Tag Archives: addiction

Monsters & Men

See, there’s no clear way to start this. Because it’s all in my head, but what’s in my head feels too real…too real…

I’m walking under branches that hang over trails like an umbrella;
a feeling of safety, yet…
It’s the empty parking lot and vacant, somber sky that make my skin crawl
My eyes are open and I’m searching,
for anything that could pop out and scare me,
Because this is my life, in my head..


I pull on the hood of a black sweater and toss it over my head. A gold Marlboro is hanging from my lips as I close my eyes. I lose myself in a song that’s been repeating all day because it feels like home.

I’ve jumped habits over the years, beginning with alcohol and ending with this simple cigarette. People always told me I didn’t look like a smoker – and in truth, I’m not – but I’d just smile slightly and go about my day as a non-smoker, with a pack shoved in my jacket for later.

Everyone says when you drop an addiction, you gain a new one. I started as an alcoholic and slowly moved to hydros, eventually on to harder things. I never really explained to anyone why I started smoking again.

It came down to a decision as I sat alone, craving that high. Do I spend money on something that will drag me back into a black pit, or do I return to a habit I know I’ll eventually quit? It’s a crutch. Something to keep me from running back to what I realize is a natural disaster waiting to happen. It’s not easy to give up the things you crave, but I see how it affected me in the past – how messed up I was – so I find myself writing to you instead.

And as you sit here and read these words, I’ll repeat what you’ve already heard:

You’re not alone. At least, not as alone as you think you are. Talking about your problems can seem like too much a weight to put on someone else’s back, but I assure you, they just want to help. Maybe it’ll take time to become a solution, but we as humans are not meant to survive on our own. Help is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a window into our humanity and kindness.

Every week I collect myself and file into a room along with other addicts. We sit in chairs lined up against the walls, and speak of our struggles. We all come from different walks of life – a crack addict, a drunk, a paranoid schizophrenic, a pill-popper, an unmedicated Bipolar – but we all crave the same thing. Help. And the people in this room are our solution. What’s wrong with that?

If I ever gave you advice, it is this:
Don’t be worried that you’ll look weak. You’ve survived this long on your own. It’s okay to ask for help now.




The Love That You Gave Me

You said we could be lovers. You knew just how to inspire me, and I went along with it. Because pain brought out the best storyteller in me and I loved telling heart-breaking tales, even if it killed me. It nearly did. I fell asleep after a nod was too much for my head to return to an upright position. I pretended to be fine, but realized it was a lie as I sat at the desk, staring at my reflection in the vast mirror that hung on the wall. You were suppose to make life bearable, but you only made it worse.

I clutched my stomach and ran to the bathroom at the thought of you. Slowly, I began losing what little weight I already had. But I didn’t care, I just wanted you to love me. Every hit brought me closer to this delusion of love that you created. I could say goodbye to the ex-lovers who beat me, but why couldn’t I say goodbye to you?

My first introduction to N.A. was in Philadelphia of 2014. A friend was going to a meeting while we were on our weekend getaway with a bunch of other friends. At this point in time, my problem was still a secret, so I went as moral support in disguise. I quickly found that Philadelphia had uninspiring meetings. We left halfway through the meeting due to side conversations that wouldn’t hush, and being outsiders, we weren’t trying to push politeness onto strangers.

My second meeting was in Florida 2017. My friend – who attended A.A. frequently – offered to take me to N.A. I never shared in my first meetings. I felt as though I shouldn’t be sitting in that room, because I was much younger than most people and had less years tallied in my drug and alcohol problems. I questioned again, whether I really had a problem or not because I had listened to horror stories that my own couldn’t compare to.

Now this is where my mental illness – undiagnosed – takes over. My emotions are swirling around my head, flaring up at random moments, and causing destruction along the way. This is why I stopped drinking. Because a third of the way into the bottle, and I am sobbing over my regrets and dead friends. And the people around me look at me like I’m a ticking time bomb. Honestly, the only thing that was wrong was my self-medicating habits that never really solved my problems. Yet I looked to you, as if you could conquer any demons that scratched at my eyes. I found you in a heartbeat, because your love was something you gave away so freely. I frequently kissed goodbye because I knew you couldn’t save me, but I so desperately wished you could.

Now I’m sitting here without your love, and at times, I feel empty. I tell myself that I could control it, but I’ve been sober long enough to know that it is a lie. So I open my cabinet in the bathroom, I stare at two bottles full of required medication to keep my head level, and I shake out a morning pill. I turn it over in my hand for a moment, silently contemplating if the rest of my life would be filled with happy pills. I wonder if they’re working, or if I just think they’re working. I wonder if they’ll stop working. And if they do, where does that leave me?

I think it’s safe to say that drugs and alcohol were never my real problem. My fear is of myself, and this disease that has tortured me since I was fourteen years old. Only now does it have a name, and I don’t know what to do with it.


Yesterday I went back to NA. It was terrifying at first. I sat, sipping on coffee, debating whether or not I really needed to be there. But everyone always says: If you’re thinking about going, you probably need to. So I decided to go; one meeting wouldn’t hurt.

As I listened to the first two stories, I became depressed. One guy had just left the Vines after trying to kill himself, and another woman expressed grief about an addict who OD’d two days prior. Why was I here? But the next speaker hooked me in. He spoke like a well-versed motivational speaker. I didn’t want it to end because his words were giving me hope; not only that I could get better, but so could any addict. The longer I sat in that room, the more hope and happiness filled me up. I felt a little bit better. Now I want to continue.

After sharing was over, an addict announced the handing out of chips. Lauren nudged me and told me to grab mine. This little girl was holding a silver, tin bucket filled with different colored chips. She fished out a white one and held it out. I couldn’t help but smile as I took it. 

“Thank you,” I whispered.

I turned the chip over and read the words: Just for Today.

It’s a small promise – to only stay sober today – and you don’t have to worry about tomorrow. 

I kept my chip in my hand the rest of the night; it felt like protection. Standing in the circle as we huddled close and said a few hopeful words, I felt understood. I didn’t see these people as addicts, I saw them as some twisted family. Everyone just wanted to get better, but they didn’t want to – or couldn’t – do it alone. And I’ve felt that way before.

Today is Trust.

Just for Today: I will decide to trust someone. I will act on that trust.

So I’m going to trust that NA will work. I’m going to trust myself to stick with it. I think that’s what I’m most afraid of – not trusting myself to work the program, because I decide that I don’t need it.

Popper Virus

A virus; slowly fighting its way into your system, it’s sleeping at first and it’s bearable. But once you slip, it’s like a scorned lover. I’ve kept the urge locked in a vault. No longer did I consider myself addicted to the past. I fought for a cure to this relentless hell – finding it in writing and music – but now I’m building an immunity.

I found myself sorting through ideas. How could I find some pills without allowing the people around me to know? What could I get my hands on? The weight I’ve placed on my delicate shoulders is shoving me into the ground, trying to bury me six feet under. Honestly, that’s where this problem would end.

But I’ve promised to not go back to that version of myself. I never liked her. She hid in purgatory and settled for routine. I’d like to blame the conversation topic for my struggles, but avoiding what I know won’t help. And honestly, it’s nobody’s fault but my own. I feel like I’m locked in a dark room, screaming to be let out. This is torture. But I guess I can fight it. Or I guess I have to.

I remember being called popper as I navigated seventeen. My desire to do better seemed to evaporate each time my friend brought a baggie of brownies with some white motivation. I’d take it happily and stuff it in my bag. For the rest of my days, I slacked in class, waiting for the clock to move hours ahead. 

It wasn’t even pot that drove me to pills, but instead, a driving need to escape a depression that I battled alone. Pills helped numb the pain. And I always grew up telling myself I’d never walk down this road. But addiction is a virus that sleeps during the day and wakes you at night. One time is just one time…until suddenly…it’s not. 

Have A Margarita With Your Pain Killers

You carried yourself like a goddess; no flaws, just a walking piece of art. And if I hadn’t known any better, maybe I would have believed it. But I watched you throw back the drugs like candy and wash it down with a little bit of liquor. I could time it down to the hour.

It’s four o’clock and you reach for the bottle. I guess I learned from the best. I’m eighteen years old, taking thousands of milligram pills from the neighbors. And in my head, I know it is wrong. I’m looking in the mirror, a handful of pills, thoughts racing around my head.

How did I get here?

I can’t stop myself from washing them down with a cool drink. I walk back to the little gathering we had every weekend. I’m sitting in the living room, smiling faintly and sipping on my drink, trying to focus away from the lump in my throat. An hour passes by and I feel myself slipping away, but I don’t really care. I feel sick to my stomach, but the only thing left on my mind are the remaining three and a half pills in my pocket. I’m fighting myself, wondering if I should take them now or save them for later. I settle for the latter, because I’m not really sure that I can continue hiding the fact that I’m high as a kite. But my secret I had to keep.

Did you ever struggle like I have? Was there a reason behind your ritual? Did you even care about the example you set? Or maybe the fault is all my own; I swore to never be like you, but I hate to say I may be a spitting image.

Now I’m sitting here, debating whether or not to go back to NA, because though I haven’t slipped in the past few months, the thoughts never left. There is a creature lurking in the darkness, scratching my skin as I daydream in silence, waking me from a slumber I’ve managed well thus far. Is there a cure for this hell? Will I find it in a room full of strangers, though I never found it among friends? Am I crazy to believe that anything will help?

I watched you sip on your drinks and throw back pain killers like it was nothing. It became a habit even before I had access to the drugs. And though I don’t really blame you, I can’t help but wonder if it would all be different, had I not watched your example.



I stare at an empty bottle like a loaded gun. And maybe it is – I’ve never sat and thought about it – but I’ve warned you.

“Hello, my name is Shana and I’m an addict.”

But meetings never changed who I was – only suppressed what I did. I often wondered if it ran in the family; maybe I was destined for this life.

I woke up drunk on New Years day and pretended to be sober.

Now the sun has fallen and this empty room is crashing down on me. It is crushing my lungs and I’m struggling to obtain precious oxygen. Here it is. This liquid devil reminding me that something is wrong and the solution will only ever be found at the bottom of a bone dry bottle. I guess what I need to say is the truth.

Drinking isn’t fun anymore.

In simple terms: I am an alcoholic. I will drink as quickly as possible because I know what comes after. Clear, blue eyes gaze at the people around me and a smile hides that I’m dying inside, just contemplating on whether or not to buy another bottle.

I don’t drink anymore because I know who I am. I cradle bottles with the intention of finishing them; and when left alone, I’ve never failed. But this habit I have controlled with substitutions of substance abuse. I’ve crawled out of a somber hole, just because I felt like creating a prettier one that falls farther into an abyss.┬áSobriety is a lesson I should have learned second-hand, however, I suppose the message didn’t get through my thick skull.