What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Screw a Xanax bar. Seriously! This photo is of half of one -- I found the full bar in my apartment last night when I was (attempting) to clean it. I'd been clean from pills for over two months, and what did I do? Immediately broke that bitch in half (a Xanax bar is two full mlligrams of knock-you-useless benzodiazpine: the most controversial and dangerous tranqulizing class of drugs) (painkillers aren't supposed to count as tranquilizers, though people use them that way) ... and then I popped that one milligram half in my mouth.
Big mistake. BIG. HUGE.
What the hell was I thinking? Didn't I remember the wrenchingly uncool wooziness of it -- the grogginess, the achy dullness, the depression of brain function, the shitty blankness, the downer-ness of it all? The SAD? The drunk feeling? I passed out with all my lights on and didn't dream for four hours. Then, at 4 am, I woke up -- still dazed, now depressed, hazy, irrationally hungry, with a terrible taste in my mouth. Or maybe I wasn't so much hungry as I was empty-feeling: I just wanted something to fill me up.
I haven't really written about this for the site yet, but I had major, major food issues throughout my thirteen ridiculously flat-out miserable years of prescription drug addiction. I was full-blown binge-and-purge bulimic for two of them. The only thing that made me stop? I was "wasting" my Adderall, Xanax and Ambien by emptying my stomach all of the time. So bulimia turned into a hideous cycle of weeks and weeks of starvation from food (thanks, Adderall, Dexedrine and Vyvanse), during which I binged instead on prescription amphetamines, taking -- on average, and I swear I do not exaggerate -- about 10-15 20 mg or more often 30 mg pills every day, when I was precribed to take, at most, 2 or 3 (I had one doctor who wrote me four 30 mg adderall/day for over five years, but he was totally wrong for doing that). I weighed 100 pounds and was green from never sleeping.
These prescriptions came from a rotation of three Upper East Side psychiatrists, from whom I would also score Xanax, Kolonopin and Valium, respectively, as well as Lunesta, Ambien, and Sonata. I saved these last six drugs for when the speed would run out (always about 20 days into the three different 30-day prescriptions -- I'd be out of all of them), then I'd hole up in my apartment and black out, wake up, wander outside at some ungodly hour to buy disgusting junk food, binge shamefully on my bed, and then black out again. And so it went, day after day, until it was time to re-up on speed again.
This is exactly what happened last night to me with this one stupid half bar of Xanax. I didn't expect it -- I used to have to take three bars to sleep. But last night I woke up at 4 am, put on sweatpants and an army jacket, and walked eight blocks to this deli that makes submarine sandwiches and got one, along with two Cokes, a Nantucket Nectars lemonade and two bags of chips. I ate it all, then blacked out again. NO BUENO!
Eating is not the end of the world, but binging alone on prescription pills and the sick feeling you have the morning after -- well, it sort of feels like it. Especially when you have a very lonely and sad past that still aches in you, that whispers to clean-from-pills-you when you are down about something: "The real you is the person who sits alone in the dark -- go home." Or, "Come back to me." Yes, addiction is very "Cold Mountain," if you think about it. Except it's all based in shame, and there's no Jude Law.
Did you know that at the best rehab I ever went to -- Silver Hill in New Canaan, Connecticut -- the chief of psychiatry -- who was generally a pretty composed and unflappable unit -- would become LIVID when discussing Xanax in America? That he said it was like prescribing alcohol to people, and that it was turning people into Xanax-alcoholics? That it should be yanked from every pharmacy in the world? Uh-huh.
Did you know that every pill dealer in downtown New York that I know (and oh, I know them all) can barely keep their Xanax in stock? That there are benzo addicts holed up all over my city and yours? That psychiatrists are doling this stuff out and letting people slip into a haze? I won't even talk about all of the accidents and overdoses -- so often it is in the mix of drug cocktails that kill people, most notably a movie star who needs no mention here -- it plays a part in?
Have you ever heard or seen a Xanax addict detoxing? HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OR SEEN A XANAX ADDICT DETOXING? It's worse than coming off heroin -- Google it -- and absolutely more dangerous, because of wildly serious,potentially fatal seizure risks. At a certain point, you can't do it without hospitalization.
A few years ago I was at a detox clinic in this weird town called Kearny, New Jersey (shitty Conde Nast insurance -- don't ask) and was waiting at the nurse's station to get blood work done for like 20 minutes. The entire time -- the ENTIRE TIME -- a man detoxing from ONLY XANAX was SCREAMING LIKE HE WAS HAVING HIS LIMBS CUT OFF. The only time he stopped howling in hideous pain and discomfort was to dry heave violently, OCCASIONALLY manage to actually puke, or to bang some furniture around. There was a nurse sitting outside his door who would go in when he shit his pants or whatever. Dude, I've been in and out of rehabs and psych wards my whole adult life and I'd NEVER been so fazed as I was by this guy.
Xanax: it's a fucking nightmare.
And last night I only took one milligram of it -- half a dumb bar -- and I can't even make myself throw the other half away, even after writing all this to you. I talk flippantly about addiction on here but it is a disease that will lure you back and break you in half just like that: We all need to take such care of ourselves and each other. God bless.