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Six Months Sober II

 Spare Change News (USA) 21 March 2019

Since getting sober last August, over six months have passed. Since my first ‘sober’ article, I have grown and learned a lot. For this reason, it is difficult to both reflect on the present while bringing you up to date. (1577 Words) - By Aaron James

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At the same time, I dare not to make this solely about me.  While my experiences are important to defend my position, it is my position that I care most about.  My position is this; there is no correct way to get to the definition of, 'sober.' 

Before I go on, in order to help defend my position, let me talk briefly about a learning experience I had back in September of last year.  I was living in a sober house in Roxbury while attending an outpatient program at Bournewood hospital during the days. 

I had and still have a sick feeling towards medications.  When I kicked Ecstasy back in 2000 the doctors tried dozens of combinations of drugs with me.  And, yes, I would give each medication its due time to take effect, at least six weeks.  I never found the right combination.  In fact, many made me feel more depressed, moody, and anxious.

  That was all ten years ago.  I am manning up this time and giving into my pride.  While I believed marijuana and alcohol was my medication, I could not in good faith, believe that this had worked given my current situation.  I wanted to go completely sober and for that reason I was willing to give 'legal' prescribed medicines a chance, one last attempt with an open mind, no drinking and NO MARIJAUNA!

The nurse at the program had me on the second combination I was trying, Zoloft with Prazosin.  I had tried Zoloft before, however, the nurse convinced me that with the Prazosin to help me sleep the Zoloft should work better.  I was willing to go with anything.  I told them my life was in their hands and to just get me better.

The combination was working!  I was sleeping like I had never slept before!  I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.  I was not as anxious after a couple of weeks with the Zoloft.  I had never felt better.  The nurse upped the Prazosin on me, twice within two weeks.  While I noticed a little more tiredness in the morning, I loved it.  I was in a trance, a drug like high, each morning.  One such morning the nurse noticed my droopy eyes, 'Aaron, I think we may have increased the meds too fast.' she said to me before the morning group. 

I disagreed, I felt great.  She said we would talk later.  That afternoon, before we got to talk, the nurse held a group on medications.  I eventually asked the nurse about my new miracle medication, "how about Prazosin?" I asked.

She explained it was a newer medication that came out of the Gulf War back in the nineties to help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Typically it was used to calm nightmares and help people sleep.  I pressed on, "Sides effects?"

The nurse said not too much is known given how new it is.  However, in older folks that have used it for a while and stop suddenly there have been signs of increased chances for a stroke.  I did not want to hear that.  In my mind, now, I was required to take the drug.  If I choose to try to stop at any point I could have a stroke.  I did not want to be required to take any drug.  What if I lost my prescription and had to go a couple of days without taking it?  The fear created nervousness, I started shaking, then I felt sweat, I removed myself from the room, "I'm not feeling right." I stated as I exited.

I was heading outside for a smoke.  I recall walking down the hallway, and walking into a wall.  In my mind I kept walking, heading for the door.  However, upon hitting the wall I fell down.  The next thing I knew I was on the ground with the nurse and others from the group hovered above me, 'Aaron, wake up, Aaron…' I heard the nurse scream frantically.  What had happened?  I do not remember falling down.  What happened?  I had a seizure!

So much for my miracle drug!  I do not blame the nurse as I had wanted a higher dosage and she warned me that I may get overly tired.  I was fine with the risks. 
Now I am not. At that point I made a choice and made a choice for myself.  This is where I differ from AA and NA.  This is where my position stands firm.  We are all different people.  I decided that I was going to judge myself on my productivity.  I knew when I drank I was anything but productive.  However, I could not allow myself to go back to drinking because I relapsed with marijuana.  Currently, I am on Zoloft and only Zoloft. 

However, if I were to tell you I have not smoked marijuana in the last six months, this would be a lie.  And for some of my readers, you may be disappointed and consider some of my previous statements misleading and I reply, fair enough.  I know if you are an AA member you would not consider me six months sober.  But I do.  How often and how much I smoke really should be none of your concern.  How hard and often I work you do have the right to inquire more about.  Currently I work fifteen hours a week promoting my writing with Spare Change News and another twenty hours on the phones raising funds for the Democrats.  I need both jobs to keep afloat.

Like I mentioned in previous articles, we all have our own paths.  We choose our paths and only we know what works for us.  Drinking and other drugs destroyed my life.  I am rebuilding with Zoloft and acceptance of marijuana use.  I wish I had a doctor to prescribe me Marijuana, I've had some go as far as to say if they could they would for me.  I tell each of them straight up that I occasionally smoke and am not ashamed to admit it.  I went four weeks coming out of Danvers without smoking only to have a seizure. 

Is marijuana mind altering? You could say so.  I would argue it's no more harmful or destructive to one's life than coffee, let alone the alcohol comparison.  I can NEVER drink again. And the fact that I am on seven months without a drink or anything else is a miracle.  I feel many folks are scared of quitting drinking because of the life that AA says you have to lead to do so.

You can look at me and say I am missing the point about being sober and that truly I have not been.  Then let me ask you what more do you want from me, to find better employment? I am trying.  Do you want me to stop smoking?  Why do you care if I am not harming you or your family and working hard?  I quit drinking with the help of God, family, and close friends, not medications, not marijuana. 

However, I must live within my means and within my means is realizing that occasional marijuana use is going to happen for me and to just go with it and enjoy life.  For me, a joint over a beer is not a relapse and I am willing to debate this issue with anyone. 

So there you have it.  I have been completely honest with you, my readers, and I will remain honest.  I have nothing to hide.  Like some of our greatest athletes, scholars, musicians, politicians, and historians, I too have found  the great benefit of marijuana.

I do not plan to push a political agenda hear.  I plan to push a sober agenda. I believe that being sober is not hand and hand with AA.  I believe it is a disservice to millions who laugh at the idea of quitting anything because they have to quit everything.  Someone who is demotivated from marijuana and has had an issue with it for years who decided to quit and only drink, in my mind, would also be living in sobriety. 

It remains a struggle to not drink.  But I can do it and seven months is quit the feat!  I hope regardless of your views on Marijuana, that you can still respect the courage and effort on my part to quit drinking and everything else.  More importantly I hope you realize the ability to live within my means is much more important than really anything else.  I realize I cannot live within my means if I drink. 

Every dollar I raise selling the paper I use efficiently.  I have prioritized what is important in my life and marijuana is on the bottom of that list… but is on the list.  Before it, however, naturally comes rent, bills, food, etc.

To make clear, I have no problem overall with AA.  I know many fine people who have used the message and 12 steps of AA to their advantage.  I would also advise anyone looking at making changes in their habits to give AA a chance. Though I would also say it is not the only way.

 

Originally published by Spare Change © www.streetnewsservice.org

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