I am a recovering marijuana addict who was raised during the Peace and Freedom Movement of the turbulent ’60s in Berkeley, California. When my girlfriends said that they would never smoke pot or do drugs I kept quiet because I always knew that I would…someday (and for my entire adult life). It wasn’t my choice to start using, though. My dad got me stoned when I was very young, which I do not remember. When I was six, my father dropped seven hits of LSD, flipped out, and committed himself to the mental ward at a state hospital. He was released in 1971 and I haven’t seen him since. When I was nine I was given a hit of mescaline by a family friend. My path was set when I carved “F*** You!” in the sand in six-foot letters. Shortly after that, I was stealing all the pot I could find and lying about it. By the time I turned thirteen I was smoking all day every day. I moved out when I was fifteen to run from the pain and to use to my heart’s content.
From day one I did drugs for only one reason—to escape. I had experienced so much trauma by the time I was seven that I simply did not want to feel or be in my own skin. The chaos around me was far more than I could handle as a young child. I remember consciously choosing my friends based on my marijuana use and dropping people who did not fit in with my need for getting high. My life was shaped by chasing the high from that point on. I was dealing and putting myself in dangerous places to support my lifestyle. I had no regard for anyone else and blamed the whole world for my problems, but now I know that the problem was really the disease within me. I continued in the vicious cycle of addictive behavior for a long time, even into my recovery.