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...And All Other Mind Altering Substances

I come from a loving family and had a happy childhood, but we moved around a bit when I was young and being the new girl at school left me feeling like an outsider. I made one very close friend, but when she died aged fifteen I was thrown into a world of grief and inner isolation. For years I used that pain and self-pity to excuse many selfish decisions.

I soon found that alcohol helped me overcome feelings of loneliness and awkwardness, but it was the discovery of cannabis in my late teens that was the real ‘hallelujah’ moment. I loved the effects, despite occasional paranoia; it was also a common bond with my new friends at college. We experimented with many drugs: acid, speed, ecstasy, and later cocaine, but marijuana was my first and true love. It gave me exactly what I wanted without taking too much in return. For the first time since the death of my friend I felt happy.

After college I was restless and unsettled, and for some years I moved between different countries, cities and jobs, never staying anywhere for long. Wherever I went, I got stoned. If I couldn’t get hold of dope, I drank more instead. I saw it as a lifestyle choice not a problem, and besides, being stoned made me feel whole.

Eventually I moved in with someone and for a while things were great – we even talked about marriage and kids. However, he got sick of my constant need for drugs and wanted me to stop. I began to use in secret, full of resentment that I couldn’t behave how I wanted to without feeling judged. Inevitably we split up – at the time it seemed reasonable that if he couldn’t accept all of me, splifs included, then we had no future.

My week was planned around my drug use, and I socialised less frequently to allow more ‘me’ time. By my mid-thirties I was fed up of watching friends get on with life while I seemed stuck in a relentless cycle of going to work, coming home, getting stoned and going nowhere.

In an effort to take control, I tried to limit my using to weekends, but after a few days without, I would be pacing like a caged tiger. No matter how determined I had been at the start of the week I would always cave in. Once I started again, one always led to another no matter what promises I made myself, and this pattern played out many times leaving me feeling distressed and confused. I could find no explanation for my behaviour; it seemed impossible that I was powerless over a weed, and I felt pathetic for lacking the willpower to stop.

The worse I felt inside, the more I relied on drugs for relief. Life was beginning to look bleak and pointless and I could see no future. I was full of self-loathing and could barely look people in the eye. I would skin up in tears but feel powerless to stop, convinced that I couldn’t live without it. I was crippled by fear and loneliness. By now the relief each splif brought was fleeting, and always followed by waves of guilt, shame and remorse. In response to this I began to drink more. I was desperate for it all to stop but felt there was nowhere to turn.

It was then that the miracle happened. A chance conversation with a neighbour, led to my introduction to a woman in Cocaine Anonymous whose story was similar to mine. She explained that I was suffering from a disease that affected me physically, mentally and spiritually, and that there was a solution. Initially I was put off by the CA name as I didn’t have a cocaine problem, and as a dope smoker I imagined I’d be called a fraud and laughed out of the meetings.

The reality was so different. I was greeted warmly and told I was in the right place. Many people there had a history of hard drug addiction, but I realised that whatever our backgrounds, we had all ended up in the same place, broken spiritually and emotionally. I was surrounded by people who looked comfortable in their own skins, and spoke with humility about their experiences.

I got a sponsor at that first meeting and we began working the steps within days. The process was painful and frustrating at times, but the more I was able to be honest, willing and open-minded, the more it began to pay off. Within weeks my chemical cravings stopped, and within a few months I felt like a normal human being with a future to look forward to. Through this process I have come to believe in a Higher Power of my own understanding which guides me through life, a life free from drink or drugs.

Updated: 9 April 2013


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