My Last High: Recollections of Youth and Sobriety


Getting sober young can be, in a word, terrifying. I got clean at 22, an age when the world of intoxications and youthful indiscretions is just starting to open up. I was able to legally drink, new marijuana legislation was being proposed across the U.S. (thanks Colorado and Washington for waiting until I got sober) and as an addict I was looking forward to years of blackouts. Yet after 3 and a half years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol, I’m no longer terrified—I’m excited. I’m excited about the fact that I get to experience true friendship instead of the empty list of acquaintances I had who would score dope with me. I’m excited about being able to finish my education instead of being a college drop out (third time’s the charm!). I’m excited that people think I’m trustworthy and kind and loyal. But most of all, I’m excited that I don’t ever have to wake up sick with the thought of scoring dope as my only option.

Whenever I think of the parties or clubs I am missing out on, or of the idea that I can smoke just one bowl, I remind myself of my very last high. I suppose my story is fairly typical. Years of addictive behavior led me down a self-destructive path from weed to acid to oxys, all the way down to heroin, my eventual drug of choice. My last three years of using were consumed by this drug. Every penny I had went into filling my needle. I lost friends, jobs, my freedom, and nearly lost my life.

Towards the end of my using, I could see the walls closing in. I knew I didn’t have long, and that I would either have to get clean or give up my life. Like many young addicts though, I decided I wanted to go out with a bang. I spent hours trying to find dealer, calling friends who might be holding. But nobody was around. In the end, my last high consisted of me scraping a few old baggies for one last, unsatisfying shot.

From time to time I like to remind myself of this person. I was someone who was so consumed with my addiction that I’d go to any lengths. Yet in the end my entire life was a metaphor for that last high. Disappointing, lonely, and downright pathetic. I was, in a very literal way, scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Reminding myself of this last day is a good way to remember that sobriety is not terrifying—addiction is terrifying. The thing that scares me more than the though of never having another drink is the thought of turning back into that person I was 3 and a half years ago. Many young people in recovery struggle with the seemingly monumental task of permanent longterm sobriety. The truth is that the secret to staying clean isn’t a secret at all. Take it one day at a time and remember what you’re striving toward.

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