How can I explain the love affair an addict has with drugs and alcohol (or their addiction of choice)? How can something be so intensely intoxicating, even after it has proven just how utterly devastating it can be to that which you cherish most in the world; family, friendships, love, connection? Not only that but it actually feeds the ugliest parts of you and helps them grow. The you that is greedy, needy, selfish beyond reason and destructive beyond care. How can something that literally threatens your life be at once, your safety blanket and your worst nightmare? Well, fucked if I know! But I’d like to explore it…
I’ve been in a few situations recently where drugs have been used openly and it’s blatantly obvious who is an addict and who is casually partying. The casual partier can leave half a bag hidden away for the next time they decide to get a little wild! The addict however, will not be able to think about anything else until every single line/drop/toke/whatever, is in their blood stream and they have exhausted all options of getting more, more, MORE! The addict is exhausting to be around… and exhausting to be. To quote Pringles, “once you pop, you can’t stop!”
For non-drug users or the casual partiers out there it is really difficult to understand just how all-consuming it is for the addict to be around drugs. A non-user can carry a conversation with ease, they can look you in the eye when they are talking to you and they are calm and relaxed whether or not there are drugs in the room or even talk of drugs. I, the addict, on the other hand will be a twitchy, anxious, excited, nervous, mess in a dress! My eyes will be darting around the room, I will be fiddling uncontrollably, I’ll likely be salivating like a rabid dog, I will have no idea of and no interest in what you are saying…and that is all before I’ve even taken anything! That is all from my body remembering (or more likely romanticizing) a previous drug-fuelled experience and pumping me full of a fuck-tonne of adrenaline because someone mentioned the love of my life and he’s somewhere in the bloody room! * Swoons dramatically.* Honestly, I wish I was exaggerating but I have had a belly full of more butterflies and a fuller heart staring at a little mound of cocaine being racked up than I have had for men I’ve dated. Okay, okay I hear you! I don’t have the best track record when it comes to beautiful boys… but let’s just put aside the fact that the gauge on my male quality controller is broken for a moment and agree that an inanimate object should never be more powerful than a human person (as shitty as they may be). Damn, even writing about it now is triggering me and I’m getting all itchy and twitchy!
A couple of weeks ago I was at a party with people I didn’t know very well. All of a sudden I turned to see a girl to my left cutting a little pile of coke into nice clean lines (see, I’m romanticising because I’ve been triggered, ew). I’m talking, if I breathed to heavily I could blow it away (no joke, I held my breath)! It was painful! Every cell in my body was screaming for me to smash my face into that lovely little pile of the devils’ snow and snuffle it up like a wild boar looking for truffles (I know, I’m pretty sexy…). As soon as I knew it was in the room my focus changed completely. I could no longer have a relaxed evening chatting with some new, interesting people. I instantly developed tunnel vision and suddenly my eyes could zoom in and out on the entire room. I knew who had drugs, where they were hidden, how I could get them, how much I could scam off each person, who had the good shit and probably even your dealers’ secret security number (well…almost)! I knew everything there was to know and all within seconds of discovering there were drugs in the house. It’s as if your brain just stops observing the rest of the world and you become so systematic and resourceful. All I can liken it to is how a blind person might develop super human hearing. It’s insane, instantaneous and uncontrollable. If I somehow learned how to hone this skill of resourcefulness I would probably be fucking Einstein 2.0 by now! But instead I’m just a poorly recovering junkie with a magnet for trouble and difficulty saying “no”. Whatcha gonna do?!
There’s something strange about an addict, in that you literally become cosmically drawn to other addicts. I can’t explain it but it’s a strange phenomenon that happens without even trying. Go to N.A. (narcotics anon.) and you will hear it time and time again. Junkies attract junkies! I never overtly looked like a “junkie”, so it can’t be that. If I did my doctors would’ve stopped ‘dealing’ me my oxy years before things got out of control. I always looked like a sweet, white, middle-class girl from suburbia. But put me in a room with drugs or an addict and we will sniff each other out in about 10 seconds flat. Truly, it’s a talent…
For example, I was walking down the street last week and while looking down at my phone I asked the first person I saw for directions. Innocent, enough right? 5 minutes later he was offering me a gram! That is not a rare story. It might be the person I randomly sit next to at the bar or on the bus. I could be in a city I’ve never been to before, not knowing a soul, and still shit would find me. Without even looking for it! Like…wot da funk? I dunno man, it’s got to be some kind of pheromone thing! If I really try to analyse it, maybe it’s something to do with micro movements. Unconsciously we must recognise the slightest of similarities in each other and find that attractive and familiar. Things like dilated pupils, slight twitches, sniffling, shuffling, chomping, chewing, eye movements and skin texture. Then there are subtle things that are said or done, that to the outside observer have nothing to do with addiction but would be clear as day to another user. It’s a match made in junkie heaven…or hell if you are in recovery like me.
Being in recovery is really hard. The reasons are layered and boring but basically it takes all of me not to use. I’m not too bad if I’m around non-users, but if you shove a cake that reads “Eat Me” under my nose… I’m gonna eat the fucking cake! It’s like asking Hugh Heffner (god rest his soul…) to settle for one pair of tatas for the rest of his life, or Kanye to reduce his self-proclaimed God status, simply to King. It’s probably technically possible…but it’s going to be a struggle and you can pretty much guarantee there will be a fight!
The only thing that gives me hope in my recovery is overcoming anorexia in my past. It might not sound relevant but eating disorders are another form of addiction and self-harm. I had never experienced anything as mentally, physically and emotionally all-consuming as anorexia was, until I found drug addiction. To me, it feels the same. You slowly and painfully torture yourself with starvation for those rare moments of reward when someone looks at you and says “My are you tiny!”. Every shiver you feel from lack of blood flow and body fat, every period your body skips because it doesn’t have the energy to function properly, every time your friends and family look at you worried because you’re skin and bones; all of this produces such an incredible high that anything else pales in comparison. I didn’t used to be able to walk past a window without “checking” to see if I’d suddenly put on 40kg in the 10 minutes since I last checked. I couldn’t go out with my boyfriend for dinner without starving myself all day and punishing myself with intensive exercise later. I weighed what little food I ate obsessively. I exercised on zero energy until I would cry on the treadmill utterly depleted and desperate for someone to rescue me. I couldn’t look at celebrities or friends or anyone without comparing myself to them and of course, always coming up short. I hated myself. Every tiny, waif-like, inch of myself, but I overcame that. Now, not only do I think I’m smoking hot (I’m also super humble), I’m also getting pretty good at loving myself sick and treating myself with more kindness and compassion. So, if I can live in Italy and eat pasta on the daily without a second thought then I’m convinced I can have a successful recovery from drug addiction. I mean, a year ago I couldn’t imagine a life where I wasn’t shoving oxycontin up my nose every hour on the hour and today, although I’ve relapsed in other areas, I am proud to say I haven’t had a single oxy. Yasssss Queen!
I will never forget the first time I ate pasta during my anorexia recovery. It was a minuscule bowl of tortellini. I lay on the kitchen floor crying and screaming hysterically because I was petrified of putting it in my mouth. Imagine being terrified of pasta?! Pasta is the bomb-diggity! Finally, I ate it. I whaled some more. My whole family were in the next room ignoring me. They’d probably been told to by some psychologist, but at the time I just thought they were heartless ass-holes (Saaaarrrrry, love you mumma..!). I was fucking furious and full of guilt but ultimately, I was proud. Digestion hurt like a mofo as I felt the pasta crawl slowly though my guts that night as I tried to sleep. It was all I could do to remind myself that this could be a life-changing moment, if only I let it. This was a moment that I would draw strength and reassurance from for years to come and continue to do so throughout this new bitch of a challenge.
I could have never imagined a life where I wasn’t taking opiates every day or where I could forget something so simple as the calorie count of a green apple. But today I have no idea what anything weighs (not even myself) and I am proud to say I have forgotten all the calories I memorised during my anorexia (must be all the drugs…OMG JK, JK Rowling!!!). I truly have a passionate love affair with drugs and my addiction specialist told me that my body would forever remember how good they felt and crave that sensation. But what my body doesn’t remind me about are the times I’ve worked so hard on forgetting. The times I’ve woken up next to someone wanting to pull a coyote ugly* just to escape, or the shame of using after months of sobriety and having to start back at day #1 again, or losing friends due to my shitty actions that I can’t even remember…the list goes on. However, once I was deeply attached to and in love with my anorexia as well and now there is nothing appealing to me about starving myself to fit into a dress or a mould that society has shaped for me. So, fuck that noise! I am a ball of mental illness and insecurity so naturally I am susceptible to addiction and self-loathing behaviours, but the more challenges I’m given just provides me with more opportunities to prove to myself that I am the strong, bad-ass bitch I always knew I could be! Watch this space, because if I can do this I can fucking rule the world! Step aside Yonce**!
*The person is so ugly you’d rather chew off your own arm than risk waking them!
**Beyoncé, dah! C’mon, Lemonade is almost 2 years old now…