REVISED “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.

” -Ralph Waldo Emerson “In medical terminology, addiction is a state in which the body relies on a substance for normal functioning and develops physical dependence, as in drug addiction… The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related… In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life.” -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I didn’t bother to glance at the clock when I woke up; I never set it right. I figure that if I did, it’d just tell me things I didn’t like knowing. Instead, I grumbled at the darkness outside my window, and then closed my eyes again. I figured that if I told myself that I was asleep, and just kept telling myself, it’d be just about as good as the real thing. It was not. My hand roved, spider-like, across the bedside table. It took me a minute to find what I was looking for. I made a face, and then slept.

I flicked my eyes across the young faces in front of me. Some of them stared back, while others let their vision rove across the room, searching for something that could divert their attention for a few moments. Finding nothing, their gaze eventually returned to the young woman who was addressing us. “People, places, and things,” she repeated. I stared back, blank-faced and wholly unthreatening. We had all learned long since that it didn’t pay to try to be a hard-ass, and

what little fight we once had was dead and buried ages ago. Melanie continued. “Why is it important that we change people, places, and things?” Her voice was probing for an answer. She’d get one. Another thing we had learned: These people are in control. Worst of all, they use their power fairly. It’s tough enough to hold on to any semblance of a moral high ground in our position, and the fact that we were confronted day-in and day-out with a total lack of authoritarian abuse made it nigh on impossible to defend ourselves. You had to speak up in group. Otherwise, you may as well not be there, and they’d mark you as such. No one wanted to waste an hour and a half. Our time was valuable. “’Cause those all remind you, y’know, of when you would use.” This was Rob. He spoke slowly, making sure he got the words right. On the whole, we weren’t a very eloquent bunch, but we knew how to get our points across. It comes with the territory, I guess. Rob was a decent kid. He was in on a court mandate, because he got caught slinging dope. If he didn’t make it through here, he was probably looking at a stint in a cell and a whole lot of heartache from the various arms of the law. I didn’t think Rob would have a problem. He was actually staying clean. The piss-tests said as much, at least, but they were fallible. All of the kids in our group knew this, and more than a few acted upon the knowledge. “Like, the times you had. You know, good times with friends, stuff like that.” At a nod from Melanie, he continued. “Like, I had these woods, near my house, and my buddies and I would always smoke up there. Never got into fights, ‘cause they were my friends, and cops never came back there.” “And so what have you changed?”

This caught him slightly off-guard. He stared back, waiting for further clarification. “I mean, have you changed anything to avoid this place? Sometimes, getting rid of a habit can be as simple as changing the route you take home every day. It’s different for you guys, most of you haven’t got cars, but…” My attention wandered again. I watched Dave meticulously stacking pencils like Lincoln Logs, a pink edge of tongue jutting between his lips. We all liked Dave. He spoke with the kind of stoner-wisdom that’s always reserved for movies, slowly articulating a few words at a time which we all struggled to give poignancy in our own minds. Or maybe that was just me; I have a habit of assigning people roles. Like in a movie, you know? Archetypes, and all that kind of thing; like, everyone gets their own little Bildungsroman. It’s all part of some weird complex thing I’ve got. I guess I feel like everyone deserves a chance to live life just a little bit larger than it really is. Things always make a lot more sense in the movies, and Dave, with his quiet androgyny and beatific smile, was a perfect candidate for a starring role. At the very least, a strong supporting one. Dave was still using. I don’t know what, exactly, but chances are he is smoking marijuana. He knows some way or another to fool the piss-tests. I snapped out of my reverie. Melanie was looking at me expectantly, along with a few of the others. “Well, yeah. They’re all triggers, is what they are. So, y’know, you gotta get rid of them. You need to get rid of all the people, places, and things, or else you’ll just get pulled back into the same rut.” I had my own role to play in the group. I tended to take on

a simple, methodical, matter-of-fact sort of affectation. Some adults would take this as cheek, but the counselors saw things differently. They took you as you were, for the most part. If you played the game, they were happy. Even if you bent the rules a bit, they’d keep playing. To exhaust the metaphor: It was only when you ripped off your jersey, tossed your racket through the hoop, and yelled “Touchdown!” that they took issue. Everybody here was, in one way or another, on a second chance. Or a third, or a fourth. Sergio was a perfect example. He never needed the guide sheet during group introductions; he was an old salt, on his third term in here. The counselors loved Sergio. He went to Bible study, youth group, camping expeditions. His first time in was because of opiates, I think. Sergio was an odd collection of paradoxes, as far as I saw it. His appearance warned you, first off: There was a pair of silver hoops through his lower lip, black clothes adorned with chains, fingerless gloves, dyed hair. This seemed to bear stark contrast to his demeanor, which was as effervescent as any of us were likely to be. He spoke up, he put thought into his answers, he didn’t screw around…the counselors loved Sergio. His first time here was definitely ‘cause of the opiates, yeah. He liked himself his Percocet, and he had a mother who probably had a good deal more maternal paranoia than pharmacological expertise. Once he left the program, he stayed clean for a while. Then, he stopped. Someone died (His grandpa, I think, or something like that) and he got back into the thick of things. Relapse can be astonishingly decisive with a fan of the opiates, and he was using Oxycodone in a matter of days. The real clincher came when a friend gave him a full prescription of Adderall, and then gave him another. Sergio didn’t sleep for a week. Adderall is a medication they give to kids with ADHD. In extended-release form,

the kind most commonly prescribed, it is a cocktail of four different amphetamines. Each of these amphetamines has a different half-life, so as to produce a more stable level of drug within the patient’s body. Amphetamines work by stimulating segments of the brain related to dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrin. It seems counter-intuitive, at first, to give a stimulant to patients in order to treat a hyperactive disorder, but the drug works. It increases goal-oriented behavior, concentration, and alertness. Through the power of amphetamine, children diagnosed with ADHD can be more productive members of society. In World War II, Allied soldiers were sometimes given Benzedrine inhalers, in order to increase their alertness and combat effectiveness. On the opposing side, the Wehrmacht took methamphetamine, in the form of the drug Pervitin. Adolf Hitler received daily shots of a medicine called “vitamultine”: it was a mixture containing methamphetamine and several essential vitamins. Everything the body needs. Today, soldiers are still given amphetamine, because it’s so effective. It helps them to kill better. This is not because it makes them more aggressive. It just makes them better at their job, which is killing. This is and example of goal-oriented behavior. Unfortunately, the drug is not perfect. The brain still needs sleep. Remember on the news, a while back, when a US pilot dropped a bomb on some Canadian soldiers and killed them? Well, pilots are some of the most common recipients of amphetamine in the armed forces. They have to fly long missions, and stay alert for days at a time. Under normal circumstances, the body cannot accomplish this. After a day or two spent awake, the body just wants to sleep, blatantly disregarding the wishes of the conscious mind.

This is not conducive to goal-oriented behavior. The body wants to sleep because it needs to. Without sleep, you start to become psychotic. An excess of amphetamines can also lead to a syndrome known as amphetamine psychosis. Psychosis is defined as a loss of touch with reality. When you lose touch with reality, you are far more likely to make mistakes. I think that the pilots are probably very, very sorry. I think that the dead Canadians, if they are still around in some form, are probably sorry too. Soldiers are given amphetamines so that they can do their job better. So are kids with ADHD. Sergio was given amphetamines because he felt horrible, and they made him feel better. I took amphetamines because I felt alright, and they made me feel better. It is okay for soldiers to take amphetamines, and it is okay for kids with ADHD to take amphetamines. It is not okay for Sergio and I to take amphetamines. Neither of us has a prescription. Melanie spoke to me. She said “So, Peter, what are you doing in regards to people, places and things?” I told her “I am trying to get rid of people, but the police keep catching me.” Everyone stares at me. Holes stares too. That’s not his name, but I call him that, because he lost two of his front teeth. He literally lost them; he does not know where they went. After a moment, the kids all start laughing. Melanie gives me a look, and I know it’s time to ease back. “Nah, I dunno. I mean, I guess I’m talking to different people. You know, hanging out with friends who don’t use, and stuff like that.” I say this apologetically. Melanie is satisfied with my response. We are friends again.

She keeps talking about people, places, and things. I look at the people in front of me again. I look at Liz, in particular. Liz is the only girl in the group. She is pretty cute. I smile at her, and she smiles back, and then continues chewing on the breathalyzer tubes we’re all given at the start of the session. Liz is a very interesting person, and I think that I will get to know her better over the next few months. I am going to be in rehab for a while, because my doctor says that I should be. She is going to be in rehab for a while, because her school says she should be. This alone does not necessarily guarantee a lengthy group stay, but Liz doesn’t really seem to get the picture. She keeps testing positive for Heroin. Heroin is a powerful opiate. The opiates are drugs which are commonly used for pain relief. They are used for pain relief because they are so good at it; they make you feel absolutely wonderful. This is probably why Liz just can’t seem to stop testing positive for Heroin. I have never tested positive for Heroin, or any other opiate. I have had the willpower not to do them so far. This does not make me feel superior, because I am still in the program. The only one to be superior to anyways would be Liz, and I like her too much for that. I am not sure that I want to like Liz as much as I do, but there are a great many things I am also unsure of. What I do know is that I do not think she would make a good girlfriend; she does cocaine and Heroin, which is often purchased with embezzled funds. Liz used to work at a place called changed to protect the guilty. I would not eat there. I recommend you do not eat there either. She now works in another restaurant. I would eat there. If you like beef on weck, you should eat there too.

Liz gets into trouble at groups. She is not particularly disruptive, but she is disruptive at the perfectly wrong times. She also has the wrong kind of smile. It is an impish sort of grin that I find extremely intriguing and the counselors find cheeky and foreboding. She does not bother to turn off her cell phone in group, which is in violation of one of the Rules. Another time, Melanie asked us if we still possessed any paraphernalia that could entice us to relapse into putting the wrong chemicals into our bodies. I raised my hand, because I did. Other people raised their hands, too. Liz said to me, in a jokingly conspiratorial aside, “If you need to get rid of that stuff, just give it to me, man. I’ll take care of it.” It was a joke, but Melanie was not happy, not in the slightest. I muttered something in Liz’s defense, something about it being supportive. She got yelled at anyways. Liz also got in trouble for trying to fool a piss-test. She had a bag of urine with her, which was completely and totally free of anything which could indicate prior intake of forbidden chemicals. She tried to warm it up with hand-warmers, to fool the temperature sensor on the piss-test. She messed something up, though, and got caught. I do not try to fool the piss-tests. I am not there on any sort of legal mandate. If I fail a test, I simply get more time in the program, which is not too bad. I imagine that I could probably fool the piss-tests, given the proper motivation. When we take the tests, which are assigned randomly, we do it in the facility’s bathrooms. They are quite clean. No one watches you take the test, despite the myriad opportunities for foul play this presents; once finished, you simply exit, piss in hand, and drop it in the counselor’s baggie. They will then send it to a company, which will analyze

the piss in order to find out what you have been putting into your body. The findings will be sent back to the rehab facility, where your counselor will determine whether or not any of the things the piss-test company said were present in your piss should not be there. If this is the case, then you will be punished, in one way or another. I am glad that they respect our privacy at the facility. Once, a kid had his piss-test sent in to the company for analysis, and when the results returned, they displayed a single word:
LEMONADE.

The counselors were not thrilled. On nearly every drug test, I test positive. If you know you are going to be positive, it is best to tell the counselors beforehand. They place a lot of stock in admitting relapses. I am not penalized for testing positive, usually. This is because I have a prescription for the drug which constantly appears on the test analysis. If I did not have a prescription, I would probably be in a lot of trouble. The prescription that I have is a little slip of paper, mostly white, but with a bit of purple. It says that a doctor has not only given permission for me to take these drugs, but is in fact requesting that a store with many different kinds of drugs give me some of them, in order to treat the ailment which I am afflicted by. They will do this without any argument whatsoever. This would be quite expensive for me, if not for the fact that my insurance company is also fully behind my acquisition of these drugs, enough so that they are willing to pay money to make sure that I can obtain them without any problems. My prescription is capable of astonishing feats of power, considering that it’s just a little slip of paper. I am very thankful for this little slip of paper.

Group lasts for a full hour and a half. An hour and a half can seem like a very long time, sometimes, but it’s not so bad in the group. It’s easier than school. The tests are simple, because they never change. The idea is that we will, and some of us do. This is a success, on the part of the program. It is also a success on our part, because we have stopped doing something which is so bad for us, and yet so hard to stop doing. This is why so many people in the world dedicate so many resources towards helping people to stop doing these things, whether they seem like they want that help or not. Many, many people dedicate similar amounts of time and energy towards continuing to do these things. They are, oftentimes, absolutely sure that they want it. This disagreement sparks a lot of contention, because neither side seems able to convince the other to stop doing what it is doing. They keep on trying, though. I keep on trying, too.