A fellow Blogger, whose sister struggles with opiate addiction, recently reflected on her own history of drug use. It got me thinking. I feel so far removed from those days, having walked that long road home a long time ago.
I didn’t use the hard drugs, I tend to say. Truth is, I didn’t use them very often. And I never touched a needle, never smoked crack, never went near heroine. But that doesn’t make me better than anyone who has.
I drank, heavily, almost every night. And I smoked pot as early as 7:30AM on the ferry ride to Manhattan…on lunch break…on the ferry home…and again that night. Here and there I tried other drugs as well, mostly in those college years.
Here’s the best timeline, as far as my memory will take me:
- Had my first drink at a friend’s Sweet 16 pary. I was almost 17 at the time. I didn’t get heavy into drinking for awhile.
- Started smoking pot and drinking more heavily the summer after I graduated high school. Toward the end of that summer, I was the victim of a violent crime, and that pushed me over the edge, I think, from occasional use of marijuana and alcohol, to regular abuse — as ways to block the pain.
- I was introduced to “Magic Mushrooms” — hallucinogenics — in freshman year of college.
- Summer after that: speed, hash, and cocaine.
- Second year of college brought acid … LSD. This was the 70s. It’s what we had. I found it interesting, but scary, and only tried it three times total.
I didn’t use any of these drugs frequently, and my experimentation lasted only a few years, total. I was too afraid — and rightly so. I felt like I was already on the edge of sanity in those years and had no desire to push myself beyond that point. The alcohol was the hardest to kick, many, many years later. Now, I have one or two drinks once or twice a week. Sometimes less. Never more.
The difference between me and my addict son? Maybe a chromosome? Some random difference in brain chemistry? I’m sorry he is an addict. I’m sorry he has such a long road home. I found my way. I try to have faith that he’ll find his.