So, I go this comment on my recent post “It’s 6am. Do You Know Where Your Meth Pipe Is?” And it was provided a lot of food for thought. I set out to write a simple comment back, but it sent me down a whole other road. Because my relationship with drugs and my view of drugs is a little bit out of the norm. It’s not so black and white to me. But I enjoy thinking about it. And I appreciate that you posed the question hipmonkey! Sorry if I go off on a long tangent that you weren’t looking for, lol.
So either you recommend this life style to others, or you see it’s a dead end street (which the government would thank you very much for, and don’t think they don’t LOVE stupid, they peddle it everyday), or you want to get better. Where’s your head at right now? Is this your bag till you say it ain’t? That’s cool if it is. Just asking…
You are right, I would certainly NEVER recommend this lifestyle to anyone. But it’s not necessarily because I think it’s all terrible (although some parts unquestionably are). I think once you hit a certain extreme, addiction is unmanageable and you’re life will fall apart. But that extreme is different for each person. People that don’t use drugs probably won’t agree with me on this, and neither will most drug users I presume, but I’ve thought a lot about this, and overall, I consider myself to a “good, responsible drug user, at the point I am now in my life as well as many times in the past. But I crossed that invisible line, multiple times, and each time my life has fallen apart. What I mean by a “good, responsible drug user” is, I always use safely, never even come close to ODing (I barely even nod, which isn’t always as fun, but it is safer), I don’t mix dangerous drugs or drugs with possible side effects. I’m able to have meaningful relationships and hold a full filling jobs, and my drug use isn’t even known to most people I interact with IRL. So, my shit is basically together right now – as opposed to a year ago. And for 7 out of the last 11 years it’s been pretty much right on track; accomplishing goals, being close to my family. Things that straight people take for granted, assuming life will always be like that. And for them it probably will. But for us users who want to constantly straddle that line, we know how quickly and drastically things can turn.
But i think what makes somebody who uses heavily be able to keep up that “American Life” has less to do with the quantity of drugs they take and more to do with the preconceptions of what a drug user, i.e. them, should be like. I believe you need to have a distinct lack of sociocultural prejudice or stereotypes. If you can pull that off, which can be very challenging for someone with self-esteem issue, I think you have a much better chance at surviving a drug using lifestyle. I can honestly say, and I don’t know many other people who can, but I honestly don’t feel that I am better or worse than the homeless crackhead who’s been on the streets for 35 years and smells like a swamp. Nor, do I have a shred of insecurity when I deal with my straight colleagues. Now, I’m not saying that I think I’m all that and a can of tuna, I don’t. But despite 35 of years of society trying to hammer into me that I am inferior because I put a needle in my arm, I don’t buy it and I never have. When I was a pre-teen, middle school age, the DARE lady came in to talk to us. She was an ex coke head who partied through the 80’s and quit shortly after. She told us, “I had one rule. No needles. And I never broke that rule.” At the time, I thought to myself, “That seems silly, if you are going to do drugs, why not go all the way.” I knew from that moment that I was going to be an IV drug user and I was only 11. Even at that age, before I even had the faintest clue about junkies being the lowest cast of American culture, or even that there were levels of hate within the drug taking community. I just thought that if you were going to do something, you might as well go all the way. And I’m sure it’s no shock that I live my entire life that way. When I do something, I throw everything I have into and go 110%, and always have. Like when I like a sport, I do it every weekend, and some weekdays for 10 years straight. When I like a band, I don’t just go see them in Los Angeles, I tour the country with them. When I find a new author I love, I don’t read 2 or 3 books, I go out and buy his entire collection, signed, first-first copies and take one of his college course. So applying that same fanaticism to drugs was kind of like per-ordained in me (much to my parents chagrin. Although they now admit that they’ve seen these tendencies in me my whole life.
So, when a drug user has been piling on and absorbing all of that negative stuff that’s been pushed on them directly and indirectly their entire lives, add to layers of their already troubled self-esteem and maybe rocky family life, and then they immerses themselves in a culture where people don’t want to belong, they take pride in not fitting into society and being general fuck-ups, then I don’t see how that person even has a fighting chance of coming out of it okay. At least not without massive changes in their life and serious therapy. It’s funny to me how many people expect to hear some kind of sob story from me about my childhood, because I turned out to be a junky. Mind you – most people that I know IRL don’t know I’m junky, so this is usually other users, who typically have some experience with painful childhoods. But I was raised in a loving, open, caring family and lived with a brother and sister, parents who are still together and love each other more than anything the world, my grandma who loves me to death and is my like best friend and my namesake, two cats and dog. I had a great childhood. I’ve never been physically assaulted. I’ve never been raped. Everything bad that’s happened in my life I’ve completely brought on myself. And usually because of addiction. But I think it’s for that reason that I don’t consider my drug use self-destructive. I’m not trying to run from anything. I just enjoy the adrenaline high, the same way I enjoy the high when I barrel down a mountain. It’s another way to get my kicks and enjoy life.
And there-in lies the catch 22. If drug use came alone, or say with just a hangover, I still wouldn’t be conflicted with this issue. But with every high there is a low. And addiction is a really bad low. I talk with my therapist about this all the time, my dad too actually. If I want to play the role of full time, lifelong heroin addict, successful and prosperous businesswoman /writer, loving, caring girlfriend, best friend, daughter, sister and grand-daughter, and play two sports competitively and tour the country with my favorite bands, it’s a lot of fucking work. And it takes a lot of planning, a lot of risk and unfortunately a lot of deceit, since most people don’t approve. Not to mention a lot of money! My dad and my therapist both tell me all the time they are exhausted just hearing about my life. And she poses the question to me all the time, “Is it worth it? And if so, why?” And that one I still struggle with, without throwing my hands up and saying, “Ah, I just don’t want to do through withdraws for 3 weeks!” I just like getting high. It relaxes me. It gives me something to look forward to when I’m working. And the great thing about quitting for those 30-something days, was it really gave me the opportunity to look back, and forward and say, “What do I want to change? What don’t I want my life to be like? And what do I want it to be like?” Heroin doesn’t present the same day to day problems like meth dose. I never stay up all night and sleep through a shift. I’m never too strung out to talk to people and put on a straight face. I was a little unsure how it was going to be coming back to it, because I put all these rules around it this time. Only this much per day. Period. Only pick up once a day. Wait till after dinner to do my afternoon shot. There was a lot of fucking rules, but I had been out of control before. My sponsor still doesn’t believe I’m following them. He thinks I’m lying or doing that thing that drug addicts do when they want to convince you that their life is great (I’ve done it! We’ve all done it!) But honest, since October, I’ve been able to follow my “guidelines” to the letter, with some exceptions on holiday’s and weekends, but that was always in the plan.
I’ve been through long periods of my life where I was completely out of control on heroin. Lying, stealing, betraying, sneaking out, whatever it took. But I didn’t enjoy the use more. In fact, now that it’s not such a free for all buffet, I like it even better. And when all of this realization hit, “Ah my life it fucked up again. What happened?” I came up with two things. 1. I let myself get re-addicted to meth. Big mistake. 2. I was starting to believe the lie that junkies are good for nothing worthless pieces of gutter trash and I started acting the part. “Well this is just who I am. Society can take me or leave me.” That’s all very well and good if you are independently wealthy and can afford to tell the planet to fuck off. But I still need to make a living, if for nothing else to pay for my daily habit and go see a lot of concerts. I was pissed when I realized I had played right into the stereotype. Especially because I had spent the previous 7 years (pre-meth #2) building up a great life for myself while still using heroin daily. I enjoyed sticking it in everybody’s face. I’m 31. I just bought my first house on the beach in Playa del Rey (in Los Angeles), I was making over 100k and was on the road for 80%+ of the time working as a network engineer. And the best part was, my boss was a drug user, so we’d party together on the road all the time. I won a spot on the woman 30-40 BoarderX Nationals that year and had even sailed to Hawaii the year before on an 80′ boat, all while being a junky. But in just 3 short months everything came crashing down when I started using meth again.
And this is where the decision get heavy. Is being a life-long drug user worth it? Because if you play this game your whole life, this stuff will happen. yeah, I think I can handle my H pretty damn well. But someone else reacts to H the way I do to meth and it will fuck up their whole life and it will take a lot of work to get it back. Like it did with me. After i went through that colossal downfall, I started getting sloppy everywhere. I know longer ran back to my hotel room to do a shot, I’d spend 45 minutes in a public restroom with coworkers outside. I stopped trying to cover-up track marks. I started believing that there was no way I could really hold down a job like this and be a junky so fuck it. I’ll pawn everything and sell drugs. Typically street junky mentality. I practically resigned myself to turning tricks down the line when I had no other options. But then after my boyfriend was forced to quit meth, it was like, what was I thinking??? How could I have fallen that far that fasted and believed everything I knew not to be true.
So now I look at my drug career as something that I do have control over. Unfortunately not as much control as I would always like, and no control if I increase my heroin use or start using meth again. So I know my limits. And so far, it’s important enough to me that I am willing to practice that self-restraint and control if it means I’m in it for the big picture. My boyfriend always says that we’re in a marathon, not a sprint. And he’s right. We both independently of each other, before we met, decided that we were serious about being life long, responsibly drug addicts. Now what happens when you put too people together who love substances as much as the two of us do independently of each other, well – we saw what happened there. We fed each other’s appetite for a while, fueling each other and seeing how far we could take this. But then just like we had done in our separate lives at earlier points in our lives, we woke up one day and said, “Wait a minute. We got to slow down. Not stop. But slow down.” We know had a very clear image of what we could and could not do together. And since that shift in our foundation I’ve never been happier. Our family relationships are good, our jobs are good, we’ve got our shit together. And yes, we happen to use heroin daily on the side.
So, would I suggest this lifestyle to anyone else? Absolutely not. Unless I got to know you really, really well and thought you could handle a little rewarding challenge. And you know, I still go to NA and have a sponsor and go to therapy at a recovery center. Because i know how easily now I can slip. I never saw it coming the second time (first time was when I was 23. Another colossal life fuck that lasted a couple of years thanks to meth. And heroin was how I pulled myself out of it. I know, not what the textbooks preach). Anyway, I still go, because I need to keep these small daily goals of not going over this much money per day, or doing this many shots per day, or (and this is especially big for me because once I start, I can’t stop) not lying about it. If I find myself strolling down to Skid Row and not telling my boyfriend, I know where that can lead and I need to have an action plan to stay on top of that and keep my integrity within the context of doing something that’s highly illegal. So the question of whether this is all worth the effort, just to be able to slam a few balloons a day, I’m still trying to fully answer that. We’ll see what the future brings. But I know by sticking to this small plan, if I ever do want to kick again long term, I’m building the skills I will need to do that successfully. And in the meantime, my life’s pretty good. I guess you’re question sparked a lot of thoughts for me, lol. I’m not going back to reread this, so please ignore the typos! 🙂
Peace Love & Rock ‘n Roll