Addiction magazine Pipe Down has started delivering creative writing classes for offenders in prison.

This is an extract from John’s experience on spice while in jail.

“I’ve taken most drugs that there are.

The only thing I haven’t really done is inject drugs; I’ve smoked them, chased them, snorted them; tried almost every way you can take drugs…

It all started in October or November. There were a couple on the wing who’d had some spice and had been having the shakes and all that. A couple of boys, they would give it to you on the top of the landing and if you could make it down to the bottom of the landing you’d get it for free. That was the challenge…

One of the boys came along and he said, “Oh, fancy a cone?” “Yeh go on, go on.” There’s part of me that said don’t bother taking it and part of me that said go on, you’ll be alright, it’s only a cone, you’ve had this before, it’s nothing new to you.

So we went in a cell. There was ten of us in the cell, and everybody was laughing and joking and giggling and one of them said, “You alright to smoke this?” and I said, “Yeh, yeh, I’ve done this before. I can do this.” “Go on then,” they said.

I was impatient for the pipe; they were still packing it up, packing it down and pushing it down and packing it up and pushing it down, then eventually it came to me, slow. It was a pen tube plus a toothpaste tube top on the top. Somebody had made it airtight and put foil in the top and I held it upright and tilted my head back and one of the boys brought the light towards me. I lit it up and I remember it went so quiet in the room. I could hear the spice burning in the top with a little crackle. It went that quiet and I blew it out and went in for another suck. Then he said, “He’s had enough, he’s had enough,” and he took the pipe off me. Within split seconds I knew I’d done wrong.

I felt the air go out of my lungs. I couldn’t breathe. I felt my heart go brrrrrrrr, fast, then go from a gallop to a trot and just – bumff! Then stop. I was still trying to breathe in, breathe air, but my lungs wouldn’t open. And straightway I had to drop to the floor. I felt ill, I felt Oh God, I’ve done too much here. I remember grabbing the sink in the cell, holding onto the sink. My legs felt like jelly, my arms started shaking and one the boys was saying, “Quick! Get him out of the cell! I don’t want him dying in the cell.” One the boys was saying, “Come on, you’ve got to go,” and I was saying, “NO! No, no.” I just wanted to stay there, I didn’t want to move. They picked me up under the armpits and dropped me outside the cell and shut the door. What I know from then on is only what I’ve been told…

I was put on the railings and I started arching my back. Then I let go of the railings, hit the floor and tried to pick myself up. I was crawling along on my elbows as if the bottom part of my body wasn’t working. I crawled along to the fire extinguisher and started banging my head against the wall. I was trying to get somewhere, I don’t know where, making funny noises, like a seal. I was gasping for air. Then all of a sudden I threw up, green and yellow bile, than collapsed.

The healthcare staff came along and they could see I was in a bad way. They brought the defibrillators. I had two attempts on there, two attempts on the adrenalin, the injections they give you, but I still didn’t come back round. They went to call time of death, twice, but they had another go at shocking me and they got a pulse out of me and brought me back around. They leaned me up against the wall and put the oxygen mask on me. At this time I was heavy, and just about breathing. I was told they put me on the trolley and took me off the wing. I started spasming; my legs started kicking and shaking. They put me in the ambulance then, straight through from the prison to the hospital. I went again, I flatlined again, in the ambulance, and they brought me back around. When I got to A&E they cut all the clothes off me and I started going into a seizure. I started locking up, I couldn’t open my mouth, I couldn’t respond to anything. They had to hit my mouth open, the lower part of my jaw, to get the pipes into me because I wasn’t breathing myself. They put me into an induced coma then because my heart was racing, I was going too fast.

Two days later I woke up in hospital with all drips in me, I.V. drips, into my lower regions, pipes in my nose, pipes in my throat. I woke up thinking I was still in my cell. I thought, “How am I here? How did I get in here?” My mother and partner had been called and told I was going to go; I was at that point where they thought I wasn’t going to pull through it. They were met by the chaplain who told them I wasn’t in a good way and there was a chance I could pass over. My mum came and sat by my bedside and said some prayers. My partner said some prayers and left me with my rosary beads. But there was no response from me; all they had was a beep… beep… beep… off the machine."