Today makes twenty years since I quit drugs.
I’ve been kind of worried about it. A lot of my methodology for quitting drugs was based on quitting cigarettes. I had people telling me I should quit drugs before I quit cigarettes, but I was being treated for cancer at the time, so I went with the cigarettes first. I really think that was the right idea. After quitting cigarettes, quitting pot and hallucinogens was easy.
One of the techniques I got from quitting cigarettes was that anniversaries are prime time for relapses. Indeed, the first time I quit drugs I relapsed on my first anniversary. This time around I came very close to getting drunk on my tenth anniversary. The way one of the smoking cessation programs had for dealing with anniversaries was to take the money you would have spent on your habit the past year, and buy yourself something nice. You can look at it as a reward, and as a way of saying that you can’t buy drugs or smokes because you spent that money on something else.
The problem with buying myself something is that I’ve become rather non-materialistic. I’ve gotten rid of 9 out of 10 things I own. In doing so I’ve realized that I don’t really want more stuff. Much less something that would cost a year worth of drugs. My old smoking habit would cost me about $4,500 a year these days. It’s harder to keep track of drug prices when you’re not doing them, but if they’re going up at the same rate as smokes I’d guess my old habit would now cost around $6,000 to $12,000 a year. I tried taking a trip to New York last year for 20 years of quitting smoking, but it felt like I was wasting money even though I had a good time. I was worried that not getting myself a gift would make me more likely to relapse. Although I guess the sticker shock of what it would cost to relapse is enough.
It reminds me of when I started meditating. I’ve done enough hallucinogens that I have permanent low-level visual hallucinations (they go well with my tinnitus). All I have to do to see them is pay attention. Meditation is about paying a lot of attention, so I started seeing a lot of visuals while meditating. I got really worried about it, so I asked a Zen master what he thought, and he said “Why are you worried about it?” I realized I was worried about it because I thought it would make me start using drugs again. Then I immediately stopped worrying about it because I knew I wasn’t going to start using drugs again. My life today is orders of magnitude better than it was when I was doing drugs. I would have to be a complete moron to start doing drugs again. While I may be a moron from time to time, I am not a complete moron.
So instead of buying myself something today, or going to some exotic location to do nothing new, I just relaxed today. I relaxed the discipline I have brought into my life. I didn’t brush my teeth. I had extra sodas. I ate pizza all day, with pork on it. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t meditate. I realized this afternoon that I was stupefied. It was a lot like doing drugs. It was maybe one bong hit worth of stupefication. Although it’s more like one whiskey shot of stepfication, because I feel kind of hung over. It was a pretty crappy present to myself, but it was a lesson. There are ways I can relax that stupefy me, and ways I can relax that don’t. I need to think about how I want to relax.