woman lighting up blunt close up

“My Brush with Addiction”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

A brush with addiction is a dance with the devil, and it is one that I have pranced myself a number of times. It started as nothing harmful, just as it always does. My friend had introduced me to marijuana as I started my freshman year, and every once in a while, every week or so, I would smoke something close to one half-gram of cannabis flower to relax my mind, as I had often experienced considerable levels of stress; it was a form of self-medication. I had heard many stories of children, kids my age, smoking laced cannabis products, and I knew that this was a real danger, even though I live in a small town.

But I wouldn’t conduct genuine research for quite a long time, and this would inevitably come to be the foremost cause of my prolonged ignorance to the real danger of this phenomenon. I would come to learn that in 2021, the first year I was actually smoking, there were over 100,000 overdose deaths recorded in the United States, a countless number of which originating from opiate-laced cannabis products. A countless number of which could have been me, that could have left a mother without her son, a father without the little one who reminded him of himself the most, the sweet old lady three blocks down with one less grandson, and a girl, no older than I, without her rock.

I would transition from sneaking hits of my father’s legal stash to accepting things from friends, as I was somewhat aware of the danger, but it wasn’t on the top of my mind at all times. I didn’t think I was being peer pressured, it never manifested in the form that school taught me it would; my friends wouldn’t blatantly pressure me, they would just offer things, and whenever they did, they took care to make sure that I was okay.

I moved from cannabis flower to edibles, then to THC cartridges. These black-market extracts would become both the light of my life and the bane of my existence. These cartridges were so convenient that I was never sober. I couldn’t go a day without using them. They lit the world up, and they made things bearable.

I couldn’t eat unless I smoked more. I couldn’t sleep unless I smoked more. I couldn’t get up in the morning, and if I did, I was beyond irritable, and I’d have the motivation to do nothing at all. If I had nothing, my friends would give things to me. I got desperate. And that’s when I started getting caught by my family, which began to fracture my relationships with those I loved most.

It would take a mistake on my part, agreeing to hold onto a nicotine vape for a friend, for the school to become aware of my active addiction, when a school security guard found it on my person. As per the terms of my agreement with the school, I would begin counseling on campus.

This outlet was what I was missing. My parents are loving, my friends are caring. But I, myself, did not go to anyone I loved, out of fear that it’d impact how they’d see me. With the help of the Clinic, my family, and several good friends, I would ultimately snap out of this addiction, readjust myself, realign my vision, and work harder than ever before to prove to myself, and others, that my faults do not, cannot, and will not ever define me.

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