Crossing Lines

     There is no, “I’m an alcoholic but not a drug addict.” There is no, “I have a problem with heroin but not cocaine.” Or the best is, “I’m addicted to everything (or nothing) except weed.” That one even tops, “Prescription drugs aren’t really drugs. I mean, it’s not like I’m some dirty, toothless crackhead rotting away under a bridge.”

     No, you’re not… not yet.

     If you think you’re different from the drug addict because all you do is chug wine every night and play solitaire, think again. There is no difference.

     If I am an addict, then I have an allergy to alcohol and drugs that crosses all lines. If I am an alcoholic, then I’m also a heroin addict, a cocaine addict, a benzodiazepine addict, and a pothead. Once you have the body of an addict, NOTHING is safe. Not even Tylenol PM. Why? Because any mood-altering substance will trigger the same physiological response. Any drug will trigger an allergic reaction, characterized by a physical craving for more and more and more. Craving is a physical event, not that urge you feel when you’re sober. We don’t crave things. We obsess over things.

     Sure addicts have their preferences. But when the booze dries up and your grandma has some Valium in her cabinet, it’s a done deal. Sure I don’t really care for benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, but if I (just by accident, of course) stumble across them in your medicine cabinet, don’t expect to see them next time you need one. I wasn’t really a cocaine guy, but if you put a pile of it in front of me, it’s goodbye to your cocaine, and then it’s suddenly sunrise and let’s call the dealer for some more even though my jaw could really use a break.

     Addiction is addiction. Alcoholics have the same broken body as crackheads do, though they might have an air about them in their respective AA meetings. One of the first local meetings I ever went to, the speaker preempted his ‘look at all the things that I did’ speech with something like, “By the way, this is AA – that’s Alcoholics Anonymous – not druggie anonymous or pot anonymous. If you’re in here ’cause you smoke pot, you’re no alcoholic, so get out! AA is for alcoholics only!”

     That guy may have killed some heroin addict who got up, left, and then overdosed in his car in the church parking lot. That dumbass speaker didn’t realize he’s distinguishing between the SAME illness, just different symptoms. You drink, I sniff OxyContin. You blow cocaine, I like Xanax. You eat Ritalin all day, I smoke weed all day. Same thing. By the way, I became an opiate addict, and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (and the program for alcoholics contained within) saved my life.

God, teach me and others that our allergy crosses all lines…

Triggers Don’t Exist

     Triggers? Ah, no.

     Conventional treatment programs and addiction “specialists” tell you to write down your triggers, as if there is some reason – some person, place or thing that makes us want to use. Nope. So, what makes us want to use? Um, let’s see… NOTHING. Or everything, if you prefer. The truth is that nothing makes us want to use. Once you turn yourself into an addict, that’s just what you do. You use. It’s a reflex. And even before we cross that line, nothing actually “triggers” us to use. The only trigger is called breathing.

     Oh, there’s painkillers in your cabinet? Huh, cool. I think I’ll swallow all of those, thank you very little… not like you really needed them or anything… definitely not more than I do.

     So the experts tell me that all I have to do to stay sober and, by implication, to then go and have a great life, is to avoid my triggers? Just avoid all of the people, places and things that make me want to use? Okay, by the way, if I have to avoid this street, that park, this store, that friend, this TV show, that asshole… then I basically can’t go anywhere. Locking ourselves up in a cage is not a solution. Sorry, but I’d rather be free. To be clear, I don’t recommend that you go hang out in a bar the second you leave detox. What I’m saying is that if triggers do exist for you (in you’re head), then you’re not okay. Avoiding everything that supposedly makes me feel like using is most certainly NOT a solution.

     Remove the obsession and there is no such thing as a trigger. It’s simple, though not easy, and it may require the power of God depending on how fucked you are.

     Addict’s will try to blame anything and anyone for the reason they have to go drink like a pig or get jammed out of their minds. Let me help out a little bit: Nothing makes us want or need to use. We use because we love using. We use because we love drinking and we love drugs. I use because I’m too much of a child and a coward to walk through normal human feelings of pain, boredom, discomfort or depression. I’m too much of a wimp to grow up and too much of a shithead to do some real work on myself. I am 100% driven by fear. Basically, I am a loser. I am dependent. I feel entitled. I falsely believe no one suffers like I do. I feel as though I have the right to drink and use even if doing so comes at the expense of others. Truly, we addicts are simply children who don’t want to grow up.

     I wrote in my book that in an effort to spare our families the deception, as well as any future friends, spouses or employers, “addicts should suck their thumbs so people can identify them.”

     And though the process of losing choice is indeed a choice, at some point we do cross over that invisible line, break our bodies, acquire this allergy, and once that occurs, every time we start using, we can’t stop. It’s that simple. Trust me, I didn’t drink and get high because of my family, my friends, the bully in school, my withdrawn, eccentric father, my anger, my depression, the nutjob babysitter who sang Puff the Magic Dragon like a broken record as her body odor permeated the entire house, the guys who jumped me in college, the clinically insane, borderline girlfriend who made me want to jam a sharp object into my skull… and the list goes on forever. No one makes us want to use.

     And the booze doesn’t crawl it’s way down our throats, nor does the dope fly through the air and force itself up our noses or inject itself into our veins.

     And yes, pot is a drug. If you’ve been told by some doctor that your kid is fine to just smoke pot and that it’s not addictive, call me when he needs a ride to detox. Not only does your doctor have no clue about drugs or understand addiction, but he doesn’t even understand science, which is supposedly his expertise.

     “It was right there in front of me! Anybody woulda’ done it! Mom, I just drove by my dealer’s house! It wasn’t my fault, my therapist said his house was one of my triggers! Mom, you don’t understand, if you only knew what it was like to be me, you’d be smoking crack too!” 

     Right. Good stuff.

God, help me to always remember that nothing makes me use other than myself…