Art by Cali Cole

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I can still remember the first time I smoked weed. I was a teenager, and it was the typical peer influence situation— not going to claim “peer pressure” because there wasn’t much convincing needed. Though I didn’t continue to smoke daily after that, that is when the seed was first planted.

Then, I got a little older and noticed that multiple members of my family did too. Same with drinking alcohol. Growing up, I was taught these things were wrong, but then it seemed as if most people didn’t truly believe or heed to those warnings.

Before I knew it, I was a full blown addict and alcoholic. I needed to smoke when I woke up— wake and bake. I needed to smoke to get hungry, for cleaning motivation, so music sounded better, to “think clearer”, better sex, to make my alcohol buzz stronger, to go to sleep— and the list of reasons grew longer as the years went on.

I would drink alcohol to feel good or better as if it were medicine. It never really tasted good going down and definitely was not pleasant coming back up or during the often painful process of large amounts leaving my bloodstream. But for some reason I still drank.

The beginning of the end was when I would smoke or drink and then feel guilty about it afterward. An excuse to continue was never out of reach— God made marijuana, why wouldn’t He approve of me consuming this plant He put here for us? Same with alcohol; I wasn’t some drunkard, tripping all over myself or constantly getting in fights with strangers. I had self-control.

But in reality— did I really? Did I control these habits or were these sins controlling me? Could I eat without smoking first and still be satisfied or complete the meal? Was music worth listening to without an impaired ear? Could I sleep without the smoking and drinking-pass-out-combo? Could I still claim to love and worship God on Sunday in church, hoping no one noticed I was coming down from a high? Was God even hearing my prayers? Because I couldn’t hear or feel Him.

I began to analyze these questions and what I believed to be the answers—then I tried to quit. It would last a while initially. I could stop for a couple weeks then start back up. Then I could stop for a couple months, and the same would happen.

The pivotal moment in my journey of breaking addiction was when I realized I couldn’t do it. I could not stop drinking and smoking— in my own power. I needed help…

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