I want to know who I am without drugs

HummingbirdHopeFor me, drug use began as purely social and recreational. I remember taking a DARE class in elementary school and using the textbook as a brochure- reading the descriptions and deciding which drugs sounded the most fun to try out. I have been partying ever since I was a young girl- using drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, and alcohol- and though I was a regular consumer, it was common in my social circle, and it never interfered with my schoolwork.

I never thought I had a problem until I got a job in a late night concert hall in college, and from there, I began using intensively- not only was I using drugs to have fun, but also to sleep and to wake up… and I was given them all for free by my enabling bosses! My schoolwork began to suffer but I continued the party drugs- ketamine, cocaine, mdma, ghb (friends would spike my drink and I’d pass out and think it was hilarious). I began to take drugs during the day (amphetamines, cocaine) to compensate for my erratic, tired brain. Somehow my rationale was that I could continue at this pace, because I felt so good- floating through life, half delirious.

It was when I began passing out that I got the hint that I might have a problem- I would get so light-headed that I couldn’t see, I’d have odd hallucinations, and I’d pass out at odd times and sleep for hours or days on end- right through important commitments- social, professional and academic- that meant a lot to me. I got help. I got to go to an outpatient, once a week rehab group for a year and this helped a lot. I began to sense that there was life and stability beyond the nebulous void of a drug-induced world. But when I graduated from college, my school insurance expired and I was unable to continue.

Now, I am out of the concert scene, and a year in the basic program was enough to steer me away from the constant use of the “party” drugs like ecstasy and ketamine- but unfortunately I am still using alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, xanax, and sleeping pills on a frequent basis. It is so normal in my world- my community of friends are social butterflies, and they’re a motivated group whose overachievement often comes with adderall abuse, alcohol abuse, prescription pill abuse and excessive behavior.

It is shocking to realize that I have been on drugs since I was 12 years old- more than half my life- and that in the past few years, I haven’t gone more than 2 or 3 days without a couple glasses of wine, minimum. Or that I can’t wake up without adderall, or fall asleep without xanax or sleeping pills.

I don’t think I even know what it feels like not to have drugs in my system. It is so normal to me that whenever I try to cut back, it’s like I can’t find the ground. I’ll either sleep all day or I get morbidly depressed. I feel spacey, and antsy, and bored, and aggravated. I know I’ve got to cope with the pain before I can get to the other side, but I am still trying to find the courage to do so.

I’m ready to settle down and find myself- I want to be able to find joy and pleasure without substances. I want to be able to sleep without substances, and wake up without substances. I want to know what it feels like to be free. I don’t want to be this way forever.

This is my chance.

I have wanted balance for a long time, but have not had the resources to attend a total treatment program. This opportunity would be the chance to have the time and concentration to direct myself toward my goal of a healthy, fulfilling life, free from the dependency I’ve allowed myself to crawl into.

This story about addiction was submitted as part of the Breaking Addiction Scholarship Program on

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