How Did the Addiction Start?
Andrew’s story began at the tender age of eight at his parents’ wedding. There was no horrific trauma that started the event, just the immediate availability of alcohol.
He was only eight years old so Andrew was not given alcohol, but even at such a young age, the need to belong and feel accepted is a powerful one. That feeling came, at first, from his sparkling apple cider, a common staple for underage guests at such functions.
Andrew wanted to keep that feeling of belonging, but he had no understanding of the consequences.
He went around to other tables and drank what was left of other peoples’ champagne and reveled in the feeling it gave him, such as the ability to sing in front of people, dance on the dance floor, and be the life of the party.
These were things that he had always wanted to do, but never felt he had the ability to do so until that moment, drinking provided him with “freedom of self.”
When Andrew was 13, he had just moved to a new town and was invited by a friend to a small party out in the woods. Andrew stole some alcohol from his parents’ liquor cabinet and brought it along with him.
This was his first time drinking since the wedding and it allowed him to experience a social life that he’d never been able to before.
Andrew grew up kind of sheltered and he was shy, this was the first time he’d gotten to hang out with girls and was also the night of his first kiss.
What Happened Next?
As is often the case in high school, the desire to be popular, have friends, and get girls is powerful.
“You see these kids in high school, they have all the girls, they’re hanging out with everybody, they’re (the) life of the party, so I put that drink into my body and immediately I was that person”
When Andrew drank, he became the person he always aspired to be. He became confident, cool, he could talk to girls, and most importantly he felt like he belonged. Shortly after, Andrew was introduced to Marijuana and from that day forward not a day went by until he was 26 that he didn’t smoke pot.
Andrew started having problems at school and in his family life. Anger, self-resentment, and fighting all played major roles in his life.
Despite being granted an amazing education opportunity and being sent to some of the best boarding schools, he felt like he was being pushed away from his family, his home, and his one true safe zone.
It was at boarding school that he first got access to prescription drugs, namely Ritalin, which was new and gaining popularity among students.
It was around this time that he realized other kids felt the same way he did. He began stealing more liquor from his parents and brought that, as well as cigars and cigarettes to school to sell them.
Not only did this prove lucrative, but more importantly it gave him a feeling of power, respect, and acceptance among his peers.
Andrew hated the feeling of sitting “at the back of the class” and watching, feeling left out, so he resolved to do whatever it took to be accepted and to make people like him, regardless of what that meant.
Even though his grades were good, Andrew got into a lot of fights because of his anger. Within 3 years, Andrew had gotten himself kicked out of five different high schools. None of these were a direct result of drinking or drugs, but rather the belief system and mentality that went along with the abuse.
Alcoholism, as he says, is much like patriotism or communism; it’s a belief system by which he ran his life.
You Must Commit to Quit
Andrew’s first treatment experience was an Outward Bound program, where he spent roughly 30 days out in the wilderness finding himself and it was a positive experience for him.
Unfortunately, he was transferred to a long-term facility after this where he didn’t really take the steps seriously, denying that he had a problem.
“I remember looking at the writing on the wall, and by the writing I mean the steps and traditions, and kind of walking myself through them, saying ‘I don’t really need to do any of this, I’m 18-years-old. I don’t really have a problem, I just like to party and get (messed) up'”
Afterward, he moved around quite a bit. He was living on the streets in California, then he went back east and eventually found himself in downtown Boston.
That’s where he found Cocaine.
Cocaine allowed Andrew to party for as long as he liked “without being sloppy” and it was something he wanted to do every day thereafter.
He went into college and was still partying, drinking, getting high, and selling drugs. Andrew got into a fraternity, where his behavior was not only socially acceptable, but actually glorified.
Some time later, Andrew moved into a house with a woman he’d been dating. After a knee injury, Andrew had started taking Oxycontin and Oxycodone, which was very expensive. His girlfriend told him that he needed to stop spending so much money on drugs.
Because of this Andrew started looking to spend less money but get the same high. That’s when he turned to Heroin.
This continued until one night when he found himself in a parking lot with no memory of how he got there or what he was doing, then he heard a knock at his driver’s side window.
With his forehead against the steering wheel, he looked around to see a tray of heroin in his right hand, a tooter for smoking it in his left, and a sheriff standing right outside his window.
This is the story of Andrew’s decent, but the story doesn’t end on this note. See his rise to recovery in the next part of Andrew’s True Story of Addiction.