My introduction to drinking and drugs is a story readily placed in the “dime-a-dozen” category. I was 16 years old, with a childhood friend that shared my love for music, experimentation, and rebellion. I felt my first real high in late 2002, smoking a crude bong out of soda bottles with a friend who pinched out of his pop’s stash. This begun almost seven straight years of playing in bands, smoking and an uncanny ability to, as several of my teachers put it, “not live up to” my potential.

Eight months into my beer life, I was ready to cave. I needed something to help me sleep. My brain was always too busy to be left alone with itself, I think. I was ready to hit the bar; I was done with riding the wagon. The ability to compartmentalize my thoughts was gone. I was anxiety stricken, and I was love-hating the idea of having a shot. Then one night I decided that rather than reach for a bottle, I would try to calm my need for some sort of vice with some weed. I called a friend and made it happen.

The first high after all of those years was re-fucking-markable. I got a bit paranoid at first, but it soon subsided after popping my headphones on and cranking up some music. For the first time in years, I felt absolutely content to just be. I continued this ritual once a week for a few weeks and I quite literally felt the change that was occurring in my mind. I became introspective, self-analytical, and ultimately more honest with myself. The damage caused by my relentless, obscene drinking became absolutely clear to me. I smoke a bit more often than I was then, and I also have learned how to have a drink or two without having fifteen. My need to practically live inside of a tavern is gone. I am no longer a hungover waste of life and a much better family man because of taking some time to smoke at the end of the day.