In high school, I grew increasingly reliant on Adderall; I lost weight while gaining confidence; my grades improved, which gave me leeway to smoke weed on my parents’ property. At that time, my Adderall use wasn’t extreme, but week-long stretches of “one pill here, one pill there” left me agitated, paranoid, and physically exhausted. I had decided to leave the Adderall alone for a while; I’d take the day off of school to sleep away my discomfort. I was usually out of weed by this time, just looking for an excuse to lash out. My parents would confront me, and I’d attack verbally, sometimes physically. I had always struggled academically, and the pressure of the “college prep” environment began to mount by my sophomore year. The Adderall hadn’t even been my idea; I didn’t enjoy it. I only took it to meet social and academic expectations. And while there was no physical detox from the Adderall abuse, my emotional state had corroded: I would punch walls, weep, and pass out.
Before entering AA, I made several attempts to quit alcohol using the white knuckle approach. I was a binge drinker, usually finishing a handle of cheap vodka in about 36 hours. I would generally plan to conserve enough alcohol to last me through the week; however, I’d often down nearly half of the handle in the first evening. Upon awakening, it was obvious that my condition necessitated early morning shots: The alcohol would ease my debilitating shakes, allowing me to roll a blunt; the weed would in turn soothe the painful cramps in my stomach. I would rarely leave my constricting apartment during these indulgent stretches; my impaired mobility and destructive streak often led to broken possessions. I had a good-hearted weed dealer from a family grow-op; he’d buy me liquor despite his concerns over my sallow skin and sunken eyes.
A friend from the East Coast came to visit me in Boulder for a long weekend; he funded 3 days of potent back-to-back blunts, absinthe Jello shots, and tequila straight from the bottle. During the visit, several staff from my outpatient stopped by my apartment. They informed me I was kicked out of the program: I had used cocaine and filled my Ativan prescription without their permission, resulting in a memory lapse of nearly 2 days. They had alerted me that my lease was up in two weeks, and my parents would only support me if I went to rehab. I was scared and embarrassed, but I laughed them away.
When my friend left, so did the substances. I had left my apartment in ruins, and the sudden cessation of marijuana and alcohol left me highly paranoid and physically sick. My legs ached as I hobbled to the window, trying to appear casual as I peered through the blinds. I was convinced that someone would burst through the door, see my appalling living conditions (glass stuck in my toe, a cesspool in the sink, fruit flies on the wall, maggots under a trash bag) and commit me to a psych ward. I broke open my larger pipe, and scraped out the black resin to smoke in my smaller pipe. I felt nothing. Steeped in sweat, heart racing, I didn’t even want a drink. I knew it was over.
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