In Trainspotting, heroin represents the complex relationship between addiction, society, and the conditions that draw people to addiction in the first place. Most of the main characters in Trainspotting use heroin, and for many of them, it becomes the central focus of their lives. Although the novel portrays the negative effects of heroin in great detail, heroin use doesn’t exist in a vacuum and has a complex relationship with the broader Scottish society that the characters live in. The book shows how certain social conditions (like a lack of opportunity for upward mobility, political cynicism, and the prevalence of violence) can attract people to drugs as a form of escape—only to then worsen the consequences of the very same social ills they long to escape. Furthermore, while heroin is perhaps the most visible force making lives worse for the characters, other factors like alcohol, aggression, and blind loyalty to one’s friends or one’s home play a similarly addictive role in the world of the novel, even for the characters that abstain from heroin.
Heroin, like these other factors, offers the promise of escape from a bleak world, and as Rent Boy tells Tommy at one point, the “kick” of heroin during a high is unparalleled. Nevertheless, this very same conversation sets off a chain of events that leads to Tommy contracting HIV, suggesting that no matter how powerful heroin’s “kick” is, it can’t justify its extraordinary cost. Throughout the book, the characters struggle to escape their addictions to heroin, just as they strain to overcome the social conditions that encourage them to use heroin in the first place. In both cases, however, the characters remain trapped in cycles by forces seemingly beyond their control.
Heroin Quotes in Trainspotting
The sweat wis lashing oafay Sick Boy; he wis trembling. Ah wis jist sitting thair, focusing oan the telly, tryin no tae notice the cunt. He wis bringing me doon. Ah tried tae keep ma attention oan the Jean–Claude Van Damme video.
Ah never wanted anything mair in ma life than fir her tae stoap screamin.— The bairn’s away . . . the bairn’s away. . . Dawn. . . oh my god. . . oh fuckin god, wis aboot aw ah could pick ootay the horrible sound. She collapses oantae the threadbare couch.
Ah sing out, a twisting, pogo–ing mass of rubber. Iggy Pop looks right at me as he sings the line: ‘America takes drugs in psychic defence’; only he changes ‘America’ for ‘Scatlin’, and defines us mair accurately in a single sentence than all the others have ever done.
Myth: Begbie’s mates like him.
Reality: Begbie’s mates fear him.
—It’s also a fuckin good kick.
Tommy looks at us. —Gies a go. Gies a hit.
—Fuck off Tommy.
—Ye sais it’s a good kick. Ah pure wantae try it.
Ah have an unresolved relationship wi ma deid brother, Davie, as ah huv been unable tae work oot or express ma feelings about his catatonic life and subsequent death.
Funny thing wis, jist before this, ah remembered boastin thit ah’d niver OD’d in ma puff. Thir’s a first time fir everything. It wis Swanney’s fault. His gear’s normally cut tae fuck, so ye always bung that wee bit mair intae the cooking spoon tae compensate. Then whit does the cunt dae?
“I always find the term ‘opportunistic infection’ amusing. In our culture, it seems to invoke some admirable quality. I think of the ‘opportunism’ of the entrepreneur who spots a gap in the market, or that of the striker in the penalty box. Tricky buggers, those opportunistic infections.”
—It’s the fuckin best. You ken the Mother Superior, Rents. Ah believe in the free market whin it comes tae drugs. Ah’ve goat tae gic the NHS its due though. Since ah hud this pin oaf n went oan the maintenance therapy ah’ve started tae believe thit the state kin compete wi private enterprise in oor industry, n produce a satisfyin product at low cost tae the consumer.
Tommy looks well. It’s terrifying. He’s gaunny die. Sometime between the next few weeks and next fifteen years, Tommy will be no more. The chances are that ah’ll be exactly the same. The difference is, we ken this wi Tommy.
No. He had to stay in control, There was too much at stake. There was everything at stake. There is nobody looking at Begbie though. Those who are not oblivious to him, can feel the vibes he is giving out. They employ that special talent people have: Pretending nutters are invisible. Even his companions won’t meet his gaze.
Ironically, it was Begbie who was the key. Ripping off your mates was the highest offence in his book, and he would demand the severest penalty. Renton had used Begbie, used him to burn his boats completely and utterly. It was Begbie who ensured he could never return.
Now, free from them all, for good, he could be what he wanted to be. He’d stand or fall alone. This thought both terrified and excited him as he contemplated life in Amsterdam.