Saturday, April 5, 2014

Three Strange Days

If you use drugs and alcohol regularly and for long periods of time, your body experiences a number of changes.  It adapts to having these things in your system. After awhile, it feels as though your body only functions normally  when you are high.  Even though there's nothing normal about what's going on.  When you stop using, your body has to acclimate to the difference.  Withdrawal is that period of readjustment.  Your body is forced to return to its natural state without the drugs.

The stimulant detox process itself is not fatal.  There is surprisingly very little medical danger involved once the individual stops ingesting amphetamines and snorting them up his or her nose.  The real difficulty presents itself as the person begins to exhibit a wide range of symptoms associated with this particular type of drug withdrawal.

I experienced tremendous anxiety and overwhelming fatigue once I stopped. These two intense feelings happening at the same time pulled me in opposite directions. And not in the same way they did when I was getting high.  It was like my body knew the tank was empty so it kept sending signals to my brain, demanding to know what the hold-up was.

Where's the shit?  was the only clear thought I had.

That may be the trickiest part of detoxing.  Combatting the urge to get that question answered with another hit.  Pushing beyond everything that comes with the powerful need to return to that comfort zone.  My cravings were huge and all-consuming.  There's panic and fucked-up confusion.  Not to mention the physical reactions that are going on - muscle cramps, sinus congestion and constipation. These things suck too, just not in the same way.

The waves of depression are insane.  They come suddenly and punch you right in the face.  They pull your legs out from under you.  They press thumbs into your throat and choke you.  They bang your head against the rocks.  Fortunately, I never wanted to die no matter how lousy I felt.  I'm sure that helped my circumstances quite a bit.  But I will admit, coming through that ordeal was extremely unpleasant. I'd prefer childbirth eight times over without an epidural to drug withdrawal.  I never want to have to do it again.

All I knew was that I'd scraped together two days, then three without getting tight. I hadn't done that in - well, forever.  It was also becoming clear that I was right in the middle of a real attempt to get clean.  I had never tried stopping before.  I suppose I didn't think I could do it with any measure of success, so I put the possibility out of my mind.  Over the years, I just incorporated being loaded into what it was that I'd become.  It's not like I felt like a person anymore.  I was merely a thing, an unfortunate drug-addled thing.
Only now, I had three days.

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