It started with prescription drugs. Pills were my answer to every problem. If I was tired, I took a pill. If I couldn’t sleep, I took a pill. Sad? I had pills for that, too. I became an expert at manipulating doctors into prescribing my drugs of choice. I would research medications and symptoms, head to the doctor’s office, and voila. No drug dealer necessary. I never took my medications as prescribed because if one pill made me feel better, just think what three or four could do. I bought, sold, and traded medications with my friends.
I thought I had found the solution to all of life’s problems. I didn’t have to deal with insecurity or anxiety, I just medicated them. I never learned to cope with fear, depression, or loss because I always had my chemical crutch. I thought the pharmaceuticals made me a better version of myself – funnier, happier, smarter, and more fun. I really believed that, and in turn, I had to believe the dark flipside: without the drugs, I was not good enough.
I went through life like this, not developing emotionally, not growing as a person, because I had bought the lie. The pharmaceutical industry would have us believe that these medications can cure and heal, when they can only numb and suppress.
Addiction is a ravenous monster – it is always hungry for more, more, more. No matter how many drugs I accumulated, I always ended up high and dry, broke, and at least a week out from my next refill. I started drinking between refills to take the edge off. Then I discovered that alcohol actually enhanced the effects of the medications. It wasn’t long until I couldn’t go without alcohol either. I’ll never forget the first time I got the shakes. I was vomiting profusely, and my hands were shaking too hard for me to get a spoonful of soup to my mouth.
Colloquial wisdom says that marijuana is the gateway drug. I believe that is true for many addicts, but for me it was prescription drugs. The inevitable day came when I reached for my pharmaceuticals, couldn’t obtain any for whatever reason, and found hard drugs were easily within my grasp. I took them just to have something to hold on to. The shift from Adderall and Xanax to meth and heroin was swift and irreversible. I found that hard drugs were not only cheaper, but more powerful too. Addiction to hard drugs was an even bigger, scarier monster, the monster of insanity and overdose, chaos and despair. I lived with that monster for a long time.
My life was a series of train wrecks. When a disaster of particularly terrifying proportions would strike, like an overdose or an accident, I would reluctantly go to treatment. I did 30 days here, 90 days there, and I always relapsed soon after. I thought this meant that treatment didn’t work and I lost hope. The monster was going to kill me and I was powerless to stop it.
My family tried everything from interventions to paying for recovery houses, but it was all in vain. Until one day my father suggested the John Volken Academy. This was something totally different. There was no promise of a quick fix, rather the program helped students adopt a whole new lifestyle. The model was a therapeutic community and the program was, gulp… 2 years minimum. I was desperate, though. I had a song to sing and I couldn’t sing it on drugs, so I took the plunge and made the best decision I’ve ever made.
At the time of this writing, I have been clean and sober for 17 ½ months. I am a student at the John Volken Academy and I look forward to graduating in about 6 months. I have never been a better version of myself. The darkness has lifted and I am whole again.
Written by Lindsey