First Person: How I Became a Junkie - Page 2

By Amy Dresner 11/13/12

A guy I met in rehab shot me up for the first time. And then the needle and I had a love affair all our own. 

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I went to detox twice in Mexico over one summer. There was a clinic in Tijuana that espoused intravenous amino acid therapy for addiction. I was still very resistant to AA at this point so my parents were willing to pay for me trying everything else: shamans, biofeedback, therapy, exorcisms, acupuncture, herbology. But every time I returned to LA, I promptly relapsed.

Shooting up is a loner activity. Show up to a party with a six-pack and some syringes and you’ll really freak people out. There was this Texan kid I used to smoke crack and have sex with and even he was tripped out by my new habits.

As my addiction continued, most of my friends fell away. They were frightened and didn’t want to watch me kill myself. But I had one friend who would talk to me: she’d call every morning to see if I was still alive, which I found annoying but sweet. One day she asked casually if I would talk with her friend who’d had a stroke from crack at 23 and was now clean a few years.

“Just listen to her story,” she urged me. I agreed, not having the slightest clue I was about to be 12 stepped. The girl told me how her parents were so convinced she was going to die that they had bought her a grave plot. She told me about her strokes and her arrests and everything she said made me feel safe enough to share my stories with her. I knew that she had been there, she understood, and she didn’t care that I was high as fuck while I was talking to her. I felt a certain kinship. She was clean and she seemed happy. I wanted to get clean, too—I just didn’t think it was possible.

At some point I agreed to meet her at an AA meeting so I drove over there with ace bandages wrapped tightly over my bloody arms. I sat in the meeting, sweaty and shaking, but I heard something that struck me—I don’t remember now what it was. And I cried. I remember thinking, “Yes, I felt that, too. Yes, I think that, too.” Thus began my first sobriety.

I began my detox in cool hipster Hollywood meetings. I was skinny and pale and wore a parka in the 90-degree heat, trembling, with fading track marks on my arms and neck. I had a few slips but never touched a needle. When I had 30 days, I went home and cut lines with my 30-day chip to celebrate. The irony was not lost on me.

It’s been six years since I’ve shot coke but I still fantasize about it a lot. Whenever I look down and see my prominent veins, I run a finger along them. I watch, salivating, as nurses take my blood at hospitals. If I see somebody shoot up on Intervention, my heart begins to race wildly. I have never come close to shooting up again, nor has anybody done it in front of me. But the obsession lingers on, like the memory of an old boyfriend that you just can’t stop loving, no matter how abusive and dark he was.

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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Amy Dresner is a recovering drug addict and all around fuck up. She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012. When she isn't humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she's freelancing for Refinery 29, Alternet, After Party Chat, Salon, The Frisky, Cosmo Latina, Unbound Box, and Psychology Today. Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books. Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.