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. Know and believe in your very soul that there is never enough good feeling and escape that will ever even come close to the prices and losses you will encounter when listening to the screaming whispers of drug addiction.
BIRMINGHAM-Addictions can be deadly. I should have been dead already, many times over, from overdoing opiates, methadone, “Liquid G,” 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 that everyone sees as “low-grade,” or “non-addictive,” safer drugs.
Even if a drug’s addiction rate is not very significant, the behavior can be. See, even now, there are those readers who are justifying using by telling themselves “Okay, I just won’t get to that point. I just won’t use beyond that level.” Do you think anyone planned to allow it to get to any further point besides the levels of enjoyment they experienced at the beginning? In this way, it is plain to see, addicts do not control drugs. The drugs control the addict.
The moment you try a drug for any reason different than what a pharmaceutical is prescribed for (and note now that there is never any reason to try an illegal or illicit drug), your life, your limits, your past goals and beliefs, change. There is a doorway that was not there before. Whether you are sad, anxious, or even happy, you will eventually find an excuse to use again. That doorway will be there, and with it comes a room full of ways to use again, complete with a filing system and a “just in case I ever decide to again” folder, tucked neatly away in your mind.
Stuck inside during a winter storm with no power and nothing to do? Bored silly? That doorway will loom in front of you. Did your Grandmother pass away? That doorway of escape is there. Once you use a drug however many times it takes your body to build a tolerance and your mind to decide, “Hey, this is it,” nothing is ever the same again. Ever.
When It Is Not Enough Anymore
After the addiction begins taking its course and all you think of when you get up in the morning (if you go to bed at all because you are not on crystal meth) is getting high in order to face the day, it becomes difficult to find a natural joy in things without that particular substance. After a while, you cannot find joy at all, even when you are high. That’s when most people “graduate” to the method of “running” or “banging” (intravenous usage) their DOC (drug of choice).
Thankfully, I never “graduated” to this level. I was given early release from my time as a drug addict, compliments of the State of Alabama. However, I have seen one person get away from “the needle” and quit successfully. One person. I have known more addicts than I can remember or count, as I had been on drugs for years. Moreover, not every “shooter” reveals their method of using, so there is really no way to calculate the exact amount of people I have known who did this. The only one I have known to successfully quit for more than one year’s time is a counselor here in Birmingham. Those who know the powerful grip of addiction still wonder when he will return to shooting K-4’s (Dilaudid).
Unfortunately, many usually find that they have already contracted Hepatitis or HIV. This creates a bigger reason to just keep on using. 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 left freely 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, were married to each other for more than 10 years, and did not engage in sexual promiscuity.
The Addiction to The Method of Usage
As well, “banging,” “shooting up,” or “running” a drug becomes another addiction in and of itself. When unable to score (find and use) methamphetamine, many shoot up water, any pill they can find, or even the oil from peanut butter that they cooked down in a spoon and pulled into the syringe, to satiate the actual addiction of shooting something. Therefore, 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 clean (having abstained from the drug) about a year from crystal meth, I remember missing the ritual of pouring meth out on foil and smoking it by inhaling the smoke through a straw or Bic Pen casing. I missed snorting something, anything. I did not miss the drug itself, or even the high, as much as I missed the ritual and how I used it. Having been clean a year, I did not crave the ritual as one would crave a drug, but I missed the method I practiced over and over so many times before.
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 plain ol’ Tylenol would probably cure if you really thought about it? 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 easy to see 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!”
Prepare for the Worst
Hey, 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 when they do, but until you experience it, nothing will prepare you. Their life, your life, the life of extended family members, will never be the same. They will never view the world the same as they did before. Don’t get me wrong, after having enough “clean-time” (the period of time between quitting a drug and starting it again or starting another kind), there is a natural joy for life again.
Eventually That Thing that whispers to them the lie, “I will never again be happy without some substance in me,” grows silent. That Thing eventually 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-support classes, or in my opinion, they will relapse. There is no cure.
You keep this disease for life. That doorway, the one opened when you first tried the drug, the one we talked about earlier, it never closes. Ever. You must keep avoiding the doorway 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, ever again). This is hard but it is possible. For instance, one of my “triggers” was the chirp of a Direct Connect phone made by Motorola. Because I was not only an addict, but also dealer, whenever someone needed to purchase something, they would “key up” my phone. Once clean, the chirping sound heard from one of these phones triggered memories associated with that sound and then scenes, smells, feelings associated with using and dealing flooded my mind. For a moment, in my mind, I would be pulled back to a life of being high whenever I wanted, having however much I wanted, and even whatever drug I wanted. That Thing talks a good game, gives many excuses and “you deserve this after all your hard work” reasons.
Consequences Playing a Role
The moment always passed, of course, when my wiser side reminded me of Julia Tutwiler Prison, here in Alabama. Consequences must play a role in recovery from drug addiction, I am a firm believer in that. Some consequences are more harsh than others, however, depending on what state the charge originated. Sometimes too harsh of a sentence results in the unneeded “education” of addicts who would never have thought on their own “how to get away with it next time” in the manner they learn when going to prison. Drug law reform is needed in many areas, but a balance of ordered consequences of actions should be met.
Likewise, the recovering addict must stay busy. Many mainstream Christian recovery programs (and a great one is the Celebrate Recovery group found within local mainstream Christian Churches) have a somewhat different view of this, but I believe you can merge your Christian beliefs with the idea of staying busy. It is necessary - “idle hands,” and all that.
So, I have constantly asked myself through the years, “why does anyone try that first drug, having a multitude of information out there?” They do for the same reason I did, I suppose. No one believes they could ever become addicted to it. They see homeless 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, realize he is from the same social class as they are, with the same likes, clothing preference, upbringing, and that he even watched the Smurfs on Saturday mornings, the same as them. All they see is an impossibility that further fuels their belief that they will never become addicted. Especially not like that. It is like showing them tombstones of drivers who were speeding in sports cars and telling them that they, too, could die behind the wheel. They see someone else did, but they do not believe they could be under ground and lifeless.
Drug Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate
I came from 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 I smile as I write that, hoping I do not offend those with troubles kids. I came from a background that 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 childhoods showing “at risk” cases who go on to use drugs, mine was not anywhere close to being similar to any of the statistical probabilities. It can happen to anyone.
That Thing Wants to Kill You
Addictions are deadly. There are so many ways to die, as well: emotional death, mental death, a love for life dies, hopes die, and dreams die. Just because a person cannot fathom a tombstone in their future does not mean an addiction will not kill them. Further, sometimes an addiction will kill them and leave them alive physically. That Thing waits in the background to whisper reminders of the pain of an addiction in the user’s ear even after It lulls them into an addiction. Even when they are high. It happened to me. It will happen to others. It could happen to you.
Be smart. Take the proof of experience from an addicted life. Hug your kids again. Hug them again. Hold onto them for their own sakes and for yours. Know and believe in your very soul that there is never enough good feeling and escape that will ever even come close to the prices and losses you will encounter when listening to the screaming whispers of drug addiction.
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