Updated: Feb 28, 2020
"I don't support alcohol." I stated proudly at the dinner table.
"Alcohol supports you." My whole family chimed in perfect unison.
As a child of a family whose primary financial success came from the liquor industry, I get asked this question maybe more than any other question: "so... why don't you drink?" A personal favorite of mine is: "are you in recovery?" Or another one: "how long have you been sober?" Or lastly, "Then you must smoke weed?"
The answer is: I've been "sober" by society's standard for my entire life. So to break this all down, here's my whole story with alcohol and drugs featuring how it started, the realizations I made after making a conscious decision not to drink or do drugs, and the benefits I've reaped as a result of abstaining.
Here's My Story With Drugs & Alcohol
Drinking wasn't taboo in my house. My dad owned a tequila company as well as a bar in Mexico and could pretty much be called a wine connoisseur in his free time. Aside from food and beverage and nightlife, I also grew up shoved up against the speaker side-stage at rock and roll concerts - weed, booze, people flashing their body-parts - you name it. There was no shortage of exposure... to anything.
Honestly, I was indifferent to all of it. In middle school I accidentally (truly) had three non-virgin margaritas at a Bat Mitzvah and experienced my first drunk. From there, my friendly nickname became "alchy" (yes, short for "alcoholic") and with my adventurous personality and habit of sneaking out, I was assumed to fill the party-girl shoes in my friend group.
My best friend at the time was a hyper-active daredevil who I'll call "Jay" for privacy. Jay had the sweetest, most caring soul and the ability to push me beyond my limits in the best way. He believed in me in a way I didn't even know I could believe in myself and literally forced me to face my fears to their demise. He became my sneak out buddy and a brother to me. We'd face the shadows of the night and frolic through the woods simply to feel the rush and push ourselves. Nothing more. I'd never cared about anyone more in my life.
When eighth grade rolled around, he, like many others, started smoking weed, chewing tobacco, drinking and experimenting with the likes. Every defense alarm went off in my body. Without even trying for myself, these new toys everyone was playing with felt like poison to me. For some reason, I was terrified.... mostly for Jay.
We'd spend hours in the company of the moon and the towering redwoods as I sobbed into his smoke-scented jacket, begging him to stop going down this road. I'd rummage through his drawstring pack and hurl his newly acquired supplies as far off the scenic Marin cliffs as I could.
We'd fight and fight and make up and make up. He'd tell me he'd stop and show up high, I'd cry, and so on. To this day, I think we had the most turbulent, passionate friendship any two people have ever had.
At fourteen years old, I started dating someone. It wasn't Jay. The drinking, the smoking, the everything got worse and the fights got louder until one day he told me he loved me.
"I love you too!" I shrieked in exasperation.
"You don't understand," he said. "Not the way I do."
The county I went to high school in held the spot as the healthiest county in California, but contradictorily, also held the spot for highest binge drinking rates. This strange duality took the kids from organic juice bar by day to xanax-popping, smirnoff-guzzling functions by night. As inconsistency is one of my most complex fears, I think I was lightly traumatized by this paradox.
I could count the amount of times I drank on one hand. On the same few fingers, I can also count the amount of times I drank to the point of yacking my guts up on the carpet. I'm not my proudest about it, but I'm a zero-to-one-hundred kind of girl.
Beyond being a zero-to-one-hundred kind of girl, I also have a heavy streak of alcoholism and addiction braided into my DNA. My barometer is biologically, pretty broken. And every one of the few times I found myself fading in and out of consciousness with my dress stained and falling off my shoulder while my eyes were rolling back in my head, I thought, "why the fuck would anyone ever do this for fun?"
I also started to notice how people (both my teen peers and adults) could not properly function in a social gathering without a drink in their hand. If I am in my full judgmental honesty, I found it pathetic. I am the shyest girl on the block inside, but I could damn well manage a conversation without poison in my veins to help me get over myself - even if it felt like smashing my teeth out with a hammer. It became a challenge for me to push my social limits - to push my limits in general... like Jay taught me.
By senior year of high school, I had become a Snapchat superstar for the few moments I walked into a party and held a record for never having inhaled a puff of smoke. In the back of my mind was Jay who had fallen off everyone's radar down a rabbit hole of God knows what. I struggled with it almost everyday.
One day, years after our middle school friendship ended, I ran into him. We didn't exchange words, as he rushed out of the building when he saw me like he'd seen a ghost. But I texted him. The text led to a cordial exchange of words where he actually shared that he had been sober for some time now.
Elated, I texted that this was all I ever wanted for him and suggested we get lunch sometime to catch up. He responded, "Yeah, I don't really want to remember why I got into all this shit in the first place."
My heart broke. It felt like someone had dropped a ton of bricks onto my shoulders and all I could do was fall to my knees and sob.
It took about a month (which I’d say is pretty good for a seventeen-year-old girl) to realize that this wasn’t my weight to carry. I didn’t resent him for dropping the bomb either. I just wanted him to be happy and I valued my happiness too. But hot damn.
That same year, the same guy I’d been dating that tore me and Jay’s friendship apart cheated on me – like fifteen times. As some kind of explanation was needed to sort through this deep betrayal and soul-wrenching pain, alcohol became the perfect scapegoat for us to blame his actions on.
Sadly, I wasn’t woke enough to completely transmute this hurt. The negative energy was channeled straight into the strongest aversion (as if it wasn’t already strong) towards drugs and alcohol. I actually would have a near-panic attack if I were in a room where most people were under the influence.
It also became the catalyst for the fights between my parents, the disconnect between my friends and I and the reason I felt so disassociated with society and my generation as a whole. It was poison to my deepest inner knowing and it also was my isolator.
As I distanced myself from substance, I also started realizing how severe my hate for it was. It was hurting me to hate it more than it was probably hurting the biggest abusers of it. It was only last year in my first month of age 23 that I realized this hate (like all hate, really) was actually a chasmic fear.
On an RV trip with a good group of friends, my sweet boyfriend asked me if it'd be okay if for the first time in our unscathed three year relationship, he took a hit off a weed pen one of our friends had. My brain did about sixteen backflips and my organ turned inside out before nearly everything before my eyes went black and my cheeks flushed hot red. Woah. My meditation and mindfulness practice had prepped me enough to be the observer of this moment, but not enough to not react. I was real-time witnessing myself flip the absolute f*ck out.
"Okay," I stammered, "but I can't be in the room."
I practically crawled myself into the back bedroom of this trailer and curled up in fetal position and watched myself experience this whole thing. Up until this very moment, if someone had asked me what my reaction to drugs and alcohol would be, I would've said "disgust." But here, in fetal position in a lot in Bryce Canyon I realized: wow, this is isn't disgust. This is panic.
Why panic? You bet this Virgo moon of mine dissected, criticized and analyzed it. Panic, because as mentioned: inconsistency is one of my most deepest fears along with things in the same vein (ie: sociopaths, sometimes Gemini's, two-faced people, and of course for the punchline: people who are under the influence of drugs/alcohol). The idea of not being able to connect due to this unpredictability has me feeling isolated, which is another deep-rooted fear I've historically struggled with. All connected with fear of abandonment.
Man, who takes the time to break all that down? This guy. And what did I even gain? A lot. Seeing this as a fear gave the whole ordeal a ton more compassion. I was able to look at myself with much more nurturing eyes and offer some help instead of harping on all the hate I felt about it. Dang Nick, thanks for smoking weed that one time.
Here Are 12 Reasons Why I Don't Drink or Do Drugs
I've done a ton of work in this area to release my extreme, negative viewpoints on drugs and alcohol and it's still a work in progress. I hope to release judgment here entirely someday, but since I am frequently asked, here are the reasons why drugs and alcohol don't align with me:
1. Substances are often used as a crutch or a shortcut to connect, let loose, relax, numb, feel, etc.
>> My belief is that we must go through not over or around to heal and learn. We must challenge ourselves to grow.
2. Alcohol comes from the Arabic word, "al-khul" which means, "body-eating spirit."
>> This may sound too out there for some, but we can't argue the reckless behavior that comes as a result of over-indulgence. Our clouded judgment and poor (and sometimes heinous) decisions are believed by some cultures to be due to a weakened/permeable aura to which negative energy/spirits/shitty friends/crazy f--cking ideas/whatever you believe in can take the f*ck over. That's gonna be a no from me, dawg.
3. In a world where social disconnect and loneliness are at an all-time high, do we really need drugs/alcohol to coat us even more?
>> Let's use that social muscle and grow a pair at the next gathering we attend.
4. The calories and sugar are freakin' through the roof.
>> ONE shot of vodka is 100 calories, fam! My calorie-counting days are over, but if I'm gonna consume empty calories, give me a slice of cake for all that.
5. Drugs and alcohol literally kill people.
>> I don't think I need another comment here.
6. My personal mission is to become more present, connect deeper with myself, my environment, the people around me, nature, source, etc.
>> To take myself out of this for even a few hours seems totally nuts/counterproductive.
7. It's expensive AF.
>> Seriously, woah. I'd personally rather spend my money on a good yoga class, some delicious, quality food, a cheap (but good) massage, or save up and donate to a good cause.
8. I got alcoholism in my lineage, ladies and gentlemen.
>> Another "I don't think I need another comment."
9. The taste really doesn't get me off.
>> At all.
10. Liver, kidneys, heart, brain, blood, lungs, etc., etc., etc., all get screwed over by these choices.
>> Health and wellness are huge missions of mine. Why would I abuse my single vessel? Health is so precious.
11. I have seen alcohol and drug abuse literally destroy lives, families, careers and relationships.
>> To me, the devastation is too large for the meer fun and is too closely associated to loss, risk and heartache.
12. Being "sober" is honestly so much more fun (and woke). Seriously, practice it. We can learn to let loose whenever the heck we want.
>> Guess who's partying the hardest alteration-free? This young lady right here. Every time. I walked in loose, baby.
Here Are Some Benefits I've Reaped From Abstaining From Drugs & Alcohol:
- Deeper connection with myself (emotions, body, mind, soul)
- No hangovers ever
- Health on fleek
- Social skills legitimately strong
- No regrets
- Deeper connection with present moment + surroundings
- No crutches, no shortcuts
- Tons of growth + mindful awareness + deep consciousness
- Personal strength
- Full embodiment of truth/authenticity/self
Maybe this inspires you or maybe you're more ready for a drink than ever. Wherever you are, I want to challenge you to consider why you're drinking/smoking/enhancing/numbing the next time you approach the bar, reach for the bottle, or roll one up.
Consider that you might just be perfect right where and as you are. In fact, that's right where the littest party in the city is.
What do you think?