Live Through This

Me, On Drugs

This is the first of three installments this week that deal with guest authors’ relationships to drugs and alcohol.

I realized something had to give this past August, when I went down to Celebration, Florida, with my mom for a family funeral. Celebration, for those that don’t know, is the Disney Company’s own Stepford, master-planned to have the look and feel of the happiest town in America (I should have known this was a recipe for disaster going in). The minute I walked into the deceased’s house, I thought I was absolutely going to fall down and die because the place was chockfull ceiling to floor with Disney memorabilia. This, combined with the unbearable awkwardness of having had relatives I hadn’t seen since I was two cry on my shoulder all day, proved too much for me to handle, so I made a beeline for the minibar. I probably had six glasses of red wine in total before I ran into the widow.

She caught my arm as I was drunkenly staggering into the kitchen, and complimented the one Disney accent in my entire wardrobe, a small Piglet decal on the underside of my iPhone. “I play Piglet!” she exclaimed brightly.

I was happy that she was happy, but I didn’t quite understand. “Excuse me?” I slurred. I then listened for 10 minutes as this tiny 70-something-year-old woman told me how she worked at Disneyworld as a cast member (i.e., one of those people in costumes).

“Is that why you moved to Celebration?” I asked warily.

“Well, no,” she said. “Mostly we moved to Celebration because it’s the ultimate Disney souvenir!”

“Excuse me,” I said again, and found my way to guest bathroom, where I proceeded to vomit all over the tub. The next thing I knew it was two in the morning, and I was back in the hotel room with my mom.

It was so much more embarrassing than the old-folks’-home incident—who gets blackout drunk at a funeral reception? As horrifying as it was, I kind of needed something like that to show me that my priorities were way out of whack. Some things are just not OK, even when you’re a relativist.

I’m now in college, where it’s easy for people who are particularly susceptible for whatever reason to the allure of drugs and alcohol—people like me—to get a little carried away. It’s particularly challenging because here, the party never has to stop. There are about a hundred things going on any given weekend night, and they’re all within walking distance, so you never have to worry about your parents driving you around (or even knowing where you are or what you’re doing). You can keep booze and weed and whatever else your little heart desires right there in your room, and as long as you’re not a loud idiot about it, nobody in authority ever has to know. It might sound like paradise, but it can easily turn into hell. (Because remember that whole higher learning thing? You also kind of have to save some room for that, too.)

The Celebration Affair had been a wake-up call, and so, when I got to college, I decided I might as well head the whole descent-into-hell thing off at the pass; I started seeing the drug and alcohol counselor of my own accord. And you know what? It was awesome. She was really cool and she listened to what I had to say and didn’t judge me and laughed at stupid things I’d done that were funny, because she knew that I was smart enough to know that they were stupid. She helped me to make sense of the chain of events that led up to my puking in a newly dead man’s bathtub. And she worked with me on harm reduction, which I’d never heard of and which I thought was especially cool because it meant that I could still drink (and smoke weed, I’ll admit it) on occasion and in moderation.

So, if I could go back and time and stop little Lexie from sipping those sips at Hayley Anderson’s party, would I? Probably not—I might stop her from going outside with that jerk, but, hey, we all have to come up against some jerks sooner or later—but I would definitely give her some advice:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can have concerns about your lifestyle (or anybody else’s lifestyle for that matter) without having a “problem,” and you can have a “problem” without being an alcoholic or a drug addict. And should you find that you are an alcoholic or a drug addict, that’s OK, too, because it doesn’t mean that your life is over and you can’t ever have fun again. There are people who can help you deal when stuff gets a little hairy, and these people include drug and alcohol counselors, friends who are smart and not unduly judgmental (but also not crazy party animals who can hardly take care of themselves let alone advise you), and (le sigh) even parents.

2. Try not to lie. I ended up spending the better part of three years lying about who I was with and what I was doing, and let me tell you, it is a job of work; your energies are better spent elsewhere. If you’re doing something you have to lie to your parents about, you would probably be better off not doing it, at least until you’re out from underneath their All-Deciding Parental Thumbs. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Slow your roll. There is plenty of time to throw caution to the wind and experiment in all kinds of ways. I’ve just realized by the time I become “legal,” it will have been six years since I started drinking. Again, I could definitely have used those six years to try other stuff that might have been more constructive. Like reading up on what can happen to you when you’re under the influence of alcohol so that I wouldn’t have had to find out what a blackout was the hard (read: funereal) way.

4. Do your research. I CANNOT stress this enough! If you are determined to do drugs, go online and find a number of reputable sources with information about what you should do to minimize the risk. Anything with a .gov or a .edu is likely to have some good scientific information, but obviously a lot of it is seriously biased in the don’t-do-drugs direction, which is only going to piss you off if you’ve already set your mind to it. For something a little edgier, try erowid.org. They have great information about history, legality, dosage, and long-term and short-term effects. The experience vaults (aka “trip reports”) are useful too, but bear in mind that they recount the experiences of randos and that you should take them all with a grain of salt.

5. Watch Brazil sober. Really, it’s a good movie, and you will just not understand it if you try it any other way. I mean it. ♦

Lexie K. is in her first year at an imitation East Coast liberal arts college in Southern California, where she spends most of her time playing Scattergories with the campus cat, snorting crushed-up little pieces of Goldfish crackers, and lamenting the fact that she has no future in the current economy by repeatedly banging against her head against various hard surfaces.

* All names have been changed, for obvious reasons.

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48 Comments

  • Olivia January 16th, 2012 3:39 PM

    this is killer. i don’t know of any other teen girl magazine that would write about this. killer.

  • Violet January 16th, 2012 3:42 PM

    That was amazing.
    You’re a fantastic writer – it was like watching a movie, and I laughed / was amazed while reading.
    Thanks! Violet

  • Violet January 16th, 2012 3:44 PM

    Forgot to add: I liked the Rookie backgrounds better when they were just a single, tiled image.
    Today’s looks as if two images had been superimposed, same thing a couple days ago – and it just doesn’t feel as lovely. V

  • riotsnotdiets January 16th, 2012 4:32 PM

    This was amazing and really honest, thank you I really enjoyed reading it!

  • Jamie January 16th, 2012 4:43 PM

    THIS HITS SO CLOSE TO HOME THAT IT IS SITTING ON MY COUCH WATCHING MY TV AND CHECKING MY FACEBOOK

    but really. A+.

  • Ablovagio January 16th, 2012 4:48 PM

    This is amazing and really struck a chord. I’m sixteen and know fine well how alcohol really messes things up. I’m a straight A student and a previous ‘asset’ to the school, I was even considered for head girl and then I got absobloodylutely sloshed at a school event and had to be escorted out. I can’t even remember what happened. I hated myself, I thought my parents hated me and my friends started to hate me. You don’t really believe people when they tell you the consequences of drinking but I really wish I had.
    I felt like I had destroyed everything I had ever worked for, and I know that may sound a bit far-fetched but you don’t really understand until you’ve been in that sort of situation. Even now, and it has been months, things haven’t gone back to exactly the way they were before.
    Once again, amazing article Lexie I know EXACTLY where you are coming from. Keep the awesomeness rolling rookie!

  • Eelizabethh January 16th, 2012 4:54 PM

    I like the tone of this article and feel the advice is practical. As someone who relied on Erowid through the entirety of my “experimental stage,” I can say that it is helpful and probably turned me off of doing some incredibly dangerous (read: stupid) things. That being said, I am 27 now, and really wish I wouldn’t have done some of the things I did…now that I am older and more informed, I learned that people lace drugs with absolutely crazy shit (think common household cleaners….animal tranquilizers, etc.).

    This article touched mildly on sex. Please, no matter what…if any experimental episodes lead you to some seemingly excellent sexual opportunity with a stranger, do yourself a favor and get their number for a raincheck instead. I am still haunted by one night stands that happened because I was drunk or high. I can’t take them back and the feeling of giving part of myself to some dickhead for his personal pleasure still sickens me. I’ll never get that back.

    Ok, I’m done ranting. Just please take care of your bodies and minds. <3

    • Johann7 January 24th, 2012 1:01 PM

      This is also great advice: a good way to make sure one doesn’t do things sexually under the influence of recreational drugs that one will regret when sober is to… get a phone number, take a rain check, and make a decision when sober. Hopefully you’ll get a positive reaction from the other person, and if you don’t, you may have just avoided a situation where someone was INTENTIONALLY trying to take advantage of you because of your intoxicated state.

      Also, don’t try to take advantage of people in intoxicated states, especially sexually (not that I think Rookie’s awesome readers would); at best, it’s extremely unethical, and at worst, it’s rape.

  • space mtn January 16th, 2012 5:18 PM

    I got super high on thanksgiving in front of my whole family but I didn’t even care, of course, cause I was high. I don’t think I’m at the point where I’m out of control yet, but when I am, I’ll refer to this article.

  • MissKnowItAll January 16th, 2012 5:31 PM

    Wow this is so beautifully written. In middle and high school a lot of my friends suffered from abuse and addiction. I was afraid and tried to distance myself from them. It took me a while to realize that they truly needed help.

  • whoopingcrane January 16th, 2012 5:36 PM

    OHMYGOD this piece is perfection. Some of the most honest advice I’ve ever read.

    YOU KICK ASS, LEXIE!

  • kimpine45 January 16th, 2012 5:43 PM

    Oh man. I just attended my first party this weekend and now this has appeared on Rookie. Sometimes it feels like you folks are reading my mind.

  • andreyacasablanca January 16th, 2012 7:01 PM

    Oh god, this so reminds me of myself, I also had the ‘One Of The Worst Things That Had Ever Happened’-moment when I was 16 and my parents decided to spent holidays with me in italy and gave me disappointed looks all the time.

    I’m also in University now but still have problems to deal with it, especially because I live in a capital where the party never ends … and christmas / new years eve hit me hard, so hard that I decided to ‘stay sober’ for some time.

    It’s so good that you write about it, I wish I would have read this back when I was 16 / 17 and totally wrecked.

  • Bean January 16th, 2012 7:21 PM

    I have always been very stuck on my ideas of drugs and alcohol and when i say i am not going to do something, i’m not. This being said, i am not a close minded moron. I have never once smoked anything and that in no way makes me close minded. But you did give good advice.

  • fung-eyed January 16th, 2012 7:34 PM

    wow.

  • pocketmouse January 16th, 2012 8:37 PM

    I’m really glad you guys cover topics like this, my highschool experience was similar, except I ended up getting addicted to heroin in the end, after 2 maybe 3 years of hitting rock bottom (while maintaining my interest in fashion and photography, Tumblr, and getting straight A’s in college, of course) I finally quit just barely a week ago. The only reason any of my family members found out about my drug problem is because I ODed and ended up calling my mom for a ride from the hospital, it was the scariest day of my life. It still took me over a year to quit after that. It’s crazy how fast things can go from shrooms, cold medicine, pain pills like oxycontin, to h. You never expect it to be a problem, and then it’s too late when you finally realize it. Luckily though after years of feeling like shit, quitting wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be, not nearly as bad as being addicted to drugs.

  • portia13 January 16th, 2012 8:44 PM

    I really love that Rookie doesn’t post cotton-candy crap. Thank you for this honest approach, it was incredibly refreshing.

  • diana94 January 16th, 2012 8:52 PM

    this is such a good article, everytime i read an article about drugs and alcohol i feel like im being grounded when havent even done anything, but this is just perfect i feel like is a friend telling me this

  • calliegirl January 16th, 2012 9:02 PM

    this has got to be one of the best written things i’ve come across. i certainly could relate to the drinking with your friends being mainstream as opposed to heavy experimentation on your own time being pathetic (i’m somewhat of a relativist, too).

  • I.ila January 16th, 2012 9:05 PM

    This isn’t sarcastic; I actually do (did?) think that all my friends are doing really awesome stuff without me. And they are. I know they are. Am I just as messed up as everybody else is? Wow, I’m confused. I cry about this all the time.

  • SweetThangVintage January 16th, 2012 11:10 PM

    I love how this tells you the info you really want, instead of just “Don’t do drugs, they are bad,” I mean, I wouldn’t personally do drugs, but I’d love to have a drink ever know and then.
    Not a lot of party opportunities when you’re home schooled though! haha

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetThangVintage

  • kzspygv January 17th, 2012 12:13 AM

    This is a really great piece; I just have to add an amen to the the “slow your roll” part. I didn’t drink at all in high school, and even when I started college, I barely touched weed and maybe put sprinkled a few grains of coke in my nose a few times, and I can’t say I feel left out or that I missed something when I listen to my peers recount “awesome” stories of their reckless youth (don’t get me wrong, I was reckless in other ways, he he).

    The point is, experimenting with drugs when you’re older, in a controlled environment, with other people who’ve done it a bunch of times (and who are more likely to NOT have tainted drugs from unknown sources) is much better, and dare I say it, fulfilling. It takes the social pressures away from it, and gives you a bit more clarity afterward to decide if it’s something you really want to do again. Turns out, I’m not that into drugs. But I’m glad I waited to find out for myself.

  • airheads January 17th, 2012 12:34 AM

    This is the best article I have ever read on Rookie. It’s so candid and well-written. As an addict, I appreciate the honesty presented here. The tips at the end literally made me clap. Erowid.org is one of the most useful websites on the entire Internet, and “watch Brazil sober” is great advice for everyone.

  • mona814 January 17th, 2012 1:12 AM

    THIS.
    This was golden. Absolutely lovely to read and very easy to relate to. Love it!

  • ZodiBabe January 17th, 2012 1:16 AM

    this is important stuff. keep it up yallll

  • AliceBuu January 17th, 2012 2:30 AM

    this fits me… thanks for talking about it :D

  • Spunky January 17th, 2012 3:34 AM

    This is why I love Rookie!
    Usually, when someone writes about drugs tends to be like “don’t get into drugs, cause you’ll get high…and die” or they make them look “super cool”. But this is honest and not exaggerated at all.
    A really good advice that I would loved to get two years ago.

  • heth January 17th, 2012 5:03 AM

    This is pure, brutal, and absolutely beautiful honesty at its finest. There is so much to relate to here, it doesn’t even matter who or where you are. Teens of all sorts need this reminder. That somewhere out there, someone is going through, or went through, the same as you. I needed this reminder, and thank you, you beautiful stranger, for seeming to know more about me and what I’m going through than my family, my therapist, my best friends, and maybe even myself. You are truly wonderful.

  • A-W January 17th, 2012 8:50 AM

    I’m a little scared by how much I can relate to this piece. It so thoroughly describes my life right now, down to the kind of people you did this with, or things things you thought when you did this alone. I’m a fairly safe user myself, but have known for a long time that I really need to slow it down… Thank you for so perfectly encompassing what I’ve been trying to tune out.

  • missmadness January 17th, 2012 1:28 PM

    it all really depends on who you are as a person, I think. I’ve smoked weed since I was 16ish, and it has never interfered with my school (solid 4.0) or social life. The trick with stuff like this is to
    a) NEVER do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, if that means being a total killjoy and leaving a party early, do it.
    b) realize that it IS recreation. don’t get baked and go to a final exam that determines 50% of your grade. that’s stupid.
    c) go with your gut. if you feel like the people you’re around or the person giving you drugs is a sleezeball, don’t take them. “I have a drug test coming up for work/sports” is always my favorite excuse.

    I hate the spinning/headachey feeling I get from drinking, and prefer smoking. I would also never touch any drugs harder than weed, because I know myself and I know that would be a bad life choice for me.

  • KayKay January 17th, 2012 2:28 PM

    I really admire you for writing something like this.
    Where I live *cough* Switzerland *cough* teens get drunk and high all the time, sometimes including me.
    I’m not particularly proud of this, but I first got drunk when I was 14 (Young? Not really. A friend of a friend had to be brought to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning when he was 11).
    And I know it’s stupid and irresponsible and potentially dangerous, but I don’t feel like I’m obliged to do it. I want to do it, because, yes, as silly and juvenile this sounds, I want to have some fun. I want to experiment.
    Maybe it’s simply because I can’t handle my life, or because I want to escape the emptiness of living or something along those lines, but I don’t know.
    So far I’ve never puked (it’s one of those things that are literally physically impossible for me to do) or woken up in a gutter, even though I know plenty of people who have.
    One thing I’m sure of: there’s more to life than drugs and drinking.

  • timelady January 17th, 2012 2:55 PM

    The party you wrote about in the beginning sounds like the kind of parties I *heard* about Monday mornings in the halls of my little magnet school (also in a California suburb, coincidence). Even some of my teachers were on drugs, and I recall the journalism teacher (who retired my 9th grade year) used to let kids smoke in the back room. Cigarettes, weed, whatever. They only got really strict about it my junior year when some of the seniors went off the rails.

    • timelady January 17th, 2012 2:56 PM

      We also read Paradise Lost in 10th grade after we read excerpts from the Bible, then we moved onto Faustus. I actually used Paradise Lost for my AP exam essay.

  • gaaaah January 17th, 2012 3:08 PM

    Your school had you watch Brazil? That is so awesome…

    But more relevantly, this is really candid and wonderful and I love it.

  • Tara January 17th, 2012 9:10 PM

    this piece is so raw and so well-written. I am in real admiration of the honesty of it and proud of rookie’s decision to appeal to teenagers in terms of sharing real life experiences like these (and not just pure prettiness)

  • rubyhobbit January 18th, 2012 12:25 AM

    This was totally me a few years ago, I no longer smoke weed and I drink in very rare occasions. I do have to admit that I tried salvia last friday just because it’s a one time thing/ try or whatever, but just reading this makes feel less ashamed of my decisions and it’s nice to know that you dont have to be doing all of this crap to have a fun time (at least that’s my opinion).

  • cakepop January 18th, 2012 1:29 AM

    This is so relevant. Especially the part about thinking you’re late on everything, making out, sex, drugs, alcohol and that moment years later when you figure out you absolutely were not. I spent pretty much my entire high school career getting blacked out and making an ass out of myself. Although, I’ve definitely have cleaned up my act every once in a blue moon I still drink a little too much for my own good. I love that you seeked help, sometimes that’s exactly what we need but to embarrassed to do so. God knows I needed it and maybe one day I will go just to make sure old me never comes back!

  • sabrina January 18th, 2012 2:43 PM

    This is a really great, relevant piece. I’m in the same position as you were when you were 15, a lot of my friends seem to be partying their teens away and I feel like I’m just standing on the outside watching. It makes me feel a bit better to know that a lot of people were and are in the same position as me.

  • sarahhh January 18th, 2012 11:15 PM

    Thanks Rookie for NOT playing the psychotic parent role about drinking and drugs. If you did, I doubt I (or anyone) would listen. Everything just makes so much sense! Drinking has always been a huge temptation, because my mom is so lax about it and doesn’t really appear to care if I do it. I still try not to because obviously, I know I shouldn’t, but it would be sooo easy if I just did. I don’t know, it’s weird to explain… but anyway I love how this article is so candid and honest, telling it from a point of view that I can actually understand and relate to. I’m glad that I can actually get good advice off of the internet these days :)

  • robin January 18th, 2012 11:52 PM

    this is such an awesome article …so honest and so relatable. i wish id read something like this when i was 16/17 …instead my friends and i read lists in outdated degrassi books about “signs youre an alcoholic” and laughed cause we fit them all, and then got trashed.

    that being said, i still got (mostly) good grades in class and while i was a very unhappy teenager (who isn’t) i’m in 4th year university with one semester left and i’ve managed to balance my drinking habit with working, good grades, volunteering and a social life.

    anyways, great article!!

  • Sky January 19th, 2012 10:40 AM

    Amazing writing. x

  • Flower January 19th, 2012 1:02 PM

    In all honesty I was quite shocked by this. For most of it the tone is not in the least bit educational and makes drugs appear ‘cool’or ‘hip’.
    I’m no preacher, but I don’t think thats right. By coincedence today we were doing drugs in sceince and the teacher said THREE of her freinds ended up in a mental hospital from taking magic mushroom.
    I know the whole mad, drunken, drugs, hooking party thing is really trendy right now, but really be more sensitive.

    • Johann7 January 24th, 2012 12:38 PM

      Your teacher is either honestly or dishonestly wrong about three of her friends winding up in a mental hospital BECAUSE of psilocybin mushrooms (and psilocybin alone). There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that any psychedelics CAUSE mental illness, though plenty of them (cannabis, psilocybe mushrooms, LSD, LSA, peyote, etc.) can exacerbate existing conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. This is why #4 in the list above is so vital. If one is going to use drugs, one should do so responsibly, in a way that will minimize harm to oneself and others (this is the point of the harm reduction perspective mentioned in the article – check out the link). Knowing how various drugs might interact with one’s existing medical conditions is an important part of this.

      That said, there is absolutely no reason that you should use recreational drugs if you don’t wish to do so. They certainly can be dangerous, all of them have some potential negative health impacts (these can range from minor to severe), and most of them are illegal, moreso for people under 21 years of age in most jurisdictions in the USA. These are all good reasons to avoid recreational drug use, and if you decide for yourself that the reason to NOT use recreational drugs outweigh the reasons to use them, then definitely don’t use. However, making the decision to use drugs doesn’t (necessarily) make one a Bad Person, or even necessarily mean one is making a Bad Decision. Contrary to what pretty much every drug education program in schools teaches, one can use drugs without having a drug problem.

  • hellorose January 20th, 2012 5:04 PM

    a good place to research drugs is http://www.talktofrank.com
    the info about laws etc are uk relevant only, but the info about drugs is pretty universal.
    there used to be a website my friend knew which had information about the current strains/forms of certain drugs that were going around and whether or not to stay clear (especially useful for pills). unfortunately i don’t know the address or if it still exists.

    at school they gave us what were effectively top trump cards with different drugs on and quizzed us about nicknames and street values and countries of origin. then again this is a part of london where the local newspaper published a colour coded map of the area showing where to buy different drugs and the current asking prices (under the guise of a drug culture expose).

    my advice is only to take drugs around people with whom you feel comfortable and safe. if it’s for the first time then ideally do it at someone’s house rather than in out and about since different drugs do different things to different people (stating the obvious, but it’s worth bearing in mind).
    if it gets to the point where you’re taking things on your own just to pass the time, then take that as a warning signal.

    mostly, if you’re going to take things then be smart about it.

  • caro nation January 20th, 2012 8:10 PM

    My Granny lives in Mobile.

  • cicatricella January 21st, 2012 9:42 PM

    Great article! Only thing I have to add would be my mum’s awesome advice on drugs (my parents were ex-hippies) – always make sure you know exactly where whatever you take has come from.

  • Johann7 January 24th, 2012 12:48 PM

    Excellent article. Erowid is probably the best site cataloging accurate, non-anti-recreational-drug-biased information about recreational drugs. Part of the problem with respect to research is that samples are biased: a lot of research is (or was – it’s becoming a little better, especially with the expansion and adoption of a harm reduction approach in medicine and law enforcement to some extent) conducted only on people who wind up in legal trouble for drug use (and thus by definition have a drug problem), as the illegal nature of many recreational drugs makes self-identification by users unlikely. High-functioning drug users are frequently an invisible population.

    The list of tips is great, and I would emphasize #4 – the best way to avoid problems with drugs is to know as much as possible about them, including laws around their use. I would also add that when trying something for the first time, don’t take dosage advice from a regular user. Start with a half or quarter dose of what a regular user recommends to get a sense of how the drug impacts you without crossing the line into intoxicated and non-functional territory. This is doubly true if you’re using any recreational drugs in combination with each other (and never, ever mix drugs without someone sober around to get help if necessary – combined effects can be drastically different than the individual effects of the drugs mixed).

  • Marissa January 30th, 2012 10:00 PM

    I love this, you’re a really great writer. It’s real stories like this told honestly and frankly that will discourage teens from overdoing it with drugs/alcohol, as opposed to the whole “don’t try drugs and alcohol or you’ll die, kids” shit that schools shout, which ends up making you want to try it more.