When Drugs Stole my World (And How I Got it Back)

Quick disclaimer that this isn’t the main writer on TGN; I hope to share more insights in the future.

It’s been a long time, almost a year and a half. I forget a lot of things that happened, a lot about how I felt at the time, a lot of the wisdom I was giving to others at the outpatient. But I still have a story to tell. To show that what I did is possible; to show that with enough struggle, hard work, and trial and error, sobriety is achievable.

Without going into too much detail about how I got there, like most I started with pills and never thought I’d end up using heroin. They’re safer, right? You know what’s in them and how much, and doctors give them to people on prescription. (At least back then, this was somewhat true; I’ve heard most “oxys” going around nowadays have random amounts of fentanyl.)

This is not to mention that at the same time, I had serious problems with cocaine, and to a lesser extent Xanax. The combination produced a level of sheer pleasure that’s impossible to describe. But all of these habits needed to be tended to and paid for, consistently and without delay. That’s always the biggest problem isn’t it?

Unlike many others, I fully understood what kind of fire I was playing with — I had prior experience with all sorts of drugs, and had known both addicts and recovered addicts who told me their stories, but it never got quite so out of control. This time was different. I had just tried to kill myself and figured that going off into the “land of nod” might be an easier, more fruitful alternative.

But of course, pills are expensive, and they’re meant to be taken in small amounts for pain management. Me, I would do a month’s prescription in as little as two days. And, obviously, the dependency set in soon enough, and I needed bigger and bigger doses, more and more frequently. So once I had bought every last pill the dealers in my neighborhood could find, and all the other sources had me waiting for the next month’s prescription, it was a no-brainer what would come next: heroin. I needed something, anything.

Once you try heroin, in my opinion at least, there’s no going back to pills. Why would you spend ten times as much money for basically the same thing? Heroin is cheap and it’s available everywhere. I’d be scrambling all around the city looking for oxys, but dope was just a five minute walk. And if that dope man wasn’t around, the next one was only five minutes from there.

I never got as bad into it as some others. I was limited by what I could afford, so a decent bundle would have to last two days. And, as I mentioned before, every two days I was also going through an 8-ball of coke and 16-32mg of Xanax. I never really got into stealing to support the habit, with the exception of ripping people off on drug deals and disappearing with the cash. I did spend every dime I could find on it, though, and went deep into debt.

By the time I overdosed, I was sure I would put an end to it. I weened myself off a bit, going down to a bag or two a day, then got a ton of Xanax and hunkered down for the withdrawal. It was awful, but I hadn’t been in the game for too long, so it wasn’t as bad as it was when I quit for real. But this wasn’t lasting.

Instead of seeing the risk and avoiding opiates, I was emboldened by this whole situation: I felt as if I’d demonstrated that I can handle opiates, that I was able to cut it out when I decided it was time. So when I was offered oxys, I’d buy them. I had no intention of staying sober. I just wasn’t actively seeking dope.

Then one day, I got offered dope. It was pretty funny, actually. I ran into my man walking down the block, he said “yo, I got that food,” and that was that. Quickly I went back to the same old habit — bundle and 8-ball every two days or so, though with less Xanax involved. The debt I had paid up started to rack up again, and at this point all my bridges started to burn.

Eventually, it got to the point where the drugs weren’t working anymore. The whole point was to stop me from killing myself, but I had fucked up so bad that I realized I now actually wanted to kill myself more as a result of what the drugs did to me. On top of that, I was isolated, and felt everyone looked down on me. I was doing poorly at work and constantly in debt, doing crackhead shit and asking people for money to pay for the necessities that came after dope on my list of priorities.

Most people at this point just treated me like shit. People were always trying to mess with me, trick me, rip me off. Always being subtlety disrespectful and condescending. My family was constantly upset and treated me with great suspicion. A couple close friends begged me, crying, telling me to stop, talking about how much they worried about me, including one of the authors from TGN (before TGN existed). This had an effect, but it also made me sad, and sadness led to suicidal thoughts, and suicidal thoughts lead to escapism, and escapism lead to more dope.

Eventually, though, I realized I had to cut it out. I couldn’t afford my habits anymore and my family had learned all about them. I struggled for a couple weeks, arguing with myself and trying to use less without plunging into the hell of dope sickness. But at this point, it didn’t feel like much of a choice — I had to change. I was thousands of dollars in debt and on the verge of suicide again.

So, I started by cutting out the coke. After doing coke every waking hour of the day for weeks, if not months without a break, the crash can be pretty fucking brutal. In the past I had even experienced very serious signs of cardiovascular issues during these crashes. But I still had my dope, so it was actually manageable.

Then the dope came next. The promise of the sickness was terrifying. After a day, it was obvious that I couldn’t handle it. So I borrowed some money and got some kratom, knowing it would help. I started taking absolutely massive doses, but they took the withdrawal away about 90%. It was a lifesaver. But it also became another habit, albeit not a destructive or fiendish one, which I’m still ever-so-slowly tapering myself off of. In some ways, I attribute my being alive today to kratom. At the same time, part of me wishes I had been able to stop using it right after I was over the withdrawal, instead of using it as a long-term maintenance therapy. But that seemed like it would lead to me killing myself, and it might have, so I’ll take whatever works. I got clean, and I’m not dependent on conventional maintenance treatments like Suboxone or methadone (actual opioids which are far stronger and harder to quit than kratom).

That’s not to say there weren’t setbacks. A day or two after I stopped using dope, I lost my job as a result of the poor work I had been doing the last few months I was on it. I still had to pay my living expenses and pay off the colossal debt, so on top of that I had to turn to my parents for financial assistance. At this point I was completely destroyed and felt like I couldn’t get any lower. All pride, ego, narcissism, even basic dignity to an extent, destroyed and gone with the wind, never to recover.

A week later I finally got off the Xanax. That was more of an intermittent thing, though, and I hadn’t done too bad with the last round of it, so a quick self-taper was all I needed. I had been through far worse Xanax withdrawal before, so this wasn’t a big deal. I don’t even remember what it felt like coming off of them that time (well, in fact, I don’t remember much about my Xanax usage at all) but it was nothing compared to the dope sickness. Nothing could ever compare to that. (That’s not to say Xanax isn’t fucking nasty!)

Almost a month into sobriety, I was still experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Lethargy, low appetite, muscle pain. I couldn’t walk even 10 minutes down the street without simultaneously feeling like my leg muscles were tearing and like I was going to faint. The cravings for both coke and dope were absurd, causing muscle spasms and making me writhe in pain and scream at the top of my lungs for no apparent reason. On top of that, mentally, I hadn’t really gotten anywhere. The addict mind state is hard to break out of. This all combined with encouragement from friends and family led me into an outpatient.

Outpatient was a useful experience. Find a good place where you’re not going to find many junkies who are just in there because of a court order, and where the counselors are decent and actually care to understand you. Pay attention to what they teach and engage the others there who have some sober time and can give you good insight. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share. It’s my belief that this is what truly leads to recovery — you can stop doing drugs without it, but a good support program will get you out of the mental state of addiction, and that’s the most important thing. That’s what will prevent you from relapsing and enable you to move on with your life.

It took about a year of sobriety for my life to actually get better. And frankly, if you’d ask me most days, it still fucking sucks. But if I think about how much it sucked two years ago, I shudder. It feels like it’s behind me now, and I no longer have the same frame of reference. At this point, I couldn’t see myself ever relapsing, so long as I stay vigilant. Staying vigilant is key; you just have to keep yourself far removed from drugs and drug users and be aware of the fact that addiction is a lifelong disease that, in the wrong circumstances, you can fall back into again.

I used to use all those drugs to stop thinking about suicide. Now I’d rather just think about suicide than go through all the bullshit the drugs put me through. Most of the time, honestly, I would rather just kill myself if I was going to relapse, ironic since it used to be the other way around.

So, what’s the point at the end of this long-winded, rambling story? That if you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, sobriety is absolutely within reach. All it takes is a radical shift in perspective. An understanding of the reasons why you use drugs, which then leads to the understanding that drugs actually make all of these problems worse. Most (some would say all) of us have to learn this the hard way. But if this story can be of any sort of assistance to even one person, that’s enough of God’s blessing for today.

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Confessions of a NEET (part 1?)

Hello ladies, gentlemen and (insert desired pronoun or lack thereof), my name is Alexander Austin Webber and I am a 20 year old NEET from small town in upstate New York.

So what is a NEET and what am I confessing? NEET is an acronym that stands for not in formal education employment or training.

Am I happy I made this decision? Some days, but most of the time no I am not.

Did I realize I was making this decision? Not entirely, I was naively optimistic about my ability to build a life and make a living on my skills and knowledge and the assistance of my peers at age 18 (20 now) Many of you I suppose are getting a good laugh from this right now, and I am pleased that you are. Your laughter means my words are serving some form of purpose even if it’s mere entertainment. I’ve always found enjoyment in self depreciation anyways.

So how did I get here? Lets rewind a little bit. It’s early 2018, and I’m giving my second go at a college degree, this time instead of university, it’s back home at my local community college, better known as FMCC or Fulton Montgomery community college. Compared to my first attempt at a formal education, I was doing quite well to my surprise. I had always been a bright kid, and loved to read and write. However I had been plagued with an inconsistent disposition. Getting up and going to classes every day was something I found rather difficult, as I preferred to stay home: playing guitar, writing songs, poems, quasi-philosophical essays and short stories, and spending time with my girlfriend at the time. Though despite this I had a lot of faith in my abilities, perhaps looking back I had far too much.

I would eventually drop out to pursue these things convincing myself that I was better off self guiding my learning, and applying it to my own craft in a foolish attempt to start my own company. Though at first I had much support from my peers, I would quickly realize that the problems that haunted me at school, would follow me into my own affairs. Many days I would not work on my website, or my music, convincing myself that read and take notes was enough, and while this was not useless, it certainly wasn’t going to help me build a happy and successful life in which I need not resort to leeching off my family, at least not directly.

I was and am living with my grandparents at the time as I had done most of my life (God bless them.) and working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. I should also mention that I struggled perpetually with mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child, depression and anxiety as a young teen, and Bi Polar Disorder at age 17.

I had dealt with a few bouts of substance addiction throughout high school and my early adult life, though I don’t want to be too specific about this. At least not yet, possibly another article for another day. I was also quite the pot-head, however this is something as compared to my other more negative habits that I (possibly quite foolishly) claim with pride and still do. On a similar note I am also a dedicated advocate for the research, exploration and hopefully a reconsideration of legal policies surrounding serotonin agonizing substances better known as psychedelic drugs such as LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms on behalf of their medicinal, entheogenic (spiritual tool), and educational potential.

My apologies for straying away from the topic as my fondness for tangents often causes, and certainly will do time and time again before the end of the article (look there it is again) Where was I?

As time went on, my previous life began slowly slipping away from me, and any attempt to hold was as useless as trying to stop running water with a fork. I first alienated myself from the majority of my friends and family before spitefully and selfishly pushing my girlfriend at the time out of my life and ending our relationship(though this was likely to both of our benefit as we were quite toxic toward each other on many levels). Eventually I got fired from my job so when I totaled my car I had no means of repair and subsequently it was scrapped. All the while and even now leeching off my overly generous grandparents.

God bless my grandparents, easily the two most amazing people Ive ever had the pleasure of knowing. One day I hope to be as generous, selfless, hardworking, and admirable people as they always were toward my mother and I. My parents had me out of wedlock while they were quite young, so for the majority of my life, I was brought up by my mother’s mother and her husband whom I’ve always called ‘Poppy’ as long as I can remember. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without them. Hence the inspiration for my second tattoo, which is a giant back piece of a heart that with the word grandma in the middle. Pic below related.

heart-grandma

My back piece: second tattoo obtained on my nineteenth birthday.

If you had asked me then I would have told you that things were going great. I thought the fact that I had my own website, a stock portfolio, and an incredibly large repository (about 40+ full sized binders full) of notes, written works, journals, drawings, and other intellectual properties amassed was a telltale sign of my own success. Though this was merely self deception, as I had grown more depressed, lonely, lazy and worried for the sake of my future than I had ever been in my entire life, and I had hardly made a dime off of any of my pursuits.

Before long I stopped leaving the house, becoming extremely reclusive and antisocial, and my social interaction was restricted to the family I lived with (whom I often selfishly blamed and tormented for my disposition). The three friends whom I started this whole thing with one of which I only talked to over the phone as he lived in New York City, and the occasional departure from my seclusion I had made to bunk with one of my friends for a night or two. All of which began happening less and less often as time would go on.

While my relationship with my family was beginning to improve, as I spent more and more time helping them around the house and learned not to blame them when my bi polar was getting bad, my economic status was getting worse. I live in a small town where its not very easy to find work especially not without a car. I had one interview for a gig at a factory, but never went as when we had pulled up, I had a panic attack with an intensity that made my heart feel like it was going to explode, no luck.

I want to stop to make an seemingly apparent statement that the intention of this is not to draw sympathy from anyone, and had it done so I ask you to save it for a cause more deserving; as it was nothing but my own greed, and selfishness that lead me into this disaster. I can only pray that my ability to learn from my past mistakes will eventually lead me out, and while I still have a long ways to go, I’m beginning to see hope on the horizon.

I kept on trying and never allowed myself to be complacent or pessimistic despite nearly giving up and receding into substance abuse and self loathing many times along the way as I had taught myself to do in my adolescence.  This behavior would prove difficult to break, and though I haven’t entirely broken it, I am proud to say I have discovered and maintained a newfound level of discipline with mind altering substances, and a work ethic that is far more consistent and prominent.

If there is anything that I would credit myself through all of this, is persistence, and optimism. I never for a second genuinely lost hope. And even when I neglected to care for my website and cultivate my business, continued to read, write, practice my instruments and singing nearly every day, clinging to at least one or two of these even during my worst bouts of depression.

Toward the end of winter 2019 things began looking better. I had a part time job lined up, my website traffic was growing, relations with my friends and family were being repaired while new friendships were being formed. My skills were finally seeming to cultivate into a platform that would one day show hope of me being able to support myself with it. And I was doing a much better job at making sure my drug and alcohol use was as safe, responsible, and non-destructive as possible. It appeared to me that all the learning and skill building I had worked on were beginning to pay off, though I wish not jinx this.

What was the intent behind this scene? I originally had felt rather than bowing down and selling my time for minimum wage that I was better off building something for myself. Not only for myself but building something that I could share and work on alongside the people whom I care deeply about and hold dearly. To compose a network of projects and small business ventures that I could eventually pass on to my children or whatever next of kin I may have when I’m gone. Anyone can go to a job and earn money, but I was interested in automating the money making process so I could focus on what I deemed a more meaningful and invaluable use of my time.

What is this than? It’s hard to define concretely but consists of developing an organization which nurtures and fosters contributions to the arts and the ever growing wealth of knowledge and information that furthers the progression of society, invention, education, discovery, morality and innovation as a whole. To make my own contributions through self guided study, academics and what I can hope to produce through such. Pursuit of religious/ethical/spiritual development or as some would call a personal connection with god.

Overall I favored any path or method I could find to contribute my time and resources towards causes and innovations that could serve to assist, entertain, or educate humanity beyond my direct sphere of influence. To seek those creations, virtues, and works that may stand the test of time. I have always seen this as a contradictory dualism of selflessness, and selfishness. While plagued with self importance and reeking of the desire for personal success, glory and vanity; the underlying intentions are purely good.

What does all that existential garble mean to me? For myself this was defined by pursing my dreams as a musician/singer/songwriter, poet, and philosophical/political journalist and activist.  Simultaneously to lesser extents this meant cultivating my secondary skills as an academic writer, visual artist & photographer, web designer/computer programmer, investor and herbalist. All while maintaining the study of things I find both enjoyable and purposeful/useful to my skill set and goals.While it is doubtful that you are wondering what these studies may entail, I am going to list them anyways because I like making lists, and talking about the things I study, especially since I don’t get much of an outlet to talk about those things in the real world.

Preferred focus and areas of study include but are far from limited to:

  • Anything bearing the slightest relationship to music in any way shape or form.

  • World religions & spirituality (with a slight bias towards/focus on Vedic and Hindu oriented systems)

  • Foreign culture, society and global studies

  • Language, linguistics & Etymology.

  • Various sciences(though the cognitive and social sciences are my favorite)

  • Psychology, psychiatry, and mental illness.

  • The Arts, Humanities and Aesthetics.

  • Multiple timelines of history as portrayed by various worldviews.

  • Medicine, Pharmacology and Health science.

  • Literature & Poetry.

  • Finance. Marketing, and Business

  • All sorts of Technology, Engineering and computational sciences

  • Cryptography and communication tech.

  • Data (structure), algorithms and information architecture

  • Law, Politics and Ethics.

  • The blockchain movement and the world of cryptocurrency

  • Economic & political systems (mostly Anarchism and Syndicalism)

  • Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics.

  • Quantum mechanics, computing, and related theory.

  • Nearly every philosophic school of thought imaginable(even going so far as to create my own; Book of Aciudaimysm coming soon!)

Just to highlight some key areas. This is not to say by any means that I think myself an expert on any of these topics, as I am quite young and a novice at most things in which I occupy myself and am quite aware of this fact. I am also strikingly aware that I am treading a fine line between eccentric and insane, often times it is very difficult for me to discern intelligence and creativity from mental illness and utter madness.

This may sound like a rather excessive cluster of interests and hobbies and it certainly is. Perhaps I have far too much time on my hands but I find it surprisingly easy and enjoyable to balance my passions so long as I am able to prioritize some as primary and the rest as secondary; something that took me quite awhile to figure out. This often means finding projects that combine these skills interests, and making friends who enjoy discussing, studying, and collaborating over them. Both of which I enjoy doing, and have found myself becoming quite resourceful as a result of.

Blogging seemed like a good starting point as it allowed me to practice and learn more about web development and computers, giving a platform to eventually advertise and market my art, music, and written works as well as those of my friends and peers, talk write articles to further my understanding in the other things that are important to me, and hopefully build a livelihood for myself and my friends in the process.

So far this blog has fostered a ton of learning experiences for my friends and I, as well as acting as a catalysts for us to bond over, and providing hope for the futures of our dreams and economic stability. Well I think that’s enough mixed self depreciation and self appreciation for the day. ( or at least until after dinner time)

If I could do anything differently, I would have been a lot nicer to my family and my ex girlfriend when I was facing hardship and struggling to cope with mental illness and substance problems. I would also have begged for my job back when I still had the chance as being unemployed for the last 8 months has made both my life and my goals unnecessarily difficult and painful. I also would have started this blog a long time ago while I was still in college. I could go on all day about what I would do differently, but since I can’t there isn’t much point in dwelling on the past. I would much rather focus on what I can do right in the present and in the future to correct these mistakes and make up for my wrongs, on every personal, interpersonal, professional, spiritual, and ethical level conceivable.

I hope this article provided meaningful or entertaining information about NEET’s the types of situations that lead people to that lifestyle, the pros and cons of being one, how I plan to escape this metaphorical cage of a stalemate. While revealing some backstory behind this blog, its purpose(s) as well as the people behind it. Or for any fellow NEETs or starving artist out there, that it shall provide something for you to relate too and seek comfort in, and advice on how to transcend your situation.

I know this article was rather long but thank you all for reading, I will happy to answer any questions in the comments section, via email, or to address them in a further response post. If this post gets a decent enough attention I may decide to write a part two and go into further detail on many of the events discussed here.

Until than thank you all for reading. we hope you like, subscribe, and check out our other content, and most importantly let us know what you think and pose any question, argument, or tidbit you’d like in the comments section!