WHEN THE PARTY ENDS
A former drug addict reveals what it’s really like to be a user.
Idon’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Limitless, but there’s a moment in it – well, several moments, actually – when Bradley Cooper’s character, thanks to this magical pill, actually starts to think he’s immortal, impenetrable, unbreakable. There are tonnes of drug-centric movies out there, but this one feels the most real to me because that’s exactly what it feels like to be an addict – like no one can hurt you as long as you have your stash. That this one little pill/powder/crystal is going to solve all of your problems and make you more interesting or attractive, smarter or cooler. I realised the hard way that drugs don’t do any of those things. They might feel like they do from the inside, but to everyone else they kinda just turn you into a sweaty, weird, emotional mess. When you rely on something to make life easier, you can get addicted without even realising it. You don’t need to be living on the streets, either. I had a job, great grades, an awesome family and a boyfriend. I ate well and I went to the gym, but I was literally killing my insides from chemicals (and my parents still don’t know). You’ve probably had the ‘drugs are bad’ talk at school, about what they do to you, why they’re bad and how you never really know what’s in them. But keep in mind that so did I… I knew all of this too.
THE FIRST HIGH
Old people ALWAYS tell you marijuana is the ‘gateway’ drug. It wasn’t for me. The first drug I took was an MDMA pill at a house party when I was 16. It was pink and pretty and didn’t look like it could do much harm, but it did, just not then and there. I felt a high I’d never experienced – I could talk to boys, I didn’t need to drink alcohol and get wasted and messy like all my friends around me. Instead, I felt kind of superior, like I had a secret that no one else knew. I know now that I was probably wandering around the party like a wideeyed freak, touching everything and saying dumb things, but at the time this is where it
began: a surge of energy and confidence I’d never felt before. Over the next two years, I started playing around with pills and powders more and more. I didn’t have to have it, but at every party or social event I wanted it. “It’s fine in moderation – more people die from vending-machine accidents!” I would tell myself. I remember a friend saying to me at the time: “We don’t NEED drugs. That’s the difference between being a drug abuser and a recreational taker – we can stop at any time.” These are the lies addicts and addicts-to-be tell themselves. Sure, you can stop, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to. I didn’t. Why would I? I was having fun.
I guess because I was the kind of girl who was friends with everyone – a social butterfly, if you will – I became the go-to girl for all my friends. I made friends with the dealers. I started driving them around and holding their gear at my parents’ house for a discount – that kind of thing. Harmless, right? Ha! At one stage, undercover cops were sitting outside my parents’ house, waiting for my ‘new friends’ to drop by. I just told myself they’re after bigger fishes than me. Lie. I started researching and learning about what I was getting and how to cut stuff myself. I bought testers off the internet to make sure I wasn’t getting anything dodgy. I was ‘responsible’. Another lie. These dealers? They knew how to hook a guppy – they’re salesmen, after all. They offered to give me free stuff to ‘test’, so I would be able to give them feedback on the high for their customers. This meant I started taking stuff more regularly. I would smoke weed at night and take uppers at work, school and parties. It just kept me feeling like I had a sparkle. But as we all know, what goes up must come down.
DRUGS VS REALITY
Here’s the thing: drugs are a fake reality. None of it is real. So what happens when you start to prefer the fake version of life? You crave it all the time. You find ways to make it your reality. People started to notice my behaviour at parties – trust me, EVERYONE notices when you’re high. You think they don’t, but they do. You sweat, your eyes do weird things, your jaw moves at odd angles and, generally, you’re not yourself. People called me a druggo, but I didn’t care – I had something to take the pain away. Somewhere along the way, I lost my radar of what was normal. I started working extra jobs to pay for my habit, I started dealing, I would do mega high-risk things for my dealers, like carrying stuff into festivals on public transport. I started dating guys who were bad for me and made friends with people who weren’t really my friends (and lost the ones who mattered). I wasn’t desperate or anything, but my brain was so messed up with chemicals that my judgement was totally off. That’s what happens – you’re so everywhere that you start to forget which way is up.
I was what they called a ‘functioning addict’. At the height of my drug use, I had a bump of powder in my drink every morning and a line or two at lunch. It was a slow rise to this point, but the daily thing went on for three years. At this point, I was 22 years old. Some things just became the norm – I was highly emotional, erratic and hard to be around. I was lonely, I hardly slept, I had terrible acne from all of the chemicals I was putting into my body and I hadn’t had my period for two years. One moment I would be a sparkling essence of confidence. The other? Crying over anything and everything. Oh, and I carried a bag of drugs everywhere I went (and had back-ups stashed around the house). Amazingly, I started to realise the reality I had built was crumbling down. I would sympathise with the junkies on the street and actually understood how they felt – they were my people! The comedowns overtook the highs. It took a long time to stop some of my habits and I eventually got clean, but not without some collateral damage. I now have a major depressive disorder and exhaustion that I have to live with for the rest of my life. When you take drugs, particularly when you’re a teen, the chemical that makes you feel good spikes your serotonin levels and can deplete the production, damaging your brain forever. And you don’t have to take as much as I did to get there. Now I have to live my life with low happiness and energy levels, which means not only can I no longer be as happy as I once was, I will also never again feel the true happiness that comes with REAL life.