl has been able to get him to finish.

The party goes on for hours. His arms are tired from passionate fist pumping and his legs can no longer hold him.

When was the last time he ate?

He stumbles out of the club, the sun still lazily parked in the sky.

What time is it?

He can feel the comedown kick in. His tongue sinks to the bottom of his mouth like lead and his muscles start to go numb.

Two more.

He somehow finds his way back home. Earphones in, jeans off, he collapses onto his bed. The metallic riffs blast through his ears.

But the drugs aren’t done with him yet.

They haven’t allowed him rest.

Suddenly, a sharp pain scorches through his brain. Then another.

It feels like his brain is being electrocuted. His muscles jolt uncontrollably.

His head hurts so much. The electricity intensifies.

“Just stare at anything,” he keeps telling himself. “Don’t close your eyes.”

He tries desperately to clench at the bed, his knuckles white like the lights that he sees, flashing like a strobe.


“Don’t close your eyes.”

He wants to scream for help, but he can’t.

“Don’t close your eyes.”


WE SAID THIS: Check out all of Shareen Ayoub’s writing here.