It starts off with the simple assumption that you’re invincible; bullet-proof, devoid of any and all vulnerability. You get together with some friends and decide to test your limits in the pursuit of fun and experimentation. The first few times, nothing bad happens, in fact you feel the best that you’ve ever felt in your life. You develop the mindset that nobody knows what they’re talking about and that overdoses are just myths meant to deter you from enjoying yourself – everybody else is stupid and you have it all figured out.
Time goes by and you notice changes in your mood, physical appearance and quality of life, but you ignore them until something happens that’s impossible to ignore. Before you know it, you’re trying desperately to revive your friend who has overdosed on booze and benzos, but you can’t because you’re tripping right along with her.
When I was seventeen years old, I knew exactly where I was headed and exactly what I had to do to get there. I had a plan and enjoying my life as a teenager, however I wanted, was part of it. I was by no means a waste of space, but I also wasn’t one of those kids that sweated every single detail and hyperventilated at the thought of not getting into an ivy league school. I started drinking socially when I was a freshman. I drank on the weekend in controlled environments and never let it interfere with anything I had to do.
The summer going into my senior year, my friends and I upped the ante by experimenting with drugs. It was a matter of boredom, timing, an exaggerated sense of our own freedom and the belief that nothing bad was ever going to happen to us. It never dawned on us that on any given weekend, we were gambling with our lives. There were a few incidents, but each time we would laugh them off and chalk them up to bad luck.
Four months before graduation, my friend overdosed on alcohol and benzos and that changed everything for me. I no longer felt invincible; in fact I started to feel like I could die at any moment. She was lucky enough to survive, but, like me, she went to rehab and never came back to school.
Although it’s been six years since that night, the image of her on the floor, twitching and convulsing is burned forever in my brain. What I remember most is being powerless to do anything to help her. It’s just one of many memories that makes me realize that I wasn’t as nearly as smart as I thought I was.
After rehab, I went to college and carried on with my life’s plan. I was lucky enough to learn my lesson off the back of someone else. This has been both a curse and a blessing, but the bottom line is that I’m alive to tell the tale, and that is not lost on me.
Staten Island, NY
Staten Island, NY