I read this book in high school (I don’t think it was assigned, but back then I read a lot of books, specifically anything related to drugs). Its title references the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit”, which was another one of my favorites growing up. The book was supposedly an edited version of a diary that was found, and the author (anonymous) was a teenage girl that died 3 weeks after the last entry from a drug overdose. The true authorship has been contested and is very likely an author that has written several other “diary form” books but it doesn’t make the message any less powerful.
She lived a very hard life. And although the hardships can be very different for females than males… I can relate to the lifestyle, and the pain and misery. That feeling of despair, of having no way out… It’s intolerable without drugs. Which is the conundrum, isn’t it? Our lifestyle causes the misery that we’re trying to cope with by sinking deeper into that lifestyle.
So I’ve been noticing and hearing more and more lately, about people struggling with this drug (methamphetamines). You can see its effects on us, on our friends and family, and on our society, by just walking downtown in any major city in California. The sidewalks are full of tents. Homeless people who have gone through great struggles, but for a lot of them, the main source of their troubles are from meth. Or at least, it’s definitely a contributing factor now, once they are homeless. And two people close to me have asked me for help with people they know to be struggling with this drug, so I figured I would write about my personal experiences.
I first tried it at the Northbrook house, around my high school years. I remember this one was a yellow powder, and we would snort little lines of it. It burned like hell, made your eyes water, but then you were super awake (almost nauseously awake) for like 2-3 days. When you first start doing it, you’ll feel the effects for a very long time. I didn’t continuously use it back then because we were doing so many other drugs as well, and it just wasn’t my favorite at this time. I did use it fairly regularly for several months though. But never intravenously at this point in my life.
The next time I was introduced to it, was probably in California. I came out here to get clean, and was living in a sober living home. Side note: I do not think it’s a good idea to get a bunch of newly sober people living together under one roof. In every one I’ve been, I’ve ‘relapsed’ (with usually several other room mates). And many of those relapses included overdosing in these types of facilities.
I was in a long term treatment facility in Boca Raton, Florida (it was around the year 2000 or so). It was an interesting place. The rehab owned an entire apartment building, and all the apartments were for rehab patients, and we had to learn how to cook and keep the apartments clean, and so on. All the therapy and classes were held across the street in an office building they owned.
I had been a resident there for a few months already, when a hurricane was forecast to hit us in a day or so. So we were told we either had to leave (like get on a plane in the next couple hours) or we’d all be going into a shelter for an undetermined amount of time.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Where do I go? I had no clue (but definitely not Philadelphia). No one wanted me to go back to Chicago, because in the past, that always meant a very quick relapse, and usually would include overdoses. So I just picked (from what I had heard), the location with the best weather. Sunny San Diego….
Time to get out of dodge…
We quickly got to work looking up facilities (halfway houses or sober living homes) that would take me this quickly, and we found one in the middle of San Diego. It was gorgeous.
I had to get to the airport in two hours, because they were grounding all the planes due to the hurricane. So I flew from Florida to California by myself. But I don’t think I ever travelled to California before (though I may have when I was a little kid, but I don’t remember the trip).
I knew no one.
All I knew was that it was supposed to be sunny out here. Like all the time… And I wasn’t disappointed. And I wasn’t really worried about not knowing anyone. It’s never been difficult for me to make new friends. It’s amazing how far you can get in life, by just being more tolerable.
The sober living home was a two-story, single family residence, on top of a hill in Clairemont, San Diego. It had a gorgeous view of the city and bay, a hot tub/pool, grill, several bedrooms, and just 4 of us living there. The house manager was the brother of the doctor (and owner) of this sober living facility. He lived on the bottom floor. Both brothers were gambling addicts… but hey, no one is perfect.
A proper drug addict…
I don’t remember the exact timeline of events, but I think I was living there a couple weeks before a roommate of mine relapsed. A very interesting character actually. He was a professional chef, but was also previously a scientist or chemist of some sort. And most definitely a drug addict. Man did he love his drugs…
Naturally we became good friends, and started shooting dope together. It wasn’t just a couple days into my relapse, did I find myself overdosing in my bedroom in the sober living home. Luckily, my friend (who had already been kicked out of the sober living home for using, a week prior) just happened to come back to the house to check on me, and he found me, not breathing on the bedroom floor. He called 911. But proceeded to get kicked out by my other roommates, when the paramedics got there, to take me to the hospital.
Nothing really happened to me…
The house manager picked me up from the hospital a couple hours later, and said he had spoken to my parents and that I should just get some rest. It was determined in the next few days, that the next course of action was that I go to another inpatient rehab, near the California/Mexico border.
It was called Rancho L’Abri. This was, by far, my favorite rehab… Out of the dozens I frequented, this one had the best food, best detox regimen, the most generous doctor, and such caring and empathetic staff I’ve ever dealt with (and I’ve dealt with so many great people in this field).
But I won’t get into this experience so much right here. I went back to this treatment center a few times, and I’ll go into more detail about that later.
I was there for 30-60 days (I can’t remember), and then was sent back to the same sober living home that I had just overdosed in. Made sense at the time I guess. I guess the rationale was… Maybe this time I learned my lesson?
But drug addicts don’t learn lessons. Not ever.
I think it’s very difficult for someone that’s in the midst of their addiction, to look at their situation from a rational point of view and make positive life choices. I always had to be removed from the substances for some time, to finally see what I was really doing.
The amount of time it takes for someone to start thinking more clearly (after stopping using), greatly varies from person to person. And other variables also affect this, like what substance was being used, and for how long. And the range of time needed is vast, from just a couple days to several years, to possibly never….
Until the person reaches that point though, it is (in my opinion) improbable that a drug addict in the midst of his or her use, will learn from his or her mistakes.
Back to San Diego sober living…
The doctor that owned the home, also owned a female sober living home, literally down the street from ours (seemed like a bad idea at the time).
Anyhow by this time, there was a couple other roommates living in our house, and one was younger like I was, but his drug of choice was meth. We started hanging out, and naturally we relapsed together (common interests… boredom… its bound to happen… this is why sober living doesn’t work.. You need to engross yourself with all kinds of people.. from all walks of life… as nature intended… not just more addicts like yourself).
This roommate of mine (my new friend) introduced me to smoking meth. I had tried it before, but in Chicago we were using light bulbs to smoke it. It’s a whole process of breaking the black part off, and rinsing the chemical residue off the inside of the bulb, etc.
California was on a whole other level when it came to smoking meth. They have shops dedicated to selling glassware used for this… Crazy glass rigs. No more light bulbs….
I started smoking meth with my new roommate, and I rationalized this “relapse” because meth wasn’t my drug of choice. This is obviously a silly notion…
When trying to explain this part of my story to other people, I used to say that I made myself believe that I wouldn’t let it get the better of me because it wasn’t my favorite drug.
This was a fairly common rationalization I’ve used in the past.. But if I’m being honest, I said these things as just an easy way to explain my actions. I never really thought I was “safe” because I was injecting methamphetamines instead of heroin. It’s just something I would say to myself and others, because the truth just isn’t very rational… Doesn’t really make sense. Though, by now… I assume you have gotten used to things not making sense, because they really just don’t.
I just wanted to get high. Didn’t matter much what was getting me there. As long as it allowed me to escape this reality that I cultivated myself – which I was stuck in some sort of loop of repeating and detrimental behavior patterns, of which I had no care for the consequences. It’s a recipe for disaster and I somehow survived about 30 years of it.
My guardian angel is growing tiredI think my therapist said this to me
It wasn’t long before I started injecting meth instead of smoking it. And I had graduated to heroin again, soon thereafter, which I obtained primarily through that same roommate that used to be in the sober living home. The one that found me overdosing.
I started doing meth and heroin in the same syringe (like a speed ball, which is what killed John Belushi in 1982). I probably would do around a gram each and every day… of both.
Then I got a phone call, kinda out of the blue, from a friend I met at Rancho L’Abri. I liked her very much.
She called me asking if I could meet her for coffee to just talk and catch up. She wasn’t specific about why she wanted to meet up, but I didn’t care. I was just glad she called and was looking forward to seeing her.
I’m fuzzy on the exact details and timeline, but I’m pretty sure I moved into her studio apartment, and using drugs together, that same night I met her for coffee. Meth was definitely her drug of choice, while I was doing both meth and heroin.
She was paying for everything. Food, gas, drugs, and anything else we needed. I’m unsure what my parents thought I was up to at this point… We ended up getting kicked out of the apartment and we moved into the Marriott Hotel in downtown San Diego for the next couple months.
After awhile, it got apparent this wasn’t sustainable. I eventually had an urge to call home and request more help (yet again, for the 20th time by now). I don’t recall any specific event that pushed me into this decision… It was more along the lines of us, looking at each other one afternoon, and thinking simultaneously the same thing… That we needed help.
So I made the decision to call my mom. However, my parents were in Europe somewhere at the time and weren’t readily available to get on a plane that second (though they were trying their hardest).
So they contacted my sister, who immediately got on a plane and flew to San Diego (from Chicago I think). When she showed up in the lobby of the hotel, I came down the elevator, and saw her… I remember this moment pretty vividly… Perhaps not in detail, but in emotion.
I remember her seeing me from about 20 yards away in the hotel lobby, and I noticed her face when she saw the state I was in… (disheveled hair, skinny, malnourished… just sick looking I imagine). It’s amazing how drugs make you think you look perfectly fine, when you are nowhere near looking okay.
It was a humbling experience. When someone looks upon you sympathetically.. or out of concern…. or even, just out of love. I’m not my sister, so I don’t know what she was experiencing at that moment, nor have I asked (that I remember)… but I imagine it was concerning.
She was holding space for me (thank god), until my mom was able to get back to the states and come by my side, to take care of her troubled son.
This is where meth (and/or drugs in general) has taken me. It made me experience something that I don’t believe anyone should have to experience. When someone feels pity on you, because of something you repeatedly do to yourself without abandon. That shame, and guilt, and despair, and embarrassment is unbearable sometimes.
I got on methadone, for the last time, a year or two after this period of my life. But surprisingly, this wasn’t my last bout with methamphetamines. There’s a whole other chapter of my life, that spans about 6 years or so, where I was troubled again with hard drug use, not too far off in my history… I’ll get to that in part two of this post.
If you know anyone in trouble with drugs, please reach out. My dear friend that helped me out can be contacted at https://templeofentheogens.com (I helped make the new site for the organization!).