If anyone were to approach me when I was a child and ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, a heroin addict was not on my list. With the innocence and purity of my youth, you could not have convinced me, with all of the strength in the world, that my life would end up where it did. So the question has to be asked, how did I get there?
There are a lot of talks about the gravity of gateway drugs and their ability to lead otherwise innocent young adults into harder, more serious substances. Exploring the idea of a gateway drugs, what they are, why they have an effect on us, and the turmoil that can transpire as a result of continuing to cross the invisible line in our minds.
Gateway Drugs: The Starting Point
Gateway drugs can be seen as the starting point to a much deeper rooted addiction problem. Through growing up, most young adults have learned through school programs such as D.A.R.E, Red Ribbon Week, and Just Say No about the effects that drugs can have on one’s body. Having been taught about gateway drugs in school and how they can open the door to such problems I abstained from involving myself in that way of life for a long time. At the age of 14, my curiosity got the best of me; I decided to try marijuana for the first time. From this moment forward I opened myself up to the belief that “I could handle drugs”, that my life would not fall to pieces like the stories I had heard growing up. When I smoked marijuana, my life didn’t fall apart, my grades didn’t slip, and I didn’t end up homeless. Having come to this conclusion, I increased the amount I was using. I went from only smoking at parties, to the weekends. Just on the weekends turned into after my homework on the weekdays.
Eventually, I was smoking before school, after school, before practice, after practice and so on. My life was relatively still in order. “What’s the harm, I thought, things seem to be just fine in my life.” I carried this mindset with me until my curiosity arose again. Having involved myself in the world of drug use through marijuana, I knew where to find other drugs. When the opportunity presented itself to try cocaine and prescription drugs, I didn’t hesitate. Sure these were seen as “harder” drugs, but that didn’t deter my thinking. I didn’t know the harm that could really come as a result until it was nearly too late. “This time it will be different, I will control the amount I am using”. I was lying to myself.
As the years passed, I continually crossed the boundaries I had set for myself. My life suffered as a result. I barely graduated high school; I did not plan on attending college, and worked at a dead-end job to fuel my obsession with getting high. I had become enthralled with my infatuation in exploring new outlets of drugs and alcohol. This mindset led me down a road of misery which eventually led me into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. When I first got sober, I often wondered if my life would have gone in a different direction if I had never started smoking marijuana. When I got sober at the age of 19 I was physically addicted to heroin. I was a shell of a human and had lost all sense of who I was when I was getting high and drunk. There is a place of no return for alcoholics and addicts. Some might say it is with the first drink or drug. I know that once I crossed that line I had drawn for myself by using marijuana I was off to the races. Drug use brought me to my knees. I was fortunate for the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous for helping me to identify the root of my problem, and leading me down a different path before it was too late.