Things I Learned When I Was Taking A Lot Of Drugs

Roxicodone (Roxy, for short) comes in tiny blue pills. So tiny, in fact, that I would often lose them in my room and not find it until weeks later. Misplacing your drugs is always the worst feeling, but you could take solace in knowing that you would find them again when you were least expecting it and it would be the best surprise ever. That spec of blue would come in the corner of your eye on a Monday afternoon and you’d start jumping for joy. “Could it be?! Oh my god! I’m so lucky!” Right. Lucky.

Roxies weren’t my favorite though. I only took them when I started to worry about my liver. Unlike Percocet, which was my drug of choice, Roxies contained no acetaminophen, so it was “better for you” to ingest them, less harsher on the body. Most of the drug users I knew would freebase Roxy. I would come over to their apartment and watch them get the tinfoil together. The smell of the smoke was reminiscent of cloves. Sometimes they would offer it to me but I declined every time. In fact, during the entire nine months I was seriously abusing painkillers, I never once did anything but swallow them. This rationalized the problem for me. I was just a patient taking his special little vitamins. Freebasing? You’re nuts! Let me just swallow six pills at the time at this restaurant though. So much more normal.

“How many milligrams is it? How much Tylenol? I can’t do 750 milligrams. It gives me a stomachache and I need to be able to take four at a time. You only have Vicodin? Weak. Vicodin doesn’t even cure my headache. Who can even get high off Vicodin? Seriously. You’re charging ten dollars for a Norco? That’s highway robbery! I’ll take five.” During these nine months, I learned the ins and outs of painkillers. I could tell you which pills did what, what kind of milligrams you needed (10 mg of Oxy and 325 mg of acetaminophen was my favorite combo), and which pills were a waste of your time and money. I fancied myself to be an expert. Whenever I would hear someone say something totally inaccurate about painkillers, I would say, “Well, actually…” and correct them with this bizarre smugness. I got off on being the one who knew everything about them. It made me believe that the last nine months had amounted to something. I could put this on my resume. “Painkiller enthusiast/expert. Hire me.”

You meet strange people when you’re fraternizing with drug dealers and addicts. You go to some strange places, some strange apartments, and have some strange interactions. You meet pretty girls in expensive dresses you want to sleep with (but ultimately don’t because you have no sex drive), and lots of jittery men in sneakers. You meet the good drug dealer, the one who doesn’t even do substances except maybe smoke weed and take the occasional E pill. If you happen to find someone who doesn’t actually do the drugs they’re selling to you, you hit the jackpot. Because usually drug dealers are addicts themselves and therefore totally unreliable. They’ll take hours to get back to you and sometimes days to meet up. Meanwhile, you’re just waiting for the sound of a text message being received on your phone so you can go meet them somewhere. Anywhere.

When you abuse drugs, you start to believe that you never really knew yourself at all. It’s like having an extended out-of-body experience. You’re not going to meet someone on a street corner at 1:30 in the afternoon to buy drugs. You would never. That’s someone else. Oh, wait that IS you? Crap. Um, okay. Let’s just get high. The points of desperation you reach are quite mind-blowing. You didn’t know you had it in you. Well now you know. Now you’ve learned.

On the flip side of that, abusing drugs also makes you aware of your own strength. You only realize it when you’re at your weakest and most unrecognizable point. You never had to know how strong you were until you needed to survive. Then, at the last moment, you toughen your grip and latch on to something to come back out.

Or you don’t.

Some people never toughen their grip. They just continue having an out-of-body experience until there’s nothing left but a body. A sad little body that once belonged to you but now belongs to It.

The things you learn. TC mark

image – j_anet


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  • Tanya Salyers

    I want more.

    • Sam

       Me too

    • Briana


  • Sam

    The moments when I’m most surprised at my behavior  are when I’m waiting outside for the “I’m here” call for over 60 minutes. Make’s me feel like a real punk. Lou Reed was right: “He’s never early, he’s always late, first thing you learn is that you always gotta wait.”

    Great article, it’s interesting to see how similar experiences between drug users can be.

  • Guest

    why is this something to brag about?

    • Anonymous

      Just because someone writes about something that happened to them doesn’t make it bragging. I’m sick of this non-argument being made on TC. Stop it.

      • Guest

        maybe the term “brag” is too strong, but they’re certainly writing about it like it’s something to be proud of.

  • Cowboy Santos


  • Guest

    I see nothing here worth remembering or thinking of.

  • Anonymous

    I see nothing here of any value. A story about hillbilly heroin seems so… trite? Is this supposed to be a cautionary tale or some “hard truth” memoir? Either way, I think it fails.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting article. I always kinda wondered what it was like for serious addicts.

  • mickimonday


  • Sallinglr

    Wow, are you serious? I’m sorrry, I don’t want to sound like a jerk but I have been battling with a substance abuse problem for years, in and out of NA…sometimes in these meetings you get someone who “smoked too much weed” or ate a lot of vicodin and you can’t help but think, Why are you here? You’re in a room filled with huge fucking tweakers and heroin addicts, and you want to talk about vicodin?! I’m sorry but I am having the same reaction right now. I can’t say to anyone that their rock bottom isn’t bad enough to qualify, and I am glad you got out of the game when you did. Pills are hard to kick and its hugely misunderstood how serious they are. But if you thought it was interesting at that point, you should’ve stuck around for a few more years. See how “interesting” it is to loose your friends and family, get fired, and be homeless. I want to hear that story.

    • Connor Bennette

      Why would you ever WANT to hear that story?  I’m glad to here the recovery story of the toughened grip.  Regardless of your lowest low, finding the strength to move on is the important part.

      • Sallinglr

        I want to hear that story because its real and interesting. And I can’t be the only one who thinks so- many popular biographies and novels on the subject are out there being read every day. Movies too, if you aren’t one for reading. So, if you want to talk about personal triumph, there are better examples than this story, and certainly there are examples outside of books and movies. Real people who have come back from near death, poverty, prison, abuse, etc. and have made something of themselves. People who have come from literally nothing and have arrived, finally, at Something. Those are the stories I like and find interesting.
        I am always happy for anyone who brings their lives back on track. It is one of the hardest things to do, and is even harder to stick with. I definantly understand that. Certainly the author deserves recognition for that, I agree.

      • Sallinglr


      • ky

        Kate H said it best “Pain is relative…. A bottom is a bottom is a bottom is a bottom.”  Claiming that this stories isn’t real or interesting just because its not as HARDCORE as you might like it to be is making the claim that real life doesn’t include the wide spectrum of experiences that it does.  It is really not fair to say that a more dramatic story is better, or that coming back from the edge of death is more important to a reader— subtlety can be more effective.  Additionally, those dramatic stories can be obvious, they get their own Lifetime made for TV movies. They can be just a spectacle, but not something that people can think of in relation to their own life.  It is cool that you find those stories interesting, but I know I’d be totally bummed if they were the only ones.  That would be boring as hellllllll.

    • Shayna

      Everyone has their demons – and if Vicodin is mine, or someone else’s, why do you get to tell me that’s not a problem?

  • Olivia Moore

    i feel like this is really insensitive. pill addiction is super serious and i’ve just known way too many people who’ve died or fucked up their life cause of roxys and pills in general. idk, just feels like you’re bragging about something that is really uncool? sorry for being sensitive sally over here but just sayin..

    • Guest

      AGREED. so well said, girl.

  • Ginny

    Fantastic article. I don’t understand the comments that you’re ‘bragging’ about drug use, I don’t get that vibe at all.

    “A sad little body that once belonged to you but now belongs to It.”
    This line is perfect.
    Again, fantastic article. Well done.

  • Julia Jackson

    i love it when people do drugs for a few months and then consider themselves experts, having gazed into the dark, dark abyss. 

    • KATE H

      REALLY? Pain is relative. Stop being judgmental and start looking with compassion. A bottom is a bottom is a bottom is a bottom. 

  • Jakezeroactual

    A true addict doesn’t “lose” pills.  They know where each and everyone is, to the point of obsession.

    • Lor Mds

      A true addict is in a complete and utter haze after a certain point. You think you’re on point, but you’re not, and losing what you consider most precious at that moment shows exactly how off you are.

  • jem

    Great article. Loved the end – it was an unexpected, creepy (almost) twist. 

  • Sahar Soos

    I’m glad you’re out! I’m studying pharmacy right now… I seriously feel like a failure sometimes because I know I can’t do shit about all the drug abuse young people get into these days.. 

  • Turd Ferguson

    @ Sallinglr “huge fucking tweakers and heroin addicts”…nah brah, those are just losers like you who couldn’t keep their shit together. Successful people abuse those drugs all the time but do it in moderation while holding down jobs, raising families, and being productive citizens. Maybe for someone like you ending up in rehab is the only endpoint, but you can’t extrapolate your experience on drugs to everyone else. It’s myopic attitudes like yours that we have to thank for this country’s Byzantine drug laws. Hard to think of a more pathetic species than a sanctimonious ex-“huge fucking tweaker and heroin addict”…they really manage to brainwash you lot in rehab don’t they?

    • Sallinglr

      I wouldn’t know about rehab, I have never been. But I also don’t think that people who need that environment are brainwashed or pathetic. And certainly the first thing you learn in an environment like rehab or NA is that it doesn’t matter how “successful” people are in other aspects of their lives, addicts can be doctors, lawyers and politicians, among other things. It’s not about status or keeping your shit together. I don’t really understand your point, it sounds like you just want to call drug addicts losers- or you’re just calling me a loser? Either way maybe I am fucking loser in my own way but I’m not the one lurking the internet calling myself Turd Ferguson, like that’s so goddamned funny and original. I’m sure you’re as well-adjusted and productive as it gets!

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  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on Musings of a crazy girl.

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