Addiction is a serious condition that me and everyone around me has dealt with at some point in their life.

Some people I know got addicted to sweets, some got addicted to video games, some to anime, some to drugs.

It’s a case by case thing. People get addicted to different things, differently.

For a few people I knew from middle school. Male and female. It started with the attraction of money. They were broke on welfare, didn’t always have power or water, wore old hand me downs. They had bad influences surrounding them. Those types of things led to them making the decision to sell drugs to make quick money. Then they tried the drugs they sold to make that money. They eventually became dependent on those drugs. They did drugs for fun at first. Then it quickly became something they used to cope with the stresses of making money the way they did.

They fell in love with making money at a very young age. When you’re young, you’re very impressionable. And they got influenced by the people and enviroment that surrounded them. Their parents or older siblings/cousins sold drugs, did drugs, gang banged, robbed, fucked around etc. And some of their peers did the same things. As a young boy, you look to up to your father more than anything. You mimic him. You watch him. Everything he does, you do. When your father is a fiend, or a thief, or a dealer. You pick up on some of his habits and mannerisms. Without someone showing you a better way. You learn and walk down the same path as your father. You don’t actually realize how negative that lifestyle is until it’s too late. Because you’re him now.

For some, their father wasn’t there. As a young male, when you don’t have a father figure. You look to dominant male figures that surround you. For some it’s an older brother, or an uncle, or even a rapper on TV. As a young bull you see older males going to school, working 9-5s, unreliable cars, dirty clothes, just struggling trying to make ends meet. Then you see people with stacks of money, guns, bitches, nice cars, jewerly, living what appears to be a better way to life. Not seeing or realizing what comes with that way of life. So some were attracted to how they lived, how they talked, how they dressed and started following their footsteps. Started with committing petty crimes such as shop lifting, public intoxication, smoking at school or whatever they thought was cool. Whatever they thought would earn them recognition and respect. Then they progressed to selling product, robbing, and some other shit I won’t talk about. They would party and have fun experimenting with different substances. Eventually getting hooked because that’s what they have to cope with the stresses and issues that face them because of the decisions they made, or other pre-existing problems.

There was some kids who had strong family units, two parents, nice house, never worried about going a while without electricity or water, good role models, etc. But they thought their friends who had less and was out there getting into shit were cool. So they acted the part and started doing the shit too. Started with petty shit. Then they started drinking and trying different substances. Then they got hooked on the shit too. They had the luxury of choosing this lifestyle. And it eventually engulfed them.

All three paths ended with similar results.

In middle school they were fun, active, and still had that young enthusiasm. Had a lot of good times with them. They still had that candle lit. And I witnessed most of their candles go out. 12-14 years old and they already lost their grasp of their dreams. They live just to live now. Once whatever they have left is gone, they will be too.

They got addicted to drugs. They got addicted to money. They got addicted to getting bitches. They got addicted to the taste of alcohol. They got addicted to the thrill of robbing people. They got addicted to all that.

They were caught up in material and truely meaningless things. Which led to them hitting rock bottom, getting caught up, homeboys dying, felonies, chases, etc. Which bred depression, anxiety, trust issues, despiration, PTSD, etc. Drugs and alcohol was the only way they can cope with all of it.

This is a sad reality that a lot of the youth faces. I’ve seen it and experienced some of it myself.

My first addiction was video games. I was in elementary. I was very depressed. Madden, NBA Live and Halo was my escape from reality. My father figure recently left, my mom moved us in with my grandparents, we were already on welfare, got food stamps and everything, I would peak in my mom’s room and hear her crying, lots of things was going on. Eventually I accepted that my father was never coming back. So 4th grade I started acting out in school. Hung with trouble makers. Disrespected my teacher. Didn’t take school seriously. Used to get into stupid little scuffles with other kids. I started bottling up my thoughts and emotions. I kept everything to myself.

Eventually my mom and grandparents found out about my behavior. I was punished. So I got my act right just so I can play my video games.

Heading into middle school, my mom had already given birth to my youngest sister. She didn’t work anymore and decided to focus on college. My grandpa gave her a hard time. The deal when she moved in was she had to be working. But she had a baby and dealt with other problems that stuck her since her upbringing.

I flunked most of middle school. I didn’t get into all the shit some of my peers got involved with. But I do remember my mom slamming me against a dresser because I was caught on camera pantsing someone. I’m glad she did too. That shit is stupid as fuck.

My middle school experience was just me picking up bad habits, dealing with mental problems such as depression and anxiety, music and lots and lots of video games. I went to school only to come home and be a zombie in front of a screen. That was my life at one point.

Then freshman year came around. I did alright first semester. I tried doing the right things. I did a majority of my school work. Then second semester I fell off hard. I had a lot of peer pressure, I got bullied a little, lot of my friends from elementary and middle school turned their backs on me and other shit. And outside of school I had family members saying lots of negative things to me. I was called a bum. I was told that I’m just like my dad. I had a lot of problems and no one to really talk to. So I kept bottling everything in.

Peer pressure led to me drinking. I did it to fit in and to be “cool”. I would get drunk every weekend with a homie or two. I liked the feeling of being under the influence of alcohol. Video games wasn’t doing it for me no more. I needed something stronger to take the edge off. Alcohol did the trick. Whenever I’d feel really low I’d take a few shots of Fireball or bust open a Corona or whatever. I did it for a while, but heading into the summer it got out of hand. Drinking once or twice a month became drinking almost everyday at points. I turned into an alcoholic.

Heading into sophmore year my mom suspected that I started drinking and caught me once. She told the family. I got nothing but lectures. But no one asked why.

Sophmore year was freshman year repeated except my problems got worse and had new problems. I put on a mask of a funny guy to hide my pain. But at home I isolated myself from my family and just laid in my bed almost all day, everyday.

I was strong for a little though. For the first month of school I didn’t drink. I did my school work. I did good for a little while. But I eventually relapsed. Lots of things led to it but the main causes was a feeling of disconnect from everyone around me, depression, and me dwelling on my past. I’ve kept literally everything to myself since a youngin.

I’d drink myself to sleep pretty often. Then I had to wake up in the morning and get ready for school.

People knew me as a funny guy. Someone they can laugh with. But they didn’t know me. I just went through my days trying to make others laugh because that’s the only time I felt any self worth. I guess feeling worthless was the root cause of my addiction, and really, most of my problems.

Mid way through the first semester it got to the point where I chose between shooting myself in the head with a 9mm or chugging a bottle of whiskey or vodka.

Then I became real close friends with this kid. He introduced me to weed. At first I smoked it for fun when I’m chilling with my homeboys. But eventually, it almost entirely replaced alcohol. Instead of drowning my sorrows which only made my feelings worse. I would just smoke a joint or a bowl to feel a little better.

One night, I was really low. I stayed home from school and smoked weed. I ate, listened to some music, and slept. All I did. Then my mom came home, she was pissed. Yelled at me. But I wasn’t fazed much, I knew it was going to happen. I was too lost in my head to notice the concern in her voice. Later that night she came down stairs, crying. I stood up and she just hugged me, very tight. She was asking me what’s wrong. But no words would come out of my mouth. She asked if she wasn’t good enough for me, she asked if she wasn’t doing enough, she’s telling me that she’s sorry. She starts telling me how she thinks about suicide everyday, then she thinks of me and my two sisters, and gets up to go to work, to provide for us. Then I start crying, because she’s more than good enough, because I made her feel like she’s not good enough, because I love her dearly, because I don’t know what to say or how to say it, because I don’t feel good enough for her. We just stand there in silence for an hour, holding each other tightly, wiping our tears. Then we let go of each other, she says she loves me, and how she hates seeing me like this. Then goes to bed. I go to my room, and start crying again. Why am I such a fuck up? I comtemplate suicide, but then I think of my mom, and my family. I don’t want to pass my pain off to them. So I grab a bottle of Fireball. I look at it for 20 minutes. Thinking of all the times that my mom showed care, and smiled at me. Then I think of how I just made her cry. Then I twist the top off, and start chugging. Then I roll a joint. To feel happiness. To numb the pain, to ease the headache that I will feel at school tomorrow. I go and sit on my back porch. I light the joint. Staring hard at the flame. It’s like an angel in the dark night. I inhail, exhale, inhale, exhale. The whiskey is kicking in the same time the weed does. I just lay back staring into the night sky. Watching the smoke retreating back to the stars like an angel. Once it’s all gone. I’m engulfed by the darkness of night, with the demons whispering in my head, telling me that I’m worthless. That I should end it all, escape with the angel. So I’m no longer a burden on my family. But I can’t, the biggest burden would be my absence, the “what could’ve been”, the guilt they would feel if I was to take an early exit. So I toss the roach into the bush, stumble back to my bed, and sleep.

Sophmore year, I was faded trying to live life.

Then Junior year came around. I picked up a tobacco addiction over the summer the same way I picked up an alcohol addiction. I didn’t drink as much. Only when I felt I had to. I mostly got smoked out and smoked a cigarette or cigarello from time to time when I felt stressed out. I made lots of bad decisions and hung with the wrong crowd for a while. I don’t want to get into specifics. But the school year and summer kind of played out similar to how my homies from middle school lives played out.

Bunch of bullshit.

A close friend of mine went through similar things that I’ve went through. But he still stuck to video games. His father was abusive and left when he was real young. His little brother had a different father. Same deal. Had different guys come in and out of his life. His family was broke. We lived pretty much identical lives. Our moms were friends in high school too. Yet, I got into shit and he never did.

We played video games all the time all through elementary to freshman year. That was my brother. I’d go to his house every weekend and during the summer I’d stay for weeks and even a month at a time. They was my familia. Then they moved mid-way through freshman year. Once they were gone. I had no safe space to hide from my problems. So I hung with the wrong crowd and started doing other shit. That’s what triggered my life to spiral out of control.

Addiction is usually a result of mental illness.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, etc. ALL cause addictions.

These things are hard things to cope with. Some such as myself turn to alcohol. Some turn to comic books. Some people cut themselves.

Bottomline. You never see happy addicts.

The last thing you should do is turn your backs on them and shame them.

Get them help.

The root cause of addiction is a feeling of disconnect.

Connect with them. Talk to them. Send good vibes.

That’s the best thing you can do. Because that’s what they don’t get.

Looking back at my struggles with alcohol. It started with feeling disconnected and bottling everything up.

And no one really sat down to talk to me. And those who did attempt to. No words would come out of my mouth. Because I had so much to say and didn’t know how to say it.

But I’ve learned to deal with things on my own. I have no problem facing life by myself anymore.

Once I hit rock bottom in the summer before senior year. I found a sense of self worth and I overstood my purpose.

If I can’t be strong for me. I have to be strong for my family.

I have to be the male figure for my younger sisters that never had a male figure.

I have to be a man. I have to be the protector.

My past addictions have made me a stronger person. It’s easier to get over things. It’s easier to accept and live with things without turning to someone or something.

No matter how rough life gets. Find some motivation to help you drive through it. Whether it’s your kids, a significant other, your future, whatever. Find something that motivates you to get passed your struggles.

Don’t give in. Keep fighting.

I love you.

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