I always find it a pleasure to carry a guest post on ‘A Little more Fiction’.
Today’s post is from the author Patrick Bailey; he primarily writes on the subjects of mental health, addiction & living in recovery. By bringing these subjects to the fore Patrick hopes to help break the general stigma associated with them.
My Journey from a Battered Synthetic Cannabinoid Addict to a Freelance Writer
It wasn’t until I l learned about John Huffman that I realized that the substance I was once addicted to was made for medical research purposes. He was one of the first people to create a synthetic cannabinoid or synthetic marijuana.
This particular synthetic cannabinoid was initially named JWH-018, patterned after Huffman’s initials. It was a chemical compound, created in 1993 to study the effects of marijuana on lab animals. As is common practice, the formula was included in several research publications.
For a decade-and-a-half, nothing was done with these synthetic cannabinoids.
Then, in 2008, JWH-018, one of the hundreds of compounds created by Huffman and his colleagues, was found in a street drug.
It was sprayed on plant material and sold as Spice. The manufacturers may have found the formula in those publications.
How I Got to Know an Enemy
My journey to addiction began before then when I was a 16-year-old growing up in the streets of New Orleans. My childhood was not marred by anything bad until a friend got a hold of some pot and we started hitting it. Only later did I get hooked on Spice. I blamed it on a lack of opportunities, peer pressure, and broken relationships.
Synthetic cannabinoids—which go by other street names such as K2, Moon Rocks, Potpourri and Spice—possess the same properties as marijuana and bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the body, thus achieving the same psychoactive and analgesic effect. Spice possesses euphoric and hallucinogenic properties similar to natural marijuana but can be 100 times as strong.
More and more of my acquaintances used either spice or a variant because of its cheap price. Most of them used it for short term effects such as relaxation and altered perception.
Beyond these desired effects, Spice side effects include feelings of paranoia and delusions, even psychosis, from long term use. Many users claim to feel “braindead” after using the drug, and some users have suffered brain damage or even brain death. Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids may also exacerbate pre-existing mental illnesses or harm the heart, lungs, and liver.
Recovery and Finding a Newfound Love
Medical detoxification was the first step towards my recovery. Then I was admitted as an in-patient because of the severity of my drug use, which lasted for almost 15 years. But it was the aftercare process that saved me. The treatment center’s support group helped establish a strong support system.
Addiction is a lifelong ailment. It never goes away completely. Stopping using drugs is only the beginning. You need an understanding of how and why you began using drugs, counseling and peer support, and new coping skills. It also helps if you have a new passion to replace your drug use.
Through the course of my treatment process, I learned to write about my emotions and my boiling-up resentments as therapy. I started to love writing. It occupied the spare time during which I used to drift into drug use. I discovered joy in putting words together in a new order. I could do it anywhere in paper notebooks or on electronic devices.
Looking back, it is hard to understand how much time I wasted on a false, useless, and momentary happiness. Spice, the substance that I thought was my only friend, grew darker and turned my life into a living nightmare.
I’m not proud of my years of Spice addiction, but my journey to sobriety taught me the value of life.