In my fancy treatment centre room. Where I’ll be living on my own for the next 6 weeks.

It’s incredible how long it’s been since I’ve written. I used to think drinking wine and smoking pot was like a magical bridge I could cross into the creative, imaginative realm. Then I started drinking bottles of wine on Go Trains in the bathroom – and surprise – I stopped writing anything significant. It took 4 years of recovery meetings, reading and listening to quit lit, following sober instagram accounts, blogs and podcasts and outing myself to my friends and family that I had a drinking problem – just to become a moderate drinker.

I could have gone on like this for another decade. Keeping my personal life and my secrets safe, smoking pot everyday to function, having a bottle of wine once or twice a week so that I could “unwind and relax.” This is pretty normal, right? Lots of people smoke weed. Lots of people use it medicinally. And hey, if you’re choosing a joint over a bottle of vodka, you’re winning. It’s a process, a slow unwinding, a calling for your life to be something more. It takes time and self-compassion. It’s a long journey out, and I noticed there’s still something missing from my life.

Even with all the recovery work I’ve done, it’s a lifetime of work to not want to tap out. It sounds daunting, but so is a lifetime of using substances to be able to enjoy anything. So is spending at least 50$ a week on pot and (let’s be real) at least 50$ a week on booze. That adds up to nearly $60,000 in 10 years. That is a fucking daunting debt. That’s probably around what I’ve already spent on substances in my lifetime.

Some people believe money = energy. Some people believe money = time. I believe it’s a bit of both (unless you’re Gates, Musk or Bezos.) My money and my time have become more relevant to me as I’ve gotten older. I celebrated my 31st birthday last August. I have goals, aspirations, things I still have plenty of time to do with my life. I started to notice that both wine and weed were taking away from that. Not only is there the money wasted on literally poisoning ourselves with ethanol – there’s the time you never get back. The nights you hardly remember, the nights you make an ass of yourself, and then the days after that you’re shitting yourself with a hangover and, if you’re anything like me, toying with suicidal ideation. Even after narrowing my drinking down to an “appropriate” amount – I still always wished I could have more.

Then there’s pot. Weed is so tricky because I truly do believe it has medicinal benefits, but I’m realizing that those benefits are temporary. If you have an addictive personality, which I do, you’re constantly going to need more of it. Tolerance builds. I didn’t have cancer, pain, appetite issues (which are truly the biggest reasons I think one would smoke every day.) I just wanted to not be so sad and anxious. But I still was, and it was getting worse. No matter that I’ve taken an SSRI-inhibitor for a year. No matter that I could slip an Ativan when my mind and body could no longer handle my reality. I still had anxiety, dread, self-hate every fucking day. No number of joints was making it go away – as much as I desperately wanted them to.

To be honest, I don’t truly know where my addiction came from and I don’t think anyone does. A series of unfortunate events, genetics, society, culture, bad relationships, assaults, family drama, parents being dicks to one another, a heart disease, medical trauma. We’ve all been through trauma, we all have the capacity to develop addiction. I started smoking everyday towards the end of university, I still graduated and got good grades, so I didn’t think it was an issue. I’d started developing anxiety in my early 20’s, and I still wonder which came first, the weed or the anxiety.

I truly believe every young adult should have the experience of smoking a joint and listening to Pink Floyd – but when it’s no longer fun or an actual psychedelic experience and it’s just to soften your day-to-day reality it gets very depressing. People criticize you for the smell, it’s harder to find somewhere to live comfortably. Mostly though, the memory loss creeps in and you hardly notice that you’re not doing half the things you wanted to in life too little too late. Everything is covered in a warm, comfortable blanket and you don’t want to get up.

So here I am, on 4/20 (ironic or symbolic?), sitting in a treatment centre for addiction. I could have easily talked myself out of this, my problem isn’t so bad, smoking weed never hurt anyone, I only get drunk occasionally like “normal” folk. But something deep inside of me knows that my life could be so much better. Within a day, I’m already writing. I’m eager to see what comes next, for my mental health, my spirit, my joy. It’s just not fun anymore when you need a substance to enjoy your life, to find the motivation do anything. I’d like to think it was helping me function, helping me get out of bed, but it was just to light up. It wasn’t to actually accomplish the shit I want to accomplish – like starting my nutrition counselling, vlog/blogging, writing, recipe creation. I am tired. I am dulled.

The list of pros and cons I wrote on my first day to help me get through cravings.

My first evening, I found myself scrolling through successful women’s instagram accounts – some of them glamorizing whisky and fly fishing, making caesars on mountain tops and for sure there’s a small part of me that wishes I could be “normal”. Be a “badass”. But maybe the true badassery is being a wild woman without the crutch. Being sober enough to keep hiking up to the mountain top and not just fucking around at the bottom, looking up, imagining what it could be like.

I wonder what’s hiding beneath the surface of our social media accounts, our movies and entertainment that LOVE to glamorize substances. Everything a lifestyle, a trend, a product you need to feel better about yourself. In the end – a lot of these people are fucking sponsored. Alcohol is like Big Tobacco. They now use influencers to get us while we’re young and make us drinkers for life. Corps know how this works and it’s not badass at all. It’s becoming a fucking slave to the system and not empowering yourself to do better.

And hey – maybe we want/need the escape. I get it, no judgment. I mean we’re still living in a god damn pandemic, climate change is real, the oceans are full of plastic and our political leaders tend to be fucking idiots. I get it if you want to escape. I wanted to too – for a decade – and still do. But there is something powerful about being present. Being here, now. Fully here, awake, aware, not easily manipulated. My reasons are many, but to not be so numbed out to not see how we can make the world better, how we can inspire others, that’s the life I truly don’t want to live. This I know for sure.

Summary of Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Nauseated, weird stomach
  • No appetite, feels like I’m forcing myself to eat
  • Fatigue, needed an afternoon nap (I hardly ever nap)
  • Anxiety (Which could be natural, I did give up my life and husband for 6 weeks.)
  • Stomach ache after eating
  • Chills, cold sweats while sleeping
  • Tossing and turning, woke up multiple times through the night
  • Still managed to sleep (with the help of melatonin, magnesium and sleepy tea)

Tom, the resident cat, showing me how good a sober life can be.

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