** Please note that this is a very open and honest letter. Please do not read if you think you will be triggered or will be tempted to use.**
Dear younger Karen…
Oh they just say that to scare us....
Some people tell you that you’re going to develop a substance abuse problem if you watch a beer commercial, and that sounded crazy to me. But what bits of wisdom are you missing out by telling yourself a few little lies? Let’s talk about some lies I’ve told myself.
“I have it under control…”
I would tell myself, I wasn’t “one of those people.” Of course, I had it all under control. But in reality, I did not. I drove when I drank because I was the only one with a car. My mind was still developing so the alcohol I consumed on a Friday night was slowly causing brain damage.
“Everyone does it…”
No everyone does not! My life was consumed by addiction and partying, I did not know what a life without it looked like. After I got clean and sober, I found out that tons of successful “cool” people out there have an absolutely amazing life and do not drink or do drugs.
Once I started partying my life went something like this: Sunday, I slept off the weekend and talked to no one. Monday and Tuesday, I talked about the previous weekend. Wednesday, I started talking about the future weekend, Thursday and Friday, I was so excited about Friday night that I couldn’t see straight. Friday night, I partied so hard that I wasn’t really in a normal state of mind. Saturday, I recovered from Friday night, but I was already pumped up for Saturday night. Saturday night, I was not in my right mind, partying again. Then right back to Sunday. Repeat indefinitely.
While I was doing this, those of you who have not been using any type of mind-altering chemicals have been in full control and probably enjoying yourselves even better. I can promise you this from experience, life is about filling up your free time with fun, not substances. Learn to have good, clean, action-packed fun. Learning to have fun by yourself is also important, boredom can lead to destructive decisions too.
“It’s fun though” But is it really?!
Is the bitter taste of alcohol, or the loss of bodily control with illegal drugs fun? Now before you grunt that naive “heck yeah,” I want you to really think about the question. I have been there; I lived that way longer than most of you have been alive; twice. The extra boost of artificial dopamine, the “feel good” natural chemical our body produces, makes you believe you are happy. But alcohol doesn’t produce happiness, it’s a depressant. Only you can do that in your life through your own actions We need to be ever vigilant and keep our guards up, because getting intoxicated or high is never a good idea. Don’t ruin your whole future for a single Friday or Saturday night.
“I’m not hurting anyone…”
This was the biggest lie I told myself; the one that allowed me to continue to leave a trail of heartache and pain behind me for decades. I have been in recovery for a minute. I have spent some time on the helping side too, where I feel the reality of what I inflicted in the past.
Here’s a beginner’s list of who you are hurting:
Yourself… you are better than that! if you have to party to fit in, you don’t need to fit in.
Your family and friends… Who end up worrying about you constantly, watching, while the person they care about with turns into someone they don’t even know anymore.
Your teachers… Who see your grades slip and attendance slack, trying hard to reach you but can’t find a way to break through.
Your siblings… You change over time and it scares them, and then they vow to be nothing like you.
Your parents… They hold on. They walk that road of addiction with you; every pain, every moment of silence, every time the phone rings at an odd hour they lose their breath and pray. They try to keep the faith that you will see the light while preparing themselves for a harsh reality that the next phone call may be the one, they’re dreading.
Some real words of advice…
The next time you hear some advice on the dangers of drinking and drugging, pay attention. The words of wisdom either came from those of us who have found the strength to recover OR the pain of loved one remembering someone who didn’t.
Karen of Present Day