WHEN THE PARTY ENDS

A for­mer drug ad­dict re­veals what it’s re­ally like to be a user.

Dolly - - Doctor -

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.

PARTY ON

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.

THE COME­DOWN

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.

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