Taking Addictive Drugs as a Recovering Alcoholic

(Dictated by Dru to Art)
I was a junior in college the first time I knowingly took a mind-altering drug. Living in a great little apartment on San Salvador Street in San Jose, California, I was carrying a heavy academic load: dual majors in English and Drama. One weekend I escaped to my parents’ home, dragging with me books on costume design, stage lighting, 18th century poetry, and other useful subjects. My intention was to study round-the-clock.It was always this way with me; I loved the adrenalin rush of cramming for exams. But this year I was finding it more difficult than usual. When I got home I complained to my stepfather, a physician of the old school, that I’d never been so tired in my life. I’m sure that I made it into a very dramatic story. As a rule, he didn’t much care for my dramatizing, but the truth was it entertained him. He opened a drawer in the kitchen sideboard and tossed me a packet of something, saying “These should help.” Well, my goodness, they certainly did; nothing like finding an unlimited supply of Benzedrine right in your very own home! I never turned off the lights that weekend; I never closed the books; I filled my notebooks with the best organized information on Restoration Drama that anyone had ever seen before or since. That was my introduction to potent drugs— and the first step down the slippery slope. It was a time of innocence. I really didn’t know I was doing anything that might damage my body or my mind. And I still remember a lot about Restoration Drama.
Flash forward many decades. From the outset of my cancer diagnosis— and prescriptions for Morphine, Vicodin, and Percocet– I’ve been afraid of becoming addicted. For decades, as a recovering alcoholic I’ve been steeped in the dangers of taking even a single drink. Any recovering addict will tell you the same about chipping.
When an alcoholic/addict takes a drug for recreation, the chemical goes to the brain’s pleasure centers and triggers a high— whether this is from generating dopamine I don’t know the details. But what I’ve been so relieved to discover is that when I take these heavy drugs for real pain, their potency is sucked up entirely by the pain. Now I’m not trying to make any medical pronouncements here; just stating my own experience. And thank God (or Whatever She calls Herself), it works this way. Other than the side-effect of drowsiness and occasional mental burps, all these medications are doing precisely what they are designed for: making pain tolerable; abating my cough; and making sleep possible. Nevertheless, I’ll be honest: Every pill I swallow is coated with anxiety. These medications that might extend my life by months or maybe years are the most powerful thing with which I come in contact every day.
Except cancer itself.

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3 Responses to “Taking Addictive Drugs as a Recovering Alcoholic”

  1. Jeff Chase says:

    Art told me HE was the most powerful thing with which you come into contact each day.

  2. Allan Buck says:

    Besides my Bro, your husband Art………the most powerful thing you come in contact each day is the Spirit Within you.

  3. Jessica North says:

    We al say thanks and Hallelulia to those medical gods, though they are all rascals, for the tricks they can play on pain. Addiction is not longer an issue.
    . Though my heart aches, breaking for Robin William’s pain and suffering bc I too am a depressive. I cannot imagine the agony of relapse, in and out of Hazelden
    . Sensitive, brilliant, feeling isolated while adored and revered. Poor dear soul. More alcoholics take their own lives from untreated depression than drinking. Put the chemicals in the brain and whammy. Bad Ju ju.
    I love you dear, dear Dru, your mind is crystal clear, a book coming out! A good book coming out! A brave knight at your side. Sweet sis. Multitudes rushing to Amazon. Still, I imagine you would rather be anywhere else, no? You are loved, you are love.