The road to recovery is hard and requires a lot of self-reflection


It’s been an eventful month at Blogzine. We have written so many articles about different taboos this month. In a previous article Angelo told the story of how he went bankrupt with his company. Today, for the first time, he’s sharing his personal story about his drug addiction.

Addiction isn’t about taking drugs. It’s about what drugs does to your life

I used to be the kid with the talent in the family. I was the only one who would continue studying and (then) the only one who decided to start a business on my own. Everything went well and everyone was proud of me. I too was super proud of myself. But that success also had a downside. Because I gave 100% in my work, I had nothing to give anymore on a personal level. My relationship broke down after almost 6 years together. Unconsciously, I had received a such huge emotional blow that it made me falter professionally.

In my second business’ year I started making wrong decisions. I joined forces with people who saw my success as an opportunity to push themselves forward, leaving me behind after. The only thing I saw too late was that I was no longer myself. I too saw my career as a way of catapulting me forward quickly and it didn’t matter which way. With the pressure to get better and better and wanting more and more results, came a lot of stress. Because of that stress, I just got worse at my job and did stupid things. I made enemies out of a lot of friends. And that’s how it starts. The way down.

The first time

There are certain things you never forget, like the first school trip abroad, your first love, the first time you have sex. And in my case, the first time I took (hard) drugs. I was 24 and had never taken drugs until then. Of course I drank alcohol, but I had never taken pills or anything else.

Not only did I think it was something gross, I had also never come into contact with it. It wasn’t until I fell into a depression and was on the verge of bankruptcy – I was probably at my weakest point ever – that I came into contact with it. It started very innocently.

One evening I met an old friend and he suggested that I join his friends for a party in a club. Because I was going through such a bad time, I thought it would be a good idea to change my mind. At one point that night I saw him and his friend doing something “mysterious” and I asked what was going on. They said “We do drugs”. And I answered “Ok”.

I didn’t ask more about it until a few hours later that same friend took some powder through his nose again. And then came the question, “Do you want some?”. I think he asked me at least 5 times that night, before I agreed. And I asked what it was and what it would do. They told me it would make me feel good, and let that be what I (thought I) needed at that moment. Reluctant, I went into it and took a big sniff through my nose.

A strange feeling, because I had never done anything like this before. But what came after that was blissful. I forgot everything. Especially that I was sad. I forgot that I was disappointed in myself and also forgot that people were angry with me. I forgot I never really wanted to do drugs in the first place. In the course of the evening, I may have come back two times to do it again. When one party was over, then apparently it was time for another party, the after party. I didn’t know that concept before either. For me it was always partying and then going straight back home. Now the party was far from over. 

The after party

It’s weird that the “After Party” is called a party, because there’s actually not much partying about it. In most cases everyone is already tired, but because of the amount of drugs in the body, you can’t sleep at all. They chat, dance and take more drugs at the after party. And that usually goes on until the afternoon, sometimes even late in the afternoon. In a few of the cases this continues for a couple of days, with maybe an hour or two three sleep in between.

I still remember a weekend where I went to party in Antwerp on Saturday, then drove on to two parties in Cologne and ended Monday afternoon after clubbing in Brussels on Sunday night. When we finally finished partying (exhausted), it was time to go to sleep. But that was not easy. Certainly not because my body had gone through so much stress while it was pushing itself to its limits to stay awake and keep going. It was also a strange hour to go to sleep and my body wasn’t used to that either. 

The weekend was the reward at the end of the week, because then came the partying

The feeling after drugs

The thing about taking drugs intensively is that you feel empty for the next few days. Like you took all the euphoria out of your body at once. For me, the weeks were dark and heavy anyway, now it seemed like there was really nothing left to look forward to. Nothing, except the weekend. Because then it was time to party again. Already from the first day after partying it became the reward at the end of the week: “If you get through the week, then you can go back to partying!”. Because partying was fun and partying brought me (false) happiness.

After a few days without drugs, your body starts asking for a new hit. Like your body’s missing something. Without you realizing it, you’re busy all the time with when you can take drugs again. For someone who buys drugs himself or herself and has drugs in his or her home, the moment when he or she last took drugs and the moment when he or she takes drugs again, is often very small. In my case I never had drugs in the house in the beginning, so I took a lot less than the people around me. After a while it sometimes happened that I had a small amount of drugs in my possession and took them home with me. And it didn’t take long before I used it. 

Enough is enough

This took about five months. Five months in which I traded my weekends nonstop for parties and drugs. And the more I did that, the less control I had over reality. In the meantime, it was way too late for my business. I went bankrupt. My depression got a lot worse, too. I was ashamed of who I was and what I did. But that was only when I was clear. The other moments I was good and I wasn’t aware (anymore) of what had gone wrong. I didn’t care much either.

I lived in a shack of an apartment above a shop in Antwerp and I hadn’t heard or spoken to my family in months. One day I was tripping so hard, I thought I wouldn’t survive. Everything around me felt strange and it was as if the walls were coming towards me, the furniture was attacking me and I was constantly falling. 

Frightened, I called my sister. I was so happy she answered her phone and I told her everything. Then I told her what had happened and how deeply I was into shit. And I also told her not to let me sleep. Because if I would sleep, there was a chance I wouldn’t wake up. In the course of the next twelve hours I received phone calls from my brothers and sisters in turns. They kept talking to me so I felt safe and the bad trip could pass. A very unpleasant moment that was.

It was also at that moment that I had decided that it had been enough. I was 25 and didn’t want this to be the end. So I asked my sister and my brother-in-law to come and take me away from where I was living at that moment. 
I was also afraid of the physical consequences of what I had done. I was afraid that people would start to see it on my face, for example, if I went any further. And I didn’t want that. Now I could turn back the clock, if I would go any further, maybe not anymore.

Recovery is a hard choice

A year and a half I’ve had trouble getting back on my feet. In the beginning I went cold turkey, I didn’t go out anymore and I didn’t take drugs again. I felt bad, because my body was detoxing. But at the same time I felt good, because I had dodged a bullet. It could have been much worse.

But the road to recovery wasn’t all roses. The road to recovery is hard and requires a lot of self-reflection. Looking yourself in the mirror and admitting that what you did was wrong. And then comes the process where you either have the chance to act as if nothing had happened to the outside world, or you emerge from your mistakes and are open about it. But that choice is not easy. Because it is dangerous to expose yourself in front of someone who might react badly to this information and that pressure might cause you to relapse. 

Luckily I found a job again with one of my former clients. I told her that I loved having her as a client before things starting to go bad. And I did tell her about what happened, but left out some details. I didn’t mean to lie, but I wanted to give myself a fair chance to get out of the awful situation I was in. I got a chance to work for her 13 hours a week and gradually rebuilt my life. That opportunity probably saved my life. I had a reason to live again and I was eager to make something of it. 

Don’t do drugs?

I’m not at all the person who’s going to tell anyone that drugs are good or bad. And I’m not the one who is going to tell someone else what to do. But, I know what drugs have done in my case and what course I’ve taken with them. But I do know a lot of people who take drugs on a regular basis when they go out. And also work successfully despite their drug use.

I think that drugs can be dangerous in many cases, especially if you have underlying problems. Problems you may not (yet) be aware of yourself that really matter mentally. Because taking drugs does something to your brain and magnifies things you feel. So if you suffer from depression or something else, drugs can make this a lot worse. 

Today I shared my story with a lot of people in the hope that they might have learned something from it. Or that they know they’re not alone. Recovery is a choice you have to make yourself, but that choice is a lot easier with people around you that care about you. People that give you a chance to go through the bad days and stick around. If you have to deal with depression or drug addiction yourself, I am available for a chat.

If you need professional help, a question or if you are in need of a talk (anonymously), you can alway call the Belgian Drug-line: +32 78 15 10 20.

This article has been written by @ANGELO VERO

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