I don’t know about you, but when I feel fat, the first thing I want to do is eat. When I feel poor I run out and spend money, and when I feel lonely, I lock myself in my room and isolate. My brain is wired backwards. I have what the professionals call a “paradoxical relationship” to everything from St. John’s Wort (it depresses me) to estrogen (it gives me pimples.)
I think this backwards wiring is something addicts share. For example: Drug addicts invariably get hooked on to what you’d think was exactly the wrong drug. Alcohol is a depressant, but who drinks the most? Depressives! That guy you saw crying into his beer was crying when gravitated to beer in the first place, and he’ll probably be whimpering in AA meetings if and when he sobers up. The roommate who already eats more than his share of the pizza will end up as a pothead, and the one face-down in the carpet listening to jazz is the one who eventually graduates to heroin. And me, the freaking Energizer bunny on the natch, immediately reached for the cocaine.
There’s something going on here more than self-destructive behavior. Some say that the addict’s head is only keeping the body below alive because it needs the transportation. I think there’s a whole ‘nother thing going on. You know that the preferred treatment for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is speed, right? Ritalin is speed; Adderall is speed. The current go-to drug for adult ADHD, Vyvanse, is Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate — as if spelling amphetamine with an “f” makes a difference. It’s speed.
Why do they give uppers to people who are already hyperactive? For the same reason I reached for cocaine. For us, it has a paradoxical reaction. It gives us focus. It calms us down.
The problem is, as often as not, an addict will usually overshoot the mark. I’m trying to find the Lee Marvin-in-Cat Ballou moment, that perfect balance of Xanax, brandy and Dexamyl (or whatever), and somehow I end up in San Rafael with an unemployed bass player. I never meant for that to happen; I overshot the mark.
None of us never meant to stay up until the lawn sprinklers went off and the damn birds started singing; we just overshot the mark. We didn’t mean to get so drunk we barfed on the boss’s shoes, but we overshot the mark. And as for the love addicts: We didn’t mean to sleep with him on the first date… we were kissing, and we overshot the mark.
I mention this because while an estimated 10,000-20,000 Americans die annually from the effects of illegal drugs, 100,000-200,000 die from physician-prescribed medication. Some of them get prescribed to love addicts desperately trying to ease the twin agonies of obsession and withdrawal. If, like me, you have brain wiring that is maybe upside-down, keep that wacky mind in mind when you pop those pills.
Death is a mark you just don’t want to overshoot.