Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How a Handed Down, Tattered Pocket Book Saved Me From a Life of Addiction

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s with a brother and sister who were 5 and 6 years older than me, I was surrounded by addiction, alcohol, temptation and experimentation.

When I was an early teen, my brother taught me and my friends how to “Huff” cooking spray from a plastic sandwich bag. It was the craziest experience I have ever endured, and my best friend enjoyed it immensely.

The two of us were sitting around outside, suntanning on some old bath towels from inside my parent’s house, and my brother and his friend came outside to “chat” with us. My brother had a can of Pam in one hand and a sandwich bag in the other. Of course, my friend asked him what he was doing with it, and the rest was some pretty scary “history.

Basically the trick was to spray the Pam in the baggie, cover your face by sticking it inside of the sprayed bag and breathe in hard and fast. I was terrified to try it, but succumbed to the pressures of wanting to be cool and brave, and because my brother’s friend was cute.

The experience was freaky as hell. I felt tingly and numb all over, wanted to giggle but cry at the same time, and felt like I could fly. After a few minutes, the feeling wore off, and we did it again, passing the ridiculously germ-ridden baggie around between the 4 of us. It was a very interesting way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon and in the end, we did it a few more times that summer, just to “feel that buzz”. My friend and I had no idea what we were doing to our brain cells or our bodies, and I felt like if it was THAT bad, my brother wouldn’t have let me do it. My friend and I would sneak Pam outside with a stolen sandwich bag and do it ourselves, just for fun. The spray was something every household carried and it was a quick fun activity in a boring small town.

One fall afternoon, my mom’s friend came for a visit and she left a book behind. I don’t believe it was intentional, as she came back weeks later and took it back. I don’t know if she understands this, but she probably saved my life.

I came from a long line of addiction. Alcohol was more prevalent in my house than milk was, and my sister and brother dabbled in whatever they could get their hands on while partying with friends. LSD was starting to become an “easy access” drug and drinking was a priority. I would be home from school on weekday summer afternoons and my sibling’s friends would pour into my parents house, and spend the day smoking, drinking and getting high.

Some of my sister’s friends terrified me. They always picked on me for being so young, and tried to force me to get drunk with them, just so they could be entertained. I tried my best to avoid them all.

I never really understood what “getting high” meant, even though I had tried the Pam huffing with my brother. I always thought that their friends were just drunk on beer and dad’s Texas Mickey bottle of whiskey that my brother would fill back up with water after he and his friends indulged.

So, on a fall afternoon, I found “the book” and flipped through it. It was entitled “Go Ask Alice”. I read it in one day and it still resonates with me.

The book is a diary of a young girl who details her life, as drug addict. It is GRAPHICALLY written and the imagery needs no illustration. It starts out telling her life, as a typical young kid looking to make friends. As the story progresses, her friends and boyfriends get her into acid and alcohol, and as she documents her day to day life, it becomes a horror story.

At the very moment in time, that I began reading this book, I found myself relating to it in every way, even at the age of “almost 13”. I understood her challenges of weight loss, making friends, trying to fit in, and the dangers that lurked around me, in people I was supposed to be able to trust.

The writer remained “Anonymous” and I felt that profound, as it could literally happen to ANYONE. She came from a decent home and family and was going through the challenges of a typical early teenager.

This book SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME! I never wanted to even consider drugs or “huffing” again, after reading how damaged her life became.

“Even now I’m not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I’ve gotten from books.” Page 11 -Anonymous

The author has a love for reading and a passion for books. Even when she derails, she mentions her prized possessions as “My books” and it leads the reader to feel as though, she is STILL THERE. She is not a lost soul who is quickly being destroyed by a chemical warfare in her brain and body. It lends hope.

When I became a mother to my precious daughter, I swore that she would read this book. On her 14th birthday, wrapped in red tissue paper, with a bright blue bow, I handed it to her and told her my story. She, like me, read it all in one sitting and came away crying her eyes out, and it is NOW her favorite book.

I am not sure who this writer was, but I always wish I could reach out and say “Thank you”. You have probably saved many young girls’ lives by sharing your story. And to my mom’s friend Joan, I literally OWE you my life.

The story of this girl’s life has not gone in vain. To this day, I have only ever “tried” to smoke weed (It made me puke both times) and I have NEVER tried anything chemical. The feeling of “loss of control” is too much and I see on a daily basis what the drugs of our world do to teenagers. It’s heartbreaking.

My sister’s daughter is another “Alice” right now, and is currently living on the streets in a world of addiction, crime and the life of a druggie, in and out of rehab. On a daily basis, my sister worries about the day she will get the “phone call”. She knows that her daughter’s life is always on the line and that she surrounds herself with people who influence her to be an addict. SHe prays continually for the safety and sense of her second born.

And, on the nightstand in her daughter’s empty room, lies the book, “Go Ask Alice”, a gift from her father, by my advice, that she has NEVER READ.

Writer of relationships / early childhood and mental health . Poetry and fiction dabbler

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store