I am now officially two months sober…from cocaine that is. When I tell people that, they usually say something like “You can just say you’re two months sober. You don’t have to specify.” Except I’ve learned that I actually do have to specify that it’s only cocaine because people assume that I was also sober from alcohol, which I’m not.
I was never addicted to alcohol. I’ve noticed that the longer into sobriety that I am, and the more sober people I meet, that they were for the most part not addicted to just one drug. It was cocaine and alcohol, or it was heroin and cocaine and alcohol, or some other combination but the two or three or four on the list almost always seem to include alcohol. I had always assumed that addicts always have just that one special drug that ruled their addiction. Yeah sure, I figured they may have done some other drugs every now and then and drank socially, but I thought there was only one real drug that captured their heart. Most people I talked to say it started out that way, but when they tried to quit that one, they also realized that every time they had done or drank it, they were also drinking or doing some other drug secondarily without realizing they had any sort of dependence on the secondary drugs.
For most people, alcohol is the ultimate gateway drug. Not for me, though. Cocaine was never something I did in addition to drinking; cocaine was something I did so I wouldn’t have to drink. I loved partying and getting fucked up, but I never really liked drinking heavily like most people my age. There was no alcohol that tasted better than another type; they all tasted like shit to me—burning, fiery shit. And if I had just one shot too many, I would be puking all night and most of the next day. I was never one of those people who could throw up and rally; my body could literally not function again until I had vomited every last drop of alcohol I had put into it. In order for me to have fun drinking, I would have to monitor exactly what type and precisely how much I was consuming or else I would end up with my head in the porcelain throne all night. The whole point of getting fucked up and partying is to let loose and be a little wild and reckless, something that’s pretty hard to accomplish when you’re calculating your shot with a measuring cup. So I decided to switch from the porcelain throne to another type of porcelain. Cocaine allowed me to feel just as good, if not way better, than most people seem to when drunk. I didn’t have to watch how much I snorted, and it never made me feel queasy in the slightest. It was a miracle sent just to me from the party gods! Or so I thought.
Pretty soon I was doing coke whenever my friends were drinking or just having a couple beers on the couch. Why should I have to miss out on all the fun just because I didn’t enjoy the same mind-altering substance that the majority of people did? I wanted to be on the same level, I just used a different mind-altering substance.
There was just one tiny problem with my oh so brilliant plan: cocaine and alcohol are very different drugs.
The way I thought about it was that they were both mind-altering substances and the only difference was the way you ingested it. Looking back, I see that that was just my way of rationalizing my drug habit.
What happened isn’t all that surprising: For every drink my friends had, I would do twice as much coke to make sure my high was the same as theirs. So when my friends were all tapping out I would just want to keep doing more coke. And it wasn’t long before I felt like I needed coke during the day or before class. My excuse that I only did coke when my friends drank was wearing thin, even to myself. But it wasn’t another year and a half before I could even admit it was a legitimate problem. And then another nine months before I got sober.
So here I am, about two-and-a-half years since I first started doing coke, completely sober. Well, sober from coke that is. I see alcohol in a bit of a different light now. I still have mixed feelings about it, but not how I originally had. Now I see the queasiness as a small price to pay, considering all the migraines, bloody noses, paranoia, exhaustion, and irrationality that cocaine caused. Monitoring what I drink doesn’t seem like such a big burden anymore. But from another perspective I now see that alcohol was like a gateway drug for me too. I started doing coke, after all, because of alcohol. So when I tell people that yes I still drink, I also tell them not to worry. I explain that though I want to occasionally get a little buzzed with my friends, it will never be to the point of excess—one because I still really hate puking, and two (and most importantly) because I know just how dangerous doing anything to excess can be.