The Anonymous People is a documentary which encapsulates the stories of about 24 million Americans who are living in long-term recovery from substance abuse addiction. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. The film features personal recovery stories from Kristen Johnston, Chris Herren, Tom Coderre and others who are public about their current lives without the use of alcohol or other drugs.
So why am I telling you this? Well, because I too am one of them. I am one of those living among the anonymous people.
Unlike many of those featured in this documentary, I have not come out to the general public. No one knows my complete story. Very few close people know a good chunk of my story, but take one look at me and you wouldn’t guess any of what I’m about to tell you. You will understand by the end of this article why I have no choice other than to remain anonymous…for now.
[Note: To avoid spoiling identify, minimal information will be revealed]
The first time I got caught with drugs was when I was 14. I absentmindedly left a ziplock bag with some marijuana and a cigarette in my coat pocket, left to hang in the room entered into from the garage. My parents said if they caught me again they’d send me to rehab. That’s the response you get when you have unbelievably strict parents who adhere to certain beliefs and ways of parenting that are particular to their culture. The first time I did amphetamine, cocaine, lsd, psilocybin mushrooms, ketamine, vicodin, oxycontin, etc.,? I couldn’t even tell you. The next 3 years all blended together, except for memories that often surface, reminding me of those days.
There is not one type of addict. An addict can be dependent on a single type of drug, such as alcohol or heroin, a combination of uppers and downers to balance the adverse side effects, anything it can get his/her hands on, and so on. Marijuana was my constant drug of choice, but if there was some mind-altering substance in front of me, I would take it without hesitation. It didn’t matter what time of the day it was, whether I had to go to school, sports practice, family events, or work. I became so good at being “normal” when I was high, that could fool my parents, who at that time were the most interrogative and observant people I knew. Aside from, ya know, the minor but few cop encounters. I’m not proud of it, but Anonymous People are good at being anonymous, which both saves and kills us.
When I was 15 I got caught during my school lunch time hour shoplifting from a grocery store. I couldn’t just take a lollipop like my friends. I thought I had mastered taking grocery bags stuffed with items from pizza to ice cream, since it worked the previous times. That day proved otherwise, as my friends and I were standing in the grocery’s security office watching the footage of our capture. My friends, having been older than me, were required to pay a hefty fine and not return to any grocery store in the US with that name, for the following 2 years. I, on the other hand, got the easy way out by having to go to family court (but never did).
There’s a good chance we’ve heard the English idiom, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” more times than we’ve heard Donald Trump say “…make America great again.” Actually, let’s be real, probably not. [Note: end of political references]. I think the unanimous underlying meaning of this saying is that you never truly know what story you may find behind the first look. We say this all of the time when we meet someone and realize how off we were from what we expected or judged their true character to be.
kicked off of tennis team for 10 days-no matches. high during tennis match and couldn’t read list of names.
So there you have it. You know my story but you don’t know me…yet. In the meantime I will keep fighting for the millions of those affected by this disease, and I will be part of the future solution.