I was hopelessly hooked on drugs right from the start. Right from the beginning I knew that I would be using drugs a lot, and possibly for the rest of my life.
Let me clarify one thing at this point in my story….I use the terms “drugs” and “alcohol” quite interchangeably, because to me, alcohol is just another drug. It may be packaged differently and sold differently and treated differently by society, but ultimately it is just another drug. Obviously is has different properties and effects from other drugs such as marijuana or heroin, but alcohol is still a drug. It also happened to be my favorite drug in the long run, and the one that I preferred over all others.
But the first drug that I tried was not alcohol. It was marijuana. No matter, really. Drugs are drugs, if they alter your mood significantly enough. And marijuana certainly altered my mood in a profound way. The first time I got high was a revelation of sorts for me.
The moment of “arrival” and of finding your true calling with addiction
I sought out someone who sold weed and I bought ten dollars worth. This was my grand experiment. Honestly I was not all that excited about it, but I was definitely curious.
When I used the drug I was absolutely amazed, and I knew I was hooked right from the start. I could sort of picture how this might turn into a dependency and how it might turn into a problem, but I just did not care. It was so thoroughly exciting to me at the time that I was just blissful with it. Here was this amazing substance, and you could use just a tiny bit of it–only a few dollars worth–and it could completely change your mood! For hours on end!
To me it seemed like the cure for whatever ailed you at the time. If you were bored, angry, or upset–just get high, right? If you were experiencing negative emotions in your life, just get high. It was so simple, so neat and tidy. And it worked so thoroughly.
What I mean by that is that it produced a profound effect, something that was instantly noticeable. For example, someone might suggest that you try to meditate in order to relieve stress. So you might try some meditation and learn more about it and do some breathing exercises and so on. And maybe this will have some impact on your stress or your mood and maybe it won’t do much. But with something like marijuana, with this idea of drugs, you could put the chemicals into your body and you KNEW that you were going to be magically transported. It was a sure thing. You just ingest this drug, and WHAM!–Your mood and your stress was instantly changed.
Of course, these were my impressions of drugs in the very early stages. You can imagine that after I had been abusing drugs and alcohol for a full decade, my sense of wonderment and amazement at how great this was had worn off a bit. In the end, every addict becomes miserable, because their drug of choice eventually loses that sense of total amazement and euphoria. Getting high happens all the time and thus it becomes your new “normal.” You can only appreciate the drug if you spend most of your time sober. But of course, addicts and alcoholics don’t do that–they spend most of their time drunk or high instead. So it becomes normal to them and it loses it’s appeal, it loses its sense of wonderment, it loses most of the positive benefits that it once had.
But of course the addict or alcoholic cannot see that in the beginning. They cannot imagine that things would ever progress to that point, or that this wonderful and magical high that they just found would ever betray them. They cannot imagine that they will not be able to control their intake enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy it. We don’t see these possibilities because we still, at this point, have power over the drug. We never used to use it, and now we have tried it, and we like it, but certainly we can just take it or leave it as we please, right? We are in control, we have a strong will, we are not going to become weak like other addicts who get hooked on this stuff hopelessly, right? We are not going to progress in addiction and start using other, more stronger drugs are we? Most addicts would not believe that this sort of thing is destined to happen for them, or that they are even susceptible to such a progression.
When I first found drugs, it did something amazing for me in that it seemed to fix my personality perfectly. I used to be shy and have a small amount of social anxiety. Getting high seemed to take that all away, made me joyful, and I no longer cared so much what other people thought of me. These were still the early days when it was fun, of course. Later on I tried alcohol as well, and this really caught me off guard, because it sort of completed the loop in terms of “fixing” my character flaws. Now I could really overcome all of my anxiety and totally loosen up in a way that was never before possible. Liquid courage in a can and all that. When I finally used alcohol then I really knew that I was in trouble, because it so thoroughly medicated all of my fears and anxieties in a way that marijuana could not quite do by itself. Of course using both drugs together was what really became my new “drug of choice.” The addict always wants “more.”
So for me, there was no easing into my addiction. There was no testing period where I sort of played around with drugs and toyed with the idea of using more and more of them. Instead, I was hooked right from the start, in such a way that I knew that I was sort of in trouble. I said things like “wow, I am going to use this drug for the rest of my life. I just know I am.”
I really believed that I had found my calling. I was born to use drugs, or so I believed. Never had anything grabbed a hold of me so quickly and so thoroughly. Never before had anything in my life promised to take away all of my fears and anxieties, and to do it so efficiently and thoroughly. Drugs were the answer to all of my problems, even though I really did not have any major problems in my life. I had some boredom, a small amount of frustration, and a bit of social anxiety–and drugs seemed to fix all of them in one fell swoop.
Knowing the risks and just not caring about them
So I knew right from the start that I was in trouble. I could easily tell that this was going to be a lifelong thing probably, that I would never stop using drugs, and that I might very well experiment with more in the future. At the time, I had no concept of building tolerance so I did not expect that I would ever need to use greater quantities or seek out new drugs to try or whatever. I was just happy to have found “a solution” for my life.
As time went on it became more and more clear that I was a professional drug abuser and possibly a full blown addict. But of course, being an addict, I just could not bring myself to really care.
There was a line between being fearful of where my addiction was taking me, and of self medicating my fears away by using more drugs and alcohol. Obviously this was all part of vicious cycle. I knew that I was headed in a bad direction but I just could not bring myself to care. The thought of facing life clean and sober was too scary to seriously consider. My mindset was essentially “OK, obviously I have to have drugs and alcohol in my life, I have to be able to depend on those to medicate with, so how can I somehow continue to use those and make my life all work out?”
I was putting the drugs and alcohol first, always. In every decision. This is how an addict comes to justify and rationalize things. It is actually a very simple process when the addict is going through it. It is not like they weigh things and make decisions really. Instead, they automatically know that their drugs come first, and whatever else can be worked out after that will be worked out. But the fact that they are going to self medicate is absolutely automatic.
So this is pretty much how denial works. The addict is not necessarily denying that they are dependent on the drugs or whatever. Instead, they have made an internal decision about their drug of choice. It has become automatic for them. They have decided and made up their mind that their drug of choice is the most important thing in their life. Without it, they cannot function well, they cannot work, they cannot cope, they cannot deal with life, and so on. So they have thought it all through and they have arrived at this conclusion that they need their drug of choice. They really like getting high on it, they seem to need the drug to function, maybe they are unique or different from everyone else somehow but this is just how it is for them, so they have made this internal decision that they want, need, and have to have their drug of choice at all costs. It is their highest truth, the most important thing in their life. This is just how it is for them, they cannot explain it, and they might even apologize for it, but this is the way things are with them. They are unique and they really like their drug of choice and they just have to have it. For whatever reason.
This is denial.
This is the mindset that shuts out possible solutions to their seemingly chaotic problems in life. The addict will then start to experience consequences eventually based on their drug or alcohol use, and their denial will continue to “protect” them from this. Everything gets blamed on others. Everything is someone else’s fault. When I got into legal trouble because of drugs, I blamed it on society and the “stupid marijuana laws.” Maybe they are stupid and maybe they are not, but my denial was such that I would never be able to see past this rationalization that I had used. I was right and the world was wrong. How dare they try to tell me that I cannot peacefully self medicate? This is denial. This just screams of denial. And I was in it for years and years and years. Because all I wanted to do was to be left alone, to use my drugs and my alcohol in peace, so that I could just keep self medicating my fears and my anxiety so that I never had to feel uncomfortable and deal with reality. This, too, is denial.
Because if you would have asked me at the time:
“Why do you use drugs? What it the point?”
I would have given you a whole bunch of crap for my answer. And a big part of that answer, for me, was in the idea of the “spiritual quest.” Getting high had become my higher power. I actually thought, to some extent, that I was morally superior to others because I was on a spiritual quest.
My false “spiritual” quest
I think most people who use drugs or alcohol in excess believe that they are either:
1) “Tragically hip and fatally cool,” as outlined in the book of Narcotics Anonymous.
2) On a spiritual quest of the mind that can only be accessed by using drugs, and that lessor people dare not attempt to access these higher realms, blah blah blah, etc.
Of course this is all a bunch of crap. Blowing your mind with drugs (or with unique combinations of drugs) actually looks rather pathetic from an objective standpoint. It is really kind of sad to watch someone attempt to “travel” on a spiritual quest by simply putting chemicals into their body.
But the addict and alcoholic, for some reason, believes this to be pretty awesome. They like the idea of spiritual exploration via chemicals. For whatever reason it excites them.
Part of this idea has to do with boredom as well. I can remember actually looking down on people and feeling sorry for them because they were oblivious to this great spiritual quest through drugs that they could have been on, if only they had the courage to experiment and explore chemical intoxication the way that I had done.
What an amazingly short sighted and twisted perspective, to feel sorry for people who are clean and sober and living what is very likely to be the morally superior path. But I was stuck in addiction and I thought that I was so hip and cool to be on this sort of “drug exploration quest” that I really felt bad for those who did not partake.
Understand that this was not consciously a “spiritual” quest on my part. I never really put it into those terms or used the word “spiritual” in my mind. But I was so amazed and fascinated with the “higher realms” that I could achieve through intoxication that I think I equated this with a spiritual experience.
And of course it was always just out of reach. Thus the drive to get more money, more drugs, try new and different drugs, try different combinations of drugs, and so on. All part of the brave exploration and quest idea.
In reality this is all pathetic stuff, and I can look back and realize this today. None of the quest was “real.” It was all just in our minds, and it was all just chemically induced, and so nothing real was ever achieved or discovered. There was nothing mystical about it. I was just self medicating my brain to the point of abuse, and then claiming a mystic or mysterious experience. It’s all garbage though, and none of it holds any real mystery. If you abuse your body and your brain with enough chemicals, strange things are going to happen. This is not wondrous and mystical, it is simply dangerous and stupid. But as an addict, I could not see that at the time. I really thought I was on a quest for higher knowledge, and I really believed that freezing my brain or throwing enough chemicals at it was the way to get there. Drugs had become my higher power, and I worshiped them as being the one vehicle that could show me true enlightenment.
Boy was I wrong.
But how are you ever going to convince the addict of that? You can’t. They are trapped in their own mystery, they are on their own little quest.
What was the point of life without drugs?
When I was still trapped in my addiction, I used to look at people who were clean and sober and wonder to myself:
“What is the point of life without drugs and alcohol?”
“How can these people walk around without getting wasted all the time? How can they stand the boredom?”
“What can they possibly do for fun that is more exciting than the amazing journey and experience that drugs can give you?”
Of course, the joke was eventually on me, because it turned out that my amazing journey was nothing more than a dead end…..a mystery that held no real secrets and had absolutely no real benefit. But it took me several years of drug and alcohol abuse before I could see that I was never going to go anywhere, that things were never going to change or get any better, and that the journey of addiction that I was on was pretty much over. I had done it all and seen it all and there was nothing much left to do except possibly overdose and die from the stuff. And even the most hard headed addict has to admit: “What is the point of doing that?”
It took me about four to six months into my recovery before I finally saw the point of life again. It took me about four months of being pretty down and miserable in recovery before I finally saw the light coming out of addiction and realized that life was worth living again. During those first four months of recovery I was still pretty sad at the loss of my drugs, and I was not totally convinced that life would get fun and exciting again at any point. I was still reserving judgment at that point, because I had not yet re-learned how to be happy, healthy, and somewhat “normal” as a human being having fun in life and being clean and sober.
It took some time to readjust to a sober life. It took some time before I could have fun again without being drunk and high. But I had originally believed that this was impossible, and I found this miracle happening at only a few months into my recovery. From that point forward, recovery has been nothing but a tremendous gift.
“Alcohol taught me to fly, then it took away the sky.” Our drug of choice is a gift and a curse.
But in recovery, it’s all a gift….