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Love Is All You Need

My Story of Substance Abuse

By Jon McGuiganPublished 6 years ago 8 min read
Photo by (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a little bit like me, you’ve gotten used to smoking weed with your friends. If you’re quite a bit like me, you and your friends have already moved on to harder stuff like cocaine or MDMA. You might even enjoy the edge that comes with as well; doing this stuff at a young age makes you feel more mature, assuming you probably started around 16 years old. Letting it become a part of your character is also a nice way to rise above a lot of the societal bullshit you’ll come across in either high school or college.

Personally, I was the first in my friend group to start. I smoked my first spliff when I was 14 and I couldn’t wait to tell everybody. Immediately I felt more grown up, I had access to a new thing that no one else did and I loved recognising that a few others wanted in on it. After a few of us were into it, it was always up to me to supply and prepare it. I guess I felt like I was leading my friends in that sense; already I was on a higher level on my own. Without that, though, I always preferred smoking alone, sitting in my bedroom inside my little stoned bubble and just watching TV, or some shit online was the best.

The meet-ups in parks lasted a good few years, but eventually smoking weed just wouldn’t cut it anymore. Not everyone had taken to it so kindly and preferred drinking a bit more. I’d tried cocaine years before that point, so I felt I could do the honourable thing and introduce my friends to some harder stuff. By the time we were 17 and going clubbing a lot, it became a given we needed some sniff before a night out. The idea of standing there, dancing in a sweaty room with all the boring pricks without a proper buzz would be enough to send me home in an early cab. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy the night (I don’t think), it’s just that going out was my excuse to get wired. This isn’t to say I completely turned away from weed, by the way, I’d still treat myself to a little late-night spliff, mainly because I wouldn’t sleep most nights without weed—I just missed my bubble too much where I could tune everything out.

Obviously, doing all this shit at such a developmental time takes a toll on your mind. I’ve always had issues with anxiety, but weed made it so much worse. Eventually I started hating how nervous I’d get about stuff, and then I’d start hating myself. I then learnt that one of the worst things about cocaine is how loud your internal voice gets, and let me tell you, you can get very isolated listening to that voice. As far as I was concerned because I’d always been on such a "higher level" then surely no one would actually understand my issues. My depression really got deep throughout the weeks at that point. To get me through the night I got stoned and to get me through the days I just thought about the weekend.

The nerves weren’t the only thing I hated about myself, either; around 18 it was clear none of the guys were reliant on me anymore. They could get their own drugs and that’s all I was good for. When my close friends had issues with their relationships I’d tell them to remember, “This is the most amount of freedom you’re ever gonna get.” You know at the time I genuinely believed I was giving them wise advice, but looking back I didn’t want them to leave me with the drugs; having them around made it feel like people wanted to spend time with me.

I’d never really been in a serious relationship, myself. I’d had a few flings and such but nothing meaningful. I did try with a few different girls, although every one of them fell through eventually. Usually my overthinking and paranoia would make me start to hate them or I’d think they hated me. The worst part of it was that I knew how much I wanted something. Embarrassingly enough, there were times my anxiety would play up whilst I was getting intimate with a girl and I couldn’t perform. I can’t put into words how that feels as a young man. It’s the most shame you can possibly go through, I was suicidal and even made a few half-hearted attempts. Ironically though, as many problems as they’d caused me, drugs in a way actually saved my life. The only reason I didn’t keep trying to kill myself was that I wanted to die on a high. I swore I’d try anything I could get my hands on and if it kills me, so what? I didn’t want to live that much anyway.

I then swore off relationships. I even came out as gay so that there wouldn’t be any pressure on me to keep trying with girls. Again, I genuinely believed it up until I got a chance to get with a girl who I’d really liked for a long time. She told me she loved me, and I said the same to her. We did a lot of MD together, so I thought to myself: "You know maybe this time it’ll be different." Not at all, it was the same as before; I’d just fooled myself into thinking I could be normal… again. We kept getting high and saying we loved each other for a while before she had to move away. After that it felt like it was the drugs I loved—not her, not really. I guess all that shows how far I’d lie to myself rather than just admit I’m being a fuckin’ idiot and kick the drugs.

Despite me not having much of a plan for the future, I still carried on working hard to get best grades I could; I wanted my life to still look normal. I managed to get myself into a pretty decent uni and before long I was moving away too. I knew it was a chance to re-invent myself, but honestly I had no idea how I was going to play it. The sex thing obviously got me really scared. I wasn’t going in as a virgin, but that worried me because "what if that gave people expectations?" I also didn’t want to go in and say I was gay because, well, I just wasn’t sure enough.

I have to say, I think I was pretty lucky with the people I got bunched living with. First thing I noticed was a clear divide between the guys who did and didn’t do drugs, being completely honest the ones who did were and are a lot more sociable, and it felt good being part of that crew. There was one girl in particular there who I clicked with pretty quickly, even though on paper we were complete opposites. What I liked was she didn’t have an edge whatsoever, she was just acting "normal," I guess. There were all these people meeting each other for the first time and I could tell every single one of them loved her because she was just acting "normal."

I would’ve given anything to have that ability, to just be without over-thinking it.

The group of stoners gradually grew (as it always does) and without a second thought, I joined in with them. We’d all get together and watch a movie every so often; I’d say roughly a quarter of us got baked so the rest just kinda accepted it. I remember one time, stoned and sat near that girl who I’d say I was good mates with at that point and feeling so nauseous that I was about to pass out. I knew exactly what it was—a Whitey. Thankfully, the lights were off, but if anyone had taken more than a glance at me that night they would have seen a clammy skeleton trying to stay awake. All that went through my head was what she’d think of me if she saw me, really though, dreading what she thought of me is what set me off in the first place.

After that I just decided to get high back home, so naturally I went home quite a lot. Partially because I missed my friends, partially because I wanted to get high and actually enjoy it. At this point I wasn’t smoking weed but still doing cocaine on the weekends, so my thoughts were constantly going about a hundred miles an hour. My weeknights at uni were plagued by horrific nightmares; all my fears and my shame waking me up in the middle of the night, sometimes even in tears, and nearly every one featured that girl in some way. There was about two-week period which was probably the most suicidal time of my life. Every night before I went to sleep I told myself that she probably hates me and can’t wait for a more attractive, healthier guy to come along. In the daytime though, we just laughed and joked like pals.

The days were great, as a matter of fact. We’d go to each other’s rooms to talk about ourselves and each other for hours on end. Gradually I stopped going home so much, I couldn’t believe she just wanted to be around me for the sake of it. It was encapsulating to know that something I said or did got a positive reaction from her—the approval from this person made me feel special again, like I was on another level to other people again. The thing is though I wasn’t gonna brag about how much time I spent with her, and I wasn’t gonna do it because it was a guaranteed good feeling, I did it because I knew she wanted me to. I wasn’t dealing with an unfeeling substance anymore, I knew I was making someone else happy.

This went on for about a month and a half, until I heard some gossip from a mutual friend who told me that she does in fact like me, she was just too scared for things to move quickly so she assumed I’d get bored of her. Here I am terrified of the expectations of sex, and basically getting high off talking to her and she thinks I’m impatient. Eventually I managed to get into her bed; we didn’t do anything, we just slept together. This became the standard and people couldn’t believe we were just in there cuddling. A few of the guys actually teased me for it so I went along and pretended I was holding out. Honestly I didn’t care if she never wanted to have sex with me; I was just enjoying being happy not worrying that it’d run out.

Every night I slept in her bed I didn’t have a single nightmare, and the self-loathing in my head calmed down. I noticed another thing… I had never been more attracted to another person in my life than I was with her. I knew as soon as she was ready, I would be too.

We’ve been together over half a year now in a very fun relationship with all the trimmings. Yeah, I still get high here and there but never on my own anymore. I’m well aware how risky it is for all these problems to come down on one person, but I’m never gonna ask anything more of that girl. What really matters is I can see what’s important, and that’s being somebody who’s worth being around for who they are, not what they can bring. There’s just better highs out there than the ones you can buy on the street, and the best ones don’t run out when you’re broke, if anything they make you richer.


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    Jon McGuiganWritten by Jon McGuigan

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