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Image by Myriam Zilles

Stimulant Addiction

Initially my drug of choice was alcohol, and I drank alcoholically from the start at age 18.  After 12 years of constant trouble, numerous attempts to quit or control my drinking, and all the social and legal problems that go with active alcoholism, I finally did quit drinking on my own, without a recovery program.  I stayed “dry” for nine years. Then I was in an accident and my doctors put me on painkillers, which I liked quite a bit.  They seemed a gift from God, as they appeared to give me everything good that I got from alcohol, with none of the bad.  But, that didn’t last long. The dosages started increasing and benefits decreasing. I was pretty much only on pain killers from 1997 through 2004, but from time-to-time there would be some cocaine, which I used to bridge the gaps when there was a “dry spell” in the pills. By the end I was taking 35 or 40 Lortab tens (10mg) a day and I needed them to avoid getting really sick with withdrawals.  I was still working full time, but my ability to produce quality work had been steadily diminishing after the short-lived honeymoon phase of my addiction.  


In the fall of 2004 I ran into a serious dry spell . . .  no pills, no coke, no nothing. My errand boys kept saying “there is none of that, but there’s plenty of rock around.” I had a vague notion that “rock” wasn’t a good idea and I didn’t really understand what “rock” was.  But the sicker I got the more I thought: “How bad could it be?” It was bad.  One hit of crack and I took off like a freight train. Immediately I was no longer addicted to pain killers – but I couldn’t stop smoking crack. I had kept everything pretty well hidden until I started smoking crack.  But with that step it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off my wagon.


When I staggered up to Bridging the Gaps I was a mess. I’m 5’9, but I weighed only 126 pounds and my skin looked gray. I was there for exactly four months and participated in everything they had to offer: Acudetox, yoga, all the nutrients, the food restrictions, the counseling, 12 Step meeting, and exercise. Our diets were strictly controlled, with a real emphasis on limiting sugar, and avoiding processed foods.  There were no bags of potato chips around the house or things like that. Caffeine was limited, but I confess to cheating a bit on that. All the amino acids and nutrients that I took during that 4-month period were oral. I took those religiously the whole time I was there and took the same at least 6 months after I left, may be a bit longer. Then, for another couple of years, I was taking just the amino acid l-tyrosine, which seemed to help me significantly by itself.


Once I could I started working out. I immersed myself in recovery activities and I have stayed very involved in the recovery community. I became a firm believer in the notion that in a real sense our brains are what we eat. Now I always eat a good breakfast. I used to always skip breakfast. I’m still no nutritional guru, but I avoid junk food and most fast food. It’s been a couple years since I took l-tyrosine, but I still take multivitamins and B complex.  The summer of 2017 I celebrated 12 years of being clean and sober.

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