It took me a long time, to get addicted. Maybe it was instant, and I didn’t know it? Maybe the signs were there before I even took the first hit, for the first time.
Looking back I can see the addictive behaviors. When I like something, I don’t want to stop. I could stay up all night playing video games. When modems were a very new concept with computers, and we had these dos based bulletin board systems, I remember staying up all night. One night, I had completely lost track of time, until I noticed the sun coming up at around 5 am. Then I was curious, so I took my bicycle out, and went for a ride.
Were those addictive behaviors, or just the results of an extremely curious and passionate mind?
Speaking of my bicycle, that was sort of another obsession of mine, growing up. I loved to ride. It was a great escape for me, because I really didn’t think anyone liked me, and when I was on my bicycle, I was free. I could ride for hours. I would go from town to town, and I would stop and visit girls along the way. Most, I had a crush on. Some I just enjoyed talking to. Then I would get back on my bike, and ride.
I can, and have looked back at many of my behaviors. It helps to know, that there is evidence, perhaps, to suggest that my addiction was out of my control. Otherwise, it is tempting to want to blame myself, and that makes it much harder to recover. One of the keys for me, was knowing that this was not my fault. Yes, I am accountable for my actions, and I have to take responsibility, but that’s not the same thing, as being at fault. I experimented with drugs like many kids do. Most do not wind up where I did. If you had told me, back then, that I would wind up where I eventually did, I would not have believed you. So you might way I was screwed either way.
What I learned, when I got clean, was that, while it is helpful to know what may have lead me to my addiction, it really didn’t matter. There are many reasons, on the surface, that people drink and use. There is really only one reason, at the core. To quote the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous,
“Men and women drink, essentially because they like the effect produced.”
That was really all I needed to know. I LOVED the effect produced. I loved to feel anything other than what I was feeling when I was not under the influence of chemicals. I was scared, and lonely, and like I said above, I just didn’t think anybody liked me, or didn’t understand why they would. In my own view, I was a weird kid.
By the time I was a senior in High School, I came to regard my being different as an asset. I made it a point, to make sure people knew that, as my parents put it, I walked to the beat of my own drum. I was voted “Most Unique.”
There was another obsession of mine, which had become apparent by this time. Girls. I loved girls. I loved the effect produced when I got their attention, and especially when I’d won their affection. Unfortunately none of them could sustain my interest for long. I missed out on some good ones, behind that.
What mattered when the time came, to get clean, was that I had a problem. At first I could see that I had a problem, but it took me a long time before I realized that I could not stop on my own. I had the same theories that most of us do, when we walk into the rooms of recovery for the first time.
In one of my first meetings, I was in Narcotics Anonymous. The people there were talking about shooting heroin in abandoned buildings. The were relating to one another about not having any veins left to shoot in.
This was not me! I was not like these people. I was educated. I would never end up in an abandoned building, and I never stuck a needle in my arm. These are all “YETs.” Yet stands for You’re Eligible Too! These were things that only “REAL” addicts did. I had the perfect justification for going out again, and I did just that. I wasn’t even clean in my first meeting. I stopped at the dealer’s on the way to the meeting, to pick up. After all, there was no way I was going to be able to deal with these people, without being high. Not a chance in hell. The second meeting, I was clean for, and I never made it to the third one. I got high as a kite all night long. I talked on the phone with people at a million miles an hour, and I didn’t think they knew. They did.
First I had to recognize that there was a problem. Then I had to accept, that I was too far gone to stop on my own. This was a big leap, and it took me a long time to make it.