I remember sobriety. It was a clear and productive time for me. It consisted of tears and writing and introspection and reading. Despite relapsing after a few months, my life drastically improved. I don’t do the drugs I used to, besides weed and the occasional drink. I regularly write inventories of myself and my actions to keep tabs on my mental health and addiction problems. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “clean” again, but I do know that drugs do not have the hold on me like they used to. The most I do now is smoke a bowl or a blunt and maybe have a drink with dinner. Arguably, my weed issues are more significant than any other drug problem I have, but it is far less disruptive to my life than the other drugs I introduced. Harm reduction, right?
I learned a great deal about myself while sober. The desire to have a family, a core group of people with whom I can share my deepest fears and insecurities, keeps me in the grips of addiction. I find that people using drugs have similar traumas to me. We use to hide, but we share quite openly when we have the chance. Building a family is an important task when you don’t feel particularly close to your biological one. Sometimes an exacting task. Without it, however, we falter. Become buried. Using alone, forgetting worth. This is where the danger lies. You know the risks when you are alone and take more Vicodin than you remember, sitting back in your tattered recliner to sleep. You turn your head slightly to the side, so you don’t choke.
While there is no threat of physical death with weed, there is a spiritual death that can occur. Narcotics Anonymous loved to talk about this particular death as if it were more significant than the loss of your life. I can’t disagree with this. Who’s to say what a physical end looks like, aside from the absence of life? A spiritual death, though; that’s the only hell I’m willing to believe in. Let me tell you what this is like. It is a disconnection from reality, friends, family, and society. It may manifest as theft from those you love, lying to them, isolation, ending introspection and self-understanding efforts, or even attempting to end your own life. It is a feeling of being trapped, however self-induced. It is lonely, whether or not you are alone. It is empty, no matter how much you have.
I believe I felt this spiritual death long before I started using. I felt it when I decided not to love myself. When I decided that the words people said about me were more accurate than the way I felt. When I resigned myself to internalized misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia and decided self-hate was a more valuable and creative state of mind than anything else. I don’t know if these are why I started using, but they ensured drugs would have a death grip.
The shared trauma of addicts is alluring. Falling into a trauma bond is more accessible than pushing yourself to form a connection based on health and security. Relying on comfortable and familiar patterns depletes the spirit, although it may not feel as though it exhausts the body or mind in the same way as working to form new habits and routines. The constant inventories of the Self can quickly lead to self-deprecation, but with a careful and clement eye, one can be shown to new paths. Paths that offer the safety and consistency necessary to improve your circumstances, ones that are often hidden behind a thicket of pain and suffering. The most challenging course is often the straightest shot to a destination.
About the Creator
I am a non-binary, trans-masc writer. I work to dismantle internalized structures of oppression, such as the gender binary, class, and race. My writing is personal but anecdotally points to a larger political picture of systemic injustice.
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