- Reading a myriad of horror stories on erowid.org about using over the counter allergy medicine recreationally. Being determined to do it anyway, hoping it would be enjoyable. Feeling like Hunter Thompson while writing my own horror story and posting it to erowid.
- Buying cough syrup from the same drug store once or twice a week for months. Arriving at different times and choosing which line I got into carefully in an attempt to conceal my habits from the cashiers.
- Smoking Earl Grey tea in my room at night to see if anything would happen. Waking my Mother up by polluting the house with bergamot fumes. Telling her to relax and to get off my case because it was “just tea” and I “wasn’t even high.”
- Going to the big new years eve rave party and being stuck in a portapotty at 12 AM because of a bad reaction I was having to something I had taken. Telling everyone at work the next day about the “greatest night of my life.”
- Feeling like I had won the lottery after finding a mysterious white pill on the sidewalk in Westwood Village. Feeling like I had bet the farm and lost it all when it turned out to be a Potassium supplement. Taking it anyways just incase.
- Being invited to people’s houses or family events and planning rigorously beforehand as to how I can nonchalantly use the restroom in the master bedroom to check the cabinets for prescriptions. Feeling like James Bond when successful, thinking about what else I could have done with the day when unsuccessful.
- Hiding substances in the sunroof of my car as a friend and I passed through a DUI checkpoint. Spending the following week and a half trying to recover said substances MacGyver style despite them costing less than twenty dollars. Continuing to think about “the ones that got away.”
- Being fired from an old job by a senior loss prevention officer because of missing nitrous oxide cartridges that were used to make whipped cream in the cafe. Trying to explain to him that I didn’t deserve to be fired because I would have paid for them, but there was no way to ring them in on the register.
- Fixing a cracked bumper with super glue, duct tape, and a car jack at 11:30 PM at a gas station parking lot in Ventura by myself. The cashier coming out to ask if I was okay and offering me a free burrito.
- Trading a broken paintball gun to dangerous skinhead types that a friend was acquainted with for substances. Listening to a half-dozen voicemails in which not a single word was audible except for certain four letter ones.
Above are ten experiences I had before I turned twenty three. While they are light hearted and comical, I want to assure the reader that they are but a garnish on top of a plate filled with spicy shame, pungent disappointment, and well-seasoned consequences. I chose this theme to raise awareness of one of the hallmarks of addiction, denial. At no point during any of this was I able to see that my relationship to substances was to blame for the events in my life. I truly believed the world had an intolerant view towards people like me, that I was an olympic hopeful in the sport of bad luck, and that things would be okay if I could just stop being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately, I would eventually come to be woken up by a well timed and significantly jarring event in my life. This event pierced through my denial, allowing the love and support of my family and the recovery community to show me a different way to live. Presently, I am twenty seven years old and have been sober for almost three years.
Addiction, like many medical issues, can be much less damaging if it is diagnosed and treated early. Therefore I would like to encourage those who are routinely involved with alcohol or drug use to open up about it to someone outside of the drinking and using social circle. I understand that this isn’t an easy thing to do considering the judgemental responses that we who drink and use have gotten from people. However, there are many professionals and caring community members alike who may be able understand or help even when we are not entirely sure that we are ready to quit.