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HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Life as a Tweaker

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By Amy Dresner

01/01/13

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My father was so disgusted with me and frightened by my addiction that we couldn’t be in the same car together for 10 minutes before a heated argument would break out. So my stepmother flew into town and together we checked into a tiny hotel on La Cienega. I detoxed in that hotel for a week, sweating profusely, too weak and delirious to get out of bed. Most of the time I was sleeping. Two years of staying awake had taken a toll on me.

It was only once I was physically off the stuff that the mental detox could begin. I was sent to a dual diagnosis treatment center for two long months, where the most horrific depression and feelings of rage I’d ever experienced descended upon me. I had screaming matches with my therapist where I would kick chairs across the room.

There were a few other drug addicts in this treatment center but most were just severely mentally ill. I lived in a house with a short bald man who would have conversations with himself outside my bedroom window. Another housemate was a schizophrenic kid who walked around naked and was convinced he was the illegitimate son of Jimmy Page. (I’ll admit he could play the guitar but just not very well.) 

It was at this treatment center that I was first taken to meetings and introduced to AA. Like every newcomer, I thought it was creepy and religious. And I couldn’t understand why the treatment center didn’t want me wearing my vintage beer T-shirts to meetings.

After those two grueling months, I was sent to an all-female 12-step sober living house run by a nun. I was the youngest, the only Jew and the only drug addict. The nun hated me but she hated my car—a '69 Dodge Charger with primer and no side windows that made a horrible rumbling sound you could hear from blocks away—even more. Whenever she would host her “garden parties” (read: fundraisers), she would send me away for the day; I’ll admit that my short 1970s dresses sans underwear and thigh high platform boots and my stomping around and smoking might not have been great for her pristine reputation. I was kicked out after four months for being “non-compliant” but thankfully by that time, I had a tidy six months of sobriety. I moved in with another girl from the sober living and together we started a clothing line and stayed sober, for years. 

Though I’ve been through my share of other drugs since then, I’ve never actually used speed again. It absolutely fried my nervous system and that first seizure turned out to be the first of many—in fact, I have a seizure disorder because of that meth abuse. I know there are people that shoot speed for years and are fine but that’s not my story. I have a delicate system, I guess.

And, of course, I can collage like a motherfucker.

Amy Dresner is sober comedian who liberally pulls material from her depressive illness and drug addiction. She performs all over Los Angeles and is also on a national recovery tour called "We Are Not Saints." She's also written about sex and dating and managing chronic pain in sobriety, among many other topics, for The Fix. 

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