I suffer from an insidious disease. It’s patient, progressive, and fatal. Someone is dying as I type these words, from the horrors of addiction. Thank God it’s not me. This disease is so cunning and powerful. I remember being roughly 16 years old, and new into my high school career when mine first started to surface. Retrospect is something. Wish I had known about this then. But how many of us can say that about a million different things? My first mental obsession, and that’s what this thing is- obsession and compulsion run amuck, was with, you guessed it- marijuana. But pot wasn’t the first drug I used. The first mind or mood altering substance that entered my body and offered me a glimpse of what I was looking for was tobacco. It gave me a buzz. A brief respite from life. Relief. It excited me to feel like I was doing something I could get in trouble for. I used to steal my parents’ Marlboro Reds, sometimes the half smoked ones from the ashtray, and chain smoke them in the bathroom before I showered at night. I thought that I needed to cover up the smell, but what I also know now, that I didn’t know then is that my parents couldn’t smell cigarette smoke because, after all, they were smokers themselves.
I think, looking back, that this is where my ball got rolling. Where the first domino fell. Because, from that moment on, my obsession was triggered. I knew how I wanted to feel, and I knew how to make that feeling happen. I was smoking cigarettes everyday. They made me feel hip, slick, and cool. The mental feeling was just as important to me as the physical feeling that the toxic smoke gave me. I started going through school with an attitude of anticipation. Daydreaming about what else was available out there to make me feel good became a common practice for me. I unknowingly started honing my addict skills from that time on. Lying, manipulation, selfishness, obsession, and compulsion became my default setting. I became preoccupied with my new friend, and the only thing that mattered was how I could feed this thing. With more, and better, and stronger. All the time. I started to ask around, and eaves drop, and mingle with some people who I thought could show me what I wanted, and then help me get it. I became engulfed with the idea of smoking pot. I very clearly remember laying sleepless one night, at my parents house on Elm Court, romancing the idea of my first joint, or bowl, whatever it was going to be. And then it happened.
The next tumbler dropped when I met a drug that most people don’t consider a drug, alcohol. I started drinking, and it was on from there. I liked alcohol way more than pot, because it offered a laid back, ladies man, comedic style high. And it was legal, cheap, and easily accessible. For 25 bucks, and a “hey mister!” I could get anything I wanted. All the time. That was bad. You see, my addict mind, even as I write this, tries to paint one picture of using and partying in my head. The good times. The parties. But in all actuality I was slowly going insane. Committing suicide. Progressing.
And my next domino fell.
The first time I smoked weed it was amazing. It did exactly what I wanted it to. And I started doing it all the time. At first, it was only on weekends, and then it was whenever I could con my old man into giving me twenty bucks for “food”. It’s funny actually, I would ask my folks for food money, go smoke a bunch of pot, and then come back and devour everything in site. They were oblivious.
Over the next couple years, I moved onto to explore everything that the drug world of Northwest Indiana had to offer. Until I found something that would catalyze my unbreakable craving for oblivion. Narcotic pain medication. Vicodin, Percocet, Lortab, Oxycontin, Morphine, Dilaudid. Anything Opiate was my new flavor, and I couldn’t shake it. I used to visit friends’ houses, ask to use the restroom, raid their medicine, and it was off to the moon. This is where I really started to lose control. When I could no longer scrounge up enough money to buy pills, or find any to steal, I was in bad shape. And then one day I met a junkie. You see, I didn’t start off right away wanting to main line a questionable powder into my arm. This disease is progressive, it will grab ahold of you in the most subtle ways, and a year may pass, or 2, or ten. Before I knew it, I was in the grip of full blown active addiction. And it still progresses. It will take a person places they don’t want to go, keep them longer than they want to stay, and cost them a helluva lot more than they want to pay. And it ALWAYS took me to the same places. Jail, prison, and homeless despair. So many addicts are dead or incarcerated right now as a result of the lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be this way.