No one begins their drinking or drugging career thinking they’d like to develop an addiction. You don’t start out boozing, snorting lines of coke or taking pills with the notion that you would like to make this your daily routine. It’s not something you aspire to work towards or some glorious thing you set out to do.
“They” tell you growing up that drugs are bad.
Just say no.
Marijuana is the gateway.
But what they fail to tell you is how to deal with life. They fail to tell you it’s OK to have emotions that don’t always feel so good or that traumatic events will happen to us. And there is definitely no step-by-step guide given for how to process through this stuff in healthy ways.
They don’t tell us that handfuls of our friends or family will die from overdoses and more of them will end up with some form of chemical dependency to alcohol or drugs.
They don’t take us to jail where we will be sent for drinking and driving or possession of drugs. They don’t take us to the hospital to show us the aftermath a car accident with a driver who was under the influence. They don’t take us to a grave where someone passed away much sooner than they should have because addiction overtook them.
They don’t show us what addiction does to our brains aside from cracking an egg into a frying pan on a TV commercial. They don’t tell us how it wreaks havoc inside our bodies causing a whole host of unwanted health issues, some of which can be permanent and even fatal.
There is a huge gap in our education system these days, especially for our youth who are faced with decisions everyday when it comes to drugs and alcohol. What I would share with them or anyone else who is gambling with a substance that could lead them down the path of addiction is what I wish I knew before I got addicted to cocaine…
It just happens.
One day I woke up, or in my case pulled an all-nighter, and without my knowing, cocaine had become a permanent fixture in my bag of party tricks. Before I even knew it hit me, it grabbed ahold of me tightly.
I didn’t know it was happening and I can’t really pinpoint when I crossed the line from recreational use to every-time-I-drink-use to take-a-bump-and-clean-my-house-use. It was a gradual process that grew roots inside me without me even realizing I was watering them, growing them and eventually letting them fester and strangle life out of me.
Addiction sneaks up on you and before you know you have a problem, the problem already has its grip on you. We never think it will happen to us, but it happens – every single day.
With addiction you sign up for an inner dialogue of self-loathing.
It was one thing to experience the comedown from cocaine, but it was another to have the comedown start bleeding over into everyday life. What I mean is that I could handle the voice in my head filled with worry, horrible thoughts about myself and the one that called me a loser or told me I needed to hide as I was coming off of what I knowingly put up my nose. However, handling this voice sober from my desk at work was another story.
Coming down from cocaine is miserable. The birds are chirping outside, the new day has started and you can’t sleep because you vampire’d your way through the night blowing lines and now you’re all hopped up and can’t sleep. I always dealt with how horrible I felt about myself as some sort of sadistic punishment for doing coke. In a weird way, I had accepted my unworthiness and self-hatred as a normal trade-off for that lifestyle.
What I didn’t realize is that the dialogue I was having at the comedown would begin to follow me around everywhere causing me angst, shame and low self-esteem.
What panic felt like.
The voice of the comedown began to follow me. The incessant worrying and self-inflicted anxiety was becoming my reality even when I wasn’t partying. The lines of party life and real life became extremely blurred and an anxiety I never knew before had crept into my world.
I had my first panic attack about 9 months before I got sober. It felt like I was having a stroke, heart attack and dying all at the same time. Like the devil himself had gripped my heart making it race, sending tingling sensations down my arms causing me to lose control of my breath.
I had never felt panic like this before in my life and had I known this would be a price I would pay for my sorted love affair with cocaine, I may have thought twice about it.
When I was 15 I flipped a car on the highway with my parents and best friend in it. We all walked away from the accident with injuries, but nonetheless we lived. However, the trauma of this event, knowing that I could have killed us coupled with being unable to process through my emotions at such a young age, sent me searching in all the wrong places. It was shortly after that I began drinking, smoking weed and taking psychedelics which lead me to the hands of ecstasy and cocaine eventually.
At the time, I just thought it was in good fun, but at the core I now know it to be my way of handling that trauma. Throughout the years I would go on to have an abusive relationship, get cheated on more than once, be drugged with no recollection of what happened and so on and so forth.
My drug and alcohol abuse was a counterfeit means for me to process emotions and all the nasty things I felt inside me as traumatic events unfolded. I did not know that negative emotions were made to be experienced or that running from them didn’t actually provide resolution or real relief.
What I know now
For all the things I wish I knew beforehand, I’m equally as happy to know them now as a result of my experience. My sobriety and the contrast I know because of the dark corners of my addiction have shaped me into who I am.
Today, I am living in my truth with a knowing that a miracle was gifted to me through it all and I honestly wouldn’t re-do any part of my past.
Addiction can rob you of everything, but recovery shows you how to rebuild your life and reconnect to who you really are.
The transformational process has been priceless for me and no amount of prior wisdom would have truly been worth what it feels like to rise above addiction, live a substance free lifestyle and to have a voice to own what I know now.