By Sammm, Jake Amy and Ella Clair
I’m currently 25, but I’ve been living with a bit of an “air” over my head for almost 10 years. I’m coming to terms with my drug addiction. It’s difficult to talk about sometimes, but the more I do it, the more clear it becomes.
As a teenager, I didn’t really identify the unhealthy behaviours I was indulgent in. I wanted to do the “cool” thing. As you do in high school, I started smoking heaps of cigarettes, and that turned into smoking joints, then lots of bongs. I moved out of home, dropped out of school, and got deeper into things. Acid, MDMA, stimulants and amphetamines. I got caught in this cycle of “substitution”.
As I grew older, I got a full time job with a reasonable paycheck, so I moved into more expensive substances. That was two and a half years ago, and it’s when I started to really lose control.
It was all fun and games. Working 40+ hours a week in a cocktail bar, I’d get pretty drunk on shift, head out and buy some amphetamines and stay up all night. I’d rinse and repeat that for months on end, crash for two days at some point, then start the cycle back up again. And I lead a double life.
At the time, my partner of four years didn’t have a clue. And I was drifting away. It was definitely a unique and anxiety-inducing experience. But also, it was so easy to get stuck in the silence.
I used to come home from a night out an hour before my partner would wake up in the morning. I’d pretend to be asleep and wait for her to leave for work. It became so easy to sustain that style of living. In the back of my mind I felt I’d be able to sort things out; that I’d simply revert and pull myself up. That was not the case - I kept spiralling.
One time I accidentally ended up being a getaway driver for a mugging. I was sitting in a car with a dealer. He said, “I just have to go and grab something”, and then all I saw in the rearview mirror was taser flash. He jumped in the car and yelled, “GO GO GO”. I took off with the handbrake on - I was so nervous. I don’t see that guy anymore… but it's one of those weird cracked-out memories that has always stuck with me.
That was two and a half years ago now and it’s been a slow exercise to work my way through it and get back on track.
My inspiration to get back on my feet came from people around me and music. I wrote a five track EP called “Fresh Sheet Feeling” as I began to grapple with my addiction. The EP is meant to go through five different stages of a relationship, tied in with heavy drug themes. Whenever I hit rock bottom or I feel that things are going off the edge, I’ll sit down and listen to it, front to back. It’s a personal time capsule with saved emotions that I can revisit at any time. (I also just released it, which is exciting.)
Especially for the people closest to me, I feel like I haven’t been fully able to understand the emotional weight my actions have had. I acknowledge it has really affected and dragged my friends down, and I’ve lost a lot of good friends over the years. Now I’m working on it, it’s been easier to be open with those around me, but I can tell that when I’m hurting, my friends are often hurting as well. Amidst the storm, I thought it would be more hurtful to my partner if I asked for her help. I feel that I treated my intimate partners the worst over this time - cheating on them with a substance.
You receive similar pleasures from a relationship with drugs as a relationship with humans. High dopamine rushes, security, motivation. Drugs are so taboo and can be secretive. There were times when I rocked up to my partner’s house, and she would notice something’s up… I’d flat out lie about what was up, to the point where I would gaslight her and be awfully manipulative.
I think for young people and musicians, it can seem that doing drugs is a cool roll-’n-roll thing. You shouldn’t assume that’s the way the rock-’n-roll lifestyle should be lived. I do often find that musicians have joined the music industry for an outlet to express emotions. If you’re vulnerable, you can definitely fall into that lifestyle. If you’re getting into it, slow down a little bit. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re going in circles, rather, identify what’s causing you to cycle. Be kind to yourself.
If you’re in a similar situation to what I was in, there is a very high chance that you will lose the faith of close ones. It’s important to accept that these people will leave you for their own well being. Also, you need to have the confidence to talk to people about things no matter how awkward you think the conversation may be. And be real to yourself with where you’re at.
If you know someone who is struggling, anger is one of the worst ways to approach them - it will push both parties away in very opposite directions. It’s important to note that nothing’s going to change overnight. You should have no expectations. My greatest struggle has been working on my methamphetamine addiction. It’s been a pretty long grind to get where I am now, and there is still a long way to go.
I would like to take a moment to thank all drug and alcohol counsellors. There’s a lot of help out there if you seek it, even for people who can’t afford expensive rehabs/psychiatrists. If you are dealing with a similar issue, there’s a great hotline called ADIS who can link you directly with health centres to organise support.
Keep up to date with Sammm here
We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, and recognise their continuing connection in our community. We would like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other First Nations people who have read this article.