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Little White Pill/Little White Lie

A former drug addict reflects on a friend’s overdose.

By Maayan Atias-GolbusPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

I was 16 when I chose to use drugs as a way to escape my problems. I had a friend who had dropped out of high school and I often visited her on Saturdays. I guess she sensed that I was sad and she offered me a Percocet. I was in pain. My mother had joined an ultra religious cult when I was 5 where women weren’t allowed to be taught and were property of men. There was no asking questions, it was blind devotion I was truly suffering and I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on because I was afraid of being labeled a heretic and ostracized. And I did not want to seem uncool in front of my friend who, to me, was the a epitome of cool and so I took one of the horrible white pills. The problem was I didn’t feel anything when I took one Percocet. I just realized that the dull, throbbing pain in my right ankle from a small twist had gone away.

And then I thought, why not take two? If it stops my ankle from hurting - maybe can stop my heart from hurting too? And then I took two Percocet. And then I graduated onto three. And then it was Vicodin. And then it was OxyContin. And I never had a prescription for this. I was using the money I was hoarding from babysitting for prescription pills that I was getting in alleys in little bags that we used to distribute candy in and no one bothered to think that I was 16 and that these prescription painkillers, these opioids, were killing me. No drug dealer in the city of Los Angeles stop to think that maybe they were going to kill a 16-year-old who wanted to become a doctor and wanted to see what Japan looks like. No one noticed that I was high as a kite. My teachers started complimenting me on my exemplary behavior - because I was finally quiet. My incessant questions about the “faith” they were teaching had subsided. I was a robot. And the drug addiction continued when I moved to England to continue my studies in a top rated religious seminary and I had to find new dealers. The accent changed but the drugs did not. And the drugs led to the worst year of my life.

I was a face in the sea of girls at my boarding school and the only way that I could keep my heart from pounding out of my chest, from screaming every day that I couldn’t take it anymore, were those horrible little white pills. And then I got in trouble and then I realized I couldn’t do this anymore. No one knew how much pain I was in. I escaped from the horrible existence that was mine because my grandparents took me out. They saved me. Honestly, I should be a statistic. I should be at dead kid who overdosed because she was too stupid to ask for help and too broken to understand she deserved it. But somehow I got indescribably lucky and my liver didn’t get out and I didn’t stop breathing and I got a second chance. I got two of the most patient grandparents in the world, a set of uncles and aunts who cheered me on, and family and friends who didn’t know what was going on, but loved me through it.

I have four friends who have died of drug overdoses. I have woken up to four separate phone calls telling me that people I love have died because of an opioid addiction. All of these friends did not believe things for going to get better through their own power of will and so they used medication to cover up the pain to feel like they were normal and keep living a daily broken existence. I know this feeling. I was chained to this feeling.

What no one says about addiction is that the biggest punishment for being an addict is the addiction. The reason people turn to addiction so often is because their pain is ruining their lives and so they want to get rid of it. And then pain doesn’t rule their lives but this tiny little white pill is suddenly this tyrannical master. And you become enslaved to this feeling you become enslaved to this feeling, you become enslaved to an object.

I quit cold turkey. I was living with my grandparents and while they are both incredibly excellent medical professionals, they missed the withdrawals. The first days were actually ok. And then the shakes set in - but I think they were dismissed as anxiety from the leaving of my old community. Honestly, the first couple months of living with my grandparents were hard but they were the best months of my life. I started college and I took a political science class I loved. I had barely any academic skills, but my grandparents looked over essays and I studied and I finally got to ask the questions I wanted to ask. I felt loved and safe and validated.

A year ago, my former roommate died of a drug overdose. We weren’t living together at the time. I was in College Station, Texas, and he was in California. He went to bed, got high, and never woke up. His roommate then called me (we were all friends) and told me what happened.

I never really new Arik all that well. I knew he had an annoying habit of leaving socks all over the house, and we used to watch Israeli TV together when we came home from work. We would cook together, we would argue about cleaning. I thought I knew him. After all, I knew that he liked the thermostat at 82 which drove me mad, and I knew he hated the cheese I liked but he still bought it because it made me happy. But I never knew about an inner demon that he was fighting. I never knew that there was a fight he was going through and I wish I did. I was completely unaware that he had been using drugs. Till this day, I won’t know if he was using when I lived there. Till this day, that haunts me.

You cannot have sweet, wonderful joy without intense pain. You cannot appreciate the good moments if you have not bad ones. I have fought harder than anyone I’ve ever met to be here today. I have battled my inner demons and I continue to battle them because I deserve to be happy. I have not used in 1905 days because the six year old who was scared of her new reality and looked at the stars praying she would get out deserves a happy ending. She needs a hero, a role model, and that little girl who loved matchbox cars and legos and grilled cheeses needs to know that she will be the strong, powerful woman she wants to be.

Today, I check in with my friends and I talk to them. I ask them if they’re good. I try to check warning signs on social media. I see a therapist. I tell my friends that I love them and even though it is hard for me, I talk to them. I call my grandparents.

You deserve to be here. You deserve to thrive. You deserve to wake up this morning and attack today with love and passion and energy. You deserve to be loved and validated and appreciated. You deserve to feel safe. You deserve to not be a prisoner of your past mistakes, but rather you deserve to be living the potential of your bright future. Some days are going to be hard. Some days you won’t get of bed because you just aren’t ready for the world, and that’s perfectly ok. The days that are good? Spread that joy around, because joy is infectious. And when you’re sad? Talk about that too.

Life is so hard, but so worth living. Please live.


About the Creator

Maayan Atias-Golbus

Twitter: @maayangolbus

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Comments (1)

  • Yakov Yerah8 months ago

    המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים I'm so sorry to hear what happened to you, Maayan. Your writing & your life has really touched me. I will carry your story with me for as long as I live. I hope you are now at peace.

Maayan Atias-GolbusWritten by Maayan Atias-Golbus

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