Today marks the 13th anniversary of the first time I ever got drunk. I was 13. From the little I remember, it was a lot of fun, but it also landed me in the hospital with a .37 BAC. Woops. That was when I learned that drinking had to be done in moderation. When I got my first job, all my money went to paying off that bill to my parents. I would have happily paid them three times over from the guilt I felt.
Tag Archives: alcohol
…for drug use. This stuff seems pretty basic and self-evident, but gentle reminders never hurt. We all play our parts, even those of us who don’t have kids.
Info taken from National Institute on Drug Abuse: Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children and Adolescents ( http://www.drugabuse.gov/pdf/prevention/InBrief.pdf ).
Risk Factors (Setting) Protective Factors
Early aggressive behavior (Individual) Self control
Lack of parent supervision (Family) Parental monitoring
Substance abuse (Peer) Academic competence
Drug availability (School) Anti-drug policies
Poverty (Community) Strong neighborhood attachment
Early Warning Signs….
- lack of attachment and nurturing by parents/caregivers
- ineffective parenting
- caregiver who abuses substances
- strong parent/child bond
- parental involvement
- clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline
This semester has been a bit tumultuous. I slunk back to school after a long break (it’s been over two years with one failed attempt in between). I jumped into the endeavor without any sensible precautions as to what I could reasonably take on. It seemed like a breeze. I was riding high on the fact that I had aced every test and paper, and it seemed perfectly manageable for a while. To my shy embarrassment, I was the student my teachers were making exemplary examples of (although I was unintentionally acing some of their tests while on cocaine, for which I meekly apologize now). I thought that if I could just keep going a little longer, I would have the semester successfully bagged. I lost control a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m scrambling to keep my head afloat. I hope I prove to be more bouyant than I feel.
I almost forgot to show up for a test when I was high. Still moderately high, I walked in thirty minutes late and felt pressure to catch up so the rest of the class wouldn’t be waiting on me before all the tests were in and the lecture could begin. I almost certainly set a new record for speed writing while on heroin. [A word to the wise: if you find yourself taking a test while mentally compromised, use a pencil. I did not.] As it turned out, I flew through the damn thing and turned it in before half the class did. I get that test back tomorrow. It goes without saying that my hopes are gloomy. I should rightfully be failed based simply on the number of times I scratched out my tell-all, ink-etched sentences and started over.
Tuesday is Judgment Day. I have an hour-long presentation to give on a project that was assigned in early October, but that I’ve conveniently adjourned from my thoughts until this week. Hmm. It should be a disaster of colossal proportions, but in light of the worst case scenario, I’m game for offering my classmates an hour of spirited entertainment.
I seem to be at least the second generation in my family to embody this trend. Well…I’ve dipped to new lows, but I’m not the first to dabble in scholastic debauchery. My dad was the first that I know of. He survived high school, college, and law school with perhaps the highest grades and lowest median average of sobriety of any student. He was voted most outstanding senior by the junior class. He was elected the head of a straight-laced and straight-faced pre-med fraternity that promptly became suspended after it rapidly deteriorated to the most scandalous party fraternity on campus. To be fair, he put his nose to the grindstone in law school by working daily and attending classes nightly, but his weekends never lent themselves entirely to studying.
The fundamental difference between my dad and I is that he was drinking then, and I’m doing drugs now. However much I laugh at my situation, I cannot possibly continue for long like this. Heroin and education are fundamentally opposed, not least because of the fact that I hardly remember portions of my life for the last two years. Even if I continue to grasp course material, memorization is impossible, and I am therefore doomed to fail if I can’t quit. I don’t think I will fail any classes this semester, which I consider that a bona fide miracle, but I can’t ask to get by on another semester of lucky breaks. The question now is whether to enroll for any classes next semester or forget about school once again.
From HBO’s deeply insightful series Addiction comes this list on myths of addiction (adapted from Myths of Addiction by Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D.):
- Addicts are bad, crazy, or stupid.
- Addiction is a willpower problem. (Addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is not under conscious control.)
- Addicts should be punished, not treated, for using drugs.
- People addicted to one drug are addicted to all drugs.
- Addicts cannot be treated with medications.
- Addiction is treated behaviorally, so it must be a behavioral problem. (Addiction is a brain disorder that is treated by changing brain function through several types of treatments, like medicine and/or psychotherapy.)
- Alcoholics can stop drinking simply by attending AA, meetings, so they can’t have a brain disease.
And the two biggest myths…addicts must reach rock bottom before they can recover, and addicts must desire treatment to recover. In fact, the longer an addict waits to seek treatment, the more difficult treatment becomes; and even addicts who are forced into treatment can recover fully.
Know the book? James Frey’s ‘A Million Little Pieces’? The memoir of his trip to hell & back via alcohol and crack addiction? The one that was wholly and entirely debunked?
James Frey dreamed up an intricate composite of lies that don’t even pass as convincing fiction, slathered it onto 400+ pages, and then marketed it out as the greatest macho sob story ever told.
His defenders claim that he “manipulated facts.” That is certainly not an accurate assessment. In order for that to happen, the facts would first have to resemble the truth. So many of these things just did not happen. He’s been debunked. Sure, exaggerating his DUI story could conceivably be construed as “manipulation of facts”, if that marked the apex of his swollen-headed fantasies. (Although it is gleefully funny that he transformed a solitary charge of DUI with no witnesses to the incident but himself and the arresting officer– an incident that didn’t even facilitate the use of handcuffs– to charges of Assault With a Deadly Weapon, Assaulting an Officer of the Law, Felony DUI [a charge that didn’t exist in that state at the time], Disturbing the Peace, Resisting Arrest, Driving Without a License, Driving Without Insurance, Attempted Incitement of a Riot, Possession of a Narcotic with Intent to Distribute, and Felony Mayhem…all charges that required police backup, a beating with billy clubs, handcuffs, and a plea bargain to three years in state prison, five years probation, $15,000 in fines, 1000 hours community service, permanent revocation of driving privileges in that state, and a permanently marked record. HA!) He pushed the envelope so far and got so caught up in his own fantasy world that he made a clown of himself. He’s a macho hooligan, and a complete literary dunce. He has butterfingers for brains. He took a huge gamble, and he didn’t get away with it.
Yet another one of his defenses is that he was high all the time, and therefore doesn’t remember things accurately. Of course addicts’ memories aren’t reliable. So? He also claims to know that he was only sober for six days in a four-year span. Really. He wasn’t aiming for accuracy. He was aiming for fame, sensationalism, and capital. True “hardcore” addicts, as James Frey himself would call them, don’t have to manipulate facts much to generate a novel full of depressing and horrific experiences. Oprah picked the book for her club, and it spread like wildfire. (She later had him back on the show and tore him to shreds, along with his publisher.) If America was looking for raw and soul-bearing authenticity, they were had. Badly.
Moderately manipulating facts and calling it “truth as I remember it” in order to make a story marketable is not the same as elaborate lying. There’s being economical with the truth, and then there’s James Frey. A fictional book admits that it’s exactly that…fiction. It’s not a lie. This is a lie of stunning proportions, and everyone I know bought it.
Most readers (unfortunate souls), especially non-addicts, bought into his propaganda before the big “exposure.” However, even the first page was the biggest fucking hilarious lie I’ve ever read! It was laugh-out-loud hysterical, and disgracefully transparent. Come on America, James Frey has an embarrassingly limited intellect. Kudos to The Smoking Gun website for exposing the truth, but really, was it necessary? It seems explicitely obvious that the majority of Frey’s writing was elaborate bullshit. Sadly, the exposure of lies that weren’t so outwardly obvious to uninformed readers (like being involved in the deaths of two classmates) reveal how low and contemptible Frey is for fictitiously involving himself in such factual tragedies.
The game is up, we’ve all had our laugh, and he made millions as he laughed his way to the bank. Oprah is my hero for uncompromisingly calling Frey out so publicly. He lied to a nation and made millions. He deserves every ounce of ridicule he gets.
“But if you had regular hands, you’d be like everyone else.”
Over the weekend, I admit with a gleeful mixture of shame and pride that I played Edward Fortyhands. Edward Fortyhands consists of taping (yes, taping) 40s of beer to each hand and making a fool of yourself while you proceed to get trashed. I thought it was a joke until my friends showed up with several 40s and a gigantic role of duct tape. Hmm. Well…our penchant for enterprise won out, and we submitted to having freezing cold, heavy 40s taped to each of our hands.
I’ve rarely had that much fun drinking. It was hysterical!! To add to the adventure and confusion, we dubbed each other with nicknames (most too vulgar to list here) and banned the use of our real names for the evening. The use of real names was punished by everyone having to drink, and at the beginning of the night when real names flew from mouths liberally, it was not much fun. It did, however, demonstrate the potential for quick and efficient classical conditioning through negative reinforcement. One among us remained sober, and was accordingly not affixed to any 40s. Lucky for us, he did not exploit his distinguishing guardianship by doing anything like abandoning us while still taped to our 40s. Ha! That would have been funny though.
I highly recommend this pastime to all swashbucklers. A few tips…tape wrists as well as hands for extra support. If you are hairy (e.g. if you sport XY chromosomes), try taping yourself with medical tape first, then duct tape, as this is less likely to lead to plucked hairs. (We had no problems, but perhaps because only XX individuals were taped.) Make sure you are amongst friends, as going to the bathroom requires profound trust. Deciding to don pajama bottoms before drinking was one of the few intelligent thoughts of the night. If you don’t drink fast enough and your second beer is warm by the time you quaff the first one, live with it and drink faster next time.