Tag Archives: Drug

A Stoner on Local Cable TV

Standard

The Human Condition [a tribute to René Magritte]

The Human Condition [a tribute to René Magritte] (Photo credit: [ piXo ])

One of the worst things about drug addiction is the tolerance factor.  When one uses drugs frequently they need more and more of them to get the effects they once experienced.  This was the case for me as April and May of 1998 rolled around.  I had been using harder drugs like psychedelics and prescription speed.  My marijuana use was through the roof.  To get any effect from using pot I would have to do 4 or 5 times the amount that I normally did to even feel it, and at times I didn’t even enjoy it any longer.  This did a number on my lungs.  There were times at the end of a dope smoking session that I would feel as if I could barely breathe.

It’s amazing the illusion one cultivates in the midst of addiction.  Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.  (Proverbs 10:23)  It’s a horrible thing to have your health deteriorating at the age of 16, but when you’re high you almost don’t care.  As time rolls forward you convince yourself that committing slow suicide is the way to go.  People used to ask me at the age of 16, “So Ben, what do you see yourself doing with your life?”  I would answer, “I don’t know man.  I might not even make it past 20…  But I’m going to party as hard as I can until then.”  Drugs had become my god.  I even believed that my destiny was destruction, and my glory was in their shame, because my mind was set on earthly things.  (Phil. 3:19)  I was even willing to die because of drugs and for drugs, because they seemed to give me my only moments of manufactured happiness amidst the desperation and brokenness of the social order I observed around me.  On the outside I was the court jester, a king of fools, a peace-child wanna-be sixties hippie, and on the inside I was growing more cynical and angry every day.  The alienation that one experiences in the midst of chronic drug use is profound and deeply devitalizing.

Despite the popular music of 1998, early 90’s bands like Alice in Chains began to sing the lyrics of my existence.

Down in a hole, feelin’ so small

Down in a hole, losin’ my soul

Down in a hole, outta control

I’d like to fly but my

Wings have been so denied

In moments alone, stark moments of sobriety which lasted only minutes and hours, I was buried in a hole.  I was lying to everyone I really cared about- my girlfriend Harmony, my parents, and even some of my friends.  In fact, many of my friends were becoming afraid of me.  I began to identify more with people who I once thought were too crazy or too criminal to associate with.  There were strange moments when I longed for my childhood again…  days when I felt untainted and more innocent.

Where was my soul in all of this?  I suppose I had buried it beneath the mounds of drugs, alcohol, and lapsed memories.  My conscience had been hardened in so many ways.  I didn’t care if I turned in homework at all, and I had no problem lying all of the time.  It didn’t matter to me if everything around me crumbled.  “These are all things that society just expects me to do man…”  I would reason to myself.  I may have kept a calm exterior because I was self-medicated all of the time.  But deep inside my world was spinning out of control.  “If there is a God out there he definitely wouldn’t want anything to do with me”, I often thought in my darkest moments.  I would just do another shot, smoke another bowl, pop another pill or drop another tab to try and forget about my deeper thoughts.  To me, God was a distant memory, a figment of my childhood imagination.  “Maybe God doesn’t really exist”, I thought.  “Maybe just the moral, do-gooders of the world made him up to feel like they’re better than everybody”.  These were the honest reflections of my mind as I became more marginalized by the mainstream people of my little microcosm of culture.  “No one will ever really love me”, I thought.  “Nobody really wants to understand me or know me”.  “I’m all alone in this world…  in my addiction and misery”.  I would’ve mustered the strength to pray if I thought someone was listening, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  How was I even sure that anyone was there?  Nobody really cared anyways, I thought to myself.

Even music had become an afterthought for me.  It was ironic, because I had originally thought that drugs would enhance my music.  Quite the opposite was true.  In years before, I had written between thirty and fifty songs a year.  In the year of 1997, I had only written about twenty songs, which were getting increasingly weird.  The recordings I made contained more mistakes than ever, and my vocals were out of key at times.  Even the sound of my voice deteriorated as I assaulted it daily with a variety of smoke, sleepless nights and hard living.  Throughout the winter and spring of 1998, and all the way into summer, I continually worked on the recording of one eight-minute song, and kept scrapping parts because I was too constantly intoxicated to produce anything of musical value.  I certainly hadn’t found the inspiration that I thought would come from LSD…  Lucy was so far away in the sky with diamonds that I couldn’t make out her distorted face in the clouds.  The only happiness I experienced was chemical… fake… and I began to view everyone and everything through that lens.  ”What a bunch of fakes and phonies” I thought about the world and society around me.

In Ohio, at Hudson High School, during the spring of 1998, the teachers had gotten tired of a bad contract and decided to go on strike.  This meant that we would get a lot of press from the local news stations.  This also meant that they would try to set up a system to keep us in school.  They sent teachers in to substitute and pick up where the others had left off.  But because of the strike we knew there was no legal requirement for us to attend.

I remember when the cameras from the local news showed up at our institution.  All the students had decided to march out of the building and skip at 10am.  There was nothing anyone could do about it- not the school board, not the cops.  When 10am arrived, we all marched our way out of the temple of learning in great defiance.  I felt like I was part of the late 1960’s.  The cameras from the news station were there as we walked out.  I was definitely out of my mind when I saw them, and was yelling expletives as they passed by…  I was shocked that I didn’t make it on the local news that night at 11pm.  Looking back I realize how silly I was to think that they’d put a loudmouth kid swearing at the camera on TV.

This began 18 days of freedom from responsibility.  It was like summer vacation.  We never went to school.  Of course I started to go completely out of control.  I was using more than I ever had before.  I honestly don’t even remember one detail about those 18 days.  I just know that I was let loose like a wild, untamed golden retriever in a vacant candy store.  I was bound to leave a trail of devastation behind…  and have no idea exactly what that devastation even looked like.

I do know that we had RockFest for our Junior year of High School after the strike was over.  I was playing bass in a psychedelic cover band with mostly guys that were older than me at the show, and was invited to play one acoustic tune on my own.  The Hudson local channel had come to film the performance and interview the performers.  I only heard about this afterwards, because they had supposedly interviewed me and I had absolutely no recollection of even talking to them.  But there I was, on local TV for all the parents of Hudson students and local authorities to see me.  I never watched what I said, but people told me that I acted completely insane and babbled in incoherent riddles.  I do also know that I played the song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd acoustically when I had my solo spot.  I invited an older friend, Willie Martin, to sing with me.  At one point I was addressing the audience;

“Hey man…  is Willie Martin out there?” I said into the microphone before an audience of about 300 kids.  “I need him to come up and sing with me…  Yo Willie, where are you brotha?  Haha…”

I was told later that I kept asking for Willie to come up, for about 3 minutes.  He had been right next to me on the microphone to my left for about 2 of those minutes.  I do remember only the moment when I looked over and saw him.  I exclaimed,  “Oh man, there you are!”  and everyone was laughing at me.  I officially had the reputation of being a complete stoner.

The summer of 1998 was about to unleash me into a wild realm of reckless existence.  My friend Mitchell began to become afraid of doing harder drugs.  He backed away from my pursuit of deeper aberration.  I was beginning to hang out in the haunts of my town with the freaks, drop-outs and super bohemians.  I had friends in their twenties who dealt drugs.  I was stepping into a world of danger that I knew nothing about, but I didn’t care where it led me…  whether it be insanity, prison, or even death.  I know that my parents were afraid for me, but I didn’t care what they thought anymore.  I didn’t want to follow any rules except the voice of id.

Advertisements

Secret Acid Man

Standard
postcard - drugs - LSD Acid Guy (b&w)

postcard – drugs – LSD Acid Guy (b&w) (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

After my second bad trip I was badly shaken.  I would spend many moments in frantic tears, mourning the innocence of my childhood, the regrets of all my lies, the fractured relationship with my parents, the tattered remains of my relationship with my girlfriend Harmony, and all the missed moments to simply love and be loved.  I wanted to flee from drug usage and never turn back.  I wanted to become sober and remain that way for the rest of my waking life.

The words of Fuel’s “Shimmer” blared on the radio in the Fall of 1998.  The end of the chorus spoke the lyrics; “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade, away again”.

Every addict has sobering moments.  Chris Farley of the great era of SNL in the early nineties played a lesser-known character that would always say he was going to get sober, and then inevitably would get drunk or high again.  This is a clip of that skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sSnkqpVSBY.  This depicted the inconsistency of “sobering moments”.  Drug addicts seem to have no perception of what “rock bottom” really is.  One could ride the edge of insanity, end up near death or in prison, and still crave the feeling of being high or drunk.  It’s a deeply ingrained mentality and a way of life.  Addicts truly deceive themselves into thinking that they’re not hurting anyone but them.  They don’t realize that they’re shattering the lives of everyone who loves and cares for them because of their self-destruction.  What they’re doing resembles suicidal behavior, because they truly begin to think that they are worthless.  “No one will miss me if I overdose or die.”  A drug addict will reason.  “I might as well stay high to avoid the pain.”

I was a true addict.

Two weeks into my stint with complete sobriety, I was sitting at Arabica coffee house in Hudson, Ohio, having a cigarette and drinking a coffee.  My girlfriend Harmony showed up to meet with me.  I was happy to see her.  Things were going better between us since I had been sober.  I looked into her eyes and noticed something this particular day.

“Harmony, your eyes look red.”  I said to her.

“Ummm, yeah whatever.”  Harmony responded.  She was never good at keeping things from me.

“Harmony did you just smoke weed?”

“Well yeah I did Ben…”

We got into a huge fight.  I told her that I was going to go and get high again, and it was her fault.  It would never take long for me to find a friend to pull me back down the hole.  I tracked down an acquaintance, Clint Thorusen, who had a bunch of weed on him.  He smoked a couple of pipes full with me, and I was back.  Stoner Benny lived on.

A couple weeks before, after my traumatic experience on magic mushrooms, I had asked Harmony to stay sober with me, and she had reluctantly agreed.  Obviously she wasn’t ready to stay sober.  I obviously wasn’t either.  It wasn’t even fair of me to expect her to keep a promise to me, because I had lied my teeth off to her for our entire relationship.

Rewind back 5 months into April of 1998…

Harmony was always afraid of my LSD use, so after my first few trips and trying to pressure her into taking it, she made me promise her that I would never do it again.  I lied to her and agreed.

In the months that followed, I did LSD once or twice a week.  I never told Harmony about it.  When she would notice that I was acting stranger than usual, I would just tell her that I had smoked some really strong pot.  There were a few times that she asked me if I was tripping.  I would just lie to her face.  Drugs make a person a more effective liar sometimes, especially the harder drugs, because they sear your conscience like a hot iron.  But even the most effective liars eventually get found out, “for there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

One night I took some LSD, and went to a party at Dana Smith’s house, where Harmony was.  At this time, I was always seeing how far I could ride the edge of this lie I was keeping up with.  This particular night I don’t even remember, but I know that I was acting completely out of my head, and it was obvious that it was more than alcohol or THC floating in my skull.  Harmony got really angry with me for the way I was acting.

The next memory I have is being at home, coming off of my trip.  I called Dana’s number at about 2:30am.  Her parents’ were out of town and Harmony was staying there for the night.  These were the days before cell phones as well, so people only had land-lines.  Dana answered the phone and put Harmony on.  I was welling up with guilt as I tried to find the courage for what I was about to admit.  Harmony got on the phone, “What the **** do you want?”  She barked at me.  “Ummmm, how are you doing?”  I sheepishly responded.

“Look Ben, if you don’t have something really important to say to me, I’m getting off of the phone.”  She replied angrily.

“I’ve got something to tell you Harmony.  Just please don’t hang up on me.”

I then admitted that I was currently on LSD, and had been dropping acid regularly for the past few months.  Harmony completely flipped out on me.  Our trust had been broken.  She kept hanging up on me as I tried to reason with her in my psychedelic stupor.  At one point, she finally hung up and I kept calling back, only to get a busy tone. (these don’t exist anymore either, but used to be the sound you’d hear when someone left their phone off of the hook!)

At this time, I was an impulsive drug user and liar.  I was also an impulsive romantic.

I snuck out of my house at 3:30 am, tripping on acid, and began what would be a 2-mile long run across town to where Dana’s house was.  I may have been sixteen years old for almost a whole year, but I didn’t yet have my license because I was a lazy pot-head.  I couldn’t drive, so I jogged across town.

There I was, a long-haired hippie kid, high out of his mind, jogging 2 miles across town, jumping behind bushes and trees when a car would pass by, afraid that the cops would catch me past curfew.  The drug made this trek seem like a surreal nightmare.  Every shadow that I passed by seemed like a monster, and every street lamp a neon, celestial galaxy vortex that could suck me in at any moment.  I was determined to make it to Dana’s house and talk to Harmony.

I finally arrived and knocked on the door.  Harmony came outside.  She was stoned and drunk.  I was still on acid.  We tried to talk things out and they got progressively worse.  As the sun began to creep up on the suburban Ohio horizon, we broke up.

Yet it wasn’t long before Harmony and I got back together after that.

Fast-forward a few months into the fall of 1998.  After my stint with sobriety, I had fallen back into doing drugs again.  Harmony and I were still together, but things were rockier than ever.

One night, as I was coming off of some combination of various poisons, I received a call from Harmony.

“Hey Ben!”  She said rather enthusiastically.

“What’s up crazy girl.”  I responded in a stupor.  “Crazy girl” was a nickname I always used for her.

Harmony went on to explain to me that she had gotten drunk and fallen asleep next to this guy the night before, his name was James Sooner.  He was an angry, muscular dude.  She assured me that she hadn’t kissed him or anything.  I couldn’t believe it.  We got into the biggest fight ever, and broke up for what seemed like the last time.

It was the Fall of my Senior Year of High School.  At this time, I was sure that Harmony and I would never break up.  She was my closest friend and I had hopes that we would be together to the end.  Breaking up with her sent me into an uncontrollable depression.  I would spend nights sobbing my eyes out and trying to get high enough to forget the pain.  I wrote songs and poems about her, declaring that I hated her and never wanted to speak to her again.

When an emotionally traumatic event occurs in an addict’s life, it triggers a greater dependence on their drug and alcohol habit to cope with it.  Breaking up with Harmony would send me into a more severe era of drug abuse than ever before.

Eating LSD for Breakfast, and Experiencing Hell

Standard
Mayor Hall and Lucifer

Mayor Hall and Lucifer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I slipped into deeper depression in the Fall of 1998 than I had ever experienced before.  The summer seemed like a vague memory, and all quests for the omniscient faded into a vague fog behind me.  I had tasted and seen of the chemical darkness.  I was going to jump back down into the chasm of addiction more deeply than ever.

I was a senior in High School.  I was failing all of my classes, and I didn’t care at all.  I didn’t do homework or put in effort.  I may have had little stints where I would try and be sober and grades would start to rise, but then something would happen again and I’d be back to my old tricks.  Just to illustrate well, I was taking seventh grade math in sixth grade, and by twelfth grade I was taking tenth grade math, so I had officially fallen three years back academically.

Because of my misfit academic career, I was in a freshman level geology class.  I was the only senior there.  I had long hair far past my shoulders by this time, which was pulled behind my ears and swooping out on the edges.  I had a goatee that made me look a bit like a devil, and always wore psychedelic shirts featuring the Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Zildjan cymbals, and bands like Yes and Rush.

My girlfriend Harmony and I had broken up.  I was a scholastic ignoramus.  My creative passion for writing and creating music was at an all time low.  My addicted mind could only go back to the desire to do harder drugs again.  I had lost my way towards joy even more than before, and could not sleep unless I had done wrong; I was robbed of sleep unless I had made someone stumble. (Prov. 4:16)

These are how my nights before slumber went; I would lie awake with a guilty conscience, restless.  I would have to drink a beer or pack a pipe full of pot and smoke it just to sleep.  If not, I would be left to my thoughts.  Regrets would swarm around my mind like a legion of angry yellow-jackets, stinging my brain.  I would think of my parents, and how we had come to despise each other so much that we constantly fought, yelled and cursed.  I would think of my ex-girlfriend Harmony and the fact that she had found a new boyfriend.  I would think of all the people I had dragged down, who were living a drug infested life because of my influence.  It was too overwhelming to bear, so I would medicate myself once again, just for a night of inebriated slumber.

I was stoned all day, every day, mocked by those younger than me in High School.  I started to take LSD more intensely than before.  I would eat it in the mornings before school for breakfast with a bowl of Frosted Mini-wheats and a joint for dessert.  I would end up in strange situations at school every day…

One time I was in geology class, on acid, and having a rather bad experience on it.  We had a teacher, Mrs. Albee, who was a kind, loving and compassionate lady.  She even put up with my strange antics in class, trying to love and understand me (while occasionally making a joke towards me, which was completely understandable!).  On this day, I was having a very bad moment in my trip.  The walls were breathing, and dark shadows were everywhere, as if the power of hell was alive in the room.  I noticed something strange about Mrs. Albee.  She had what looked like a white force field around her, and none of these dark shadows and images could penetrate it.  It scared me so badly that I actually yelled out, “Whoa!!”  Then I came out of the intense wave of the drug, only to realize that an entire class of freshman were laughing at me, this crazy drug-addled maniac who had just publicly exposed his madness.

I found out later, that Mrs. Albee was a follower of Jesus…

Another time, I was on LSD with my friend, Kristian, who was angry about his Mom divorcing his Dad and leaving his home in Orange County, California, to move in with his new stepdad, whom he hated thoroughly.  In all his bitterness, Kristian would often join me on these drug escapades.  We were tripping, and I pulled my car, a 1988 Buick LeSabre with 250,000 miles on it, into his driveway (I had finally obtained my driver’s license at the age of 17).  We got out of the car and locked the doors, and I realized that I had left the keys in the ignition, with the car still running.

“Oh man, what are we gonna do???”  I exclaimed.

“Dude I don’t know!”  Kristian replied.

We knew that we would have to call the cops to unlock the door, and I had drugs and paraphernalia in every crevice of that car.  I grabbed a baseball bat from Kristian’s garage, and smashed the small, triangular window behind the rear passenger window, to bits.  We unlocked the doors and turned the car off, then duct-taped the window with grey tape.  Things like this put my flagrant drug habit on display for the world to see.  They used to call my car “The Shwag Wagon”, and people would flip a coin to not have to sit by the cold, duct-taped window while riding with me into dens of mayhem.

Deep down, I was coming apart at the seams.  I would use LSD 2 or 3 times a week, even during school.  All the friends I once had became afraid of me, because I was going crazy.  I was depressing and frightening to be around, I’m sure.

My trips began to go into a deeper realm of darkness than ever before.  There would be times when I would see skeleton shaped heads weaved into the carpet in my room.  I would stare at the floor and it would turn into a frightening scene- souls in turmoil who were being tormented in a place of punishment.  When I would see images like this, I’d ask those who were tripping around me, “Dude, do you see that?”  They would always reply, “Yeah, totally.”  We’d then describe the hallucination in detail to each other, realizing we were seeing the same thing.

This is why I believe that LSD uncovers a spiritual world that is hidden from us in every day life.  It is not a world of beauty and kaleidoscopic wonder.  It is a dark world, bereft of light and joy.  I would read of a place three years later that seemed similar to this place, a place that Jesus talked of in Luke 16:23.

As I entered the vile sub-culture of acid-freaks, I would hear stories of trips worse than my own.  One thing each person seemed to have in common was that they would literally experience hell.  I had a friend, a drug dealer, that took so much acid one day that he literally saw Satan jump out of the ground and rip his heart out before his very eyes.  I had another friend that went to an underworld, where he saw demons and minions gnawing at the souls of men.  Mind you, many of us had no belief in these things, but this drug would cause us to experience them.  I, for one, had no knowledge of the Bible or any religious upbringing or instruction, so it couldn’t have been a figment of my imagination.  The whole world of it was just plain strange and scary.

This is the cycle of addiction.  As Lenny Kravitz sang in November of 1998 on my Buick Lesabre radio in Cleveland Ohio, dialed to 100.7 WMMS radio;

I wish that I could fly

Into the sky

So very high

Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees

Over the seas in all degrees

To anywhere I please

Oh I want to get away

I want to fly away

And that was me.  I just wanted to experience an altered reality.  Even a dark reality deceived me into being better than my own.

Before you run to judge the life of a drug addict, remember this; They are enticed into a hole that they don’t feel they can dig themselves out of.  Sometimes the reality they have created for themselves is worse than the reality within their addiction.  They are truly stuck in hell.  Escape seems like a better route than dealing with all the destroyed friendships and family relationships.  It’s a vicious cycle.  An addict needs someone to penetrate through all that garbage, and give them a dose of reality and honesty, laced with love and compassion.  God gives this stuff out freely, and uses His true followers to dispense it on others.