As soon as you read the headline, I’m sure your mind instantly went to scenes from television or real life where someone is pinching a joint and trying to pass it off to someone else without burning their fingertips off. Other minds will be thinking of someone hovering over a hard or reflective surface, woodpeckering white chunks down to a fine powder with a credit card or razor blade then snorting their efforts up with an old, oily dollar bill or community straw from some fast food restaurant. The lucky ones, as I like to label them, will be oblivious to almost every kind of narcotic foreplay and not have a single iota of what I’m talking about and good for them.
On the flip side, drugs and addiction can be things that are not illegal substances and can range from anything to everything. Don’t believe me? Are you seated? Want to hold my hand for the next paragraph?
One might huff paint or gasoline fumes because of the smell. One might chew sand because of ‘the crunch’. One might drink paint because it’s a thicker version of warm milk. One person might eat glass, rocks, egg shell crates, or plastic bags, sniff dirty diapers, or snort five ounces of baby powder a day. One might be addicted to tanning, watching porn, or enjoying the sensation of stinging themselves with bees. Other extremes would take oneself to being addicted to drinking your own urine or eating the ashes of a deceased loved one. (Believe it or not, these are real, documented cases televised on TLC’s Strange Addictions).
One of the vices that I cut out of my regiment many years ago was smoking cigarettes. I could easily burn through a pack of Camel Lights in a single day, and a lot of things revolved around the times when I would take a cigarette break. My associations and the actual behavior controlled me. Family history would tell stories of my grandfather smoking so much inside the house that one would have to look below the haze to see who was in the room. Sadly, he passed away before I was born. My father has smoked his entire life, had triple bypass heart surgery a couple of years ago, and continues to smoke.
The breaking point for me was when my son took a paper towel, rolled it up, colored the tip of it red, and put it in his mouth. He was mimicking my behavior, funny as it was, and I realized that I did not want to be ‘that person’ anymore. I knew if I did not break the cycle then the cycle was going to inevitably break me. I found support in one of my friends and raised the bar when it came to my personal awareness, tolerance, and mind set.
Do I still want a cigarette from time to time? Absolutely! Nothing used to top my mornings off better than sipping a cup of warm black coffee and sparking a Camel Light with my silver Zippo. Looking back at it now, you can spend a lifetime and fortune chasing that first drag. Day after day, week after week, year after year – I slap packed a fresh box of cigarettes on the palm of my left hand, tore the wrapper off, turned one cigarette upside down for good luck, pulled out the next white stick, and fired away.
It became, well, monotonous and exhausting.
From time to time, if I see someone smoking on television, it makes me want to fire one up just for the heck of it. I do not blame the cigarette companies for me feeling this way. I do not blame product placement or subliminal teasers on television or in movies. I do not blame the celebrities and movie institutions for endorsing and receiving funding for advertising that kind of behavior. It is a free will choice and an extremely hard habit to break, but it can be done. I am evidence of that, and I’m sure some of you are too.
So what do I do now considering I’ve kicked cigarettes in the butt, exchanged my Grey Goose on the rocks with two limes for Aquafina, and distanced myself from other vices? I guess you could say that I get eff’ed up on life, love, family, success, writing, live music, secret adventures, art, and unique experiences that will last and not lose its buzz. Occasionally, somebody will ask me a ‘neither here nor there’ question and try to corner my current mindset.
This is a fun occasion for me because I instantly turn into an energy vampire.
“Hey, man,” the whoever or whatever will say, “if this was legal or that was legal, would you still do it or start back? I mean, everybody will be doing it, man!”
I pretend to think. My fangs start to grow.
“Well, that takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it, if it was legal and anyone could just do it,” I nonchalantly reply, trying to be an original gangster. “You don’t know how hardcore you are until you’ve driven through a Labor Day weekend checkpoint with enough kush to fog out an entire county.”
By now, whoever I’m talking to is so close to Neptune that it doesn’t matter where I lead the conversation. I’m a hypotheticals worst nightmare.
“All I know, it seems like every concert I attend, I get stuck beside the one person that has raided grandma’s morphine lollipop stash, meds that were prescribed to her because she has bone cancer, and now this wandering soul wants to nod off while leaning against the balcony rail on the second floor of one of my most favorite venues. Hell, even Batman needs a day off every now and then!”
The person stares at me with their mouth open and is so confused that their eye blinks are exaggerated.
It goes like this. You need to love yourself, love those close to you, and let everything else fall into place. You cannot worry about things that are out of your control, especially in this day and age. You cannot help someone else if you’re currently seeing rainbow tracers in the sky and chasing pink elephants. From my experience, some people, the lucky ones, people like me, come to a point in time when they are tired of the behavior and are done with it – simple as that. The struggle remains, the withdrawal is real, but that person now knows how to control the urge.
Some people never come back from their addictions, and that’s no fault to the sober support system. Don’t blame yourself. If you do, then try to stop. There is a difference between helping an addict and enabling them. If the addict cannot discover their own reason to be clean, find something to live for, and love and respect you, the journey is going to be tough and exhausting for all parties involved. There is always hope for that person and situation but be real with your expectations and don’t put your faith in false solutions.
So I peer pressure you into taking a hit – a hit of life. Go snort some real, nostalgic love. Go bend that spoon and rock that vein with some hope and success. Put some faith, dreams, and true friendship in that glass stem and burn it up! Go buy a carton or case of self love and search out the things that give you butterflies without harming you in the process. We all have struggles, addictions, and problems, but we also have the ability to come together in this fight. Find the group you need to meet with, confide in your special friend, or soul search alone, and overcome the things that keep you from being who you were destined to be.
You are special! Do not let the world tell you who or what you need to be!
As the saying goes, “Everything you were destined to become, you were already born with.”
There will always be that person Zippo flaming the tip of a freshly packed cigarette and, for a brief second, it will smell like a pile of fallen autumn leaves being set on fire. There will always be that person clanging the ice around in their freshly poured Grey Goose, chiming the cubes together like two frigid cymbals so the burn will be cold and delicious. There will always be that one person at a concert who has chewed through three prescriptions in under an hour, and they will want to carry on a slurred conversation with you while trying to maintain their balance next to a balcony rail. Be prepared to babysit for free and help them as they sway for the next few hours. All these people deserve at least one good chance at life and guidance in the right direction.
I should know because that person used to be me.
Never underestimate the power of love, whether it’s tough or right on time.
You are so much more than the worst decision you have ever made.
“To the edge and back”, right?
The world needs more witnesses and fewer judges.
What do you think?
Thank you for reading – Feel free to share – Stay safe – Personal Playlist Song below – Enjoy
Personal Note : To Whom It May Concern
Addiction is real and affects more people than the statistics will ever be able to show. If you or someone you know needs help with drug addiction, there are effective services out there to help you or them. If they do not want to seek help then it is of no fault to you. If you do not want to seek help yet, I hope you will change your mindset in the near future and decide to take a different route with your life.
If you have sought out help and have overcome addiction, I applaud your bravery and choice to rise above. Do not take someone else’s addiction personal – easier said than done – I know. If you cannot help the friend or family member at the moment, the last thing you need to do is run them down behind their back. Some people cannot love you until they start to love their own self first.
In my current novel that I’m pushing to publish, A Story About Her, there are two main characters on one side of the story that embark on a road trip and push the boundaries of modern day drug consumption. It is a goal of mine to use the situations in that novel to bring awareness to issues surrounding drug addiction, as well as mental health issues. Drug addiction has taken away a lot of precious people from us and will only continue to do so in the future. Regardless of the person and situation, them recognizing that they need help is the first step in bringing back the person that has been there all along.
Some people will say that they can have a drag or glass here and there, nothing serious, and I am not going to discourage that mindset, nor judge it, if that’s the journey they want to take. Some people can do that and stick to it. For some, drags and sips leads to glasses, leads to bottles, leads to selling crack cocaine on the corner, leads to grand theft auto, leads to becoming a global drug lord, leads to manufacturing nuclear weapons, leads to blowing up the moon (that escalated quickly, I know, but welcome to the mindset of an addict). Everyone’s path is different, and there is no shame in that. To be honest, there’s beauty in that fact if one wants to see it.
One would not believe how intoxicatingly tasteful a good conversation with the right person can be – it is an unclassified narcotic on full demand!
If you, a friend, or a family member is currently experiencing drug addiction or have lost someone due to drug related issues, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to you.
Be strong and never give up. You are not alone! Now, testify!