Fedya Vertenyuk: Being sober is getting me high

Fedya Vertenyuk, a volunteer and future outreach worker of “Viata Noua”, is sober for a relatively short amount of time – 10 months. Before, he was addicted to drugs for 5 years. Fedya was one of the participants of the photo project “A soul under the gun”. He told how from a candidate for master of sport he turned into a candidate for the rehabilitation program, what did he lose because of drugs and what currently gets him “high.”

I was using drugs for exactly 5 years. Before becoming a drug addict I was a sportsman. How did it all happen? I will tell you now…

It all started with smoking cigarettes. Nothing special actually, I was smoking during the breaks at school, sometimes only once in a couple of days. Later I tried marihuana and after if I easily switched to stronger drugs (amphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine). And, it all ended up with injecting heroine. The last yeast of my addiction I had to do it every day.

I was 15 times in a hospital. And, you know, every time after I left the hospital, I was injecting drugs again. Once I almost died, but not because of an overdose. I injected heroin together with a substitute of tropicamide (easily accessible drug, used in ophthalmology, also used to enhance the effects of opiates – Ed.). I mean, I wanted to buy the real tropicamide, but they gave me in a pharmacy some kind of substitute, I did not realize it, I injected it and after a while I lost feeling in my legs. I somehow managed to leave the flat, I crawled to the street where I saw my friends. They helped me to regain consciousness and called my sister. I woke up only 12 hours later, I couldn’t understand what happened. My parents learned about my addiction. Before, only my sister was suspecting something.

Being like Bruce Almighty

I remember my first time very well. It was at my friend’s wedding. My friends were using drugs and they brought some ecstasy. They said I will be full of energy and in a great mood after taking it. The first time I did not actually get it, but the second time… I was feeling myself like Bruce Almighty: I could have a conversation on any topic, I was very sociable and could easily talk with girls. Drugs gave me such opportunities and feelings I could never experience being sober.

After ecstasy, for a half of year I was smoking heroin. I felt a lot of pain when I was trying to quit. Then I realized that it is a real withdrawal and I decided to inject heroin. A person who helped me inject heroin for the first time is still addicted. He has two children and a faithful wife and I really would like to help him.

I was addicted to drugs for a long time. During that time I lost my beloved girlfriend, my mom had a stroke, I was diagnosed with hepatitis C, I was behaving like a zombie that wants only one thing – get a dose and avoid the withdrawal. One day something changed. I look at myself and at my beloved people from a different perspective and I decided to quit.

IMG_1352 IMG_1348 IMG_1354 IMG_1356

I came to the office of “Viata Noua” for the first time three years ago. I almost got to the point where they should send me to a rehabilitation program, but in the last moment something happened and I relapsed. I came back only after two years. They sent me to a rehabilitation program after a month. The most interesting in the fact that the rehabilitation was quite easy for me. Maybe because I was trying to change myself with all my heart. Actually, maybe it was not that easy. Couple of times I really cried. The first time it was after watching some movie and the second time I couldn’t stand killing a pig (laughs).

Everything has changed

When I only got to the rehabilitation program, I was feeling like injecting drugs while I had days off, but already after two months everything has changed. And, being on holidays I was only thinking how little time I have to change myself and my life.

After all, I was a sportsman before. When I was 10 I started playing basketball, like my sister. I liked it a lot and I was taking it very seriously, I participated in many championships, I was a candidate for master of sport. But I lost it all when I started to take drugs.


I was wondering many times why everything went this way. What happened in my perfect life, why I started to smoke cigarettes and inject drugs? Maybe the reason was the unrequited love. We were sharing one desk at school, I fell in love and she rejected me. Perhaps this was the first step to my destruction.

Do I want to go back to sport? I don’t know. Now I want something else. I want a family and children. I don’t know if I will tell them about my past, but I will try. Because everyone should avoid things that happened to me. There is a risk of losing one’s life.

One of my friend’s addiction got so far that at some point he sold everything he had in his apartment, he left only the kitchen so he can prepare drugs and some pillows to lie down on. As a result of ephedrine use, he lost feeling in his legs. He could walk only by the wall. Thank god he went to the rehabilitation program, he is feeling much better and I’m very happy for him.

Now, being sober is getting me high. I’m looking at people and everything around me from a different perspective. After all, my sister is pregnant. I love to touch her belly and feel how the baby is moving. I want to have children so much! I love my dog, her name is Gera. I love going for a walk with her. Every single new day makes me happy. People that surround me make me happy. Helping other people makes me happy.

Fotos: Dragos Cojocaru
Text: Elena Derjanschi