I was a closet addict slowly destroying myself. I was smiling on the outside, but holding onto so much past pain on the inside.
I never thought of myself as an addict. To me, an addict was someone who couldn’t function throughout the day without getting high on their choice of substance. I didn’t do drugs when I woke up in the morning and I didn’t do drugs while I was working. I knew many people who did this, so for me, I felt like I wasn’t an addict. However, once the clock hit 5:30 pm, I was off to Happy Hour to indulge in my vices at my neighborhood bar (sometimes clocking in seven hours at the bar).
In the beginning, it was just for fun. My vices were drinking whisky neats, smoking menthol cigarettes, and my drug of choice was cocaine. I loved the way it made me feel – I could drink all night, not feel socially awkward, not feel self conscious while dancing, and I could talk to folks with no problem. Some of my friends would have some and share with me, but I think once I found out where I could pick up cocaine on my own, that was the beginning of my habit. My plug was close to home, close to the bar I frequented, and even if I didn’t have the money on me, my plug would still give it to me (I had so many I.O.U. ‘s). This lasted for six years.
Eventually, I couldn’t separate drinking alcohol and the need to have cocaine. It started to go hand in hand. Instead of being out and social, I just wanted to go home to drink and get high by myself or with one of my good friends. We would drink and get high for hours on a weeknight, talking about life, talking about our traumas, triggers, our issues with the men we were dating or sleeping with. We’d dissect our actions and emotions and think about why we were the way we were. In a weird way, as I would get high, I was becoming more self aware of my patterns and unhealthy habits. Once I was alone in my little studio, high as a kite, I would take out my journal and pour all my anger, sadness, hate, and pain in it (even to this day, I’m still not ready to read what I wrote). I was healing from things I had been holding on to. I know it may sound funny, but getting high and being high helped me articulate the things I could not articulate while I was sober.
Things started to get too much…I started to have no self control when it came to buying cocaine and I was putting myself in debt with my habit. I started to find myself wanting to be alone more just to get high and be alone with my thoughts. I would finish almost a gram for myself only to try and go to sleep afterwards (who does that??). That was me. It was no longer a drug to do to have fun, it started to become something I just wanted all the time. My body also started to feel the effect; I would feel pains in my heart. I knew if I didn’t stop, I would eventually either O.D., or have a stroke. At first, I tried to wean myself off drinking, nicotine, and cocaine. I learned that I couldn’t do it that way.
One week night in early March 2020, I pretty much binged by myself. I remember I was so drunk and high that I couldn’t go to sleep even though I had work in a couple of hours. I remember I was scared to go to sleep because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. My heart was beating so fast coupled with this pain I had never felt before. I basically stayed awake the whole night and went to work with no sleep. That night, I decided to text all my close friends and my cousins letting them know I was going to disappear for a while to get sober. I asked that they not get angry if I decided not to show up to events – as to not be tempted. My message was met with love and support from everyone I told. Some were surprised because they didn’t realize I was that deep into my habit. On March 3, 2020, I decided to quit alcohol, nicotine, and substances. I had already secluded myself from everyone for two weeks when the world shut down because of COVID.
In April 2021, my brother passed away unexpectedly and my Dad passed away early this year. Two significant events in my life, but I had the strength to continue my sobriety journey even though everyone was drinking around me to celebrate their life. I felt if I could do this, I could get through anything. It has taught me commitment to myself that I have never known. I’ve learned it takes great strength, discipline, and love. I had to learn how to be gentle with myself and to celebrate my big and small victories. I had to relearn how to be social while being sober and set boundaries for myself. I continue to grieve my past life and grieve the friendships that have changed because of my sobriety.
It’s not easy, but I also know this is part of life.
I’ve been on my sobriety journey for 2 years and 8 months. I remind myself to take it one day at a time, to keep going, and to be proud of how far I’ve come.