Drug Addiction: Coming to a Loved One Near You

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Addictions can be deadly. I should have been dead already, many times over, from overdoing Opiates, Methadone, Liquid G, Roll (Exstacy), Cocaine, and the Queen that locked me in the tower, Crystal Meth. I sincerely hope I can intelligently warn others in a powerful manner to never try any drug, not even those which everyone sees as “low-grade,” or basically “non-addictive.”

Even if a drug’s addiction rate is not very significant, it’s the behavior which can be. See, even now, there are those readers who are justifying getting high by telling themselves “Okay, I just won’t get to that point.” Do you think I planned to allow it to get to any further point than anyone would want to go? Do those unfortunate, strung out millions crying while repetitiously and unsuccessfully attempting to find a vein that is not collapsed so they can insert a needle someone who wanted to be where they find themselves?

But we have grown pompous and arrogant and fearless while listening to Hollywood’s many lies, and our instant gratification urges make us believe we can conquer anything and deserve to get high once in a while. I often forgot that we do not control drugs. They control us.

The moment you try a drug for any reason different than what a pharmaceutical is prescribed for (and there is never any reason to try an illicit drug), your life, your limits, your past goals and beliefs, change. There’s a door opened that was not even there before. Whether you are sad or anxious or even happy, you will eventually find an excuse to get high again. That door will be there.

Stuck inside during a winter storm with no power and nothing to do? Bored silly? That door will loom in front of you. Did your Grandmother pass away? That door is there. It’s the ultimate comfort and ultimate enemy in one happy package.

Once you use a drug enough times, after the addiction begins its course and all you think of when you get up in the morning (if you go to bed at all or are not on Crystal Meth) is getting high in order to face the day, it becomes difficult to find natural joy in things without that substance. After a while, you cannot find joy at all, even when high. That’s when most people “graduate” to the method of “running” or “banging” (intravenous usage) their DOC (drug of choice).

I have seen people get away from “the needle” and quit successfully, but not often. Actually, I only know of one person who did, who is now a counselor here in Birmingham. So how many have I known that did not? Hundreds. And unfortunately, many of those hundreds usually find that they have already contracted Hepatitis or HIV. This creates a bigger reason to just keep on using.

And on a side note, Hepatitis does not only come from shared intravenous usage. Opiates, such as Lortab, or its “cure,” the legal government drug deal, Methadone, can wear on the body to such a degree that the liver is exposed to Hepatitis. I knew a couple of clients at a local Methadone clinic who died from Hep C, and they never touched a needle. Also, an intravenous user who leaves a syringe with blood still in it for a later use can get Hep C, as if catching it from themselves!

As well, “Banging,” “Shooting Up,” or “Running” a drug becomes another addiction in and of itself. I have known people who, when unable to get Meth, would shoot up water, any pill they could find, or even the oil from peanut butter, to satiate the actual addiction of shooting something. So the method or ritual of using becomes a habit as strong as the addiction itself.

Sometimes the habit of how one used a drug is just as addictive. After having been about a year without Crystal Meth and OC’s (Oxycontin: also called “Redneck Heroin,”) I remember missing the ritual of pouring the Meth out on foil and smoking it by inhaling the smoke through a straw or Pen casing . . . . damn, just to snort something! I really did not miss the drug itself, or the high, as much as I missed the ritual of the method I used it. I didn’t crave the ritual as one would crave a drug, but I missed it, nonetheless.

Drugs are glamorized in this country in every form of entertainment, in school, and even in doctor’s offices. Need to lose weight? Tada! Here’s you some Phentermine! Now you can get addicted to speed! Need to calm down and relax more? Tada! Here’s you some Xanax or Valium. Now you can get addicted to Benzos and Downers! Don’t cross the two! Don’t cross with alcohol! Have minimal pain that Tylenol would probably cure? Tada! Here’s some Lorcet! Still hurting? Here’s some Lorcet Plus! Still hurting? Here’s some OC 10’s! Still hurting? Here’s some OC 20’s… and by then, it’s apparent that Mama ain’t hurtin’ no more. If she is, it’s because she’s “without,” (does not have any pills).

Outside of “doc shopping” (playing sick to obtain pills), there are other avenues in which drugs are introduced to society: music artists, movies, and even the slang we use to converse in this country. “Why you trippin’?” To “trip” refers to using acid or LSD. “Take a chill pill!” “Dude, why you crackin’ on me?” “Chickenhead!”

Furthermore, we protect the “artistic expression” of musicians like Dayton Family, Eminem, and others who suggest a lifestyle that is the exact opposite of what our laws command us to obey. And their “artistic expression” is protected by the very law they seem to despise.

Our children grow up believing it is cool to be “balling” (a drug dealer making a fortune) but the moment they implement the lifestyle that popular music idols proclaim as “cool,” they get locked up for it. How completely stupid is this? Do the musical artists need to express their artistic views protected by the constitution so bad that many young lives get wrapped up in the real criminal world, believing it will be like Eminem’s life?

Sounds like a hard fight, this battle against drugs entering your life, huh? It is. All the pamphlets in the world can tell you how to try to keep your kids off drugs, how to be there for them if they develop an addiction to something, and how to find affordable rehabilitative recovery for them, but until you experience it, nothing will prepare you. Their life, your life, will never be the same. They will never view the world the same as before.

Don’t get me wrong, after having enough “clean-time” (period of time between quitting a drug and starting again or starting another kind), there is a natural joy for and enjoyment of life again. Before being clean, eventually that thing that whispers tells them “I will never again be happy without some substance in me.” That thing that whispers (because I am not sure how else to explain it) stops screaming in their ear (yes, it SCREAMS), after enough clean time, and they adapt to life without chemicals.

They must stay in recovery classes or group-setting classes, or in my opinion, they will relapse. There is no cure. It’s a disease you keep for life, if it truly is a disease. That door, the one opened when they first tried a drug, never closes. Ever. They must keep avoiding the door by use of barriers and boundaries (i.e. don’t go back to the dealer’s area or neighborhood; don’t go back to old party places; find out what triggers a craving and never do or hear or smell or see whatever that trigger was again). This is hard but it is possible.

For instance, one of my “triggers” was the Nextel chirp of a Direct Connect phone made by Motorola. Because I had not only been an addict, but also a dealer, clients would “key up” my phone when they needed to purchase something,. Once clean, the chirping sound heard from one of these phones triggered memories associated with that sound and using/dealing. For a moment, in my mind, I was pulled back to a life of being high whenever I wanted, however much I wanted, whatever I wanted.

The moment passed, of course, when my wiser side reminded me of Julia Tutwiler Prison, here in Alabama. Consequences must play a role in recovery, I am a firm believer in that. I do not believe the consequence should be prison for many drug crimes, though.

Likewise, the recovering addict must stay busy. Many mainstream Christian Recovery Programs (and a GREAT one is Celebrate Recovery) have a somewhat different view of this, but I believe you can merge your Christian beliefs with staying busy. It’s a must. “Idle hands,” and all that jazz.

So, I have constantly asked myself through the years, why does anyone try that first drug, having all this information on the subject? The same reason I did, I suppose. No one believes they could ever become addicted to it like that junkie guy. They see pictures of cocaine addicts on the side of the road with their noses half rotted off and that’s so unlike them that they firmly believe they could never be there. They do not see the guy who first tried cocaine, and realize he is from the same social class, likes the same music they do, wore the same brand clothing, had good parents. All they see is an impossibility which further fuels their belief that they will never become addicted. Not like that. They do not realize that the end results of addiction takes many forms, usually death. But showing them the tombstones of those end results, though they are so very numerous, is also an impossibility to them. So we are sometimes without answers, outside of prayer,

I believe. I was fortunate and blessed to have had a good childhood. I went to private schools, and not because I was kicked out of public schools, either. In the eighties, students actually went to private schools to have a better education, and not because no public school wanted them back. I came from a background which was not littered with bad impressions or bad relatives or black sheep of the family going to jail. It was stable, good, loving, and fair. Though there are many “at risk” cases who grow up to use drugs, mine was not anywhere close to anything “at risk.”.

It can happen to anyone. Addictions are deadly. There are so many ways to die, as well: emotional death, mental death, a love for life dies, hopes and dreams die. Just because a person cannot fathom a tombstone in their future does not mean an addiction will not kill them and leave them alive physically. It happened to me. It will happen to others. it will happen to someone you know. Be ready to ride a very long ride with them if you love them.

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