I remember the first drink I ever took — it was the sip of a Miller Lite. I remember being 16 and scared to death that I would get caught. But, I didn't. After that one sip, it was a casual thing to go drink on the weekends with kids from high school around a fire or a truck, listening to music and hanging out. It was an ounce of the small-town life, but one none of us ever forget. Alcohol brought a lot of friends together. Sometimes, before graduation, one of these nights is the last time we see each other before the real world hits. But alcohol also tore many friends apart. It killed some of us, actually.
And somehow, I've made it this far to tell my truth — my truth about alcohol and benzodiazepines.
I started my benzo problem quite differently than my alcohol one. I wasn't at a party and I wasn't at some crackhead's house. No. My job was stressful, so my doctor prescribed me 1mg of Xanax, three times a day as needed. I was sitting down after a hard, HARD day at work and decided I needed to do something to calm my head. So I grabbed a cup of tea, a book I was reading, and popped two Xanax.
About 15 minutes went by and I started to feel different. Euphoric, maybe? I don't know, but I felt good — at ease. I felt like whatever was weighing on my shoulders had fallen off for the first time in my life. It was the best feeling I'd ever had since starting my job.
This is where the problem started.
It dawned on me — there is absolutely no reason to not have a potentially better time than what alcohol can do alone. Why not mix some things up?
I was wrong.
It started out fast — pop two pills and drink four or five drinks. Pop two more. Drink and socialize the best you can. Go to the bathroom and snort two with a girl you just met. You know they say about drunk girl bathrooms — best place ever. This behavior went on and on. It was the kind of fun my life lacked. It blocked out all of the problems for a little while and I LOVED it.
The downside to the alcohol and benzo mix though is not only do you forget the things you started drinking to forget, but it also takes every memory you wanted to remember. There are nights I wish I could recall that I know I never will. Another thing it hinders is your relationship with your family. Once they figure out you're a closet user, their trust for you is gone.
Everything is gone.
Your friends who have their drinking under control? They hang out with new people with the same interests. And it hurts. It will never not hurt that I have single-handedly destroyed relationships that meant so much to me because of bottles and pills. If I could trade all of the “good times" I don't even remember for the time I could have with my friends and family who actually loved me, that's what my foolish ass would have done.
So to the old me — I'm sorry. I'm sorry I did this to us. One day I hope to fix it.
If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse or mental health issues, call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.