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I Survived Drug Addiction - Amy

by Amy
(South Africa)

My Drug Addiction Story. Perhaps I felt I was never good enough because I wasn’t a boy as my father constantly pointed out. Maybe it had something to do with trying to live up to my older, more beautiful, athletic sister.

But however much I tried to compensate I couldn’t. I was artistic but creatively fell short of my father’s expectations. What would I ever achieve? I became a chronic overeater – and so my weight became an issue for him. I was a ‘disappointment’.

When I hit my teens I started taking diet pills to stop myself from eating or, if I couldn’t control myself, I’d consume a whack of laxatives afterwards. I didn’t think I had a problem – just that I didn’t belong and that I didn’t like being me.

I wished I could detach myself from my body. I realise now that my body image played a huge part in my addiction. I left home at 17 and two years later had fallen in love with J.

When he left to go overseas, I discovered gym in a big way and started losing weight. I qualified as a personal trainer. Obsessing about my body became my new drug. By the time J returned, I had a supersonic physique.

When we went out, I tried drinking alcohol but I didn’t like the way it made me feel out of control. I gave dope a bash, but when you’re obsessing about your body you don’t want anything giving you the munchies.

I didn’t like the way Ecstasy made me drool while I sat there thinking I looked beautiful. Then J – my first love – gave me my first line of cocaine. I loved it. Every ounce of self-doubt I had about my looks, my intelligence … any insecurity I had, disappeared.

I was funnier than I’d ever been. I felt fabulous, the smartest person in the room. Plus I couldn’t eat – a huge bonus.

My habit became more intense, but it was still weekend entertainment. A few of us would buy a gram between four of us, then it became a gram for two of us. Then I started buying two grams and hid one for myself.

I followed strict rules though. As long as I could afford to pay for it and share it with friends, it was okay. As long as I didn’t steal and I wasn’t doing anything illegal, it was okay. As long as I was being ‘open’ and ‘honest’ with my mom – I’d told her I tried coke – it was okay.

I believed I was being very mature. I was working as an assistant fashion and beauty editor for a national magazine – a really hip job. There I was, the girl voted least likely to succeed at school, with a
fabulous life. I was invited to parties, not as someone’s girlfriend or sister, but as me for who I was.

My need for J decreased. I’d found my place in the world. Then my Dad – my idol – died. Everything I’d done up until then was to show him I
was worth something. He’d just started acknowledging that I wasn’t such a worthless person. We’d made friends and then he was gone. I drugged his death away.

I started freelancing as a stylist and my income trebled. I went to a city on business and never returned home. I loved this new place – fresh dealers, fresh people, no one on my case – it’s called doing a geographical.

J realised he was losing me and decided to tell my mom everything. I’d been so good at faking that she had no idea of the extent of my drugging. Listening to J she realised that somewhere between the occasional ‘line’ I’d told her about and what was really happening, I’d lost the plot.

Between them they organised an intervention – J and my mother flew to see me. She arrived with a notepad from a clinic with signs to watch out for. She conned me with a fake court order, saying I had to return and go into a rehab.

I stayed in rehab for 3 weeks. I was so cocky. I had everything ‘under control’. I hadn’t even begun to face my demons. They were honest with my mom. “She’s not going to make it.” After I left, I didn’t call my sponsor and stopped going to meetings. I had no idea of the pain I was causing.

Two months later, I had my first drink and it wasn’t long before I was using again. I hung out with people with less money than me. They were my ‘hostages.’ I’d give them drugs and they’d give me companionship, I’d make them listen to me.

I took comfort in the fact that their lives were worse than mine. I wasn’t into sex at all by this stage. I hated men and was still dealing with my father’s death.

By then I had no money by the 2nd of each month. I spent my entire salary on cocaine in six days. I didn’t have money to pay my bills – it all went up my nose. But I was always creative. I wrote out cheques to myself from myself and no one at the bank seemed to notice.

I owned a house and a car. I was still coping at work in a high-profile job. No one suspected I had a drug problem – they just thought I was ratty. I was no fun to be around, but I got the job done.

Sometimes I wouldn’t drink or drug for days. I was a binge user, and then I wouldn’t eat or sleep for four days at a stretch. I started to hallucinate and finally, mess up at work. I started making mistakes, losing clothes that needed to be returned to shops, losing documentation …

The deputy editor finally called me in with a long list of mistakes. I was starting to cost the company money and she’d started keeping tabs on me. I was offered a disciplinary hearing, but left instead.

My mom knew I was using from the tone on my voice over the phone. I started dating someone, but he was more partner in crime – he couldn’t keep up with me and I left him.

One day I came home from work and found myself in a ‘Jerry Springer moment.’ My ex had called the police about the drugs. I got home to find security guards and police, and neighbours hanging over the wall.

My mom flew up for the 2nd time and drove me to rehab with my sister, ‘Ms Perfect.’ When I saw the pain in my mother’s eyes the penny finally dropped. I couldn’t do it to her anymore.

Rehab is no joyride. You have to come to terms with who you really are. I faced my need to be a perfectionist, control freak – to be the best lover, entertainer, girlfriend, career person, whatever … There’s nothing logical about addiction.

Asking for help is the hardest part. A few weeks into rehab I wrote a letter to my dad to tell him who I really was. I forgave him and myself and then burnt the letter. I had finally buried him.

Four weeks into rehab I could finally admit that there were consequences to my using. Also, my actions could have resulted in fraud charges and a possible jail sentence, and I made an appointment with the bank manager. They still hadn’t caught up with me. At out meeting, the bank manager explained what I’d done was fraudulent, but he gave me a break. I’d been given a second chance.

I went back to my previous employer and apologised for messing up. Again, I told them everything. The editor booked me there and then for a freelance job.

I’ve been clean for 5 years now and haven’t felt the urge to use for a very long time. The fact that I’m not dead or in jail still blows me away.
I’ve been in a relationship for 3 years now. I don’t have any excuses to behave badly anymore. But I’m still learning daily what it’s like to be a grown up.

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I can relate
by: Anonymous

Also tried to live up to the expectations of my father, still trying actually. Have also been through drug and alcohol addiction to show for it. Learning to do things for me and not anyone else. But it's hard.

by: Anonymous

Thanks for sharing Amy. I echo Kevin's comment - seriously inspiring!

Seriously Inspiring
by: Kevin

Wow - what an inspiring story! Thank you. You have given me new hope and belief that I can also overcome my addictions.

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