“I never ever expected myself to become an actual addict.”
Staff Loyal Friend
While it can’t be denied that plenty of Fordham students come from difficult backgrounds, the dominant atmosphere is still one of privilege. It’s easy to ignore how differently things could have turned out after high school. For me personally, it is surprising to see how many of my former classmates have ended up using hard drugs.
It was for this reason that I decided to interview a friend who recently returned to Pennsylvania where we grew up together. Near the end of high school, she moved to the Midwest for rehab, and over the course of several years became addicted to meth. I wanted to ask her about her experience, and specifically about the decisions or thought processes that lead to it, given how foreign these choices are to the average college student. So, after forgetting to do the interview two weeks ago while on acid, and one week ago while we were locked in my apartment with a gram of coke and no key to get back in if we left, I decided to conduct it this weekend over Facetime, where we wouldn’t be able to offer each other such distractions.
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What kind of upbringing would you say you had?
“I feel like my mom was pretty permissive and my dad had to parent me a lot of the time, however, he wasn’t allowed to because my parents were divorced and I was forced to live with my mother. But actually, a pretty good upbringing.”
When did you start drinking or using drugs and why?
“I started drinking when I was thirteen. For fun.”
How did you get into hard drugs?
“The first hard drug I did was oxy, which I was prescribed. At first it was for pain, but eventually there were leftover oxy and I did some of those when I wasn’t in pain. Much later, when I got out of rehab for abusing Klonopin, I got with a boyfriend who really got me bad into oxy. He also introduced Gabapentin and percs, we did a lot of Xanax—he was real into pills. And he liked to smoke the oxy. After I smoked a hard drug I was ok with it, and that’s when I started not giving a fuck about smoking meth.”
Did you consider yourself the sort of person who would do hard drugs before you tried them?
“Fuck no. Even after I tried them, no not at first. But especially not before I tried them. I never ever expected myself to become an actual addict.”
Why do you think you didn’t expect yourself to become an addict?
“Because my parents taught me better. My dad was very against everything—even drinking. And my parents just taught me to judge those people like they were pieces of shit, and that I would never be like them because I’m that much better.”
What was your relationship with drugs like when you were homeless?
“Whatever was available to buy we bought it. After me and my boyfriend broke up, my mom sent me to the hospital for having committed suicide a month previous with him. I was pronounced dead three different times. After I got out of the hospital I started dating another guy. We were homeless together for almost a year. During that time we were using pretty much every day. He really liked coke, and turning it into crack, and smoking it. We started selling a lot of weed. A lot, like pounds upon pounds. During that time we got to know dealers who knew where other drugs were and where the connects in Vegas were. So, we went to Vegas a bunch of times and every time we went on benders, like so much fucking crack and pills. After he broke up with me I was still homeless and I started doing meth on my own.”
From what I can tell, meth is your drug of choice.
“At this point, yeah”
Can you describe what it feels like?
“It makes me very creative and outgoing. It makes me have more ideas in my head. I’m not as depressed. And also, it made me skinny. That’s honestly one of the biggest parts about meth I hold onto that I still want from it. Not only does it make me skinny because I don’t eat when I’m on it, but it also makes my image of myself a lot more beautiful. I find myself more…pretty”
How was being a female addict different from being a male addict?
“Men who are addicted to meth tend to get very angry and very horny uncontrollably. I’ve seen people who were on amphetamines get to the point where I think they’re going to rape me or somebody else. I think it just intensifies your emotions and men don’t like to have any other emotions than anger. They don’t feel comfortable expressing them.”
Did you ever have any sort of privilege or deficit because you were a woman as a drug addict?
“Yes, I feel like not only were men more willing to give me drugs, but that they felt like that would get them closer to getting in my pants. And also because men assume meth makes women just as horny as them. I did often run into that where guys were trying to use me by giving me their drugs.”
What portion of the people you encountered during the height of your addiction would you say suffered from some kind of mental illness, even if just depression or anxiety?
“Probably like a good 80%. A lot of people I knew got sucked into it, and their depression and anxiety was the reason they were sucking themselves into it.”
How long has it been since you did meth?
“A little over three and a half months.”
Why haven’t you done meth in three and a half months?
“The first two months I was clean were because I couldn’t find it here, but for the last month and a half I’ve truly not wanted to do it anymore.”
In general, are you happy? Completely honestly.
Are you happier than you were when you were using?
“I’m more proud of myself and confident, but definitely not. I feel like I was happier when I was on meth. But that’s only when I was on meth. If I ran out, I was so unhappy.”
What’s your favorite animal?
“Puppies. Not dogs—puppies.”
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Having known her my entire life, I would say she is intelligent. However, for various reasons, her parents were inaccessible when it came to things like her abuse of pills in high school or issues with depression and anxiety. It was in high school when her mother sent her to the Midwest to put her through a program for troubled young girls, where her addictive tendencies flourished. While I did want her to get treatment, my own experiences have told me that having supportive parents is one of the most important factors in recovering from addiction. Most people are afraid to tell their parents about their addiction, or their parents are unprepared to handle it. This is why education about addiction, as well as mental illness, is imperative.
It is easy to pretend that terrible things don’t happen, not just to one’s family members but to oneself as well. These issues are often trivialized through a perceived distance from them. But the fact is that they happen, and when they do, it’s much easier to seek help when you know the people you love will take you seriously and won’t shun you.