Dec 20, 2009

What I Wouldn't Give For A Line

Last Wednesday, December 16th, I celebrated 6 months clean and sober. I'm an addict. This isn't the first time I've gotten clean.

The first time was in 1996 after a devastating break-up with a girlfriend that took about 3 years to get over. I relapsed ("went back out", in 12-Step parlance) about 9 months later near the end of another relationship. Soon after that, I moved from Boulder, CO to Missoula and stayed clean for 4 years.

I relapsed again sometime in 2001. Of course, my girlfriend and I were breaking up (do we see a pattern here yet?), and this time I "stayed out" for around 2 years. There was a period of 8 months or so during that time that I was abstinent - not using, just sort of taking a break from using, although intending to go back to it eventually, which I did.

When I did start again, it was at the BEGINNING of a relationship, not the end. I had found a sexy girl addict to use with me. Our relationship mostly consisted of smoking weed and fucking and me talking about how I shouldn't be smoking weed and fucking her. She disappeared 2 months later and I've never heard from her again. There's a good chance she's dead. Katina, I'm so sorry for how I treated you. I love you and you deserved better. I miss you.

I got clean yet again. The wake up call that time was my T-boning a county sheriff officer's truck on the way to my dealer's house. I wasn't stoned at the time (lucky for me), so there was no Breathalyzer test and I wasn't arrested. I got lucky because the "accident" was my fault AND I was driving without insurance (God, the things you do when you're getting high). Just imagine what could have happened if I'd hit him AFTER visiting the dealer.

I got clean AGAIN on a vacation trip back to Boulder. A kind hearted and gentle man with strong recovery agreed to act as a temporary sponsor for me. When I got back to Missoula, I got serious about working a program. I started going to lots of Al-Anon meetings and eventually worked the Steps with a man who's the best sponsor I've ever had and is still my sponsor today. Thanks, Chris. The gifts you've given me are something I can never repay.

I stayed clean for 5 years, from 2003 to 2008. That was the longest period of sobriety in my life, at least from drugs. I relapsed during a particularly hard stretch of a - wait for it - A RELATIONSHIP! Can't fool you, can I? You're just too smart. :-)

I started with alcohol and pot, my DOC ("Drug of Choice" for all you flat-landers), then moved to snorting Ritalin. This was a new and alarming behavior in my addictive life. I'd pretty much been just a pothead for 20 years. Pot is surely a drug and is addictive, but it's at least a naturally-occurring substance that's minimally processed, though it's been hugely inbred and is much, MUCH stronger than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Ritalin is a wonderful drug. My brain just accepts it as cocaine, which I love, although I've never done a lot of it. I've always loved stimulants - very strong coffee and Mt. Dew are prime examples. I doubt I would have made it through school without Mt. Dew. Anyway, Ritalin beats out coke as a drug any day in my book because:
  • It's legal - Even taking it "intranasally", as I was doing, is not illegal in and of itself.

  • It's virtually identical to cocaine in its effects on the brain.

  • It's CHEAP - Generic Ritalin costs about $15 for a month's supply (thanks, Wal-Mart). Of course, when I say "month's supply" I really mean about 5 days worth.

  • It's easy to get - Gone were my days of white-knuckling it while waiting for my dealer to call me back. Gone was the nervous drive home, taking care to obey the speed limit and not attract any attention. Suddenly, my dealer was every pharmacy in town! Beat that, coke!

  • You get A LOT OF SHIT DONE - In "More, Now, Again", Elizabeth Wurtzel jokes that a speed freak can water a plant for 3 days straight. She's not kidding. Ritalin is a web developer's dream. I've never had such focus or appetite for minutia in my life. I could work straight through, 16 hours a day. The 3 months I was snorting were the most productive of my professional life.
On the other hand Ritalin's NOT such a great drug because:
  • It kills you - Taken in large quantities, Ritalin causes permanent damage to your central nervous system while slowly poisoning you. Ever wonder why meth addicts look like shit? Do enough Ritalin and you'll probably find out.

  • It destroys your self respect - This was the first time in my life I've ever truly felt like a junkie. I got a little taste of what the guys who panhandle me in front of the court house are living with. I had visions of ending up that way. It could happen.

  • Although the drug itself is not illegal, the method of procurement usually is - I was faking prescriptions, the most common method of obtaining large quantities of pharmaceutical drugs. I have some skill with PhotoShop, and Montana has weak prescription-monitoring laws. There was no centralized system to track that I was getting the same prescription filled at 9 different pharmacies simultaneously. Faking a prescription is a felony offense.
I totally get why Elizabeth Wurtzel fell in love with Ritalin. It's wonderful. It produces the most lovely, euphoric calm I've ever experienced. It makes all the fear and loneliness and depression and hurt instantly go away. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it, even though it's the surest path to death I can think of, short of putting a shotgun in my mouth.

I've been wanting it, craving it lately, even though I know what would happen. It would be so easy. Just one phone call...

I need to get my ass to some meetings.


  1. Ah, good luck. Genuinely & completely. I know how hard dealing with addiction is and how hard outlasting the urge is. :/