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The ABCs of My Drug Problem photo

A is for Ativan and for leaving Fabiola pharmacy, prescription in your hand and for the faint memory of getting your head shaved at a barber shop because you would be starting chemo next week and for your crumpled bumper car parked a mile from the curb and your sad faced boyfriend as he tried to hold on to your keys.

B is for Barbiturate and for taking your mom to her appointment with a drug counselor to wean her off the “nerve pill” she’d taken since the 60s because she was married to a violent man and for later stealing those pills from her bathroom

C is for Cocaine and for snorting lines before work at your night janitor job at the Four Star Theater and for being so wired that you see a ghost in the tiny projection booth window staring down at you while you mop.

D is for Dilaudid and for how did it end up in the dumpster outside of Denny’s in Truckee on the way up to Burning Man and for climbing in the dumpster filled with rotting food to retrieve it.

E is for Ecstasy for the first time trying and it and for almost getting arrested outside a party on Clarion Alley and for going home with a group of boys you just met in at the Dover Club to listen to music and play footsie until the dawn.

F is for Fentanyl who killed your best friend.

G is for Ganga and for sharing it with the dreadlocked, dirty white boys playing Bob Marley in the parking lot at your first Grateful Dead concert which you hated.

H is for Heroin and for coming home from work to your housemates nodding out in front of the blue, jittery light from the TV and the for the sadness of finding blackened spoons under the bed of a man you really loved.

I is for Indica and for all the drugs in high school and for hanging out in East Oakland with the Hells Angels when you were stupid and young and didn’t know better.

J is for Jim Beam and then for (when there was money), Johnnie Walker Red and for all the times they kept you company when you were sad and lonely and living in Brooklyn.

K is for ketamine infused at Kaiser to cure a treatment resistant depression and for the disappointment you had when it didn’t work.

L is for LSD and for driving back to the dorms in the dark through Golden Gate Park because the woman you were seeing sent you away when her husband came home.  

M is Morphine and for looking forward to surgery because there will be a button you can push over and over again, and for the chemical vacation you will take.

N is for Narcan and bless those who learn how to use it, and for seeing a homeless woman injecting a man overdosing on Market Street saving his life.  

O is for Opiates and how they feel like love.

P is for Psilocybin and for thinking it might be a good idea to go to a punk show in the Tenderloin while you were high.

Q is for Quaaludes a name synthesized from the phrase “quiet interlude”. First there was nervous housewives and then there were discos and then there was date rape.

R is for Ritalin and for the woman who shared your office who called it the “happy pill” and for her offering it to you in the morning and for how it made your boring job tolerable.

S is for sponsor who you really should call.

T is for Temazepam and for the floaty, lovely erasure of all your anxiety.

U is for Ultram which was prescribed for your dog, but combined with a shot of whiskey is the perfect mix to obliterate your angst.

V is for Vicodin and oh, for the perfect drug which your boyfriend will dole out after surgery because you are incapable of taking them as prescribed.

W is for Wellbutrin and the blessed end to a long depression, and for the stupid therapist that told you to go off your meds.

X is for Xanax and for not really giving a shit

Y is for Yaba, a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine and for never really liking it, but letting your gay boyfriends convince you that it is a good idea to smoke it before going out to dance all night at the Stud.

Z is also for Zzzz, an onomatopoeia for sleep. When you finally stop doing drugs it will take forever to get to sleep. But you will. You will recover.


image: P. Lei