rollercoasters of multiple journeys to sobriety
I’ve always loved the feeling of railing a line of powder, or popping pills — taking some substance that completely alters my state of mind, leaving behind this shitty reality we call life. You name it, I’ve probably tried it.
The first time I railed a line of cocaine, I was 19 years old. I had just been forced on medical leave from my university for the 2010–2011 school year for a suicide attempt. I was shipped back to my hometown and, of course, all of my close friends were away at college. Cue the boredom of suburbia. I started hanging out with a girl from my high school, who introduced me to that sweet snowy substance. I had no friends and I was angry. But more than anything, I was incredibly despondent about being back at home (especially since it was not on my terms), so I eagerly started experimenting.
I was you would call a huge nerd in high school. GPA of a 4.0 student, Orchestra, Debate Team, Mock Trial, Science Olympiad, FBLA/DECA, Robotics, you name it. Chances are if there was any sort of academic extracurricular, I was on the team for it. My 3 best friends and I graduated top 4 in our class, all ending up at top 10 schools: Cornell, Dartmouth, and Johns Hopkins (my alma mater). I didn’t have the typical rebellious high school experience of sneaking out to have sex or get drunk or high; instead, my best friends and I would spend our weekends playing video or board games or cards. I was incredibly straightedge, as were my closest circle of friends. I didn’t have any want or need to touch alcohol or drugs and at the time I naively swore to myself I never would.
How wrong I was. Due to my brain chemistry, I LOVE uppers and I became almost immediately addicted to coke. Every night, I would do grams and grams and be flying all night.
I am just over 5 months sober from a 3+ year long opiate substance use disorder. It started out with oxycodone pills, then black tar and china white heroin, then fentanyl, then carfentanyl, and then at some point I have absolutely no idea what my dealer was giving me but I needed it. There were multiple times where I should have overdosed but was lucky enough to come back to life.
Illenium (the DJ) recently opened up about his heroin abuse and overdose 6 years ago in a letter to his fans and then soon after released his single “Take You Down.” He is my absolute favorite artist and his music has saved me, keeping me sober these past 5 months. The minute I heard this song, I broke down, unable to stop the tears from flowing down my face. Can you say #relevant?
Usually people have an issue with one type of drug but for me, I don’t think it matters what the substance is. I have a problem with all of them; I just absolutely love being fucked up.
I never went to rehab; I quit both drugs cold turkey. I knew this was the only way it would deter me from seeking them out again. The pain of withdrawal has forced me to stay away from both. 7 years sober from cocaine, and 5 months sober from heroin (which doesn’t seem very long), but one day at a time.
We absolutely need more harm reduction policies and practices set in place in the United States to prevent deaths from substance abuse. Narcan (naloxone) is an amazing drug that brings those who have overdosed on heroin back to life. People argue that this only enables them but who the fuck cares, you are SAVING THEIR LIFE. I think that is more important than anything else. Portugal has decriminalized all drugs and they have no drug crime. Canada has clinics for users to shoot up under the supervision of medical professionals and they have no deaths from opiate overdose. The U.S. has HUNDREDS of people dying of overdose every week, which could easily be prevented with more harm reduction measures.
I still get the psychological cravings of both drugs occasionally; this is probably something I will deal with for the rest of my life. It took all the strength and willpower I had to quit, but I was ruining my life. Users typically don’t seek the help they need till they hit some sort of rock bottom. If you can afford it, go to a rehab facility. Attend AA or NA meetings. Avoid your old social situations where you used before. It is possible to get clean and sober.
Sobriety is fucking hard, but it’s also pretty fucking amazing. You’ll see.