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You know what sucks about being an addict? A ten mile walk in the freezing cold to get pills on Christmas morning because you have no other options.

You know what sucks about telling your family you’re an addict right before the holidays? Everything.

I come from a very large Puerto Rican family. So usually for the holidays, we pick a house and see how many people we can cram into it while we stuff our faces with some of the best cuisine known to man. There’s music of course, and lots of love and laughter.

A few weeks before our annual Christmas party, I told my family I had been using drugs for a few years. My mom’s house was the lucky one picked to host the festivities that year and I was going to do my best to be a good little junkie and try not to ruin it like I had just ruined the last 10 years of my godforsaken life.

In the days leading up to the party, I had successfully weaned off the crack and was only shooting up opioids. I didn’t want to be too fucked up once family started to arrive.

You know what doesn’t suck about Christmas parties? All the purses, wallets, and car keys all over the house. I had only confessed to my mom and my brother about my substance abuse and I don’t think my mom had told anyone. I hadn’t yet graduated to fucking over every family member so the forecast to get over on a few aunts and cousins was looking really bright.

But I had to be on my best behavior, so I put that thought out of my mind. Just for tonight, I will not steal from my family. I shot up the rest of my pills earlier that day and decided I would just drink all the holiday beverages my family would take part in. I can do that, right? A little controlled drinking? Sure I can.

Keeping Up Appearances

You know what’s worse than drinking with family members who know you’re a junkie? Not being able to drink the way you want to, like a drunk. It’s a special kind of hell. Even before they knew, get-togethers and dinners sucked. They could all have a sip here and there, maybe get a little buzzed. But me, I just want to finish everyone’s glasses. Can’t they see the alcohol stuck on that ice cube?

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Amateurs.

I just want to feel good. I want to feel normal. Everyone is smiling and having a good time. I’m over here nursing this Bud Light about to freak the hell out. It’s amazing the torture we put ourselves through while trying to keep up with appearances. I’m talking way before we hit the fuck-it button and stop giving a damn about what they think. I was still trying to save face but oh god, the pain. The withdrawals from the opioids are sneaking up and my thought is: if I’m not going to get right the way I want, I can at least get shit-faced off of this free liquor being sipped on by my family.

Fuck. There are too many people here and my brother is watching every move I make. I know he’s concerned. I can see my mom texting my brother to check up on me and it’s pissing me off. I go out front to have a smoke and bring two beers with me. I can kill these quickly and ditch the bottles before anyone comes to join me. That way they don’t ask me if I’ve had too many.

This party sucks. I want to get high.

I text the closest dealer to me, a guy who lives about four miles away. I ask him if he’s got any pills on him. It’s about 9:30 p.m. when I get a text back. He tells me he’s good and that this pill is on the house because it’s Christmas Eve. 

How nice, my dealer is giving me a free pill for Christmas. What a guy! The only problem is, he’s not delivering. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s spending it with his family. What a devoted baby daddy.

Now I gotta figure out a way to get to him. My car was repossessed when I was in jail back in November and I’m sure as hell not asking a family member to go on a drug run with me.

It’s 9:45 and 50 degrees out, that’s not too bad. What a beautiful night to take a stroll. I mean, the temperature is dropping quickly but fuck it, let’s just walk out of this party with everybody you know and go for a quick little four-mile stroll. Who’s gonna notice?

Scoring Dope on Christmas Eve

I grab my hoodie and hit the block.

I scroll to a playlist filled with the most gangster, hood, female-degrading, drug-referencing music I can find. It’s funny how music can move an individual. It’s interesting to track the music we listen to when we get sober and how it changes when we morally begin to transform. Music is powerful. I’m a firm believer of the saying “garbage in, garbage out” and sometimes when someone shares their music with me in recovery, it reminds me of using or brings me to a mindset of just wanting to do hoodrat shit. It’s not healthy.

And what the fuck is up with everyone in early sobriety listening to Kevin Gates and these other mumble rappers?! But I digress.

I find the playlist I want to walk to and get to steppin’. I make it about two miles down the road before I start trying to flag down cars. The clock is ticking and I’m afraid my dealer is going to be asleep by the time I get there.

Have you ever tried to wake up a drug dealer in the middle of the night to score? It’s not a pleasant experience.

It’s getting really cold out. I should’ve worn pants. Dumbass.

Hey! I see a car slowing down. A half hour of waving my thumb out is finally paying off. I’m going to get a ride to my dealer’s house!

As the car gets closer, I realize it’s my brother. Fuck. He pulls up next to me and very wearily and with a tone of disappointment asks: “What are you doing, man?” I tell him I needed some fresh air and I was just going for a quick stroll. I know he doesn’t buy my response but he tells me to get in. We drive back home.

Damn. Two more miles, that was it. Just two more miles and I would’ve had my drugs.

I am pissed.

We get back to the house and the party has died down. Most of the family has left, the food has been put away, and the music has been turned down. I call my dealer to see if he’s still up. He tells me he’s about to go to bed but that he’ll leave the pill underneath the only green coffee cup in his cupboard. He tells me to call his baby momma when I get there and she’ll let me in. I tell him that I’ll probably be on foot so it’ll be an hour or two. It’s not a problem.

Okay, so all I have to do is wait for my brother to leave, which shouldn’t be long. My mom is already in the shower, that means she’ll be in bed in fifteen minutes. Alright, I got this.

Tomorrow we have to be up early to drive to my aunt’s house for breakfast and exchanging gifts with the rest of the family. It’s tradition. No worries. As long as I have my dope, I’m good.

A half hour goes by and it’s time to hit the block again. My mom is sleeping and my brother is gone.

I’m walking again and it’s cold. My dumbass didn’t think to throw pants on because I was too concerned about leaving as soon as I could.

The whole time I’m walking to his house, I’m thinking about how utterly powerless I am. It’s Christmas fucking Eve and I’m walking a total of now six miles to acquire one fucking Dilaudid. One. I am a hopeless piece of shit that cannot go a few hours without a fix.

It’s two in the morning when I get to his house and she’s not answering. I call her ten more times, still no answer. I start to blow his phone up, nothing.

I’ll be damned. I am not leaving this house until I get my drugs. It’s Christmas, damn it.

I start knocking on the front door which is a big no-no with this guy but I really need this pill. No answer. I walk to the end of his driveway and light a cigarette. I’ll smoke the whole thing, and try calling again. If no one picks up, I’ll try knocking one more time and if that doesn’t work, I’ll just call my mom and make up some sob story for her to come pick me up. No big deal, right?

I take two long drags from the cigarette, throw it out, turn around, and begin banging on the door.

A Gun to the Head

His half-asleep girlfriend opens the door and points a gun to my head. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Without flinching I tell her my name, tell her about the arrangement with her man and walk right past her and the pistol and straight into the kitchen. I open up the cupboard and look for the green coffee cup. Found it! I lift it up and can’t believe my eyes.

Either my dealer is super generous or he royally fucked up. There’s a bag with nine pills in it. I grab the bag and walk out the door. I turn around and tell his girlfriend that I’ll be by in the morning with the money.

I’m sure he’s gonna freak the hell out when she wakes him up and tells him I was in his house at two in the morning and took the whole bag. He knows where I live and he has a bad temper. I used to ride around with him to help “collect” his debts and needless to say, you don’t want to be in debt to this guy.

I begin to run as fast as I can. If I can at least get off his street, I know I’m good. It’s too late for him to do anything this early in the morning.

Six miles, 40 degree weather, two in the morning on Christmas Day, and now I have to walk four more miles to get back to the house and get right.

You know what sucks about being an addict? A ten mile walk in the freezing cold to get pills on Christmas morning because you have no other options.

When I finally got home, I couldn’t feel my face and my legs literally felt like Jello. My mom was awake and freaking out because she didn’t know where I was. I told her I was just walking around the neighborhood smoking and that it wasn’t a big deal.

I couldn’t even enjoy shooting up the pill because my body was so sore. I just fell asleep.

But at least I had more dope when I woke up to take part in all the Christmas festivities the next day. I felt like such a loser being with my family that Christmas. I spent the whole day in and out of the bathroom, getting right every 45 minutes.

A New Tradition

I love being able to look back on that Christmas and know that I don’t have to live like that anymore. The best gift I can give my family today is to show up this year to their party completely present and sober. It’s what I did last year, it’s what I plan on doing this year. No one is hiding their purse or wondering where I am going when I step out to smoke. I’m just a son and a brother enjoying his family. I look forward to Christmas parties now. Dread and anxiety has turned into excitement and joy and gratitude.

If nobody told you today that they love you, fuck it, there’s always tomorrow.

View the original article at thefix.com


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The Fix

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