A guest post from Chris P.
I had my first cigarette and drink at around aged 15. What I didn’t know at the time, was that I was a drug addict and alcoholic in the making. I would abuse anything I could get my hands on, nothing was ever enough for me, and no matter what I did I couldn’t be satisfied.
The addiction progressed very quickly. All of the things I said I would never do, I ended up doing. At no point did I consider at all that I had a problem, not until the very end. The odd cigarette turned into a 20 a day habit (30 at the worst point). My drinking was initially just on the weekends. As time went on, I would start my weekend drinking on a Thursday night and before I knew it, I was drinking stuff like Jack Daniel’s first thing in the morning. I was addicted to multiple prescription drugs, including heavy-duty tranquilizers, which I couldn’t get enough of. In terms of street drugs, I started off with synthetic cannabis. This only satisfied me for a short while though and I knew I needed something harder. From there I developed a weekend ecstasy habit, taking up to 20 pills in a weekend. I had a cocaine habit for several years as well and this progressed into smoking crack cocaine and ultimately, heroin. On a regular day I would drink heavily, smoke 20-30 cigarettes, smoke cannabis and take prescription tranquilizers and on top of that would snort coke or crushed up amphetamines. My nose would regularly bleed from the amount of crap I ingested.
Needless to say, I was absolutely shattered to pieces, physically and mentally. My parents later told me that they hadn’t expected me to live past 25 (I’m now 35). My drug taking was so out of control that I would regularly drink to black out and find myself in places I didn’t know with people I couldn’t remember. In the end I began overdosing on a regular basis and was no stranger to the back of an ambulance. I was absolutely desperate beyond words in the end. I felt like I had gone as low as I possibly could and at that point, I became willing to do whatever was necessary to sort myself out.
To cut a very long story short, I wound up going to a rehab in London called The Priory, for 9 and a half months. They basically spent this time rebuilding me, from the ground up. I came out a new man, aged 21, feeling like I was alive for the first time.
Over 14 years have now passed since I last took a drink or drug. I don’t miss it, ever. Occasionally I will get asked if I feel like I’m missing out, or if my life is boring because of not drinking in bars and partying at the weekend. I’ve done more drinking, drug-taking and partying than most people ever will. There was nothing fun about what I used to do. If I could have one drink, or one line of coke, I would. But the reality for me is that I’m an addict and I will either not do something at all or I will go for absolute oblivion.
Fourteen years sober has shown me that recovery is progressive too. Today, I’ve got a good life, which has taken a lot of hard work over a long time to achieve. And I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about happiness and peace of mind.
As a result of being sober and in recovery, I have traveled all over the world, I have had a succession of amazing jobs working with interesting people and I actually look forward to life today. I take care of myself physically as well. People used to ask me if I was anorexic because I was so thin. Today, I work out regularly and back squat over 250lbs. Achieving that is very difficult, both mentally and physically, and is a far cry from someone who used to take drugs on a daily basis.
I don’t find life in recovery easy, by any stretch of the imagination. For me, it has required determination, consistency and discipline, and these are principles (amongst others), that I try to apply to all areas of my life.