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Confessions of an Ex-Junkie

CW: Drug use, sexual themes.

I did cocaine for the first time when I was roughly 15 years old. (Holy shit!, you might think, What the fuck? And looking back, I think that, too.) I was depressed, anxious, had no friends and no life, except for going to visit my brother in the city every few weeks. He was studying at uni at the time, and every weekend I would be at his place, he would be throwing a party. Not uncommon behaviour for a uni student, as I’m sure everyone reading is aware. 


I was desperate for attention, craving adoration from figures I could turn into parental placeholders. I did everything I could to make his cool, older friends like me, and that included trying drugs. As it turns out, those friends of his didn’t actually know him at all. It hadn’t occurred to me that people just showed up at parties, and seeing as I was in my brother’s flat, stranger danger didn’t apply in my mind. 


I thought those young adults adored me. In reality, they were taking advantage of my naivety. I did everything they asked. I drank, I danced, I had sex, and ultimately, I did drugs. A lot of drugs. By the time I found out they didn’t know my brother I didn’t care—these people liked me, and from what I could tell, they were taking care of me. 


My brother, of course, had no idea any of this was going on. My parents didn’t either. I started hiding my trips. When my parents thought I was in the city, visiting my brother, my brother thought I was safe at home with my parents. Meanwhile, I was in the middle of nowhere Ponsonby, my hands shaking as I tapped out another bump. 


 A few years ago, I was sat on a couch in a place I’d never been before. I was surrounded by people I’d never met, high as fuck on cocaine, and having the time of my life. People were having sex in the corner of the room, some were shooting up, and others, like myself, were engaged in both conversation and observation. Mostly, though, we were just high. I don’t remember what happened after that. Because of the sheer amounts of drugs I was on, I can’t remember a lot of the time I wasted when I was younger. There are chunks from my memory which are left blank now, things I’ll never get back. I just hope that in those times, I was safe. 


Things started to change when my grades began to fall. In between my weekend expeditions I was still going to school, only now I was going to school on comedowns. 


Now, I’m sure you all know what happens on a comedown: you shake, you get depressed, you cry, you vomit, you crave and crave and crave until your next high. Imagine that, but at high school. 


No, I was not doing well. 


I had always been a student with high grades. I took calculus and music and every science you could think of. When I was six months into my addiction, though, my grades had fallen from Excellences to Achieves, (and that was on good days.) My school reached out to my family, asked them what was going on, and when eyes turned to me, I simply said that I was depressed, and started hiding it more. 


I knew I had to get my grades up, and how do you do that when you’re catatonic with depression? You do more drugs. 


I left classes to go to the bathroom, would lock myself in stalls and snort up lines at a time to get through the day. My nose started bleeding more and more, and comedowns were getting worse and worse. Worse even, though, is that people noticed. I was carrying boxes of tissues in my backpack to stuff up my nose at least twice a day. My body trembled with every breath, and I was paranoid beyond belief, drawing further into myself than before. If it seemed like I didn’t have a support system, now I really wouldn’t.


It seems insignificant, but the main reason I realised I had to stop doing drugs was not because of the method of payment, or the depression, or even the migraines. I stopped because one day, my nose bled without my realising, and I stained my favourite shirt. 


I cried. I cried until my head hurt so badly that I couldn’t breathe. I stayed in bed for days and days. And then I just knew. 


My first step was getting rid of those “friends.” Easily done- I blocked them all online. They would never see me again. My second step was actually not taking drugs anymore- and that was a little more difficult. I decided that in order to have the temptation truly out of my grasp, I threw out everything I had left, and quit cold turkey. 


I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT QUIT HARD DRUGS COLD TURKEY. 


Multiple times over the next month I nearly died. 


When I finally regained consciousness, eg: could think for myself again, I decided to try something else. Narcotics Anonymous is not an organisation that is spoken about in Aotearoa. In fact, I’ve heard more jokes made about rehab in my 20+ years of living than I’ve heard instructions on how to get help. A quick google, though, told me that I could get in touch with people online, or find a meeting in person. I figured that getting in touch online would be no use, they wouldn’t believe me because of my age. So, I set out to where the nearest meeting centre was on a day stated on the website, and entered the meeting alone.


NA doesn’t look the same as it does in movies. I mean, where I went, there was still a circle of plastic chairs, and everyone still said their name, and if they wanted to speak, they could. But real NA is different because the people there are real. Meetings are started with the Serenity Prayer—which also closes out the meeting. Then there’s the introduction round—and again, it’s completely okay if you don’t have anything to say. There are reading cards on a few of the chairs; if you don’t want to speak, don’t choose one of those chairs (best to arrive early, really). The meetings I went to, everyone was asked if they were clean that day. Some said yes, some said yes and gave the amount of time they’d been clean. Some passed. Some said no.  


Going to NA extremely young raised a few eyebrows, but nobody said anything. The chairperson asked me, alone, if things were okay at home, if they needed to contact someone. The group provided me with support I didn’t know I needed as badly as I did.


I only went to NA a few times. I was already mostly clean by the time I got there, and with their gentle pushing, I was able to move forward. 


I lost my sense of smell for a long time, but thankfully, it’s come back. I used to shake when people mentioned using hard drugs around me, but nowadays, I can calmly exit the conversation. I can even smoke weed with friends now, (WOW!), but I would never do it alone. I’m safer, and I’m happier, and I’m a lot less risky with myself. 


Here’s the thing: I’m not saying you shouldn’t do drugs. What I am saying is that the way young people in Aotearoa take drugs is dangerous. I’m saying that the culture of taking drugs is dangerous. I’m saying that you might not realise that doing drugs at every party you go to can cause you to fall into a rabbit hole you can’t dig yourself out of. Sure, I was a kid, but many of the people I met at NA were in their 20’s—their early 20’s. 


I see my peers using weed as a crutch and brushing it off as something not serious because it’s “only weed.” I see my friends coming down from MD and crumbling because they feel like they've been hit by a truck, their serotonin levels non-existent. Not to mention my friends who are into psychedelics. The fear I feel when I hear they’ve had a bad trip consumes me until I know they’re alright again. 


If you’re going to do drugs, because let’s be honest, you probably will, be careful.


Buy drug testing kits from Cosmic. They’re never more than $30, they’re easy to use, and you’ll know what’s in your shit. Take drugs with your friends, and then take care of each other—try to have a sober friend that can take someone to the hospital if you need it. And finally, get help when you need it. It’s terrifying at first (I know!), but there are people all over the country who are going through, or have gone through, exactly what you’re going through right now. These people can help you. You’re not alone. 


Have fun, but have fun safely. Take care of yourself and others. Don’t be a fuckwit.


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