It’s been about a month, absolutely no weed, no booze, and I quit vaping nicotine 3 months ago.

Being in a treatment centre certainly has it’s challenges, but it’s been so helpful being here. I’m learning that I can get triggered by something, feel my emotions and do something soothing for myself rather than turn to a mood-altering substance.

The triggers go away, the emotions dissipate when I name them, allow them, and I’m not left with a nasty hangover, shame or regret. Sure there have been a few times where the thought of a joint is nice – but I’m pleasantly surprised to not have had any intense cravings. I honestly thought this would be more difficult, sure they were some rough sweaty sleeps but that’s peanuts compared to a year of severe depression. It’s really as easy as I want it to be. I just had to get out of my own way and trust in the process.

Once you get through the initial hump of withdrawal (I chronically smoked pot for a decade) it’s amazing how quickly you start to see the benefits. I never, ever thought I would be the type of person who could live a stone cold sober life. I had disdain for myself, the world, pain hidden deep within the crevices of my soul that I haven’t dared to look at for many years.

All of this boils down to kindness, being kind to myself first, so that I can extend that to the world around me and the situations I find myself in.

I used to think Friday nights needed to include copious amounts of wine, weed, staying up late, socializing with as many people as possible, and “letting off steam.” Last night I painted a turtle with watercolours, had popcorn and watched Severance (a wonderfully surreal Orwellian meets Wes Anderson show directed by Ben Stiller.) I fell asleep around midnight without the help of any medication or supplements, which was a triumph. Wholesome is starting to feel really good. I’m waking up in the morning with the steam I would have blown the night before in the past, the energy to go to the gym, read, write, and have a meaningful conversation all before 9 am.

I’m not big on AA mottos but some of them are too true. ‘Take it easy,’ is sticking with me. We live in such a hustle, grind, make money, spend money, be perfect and post it on social media culture that no wonder so many of us get diagnosed with ADHD and are prescribed methamphetamines to ‘feel normal.’ I’m learning that like, it’s okay to be a bit boring, to need a bit more time to work through stuff. It’s quite nice actually. I spent 15 years partying as much as I possibly could, living life to the damned fullest, and I’m now seeing that I don’t remember most of it and 90% of the people I thought were my die hard friends have grown up, disappeared, and I don’t even remember their names.

I certainly have no regrets – and I’m grateful for that. (I mean, I have some drunken, slobbery crying regrets.) But in general I’m glad to have lived my life the way I have, to have experienced the world as I did. Now I can experience it all again with a fresh, sober, child-like wonder without the assistance of drugs and drinks. I used to need tall cans and joints just to go on a damn hike. How the hell could you go camping without booze? What’s the point? Fishing. The movies. Hula hooping. Cooking dinner. Having sex. Literally everything needed a boost to feel better, to make me less self conscious, to be “more fun.”

I’m excited to live life to the actual fullest, to be able to hike 10km farther because I’m not fucked up. To go backpacking into the depths of Mother Nature and really experience the gifts of our beautiful Earth. To have enough money saved to finally go to Peru, to India. I drank and smoked because I wanted to enjoy life more, but I now see that they kept me from truly enjoying life for what it was.

“Alcohol is rotten water” and Elder told us yesterday in session, “It’s a toxin. A poison. We drink it and become intoxicated.” So simple, yet so true. Why go through life poisoning ourselves? Our bodies are literal miracles, the mechanics so intricate and beautiful why on earth would we purposely make ourselves sick?

I used to think smoking pot was medicinal. I think the first time you use any drug, it’s medicine, it teaches you something. Every drug is a product of Pachamama. Once we start to abuse it, use it every day, use it to function, it starts to have the opposite effect. I used to smoke weed to curb my anxiety and depression, and now that it’s been nearly a month since my last joint, I feel less depressed and less anxious.

Every year, we keep getting sicker, more diabetes, more cancer, more depression, suicide, murder. Drugs and alcohold become a burden on our systems over time. And hey, I’m not anti-pharma, I’m currently taking an SNRI and SSRI inhibitor, and that’s helping me stay alive in the world we live in. I don’t plan on being on them forever. Maybe I’ll take a break, maybe I’ll need them again, I’ll see where time takes me. I do know for sure that the medication I’m on is finally becoming more effective and doing what it’s supposed to be doing because I’ve quit the other substances. Weed made me depressed. I can honestly say this now, and booze made me suicidal.

Our bodies and minds are sacred, they’re how we interact with the world and they help us to bridge the connection between the physical and spiritual realities we live in. All they need is good food, clean water and some medicinal herbs for good measure. 70% of pharmaceutical drugs came from Indigenous plant medicines. Science is brilliant, but it’s also important to get back to the basics to find true healing. It doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Our life expectancy is decreasing for the first time ever. Drug overdose deaths account for over one-third of all unintentional injury deaths, there was an all-time high of over 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020. Other contributing causes of death to the decline in life expectancy in 2020 include diabetes (2.5%), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (2.3%). We’re literally drinking and drugging ourselves to death. In 2020, there was an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts.

I’m not saying all of this to be a downer, I’m saying it so that we can become aware of what’s truly happening. Being completely sober is a radical act, and your journey can influence others to find a healthier way of living too. I’m proud to be figuring it out, and hell it hasn’t been easy, quitting drinking has been a 5 year process. I’m vocal about it because it keeps me inspired, it keeps me motivated to stay on this path.

What would it take for all the people of the world to be healthy? A powerful question and one worth asking.

I think it takes asking ourselves difficult questions. It takes self-reflection. It takes all of us to do true inventory of our lifestyles and ask of ourselves: is this way of living truly sustainable? Not just from an environmental perspective but from a soul one. Our world is beautiful, spectacular and filled with incredible humans. All animals and plants have a song, an energy and medicine to them. There are no weeds. I think that’s true for each of us, our individual stories and our healing journeys. I’m telling my story because it’s healing me, and if the right person reads this at the right time, it could change their life for the better.

I’ll stay sober today because of you. I’ll stay sober because this world is worth experiencing fully. I will not get fucked up with you today, because we’re both worth it.

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