What is an overdose about?
Over a period of 19 years, I overdosed multiple times on multiple substances.
Each time, I thought I could handle larger amounts and not suffer any consequences. The possibility of overdosing didn’t enter my mind.
Using and abusing substances is similar to gambling. They can both be addictive behaviors, and with each, either you’ve got to know your limit and play within it, or else avoid them entirely.
I now know my limit and play within it for alcohol, and I now avoid the other substances I will cover as I take you on this tour through my history of non-fatal overdoses.
Overdosing on Anti-Depressants When I Was 14
I was an only child. I never met my dad. My mom and I didn’t have much of a social life.
Those and other factors played a part in me having depression. When I was 14, it got to be too much. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. Where was the happiness in life?
I wanted to be happy. I also wanted to meet with a doctor. I had the idea that anti-depression medication would help.
After long talks with my mom and then with the doctor and my mom, the doctor prescribed anti-depressants for me. And the anti-depressants did help.
My mood improved to the point where I thought I could take a risk, but I didn’t consider it a risk.
One day, I felt like having the daily pill without water. And I did. It was easy enough. Then I thought, “If I feel this much better with only a pill a day, how much better could I feel if I have as many pills as I want today?”
I was chasing a high with antidepressants.
I took a second pill. Then a third pill. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth.
I kept going and had more pills until I considered it to be enough. I counted how many pills I had. It was 17.
I gained a friend with my improved mood over those last several months. It was summertime. We had a couple of months off from school. Matthew and I played video games and went for bicycle rides. I went to his place twice daily that summer and the following summer.
Those 17 pills got me really happy that day. I smiled and laughed much more than usual. I did notice a side effect. My teeth chattered uncontrollably for several hours.
Matthew and I were playing video games and joking. Whenever my teeth chattered uncontrollably, we laughed even more than we already were.
I realized I had overdosed and promised myself that I would stick to the recommended daily limit for the antidepressants starting the very next day, and I did. It’s been over 20 years since I had anti-depressants. I finished the prescribed time period for having them and haven’t had them since.
Overdosing on Rancid Wine When I Was 22
Ever have friends that don’t get along with each other?
I’ve had that multiple times. Enough to wonder why I can get along with them and they can get along with me, but they can’t get along with each other.
When I was 22, two people I knew would be meeting each other for the first time. They had known about each other for years because of knowing me, and I was nervous about how things would go.
The meeting was at my apartment, and I didn’t have to worry. They got along.
I wasn’t relaxed. I drank too much and mixed alcohols that didn’t belong together. I drank on an empty stomach. I had rancid wine and got very sick. The hangover. Nausea. The vomiting. The dizziness. And whatever else I went through.
Eventually, I calmed down, passed out, and felt better the next day.
I got more careful about alcohol after that, though perhaps not careful enough. I got engaged one of those times when I was drunk. That relationship ended in divorce. It didn’t make sense for us to be together.
Overdosing Multiple Times When I Was 33
I met my stepdad when I was 19, and he introduced me to marijuana/weed.
My mom and I moved from our hometown in Ontario to live with my stepdad in Alberta. How did my stepdad celebrate us moving in with him? He got my mom drunk and me high.
It was like a horror story seeing my mom passed out drunk at the bathtub and me being introduced to a substance that burned my throat fiercely and got me coughing seemingly without relief. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.
That night started my 14-year association with marijuana. I’ve wasted more time and money on that substance than I care to calculate.
I kept having people in my life who worshipped at the altar of the weed. I still don’t know what’s so great about it. I feel like my 20s and some of my 30s literally went up in smoke. I look back and think, “Well, that was a waste.”
When I was 33, I overdosed twice in the same weekend.
The first time was with having a big dab of butter. This butter isn’t made from cow’s milk. It’s super concentrated marijuana made with a blowtorch.
I had dabs of butter earlier that month and was okay with it. I didn’t see how this dose would be any different. Sometimes it hurts to be so wrong.
The second overdose that weekend was from edibles. Marijuana butter can be consumed through dabs. There’s a special device for that. And it can also be consumed through edibles. In my case, it was homemade chocolate cake bites.
I ate way too many edibles that night — dozens of them. The high didn’t kick in immediately, so I thought I was safe.
The effects of both overdoses that weekend were quite similar. The dizziness. Nausea. The vomiting. The countless out-of-body experiences. All extremely unpleasant. I thought I would die.
I had to remember people’s names, birthdates, and anniversaries, including mine, to keep returning to this reality.
Those experiences made me much more careful about marijuana until I stopped having it entirely.
I woke up from the nightmare and stopped having marijuana enthusiasts in my life.
Avoiding Substance Abuse Since I Was 33
An overwhelming majority of the time, with hardly any exceptions, I used and abused substances because I was around other people also using them. I participated countless times in social drinking, smoking, etc.
It can be tiresome saying “No.” That’s why it’s so important to only be around people with healthy habits – as much as possible. Social influence is very real. I’ve done things I’ve known were harmful for me so that I would be accepted. But is that kind of acceptance worth it?
And sometimes, I’ve been a negative influence on myself, such as when I walked to a movie theater, watched what turned out to be a depressing movie, walked back home, drank several shots of white rum on an empty stomach, and passed out for 12 hours. It didn’t help that I lived alone at the time.
When I was 17, a co-worker’s boyfriend said he had overdosed 108 times on angel dust, which I’ve never had. I wondered why he kept going back. It sounded like an abusive relationship. But I get it. The addiction can seem like it’s stronger than we are.
When I was 26, a roommate said he had tried over 100 times to quit smoking cigarettes.
Cigarettes weren’t something I had much of. On those extremely rare occasions when I did buy a pack, it would last for months. Cigarettes dehydrated me and gave me a headache. I ended up asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” I didn’t have a good enough answer for that, so I stopped smoking cigarettes.
I had magic mushrooms once. It was entertaining. The high kicked in, and I was overly amused by my hand. I kept flipping it around, staring at both sides, laughing, and having a mild hallucination of a tiny dotted elephant for about an hour.
I’ve gotten to the point where I choose not to spend time with anyone who gets drunk or high. It’s for my own protection. I choose to avoid getting drunk or high. It’s not a good look for me, and it’s ultimately not really any fun. With very rare exceptions. See the previous paragraph.
My history of non-fatal overdoses can seem mild compared to what others have been through. For those of us who are lucky enough to survive, we have choices for what to do with our lives.
We can take the experience of overdosing, consider it a warning, and be more careful in the future by knowing our limit and playing within it, or else by avoiding the substance entirely.
Or there’s the choice to take the experience of overdosing, ignore the warning, and possibly end up with a fatal overdose.
We don’t have to die; we don’t have to become a statistic. We are stronger than any addiction, and we can start proving our strength by asking ourselves, “Why am I doing this?”
If you don’t have a good enough answer, you can stop the addiction. Unless you bring out the strength from within yourself, you aren’t going to discover the wonders you can accomplish and the genius that you are.
I know you can win, and you can also be the support someone else needs to kick the habit, whatever that harmful habit might be. And you can replace the negative habit with a positive habit, like:
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