It started off with just one pill.
I had slacked off on the weekend, and was behind on an assignment for my nursing class. It was due the next day, and my chances of completing the assignment on time were slim. Very slim.
While I was feverishly typing out as much of the assignment as possible, one of my friends handed me a ritalin pill. Before this, I had never seen one before in-person although I had heard a lot about the magical effects of this pill among my peers. A lot of people I knew took it to stay on top of their studies and maintain an active social life.
Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a medication prescribed primarily for combating ADD or ADHD symptoms. For those of us who aren’t afflicted with the condition, it’s a pill that helps you stay up the entire night and stay focused on a single task.
I remember looking at my friend who was grinning at me and mouthing ‘try it’. After hesitating for a second, it went down the hatch. Within minutes, I felt the effects. It’s hard to describe the feeling. It’s a combination of euphoria and feeling more focused. I finished my assignment that night with no problem. At the time, I thought I discovered the ultimate study aid. Looking back, taking that pill is probably one of my biggest regrets.
From that one pill, I became a recreational user. Every time, I had to stay up late to study or finish an assignment, I took a pill. Soon, I developed a tolerance, and one pill several times a week became a pill a day if not more. I wouldn’t and couldn’t rest until I felt the effects kick in, which, by the way, takes approximately 4 to 8 minutes after ingestion.
I didn’t realize that I was addicted until my friend ran out of pills, leaving me with nothing when I went home for the holidays to visit my family. Let’s just say that my addiction became clear during the visit, and the visit, itself, was a disaster.
Without that one pill a day, I started to exhibit withdrawal symptoms. I became increasingly aggressive, hostile and paranoid. I felt nauseous and dizzy. I lied to my parents and my friends back home that I must’ve caught the flu, but I knew better. Inside, I felt terrified because I was craving for another fix so badly. I felt embarrassed that I had become so reliant on ritalin.
The moment that I got back to campus, I saw a counselor and called an addiction hotline for help. They both connected me to a nearby recovery center immediately, and I started going to therapy to curb my addiction. The road to sobriety has been difficult and tedious. Some days, I wake up feeling motivated and confident in myself. Other days, I feel myself spiraling out of control, and my brain chemistry feels out of whack.
That was 6 months ago. Nowadays, I still have the occasional craving — especially whenever I’m behind on my work — but attending group and individual therapy has helped a lot. I’m still working towards sobriety, and there’s still a lot more to do, but I’m proud that I’m on the right track.
The term ‘addicts’ come up a lot in my classes since my major is nursing. I’ve noticed that most people in my class seem to have a misguided concept on what an ‘addict’ truly is. I bet that they’d all be surprised to know that I was one of them, and I struggle everyday to not become one again.
I’m 562 days sober, but every day is still a struggle to me.
I’m not homeless or one of those “junkies” you see on the street begging for change. I’m a teacher and have been for the past 15 years. You’d probably be surprised to find that I’m a pretty good teacher too. I’m active in the community, and make a positive impact on my students. At least, I’d like to believe that I do. I offer tutoring sessions to my students after school, and coach basketball every mondays, wednesdays and thursdays.
My students respect me and trust me. They come to me with personal problems. I get along great with other teachers. My peers would describe me as friendly and easy-going. No one knew that I kept a huge secret to myself. I was addicted to cocaine.
My cocaine addiction started during my college years. My roommates took it recreationally at parties, and my own curiosity soon led me to snort a line.
I still remember that fateful day. The moment the cocaine in my system, I felt incredible. I broke out of my shell and felt confident in talking to everyone at the party. I felt blissful, and honestly had the time of my life.
Recreational use soon became habitual use. By the time that I had graduated college and was teaching, I was snorting cocaine on a daily basis. I’d snort a line before heading to class. It became a part of my life. Everyone is under the misconception that an addict is easy to spot, but no one could tell that I was high. I wasn’t disoriented. I just felt much more energized and euphoric with the drug.
Without the drug, however, I became a completely different person. I’d feel agitated, depressed and irritated. To prevent that from happening, I’d continue to take the drug every day.
The truth is that I would have continued too if it wasn’t because I met my, then, girlfriend and, now, wife. In the beginning, I kept my cocaine addiction a secret from her, but she caught on pretty quickly when she started staying over at my place at night. She was devastated to say the least, and urged me to get sober. It was her one condition to getting married to me.
I took a year off work and checked into rehab. I told everyone at work it was a personal matter, and no one really asked me any follow-up questions. At the recovery center, I was monitored by a bunch of doctors and prescribed a cocktail of drugs that would help curb my cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. The rest is history.
I’m completely sober although I still feel urges and cravings every now and then. Other than my wife, no one else ever found out about my addiction, and I’m happy to put that part of my life behind me.