I Just Couldn't Say No

They kept offering me drugs, and I kept turning them down.
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This isn't right, I thought. I should stop. But as I scanned the room, I suddenly realized I wasn't the out-cast anymore. As I continued inhaling and the drug took effect, my guilt faded. Rick was right; pot was chasing my blues away. For the first time in a long while, I was happy, relaxed and accepted.

Party On

Within weeks, I was smoking pot daily. Concentrating on school became more and more of a struggle. Since I lived at home, my parents soon noticed their son was a doped-up mess. When they begged me to stop and I refused, they adopted the "tough love" mentality and kicked me out, hoping I'd seek help. But I didn't want help. I just wanted to get high.

A sober friend felt sorry for me and let me move in with him, but because I spent all my money on drugs, I couldn't afford rent. He soon booted me out.

I quickly learned the fine art of mooching and began hopping from place to place, crashing on different friends' floors. Most of those friends were junkies, and they exposed me to more drugs, including acid (LSD), cocaine, crack, crystal meth, heroin and Ecstasy.

Although I didn't have any living expenses, I was still broke—and desperate for drugs.

One Friday night, I asked a dealer what I could trade for cocaine.

"I like your pants," he told me. "Hand 'em over, and I'll set you up."

Without hesitation, I stripped down to my underwear and gave him my pants. My pride had vanished. So had my morals. Without so much as a glimmer of guilt, I began stealing from the fast-food restaurant where I worked in order to support my addiction.

Dancing with Death

One night at a party I tried magic mushrooms. Initially, I was impressed by the euphoric effect. But soon I began hallucinating. My paranoid eyes darted around the room as I watched my friends with heightened suspicion; I was sure they were trying to kill me. Dizziness overwhelmed me. As sweat rolled down my forehead, I glanced at my chest and saw my heart pounding hard and fast through my shirt.

Am I dying? Petrified and confused, I pleaded with a friend to take me to my parents' house.

When Mom opened the door, her face turned white.

"What's wrong with you?" she gasped.

"I'm dying, Mom! I'm going crazy. I'm dying," I kept repeating as my trembling hands reached out to her.

Scared for my life, Mom frantically called 911.

The paramedics and police arrived to a chaotic scene. Mom was hysterical, and my younger brother and sister watched in horror as the police handcuffed me, put me in the ambulance, and rushed me to the hospital. There, doctors pumped my stomach to empty the drugs from my system.

My near-death experience scared me enough to abandon drugs for a few weeks. But I was miserable and lonely, so one night when my friend, Danielle, told me about a party she was going to, I went along.

I arrived at the party and immediately felt at home. "Here—have some Ecstasy," Danielle offered. I considered saying no, but I couldn't resist. Soon I was flying.

Why did I ever stop? I wondered. This is awesome! Then a shriek from the bathroom shattered my hypnotic state. I rushed to see what was wrong.

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