“Don’t just count your years, make your years count” – George Meredith
Seven years of my life were spent completely wasted. But the next seven years of my life have been devoted to sobriety. As you might imagine, both time periods are polar opposites in experience. I sometimes feel that I have lived two completely different lifetimes.
Seven Years of Drug Use
I started getting abusing chemicals when I was 12 years old. From the very first time I was intoxicated, I can remember it being an awesome feeling. Getting screwed up was a gradual process at first. It went from drinking occasionally to drinking once a week. Then one magical day occurred where I smoked weed for the first time and I found the missing piece to life.
From that moment I got high for the first time, I knew it was for me. I couldn’t get enough of the feeling and I did everything in my power to get high all the time. Smoking weed was the greatest pastime for me; it calmed me down while making food taste amazing, and every story was the most hilarious tale I ever heard. I didn’t have a care in the world when I was stoned, and life felt right. Music sounded much better while stoned and it made me smarter (so I thought). I found the secret key to life, and it was this magical plant.
My love for marijuana made me curious, so I started abusing all other sorts of chemicals. Xanax, Vicodin, magic mushrooms, Adderall, Ritalin, Percocet. Basically, anything I could get my hands on. I liked them all, but some more than others. While experimenting with all of these drugs, I could also drink like a fish. It didn’t take me long to find what truly made me feel perfect.
The perfect combination was Adderall, followed by a joint, and then Xanax to sleep. The Adderall gave me concentration and energy while the marijuana improved my appetite (since Adderall suppresses appetite) and calmed my nerves. If I took enough Xanax, I would be able to sleep soundly, so I can wake up the next day and do it all over again.
It all seemed perfect. But little did I know, I was destroying my brain and body at the same time. I had a problem. And I knew I had a problem, but I wasn’t going to admit it because things were “not that bad.” Meanwhile, I had no friends, my family stopped talking to me, the only kids I knew were drug users, and I was failing school. This went on for a while, until the week where I ran out of money, weed, and Xanax.
When I ran out of my drugs, I still had a sufficient amount of Adderall to keep me from getting sick. I took the same amount of Adderall I did every morning, but without Xanax and weed, any possibility of sleeping was destroyed. All the signs of Adderall abuse were very apparent, as I was severely underweight, my pupils in my eyes were dilated and my heart rate was skyrocketing. After six sleepless nights, things turned traumatic. I lost it and ended up in the hospital following a psychiatric breakdown. From there I decided to get help.
Seven Years of Sobriety
After seven of the most painful years of my life, I decided to get sober. On paper, the decision should have been really simple to make, but for me, it was the hardest decision of my life. I was told by doctors that if I continued to get high, I would probably die, or end up in jail. There was nothing left of me; I was a shell of a human being. I burned bridges with everyone close to me and nobody believed in me. I didn’t believe in myself. I had no other choice.
After treatment for Adderall abuse, I was told that I needed a program in my life, which meant I had to work the steps of AA or NA. The last thing I wanted to do was meet with a bunch of old people in a church basement and talk about God. I was miserable and I didn’t want to be more miserable. So why would I do that?
Boy, was I wrong about this program. I started going to these AA meetings in church basements with these old folks, but I was completely wrong about the miserable part. Every person in there was laughing, giggling, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee; being loud and happy. And those were all the things I wanted. I was sad, lonely, depressed, and broken. From the very first meeting I heard some different advice, “if you want what I have, this is what I did,” rather than if you want I have, this what I think YOU should do. Nobody was telling me what to do, but I knew what I had to do myself. The suggestions are easy: go to meetings, work the steps and get a sponsor.
April 21, 2010, was the last day that I got high. Since then I have had the best seven years of my life. I never found happiness at the end of a bottle or at the end of pill prescription, but I have certainly found it in recovery. Every adventure I go on, I can remember and enjoy tenfold, as long as I am sober. When I am sober, I am free to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
In the seven years of getting high, all I did was get high. In the past seven years of my life, I have gone to countless concerts, music festivals, snowboarding trips, lived in another country, graduated from college, traveled around the country, met new friends, and got pretty good at basketball. Now I work a regular 9-5 to job. None of those above things would even be possible if I wasn’t sober and in recovery. Today every day that I am sober is a freaking miracle. I make it a point to live every day to the fullest.