We recently published a blog featuring Macklemore. It was a quick series of videos in which Macklemore talks about his past drug use, and a few of his experiences. In the first video, Macklemore discusses his experience with oxycontin. He says that his experience with oxy was short lived, and that he only did it a handful of times. He recalls his detox process, and explains his surprise in that he couldn’t believe how horrible he felt being that he only went on 5 or 6 day runs with oxy. He mentions sweating out his sheets at night.
I heard that, and I immediately got flashbacks.
Let me give you a quick rundown. I am from Philadelphia. I had a good childhood. My parents had me at a very young age, and we never had much money. I look back at it now with a different perspective. I see now the sacrifices my parents made to raise me and my sister. They worked all the time, just to provide a decent life for us. We had our fair share of family problems for sure, but I never felt like I wasn’t loved. I always had everything I needed, and I am grateful for that. Addiction runs rampant on both sides of my family. I’ve stopped asking the questions of why. Is it because of my genetics? Is it because of my upbringing? Why did I end up like this? I will never know. Frankly, I don’t care.
I am an addict, I have been this way since I was young enough to form memories. Same old story really, I always felt different. I wasn’t comfortable being me. I had no faith, no source of center. I turned to drugs pretty young. I was instantly hooked. I have always been an alcoholic. My family is Scottish and we have a long heritage of drinking. Good scotch, good imported beer, and tea is what were the requirements for social conversation. I love booz. I also love weed. I love cocaine. I love adderall, vicodin, cough syrup, acid, mushrooms, anything that would help me not feel. Not think… I have always had this problem with thinking, my mind is a vortex of disorder. It can be consuming.
Finally the day came. I found oxycontin. I will never forget the first time. At this point I was making myself sick because I needed to eat so many percocets to get high. I built up such a tolerance. I would snort what I could fit up my nose and I would chew and swallow the rest. I didn’t give oxy the respect it deserved at first. I thought myself to be an expert drug user. I bought my first oxy 80, snorted one half and ate the other. I have never felt anything like it in my life. The intensity of that little green pill rocked me. My head spun, my skin itched, my eyes wondered and I loved it. As soon as the dizziness went away I spent the next five hours writing in my journal. It is difficult to explain if you have never experienced it, but oxy is a super human drug. Everyone experiences drugs differently, but oxy heightened my senses. I could focus. FINALLY. I could channel all of this creative energy I had. I felt smooth, I wasn’t stuck for words. I was expressive and charming and all the things I always wanted to be. It was amazing.
To make a long story short, it didn’t take long before I began to unravel. I worked long hard hours as a carpenter and I could hardly manage to pay my rent. After two years of hard abuse, I became disconnected from reality. There is an entire two year period that I really don’t remember. It’s not to say that I couldn’t form memories, it’s more like my perception of time was completely altered. When I look back at those two years its hard for me to remember the months and days and seasons. It was all just… fucked.
There came a point, where I literally couldn’t function. Again, it is difficult to explain what this felt like. I was always a hard worker, I have always been determined, but there would be days where I would sit on this chair in my living room for hours. No TV, no reading, just silence. I would just sit there. I was living with a girlfriend at the time that would work on the weekends, and I recall a particular Saturday in which I sat in this chair. I sat there the entire day. I didn’t get up, not once. I don’t know how long I was sitting there for, it must have been at least 6 or 7 hours. I was paralyzed in fear. I was too scared to move. I was stuck, in a web of lies. The anxiety had completely taken over. It really sucked. I would go to bed, and hope I wouldn’t wake up. I would wake up at 3am, and sit at the edge of my bed for hours. Face in my hands, not making a sound as to not wake up my sleeping girlfriend. The pain I felt inside, is truly indescribable.
I tell you this because I keep these memories close to me. When I finally got clean I only had enough insurance to detox for three days. I detoxed throughout my entire stint in rehab. I was losing my mind, quite literally. I recall a few groups in which I was trying to express myself, and I couldn’t. I wanted to so bad. I knew what I was trying to say, but I had forgotten what it took to relate to people on an emotional level. I was going crazy.
After my stay in drug rehab, I decided to move to Florida. I have a cousin who has been clean for years and he took me in for a week until I could get into a halfway house. The first week at the halfway house was terrible. I don’t know if the change in temperature had something to do with it, but I was withdrawing harder now then I was in rehab. I would sweat my sheets out, every night. Every single night, I would wake up, and my sheets looked like someone took a bucket of water and dumped it on my bed. This lasted for months. I secluded myself. I didn’t know anyone, I was in a new place, away from Philadelphia. Away from the buses and trains and noise. People talked different. The streets were wider, and all the roads were straight and long. Huge magnificent oak trees had been replaced by thin and limber palm trees. It was sensory overload and my withdrawals were tearing me apart.
The moral is… I got through it.
I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know if it was the fear of being homeless, or if it was just that I was actually ready to get sober. I found a sponsor and this man changed my life. He is still my sponsor today, but our relationship has evolved. I look at him now more as a mentor. He guides me in my path of life and recovery.
My first year in recovery was the hardest thing I have ever done. That right there, is where all the beauty lies. I got through it. I got a job fronting phone calls. I would sit in a cubicle and make 300 telemarketing calls a day. I got told to go fuck myself over and over again, shortly before I got hung up on. I made $350 dollars a week. I took the bus to work every day. I just kept showing up. Eventually people at work started talking to me, and I slowly lost my label as “the weird kid in the corner.” Eventually I got another job, and I learned about sales. I made friends, and one day my friend told me about an idea he had about a website. That is how Sober Nation started… just like that.
My second year was also hard. My third year was hard too, but I got stronger. It’s not that life got easier. I just kept getting stronger.
Here’s what I am trying to say. IF I CAN MAKE IT THROUGH THAT AWFUL WITHDRAWAL PROCESS, I CAN DO ANYTHING.
I don’t say that as a egotist or as if it is something to be proud of. I mean that with all sincerity and quite literally. I have a lot of living left to do, and who knows what the Universe will throw my way. But I truly feel as if there is nothing that will happen to me that can be harder then not picking up those first few months. When every ounce of your being is telling you to use. When you know that you can hit the streets and find a pill and all of this pain will instantly dissolve. Knowing all of that, and staying sober, is and always will be, the greatest accomplishment of my life.
Oxycontin taught me about reality. It opened my eyes to the idea that perception is reality. If my perception is altered, then my reality is altered. Oxy taught me to look for the truth in a situation. Many times the truth is uncomfortable, but the sooner you deal with it, the sooner the pain ends. Oxy taught me about power, and control. It taught me about fear, and that fear is really just an illusion. Fear is a liar. Oxy taught me about pain. It taught me that pain is a cleansing process, and only through pain can we find out what really matters to us. Oxy taught me to ask for help. Most importantly, oxy taught me perseverance. I know now, what I wish I knew then. The simple truth is that life is beautiful.
I think we all search for happiness, and I am never shocked when people don’t find it. People think that being happy is the secret to a good life. I think that’s bullshit. I think if people spent more time trying to be whole, then their life would be full. Life isn’t always supposed to feel good. If we felt good all the time, we wouldn’t learn anything. Oxy taught me that its ok to not be ok sometimes. Once I came to grips with that, I became free.