Monday, July 25, 2011

Addiction, Drugs and Judgements

If you turned on the news, Facebook or Twitter yesterday you would have seen that Amy Winehouse lost her life to addiction. Some may argue that she already lost her life but I disagree, there was always the hope she would reach out for help and recovery. Sadly, like so many other addicts, she didn't and her body couldn't take it anymore and succumbed to the toxins. 

I loved and will always love her talent. Her voice gives me goosebumps. She reminded me of past famous Jazz artists like Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. When I first heard her sing on the local radio I turned it up announcing I was listening to the Janis Joplin of our time. I was unaware they shared any similarities past their amazing voices. Unfortunately both travelled an unfortunate path with addiction. 
Over the years I've discussed Amy Winehouse with family and friends, her music, her husband and her addiction. While they could be harsh I could be nothing but sorry for her. I never felt angry or hurtful towards her. People say she was a bad person as she was a bad role model but I disagree that being a bad role model makes you a bad person. When have you done something you're glad your mother/father/kids didn't see as it isn't something you want to be known for (apart from the obvious, sex)? We aren't perfect, we all make mistakes but that doesn't make us a bad person, it makes us human. 

I've done work experience in a detox that was attached to a rehab. I got along fabulously with many of the consumers even though I couldn't always relate to them. Some poignant events happened which changed my life. I remember talking to one older guy who actually broke down because of the mistakes he'd made, people he'd hurt and what his life had become. After comforting him I remember walking into the office where I was told to read his file and find out how nice he really is. I chose not to as I didn't want to be shocked and act differently around him after reading about his actions while under the influence. Another time a man working in Housing came in to assign someone to a half way house. He asked me what I would do if I found out a consumer was a convicted rapist, would I still work with them? I replied I would but I'd be on guard. He then asked if I thought that a person could be evil and bad? I couldn't answer. He could, with a no. I think back now and I think that there are troubled people, people who haven't learned good coping mechanisms and people who make bad choices. 

Why am I including this? It's part of why I was so appalled at the lack of compassion I witnessed on Twitter. People saying they don't feel sorry for her, why should we mourn a worthless drug addict etc. Disgusting tweets about a fellow human being. It got to the point where I couldn't sit back and say nothing so I tweeted the following;

I expected to lose followers and I did. I didn't expect to have over ten retweets and over fifteen new followers. People who were sick of the callous tweets and found my honesty refreshing. I didn't think of it like that when I tweeted it. I just wanted to shock people into thinking about how it's not always so black and white. Drug users can and are anyone. Drugs and addictions don't discriminate. 

I should back up and tell my story. I've touched on my past drug use in some posts but have never felt the need to go any further with it. Until now. I should disclose that my loved ones know about my past use (I haven't used anything but alcohol, cigarettes or prescribed medications since August 2008).

In late 2006 I found myself single after a two year relationship that I couldn't fight for anymore. I wasn't working and made the move to my mum's on the Gold Coast. After spending my past weekends watching DVDs, playing scrabble or studying I felt free. I lived on the Gold Coast during the week and at my dad's north of Brisbane on the weekend. I partied. It began innocent until I felt attracted to a user. A real party boy. The furthest away from my ex I could get, the complete opposite. He looked like he had fun through my rose coloured glasses. In reality he always looked like he had one or five too many. 

Until then I thought he was the only person I knew who did drugs apart from pot. It turned out a lot of my friends had done drugs. Mostly ecstasy, speed, pot and acid. I'm not going to blame anyone for my drug use. I was influenced, yes, but I chose to do what I did. I made the choices even after working at a detox. I look back now and I know I didn't have a healthy self esteem. I'd come out of a relationship I thought would last with a guy I thought loved me and found out he didn't, never had, just thought he did. I wanted to feel pretty, feel valued and wanted again. Most of all I wanted to be happy. Ecstasy promised me I would. Sometimes it did, sometimes I felt in control but other times I'd lie on my couch watching infomercials unable to move or sleep feeling like shit. 

I've always been a binge drinker. I've been classed as an alcoholic due to not knowing when to stop, say no or not self medicate using alcohol. I can now so don't think I'm an alcoholic instead I believe it's more a lack of self restraint. What attracted me to amphetamines was the control I felt while on them. What scares me about amphetamines is the actual lack of control I have while on them. I've passed out, vomited, hallucinated, forgotten nights and cheated while on them. I've been carried out of clubs, caught taxis home alone, walked in freezing temperatures and stayed awake for days on drugs. Nothing I have done on drugs I've been proud of. Sure I've met some wonderful people who are still my best friends while on drugs but most I've lost contact with. 

The scariest thing ever was being given GBH (a drug I never wanted to try) without my knowledge by a 'friend'. I nearly died. I had to have tests to make sure I didn't have brain damage from it or epilepsy as I fitted for hours. Rather than being a wake up call I saw it as a personal attack and went harder. My friend's didn't appear to really care, in fact the next time I saw them some were high on GBH. I found myself single, living by myself and felt free again. 
Not sober
I found a new circle of friends, a more mature yet looser group of people who knew how to have a good time. I met the mister and we enjoyed our wild weekends. Although they stopped being confined to just the weekends. By now we had included weekdays into our party time. Most of the time it was just alcohol but not small amounts. My record in a night was fifteen ABCs (a shot containing chartruse, barcardi 151 and absinthe). I was binge drinking again but in dangerous amounts. I was getting lifts home with people I'd just met or getting taxis by myself when I couldn't even walk properly. It's amazing that I was never harmed. It would have been easy. 

One night I hit it too hard. I'd been drinking doubles all day then shots all night. I couldn't sit up by the time the mister picked me up. The next day I had a shocking hangover and my body was aching all over. Three days later I found out I was pregnant. Obviously I wasn't healthy and doctors were inundated with questions about the health of our unborn baby. A week later I left to live on two mango farms for three months with the mister following a few weeks later. We quit smoking, I stopped drinking and we cleaned up our lives. It was easy as we didn't have the habit there. It was harder when we came home. The habits were here.   

Lufflump was born healthy and I have been drunk maybe five times since he was born. At a music festival my drink was spiked by a security guard. My choice was taken away again. I passed out and Lufflump had his first bottles of formula. I'll never forgive that asshole but I've been overly cautious since. 

Will I do drugs again? No. I see people on them and I don't miss it at all. I believe drugs have caused my anxiety to get worse. Do I judge others that do drugs? No. Will I tell our children about my drug use? Yes. I'll tell them everything I know. Kids know more than you think they do. You tell them drugs are all bad and they'll go out and try them to prove you wrong. Do I regret my drug use? Some. I regret I took it too far, I stopped caring about myself, my safety and my life. I don't regret the people I met through the lifestyle, some are too precious to me. 

Judge Amy Winehouse and you judge me too. The difference is I was saved, I decided the life we made was too precious to harm or lose. We were also helped along the way with our move to isolation. Unfortunately Amy wasn't saved and she will go down as one of the legends who were troubled and lost too young.

Judge me on my past and you could be judging your neighbour, best friend, boyfriend, sibling, parent or yourself. If you judge someone on their addiction ask yourself why? If you aren't an addict or alcoholic count yourself lucky that you can stop at your second glass of wine. 


  1. Wow! What a post. I didn't see that tweet yesterday, but if I had, I would have retweeted it too.

    Good on you for getting yourself healthy and thank god you are here to tell your story.

    I never understand why people are so quick to judge. It benefits no-one and does nothing for healthy discussion.

    Brilliant, brilliant post.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  2. Brilliant post Amy. Thank you for sharing!

  3. What a brilliant post and thank you so much for sharing. I think many out there are quick to judge. Addiction is not a thing anyone asks for and like you, I'm lucky that those times where I've been blind drunk nothing bad had ever happened to me. I was lucky that the people who were my friends truly were that and managed to get me out of harms way. It's sad to see such a talented person go down that way especially when she we all know she needed a lot of support and time to get better. Alas, it's too late now.

  4. Love your honesty! I have friends who have had issues with drugs and addiction and I never judge as a result. It can so easily happen to anyone with the flip of a coin in life's decisions.

  5. Great post. You divulged so much, and yet you did it in such a way as to be informative, rather than preaching. I have to say, a death is a death, and I don't even understand why the reason she died is even being discussed. When someone dies of liver damage due to alcoholism, nobody condemns that person...
    Anyway, this was a really great read. You're very inspirational and brave. Good for you for taking on the haters.

  6. Amy I feel really privileged to have read such a personal account of this part of your life. Thank you. And I do agree with you. I find it ignorant to flippantly make statements about another human being's life being cut short (whether or not by their own hand or self-harm, in whatever form).

  7. Brava for your honesty. I have to admit i'm wary of people who do drugs - i dont know how to take them, whether i can place any trust in them.

    Maybe its because of the way i was brought up, maybe it was because of my overly cautious nature, but i've never touched drugs ( aside from alcohol ). Never. Maybe that makes me seem a goody-two-shoes to some people, but i just never saw the appeal.

    That all being said, i'm glad you had the fortitude to bring yourself back from the brink...

  8. Wow...such honesty and a great read.
    I'm just glad that you are still here, safe and sound and making the world a better place.

    You're a really great person xx

  9. Great post. Thanks for sharing something so personal with us.
    I think people forget that addiction is a disease, not a choice you make. I grew up in a family with addiction, and watched that person fight their way to recovery, and to stay there. I also experimented with ecstasy and speed when I was younger. You'd think I would know better, growing up the way I did. Thankfully I gave it up before trying anything harder, and while I could, it so easily could have gone another way.
    Addiction is not as black and white as everyone seems to think. It is not as simple as choosing not to use/drink/gamble - there would be so many more people alive if it were.

  10. Exactly everything Mum's Word just said. No point repeating. Great read, well done. Brave you.

  11. Amazing post, and you've got a lot to be proud of. Drugs and alcohol are curious beasts, and if it was so simple to avoid addiction we'd have a lot more amazing people still around. Addiction isn't a choice - we should all remember that.

  12. This was a fabulous post. I'm so glad you overcame your addictions.

    It's a shame what happened to Amy Winehouse.

  13. somehow i always feel like i'm with you.
    even though we're states apart.

  14. my name just vanished?
    typing skills!

  15. It was sad news to hear. It's not funny, just sad.

  16. I think the issue starts with how we perceive drugs and addiction: because drugs are so taboo, being an addict is likewise swept under the carpet. An addiction is a medical problem, and needs to be treated as such Once drugs stop being perceived as wrong, addiction will also be treated properly. And then perhaps, people won't care whether they take drugs or not.

    Meanwhile, Amy Winehouse was very unwell. So much talent in such a vulnerable body is just not meant to be. In the end, we are all equal.

    Thanks for an insightful writeup Ames <3

  17. Addiction hits close to me. My father is an alcoholic. I have had issues with alcohol in the past but not drugs and in recent years no real problems with alcohol any more since I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for 2.5 years straight now so apart from the occasional glass of wine I have been essentially sober.

    Great post. Glad you have lived to tell the tale.

    You are a strong women xo

  18. What an amazing post, your honesty is brave and refreshing. I too have a past where I dabbled in drug use and plan on being honest with my girls when they are older. I have no regrets and don't miss it at all, when I met my now husband it was a deal breaker for him and I made a promise that has not been hard to keep. Sometimes I too wonder how it is that I came through those times with no long term scars...

  19. What a moving story. It's unfortunate that you had your choices robbed from you by someone who was meant to be looking out for you. I hope he lost his security license for that. Kudos for being open out your experiences.

  20. Thank you everyone. Truly thank you.

  21. I "get" this. I do.
    And I felt the same about the Amy Whinehouse thing. She didn't choose to die. No one ever does (in my belief. Even those who commit suicide, it's an illness choosing FOR them).

    I applaud that you were so raw and honest here.
    I honestly feel that when it comes to drugs and alcohol it isn't what you're taking that is the hardest addiction to shake, it's the lifestlye surrounding it. The habit. The way that for many it's used as a coping mechanism and when you're not coping, when you're at your weakest, you want what "helps" and that's what makes it so hard to quit, or not to relapse.

    You've done a good thing though. You have used becoming a mother as your no option out.
    And for what it's worth I agree about talking to your children. I am big on a very honest and open relationship with my kids. Do I go and tell my 5 year old about one night stands? No. But when my kids ask I won't lie or sugar coat shit. I will tell them as much as I feel they can handle, which will probably be too much in some parents eyes. But like you said, kids know more than adults assume, and lying? It just creates a riff and distrust. I'd rather have them hate a childish mistake I made long ago than hate me for lying to them (something we ALL tell our kids not to do from day dot).

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It was really a fantastic read, and I do feel like I got to know you a WHOLE lot more.
    Had my feelings, but I hate to assume ;)

  22. My sister in law had issues on and off with drugs, to the point of homelessness and giving away her 2 children. Look at her now with 3 kids (the 2 she gave away and a new baby), happily married, a cert 4 so she can work and she looks healthy and happy. No one would no her past.

    I was sad too to see all the comments about Amy. You can't judge people. They need help and support not condemnation.

    Thanks for sharing your story. x

  23. Wow Ames. I missed this post, and only saw it because of Mrs Woogs's BPOTY awards. How amazing of you to share, and how well written this post is. And hopefully it will help others to understand and not be so quick to judge. This post just mkes me like you even more! Because we are all human and all have pasts and those who learn from them become very wise.


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