The New Face Of Addiction

Say the word “addict” and what comes to mind?  Homeless beggars with brown bags?  Or graffiti covered crack houses, littered with dirty needles and burnt spoons? Or maybe lonely people spending night after night pounding back shots at the local bar?

What if I said it looked like me? A healthy 27 year old that holds a full time job, raises a soon to be 3 year old, has her own car and home? I have no track marks on my body, my teeth are straight and white, I’m neither under nor over weight. I’ve never been to jail or even to rehab.  But I’m an addict in recovery.

Look at my picture.  Not your typical idea of an addict am I?  But for the better part of 5 years I lived with an addiction to prescription pain pills.  It started innocently enough.  Just a young person experimenting and testing limits and boundaries.  For a long time I could take it or leave it. In the beginning I did not experience any withdrawal symptoms if I stopped taking them for long periods of time.  Back then I had plenty of experience with the destruction that alcohol addiction could cause. Several close family members were either currently battling an addiction to alcohol or had in the past.  What I was doing seemed different, or at least that’s what I told myself.

In the beginning it caused no negative consequences for me, at least none that I could see. The high was mind blowing.  This warm rush spreading throughout your body, wiping away any insecurities or worries.  Feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof was an understatement.  For anyone whose ever experienced it you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Looking back on it now it still amazes me how it went from a fun, casual escape type of thing to sinking its fangs into me six inches deep and hanging on for dear life.  I hear people all the time saying that it won’t happen to them, or they will stop before it gets to that point.  They are in denial.  It will get you, and you won’t realize it until its too late.  There is no secret or magical time frame.  There is no rhyme or reason to it, everyone is effected differently.  Some people may play with fire for a few weeks, months, or even years, but the eventual burn is a guarantee.

This is the new face of addiction.  The abuse of prescription pills is at epidemic proportions.  In one year enough prescription painkillers are prescribed to keep every adult American medicated around the clock for a solid month.  Think about that for a moment.  Every year nearly 15,000 people die from overdoses on prescription pain pills.  In 2010, nearly 7 million American’s admitted to abusing prescription pills in the past month.  The most abused prescription pills are opioids, which are your Vicodin, Oxycontin, Morphine, Fentanyl, to name a few.  In second place is the sedatives and tranquilizers, like Xanax and Ativan.  Third place belongs to the stimulants like Ritalin and the numerous other drugs used to treat ADD or ADHD.  One in twenty people over the age of 12 admit abusing prescription pills in the past year.  All of these statistics come from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Addiction to prescription pills is everyone’s problem, not just the addict’s.  This effects us all whether we realize it or not.  The costs of this addiction are staggering to this country.  Think of how much it costs to treat those addicted, how much money is lost through those addicted not working, or being unable to work.  Think of the cost caused by crimes perpetrated by those addicted who otherwise probably would not have committed them in the first place.  There is no exact number, but every organization studying this epidemic agree’s it is in the billions.

I take full responsibility for my addiction.  No one forced me to do anything, I made all those decisions myself.  However, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  I was able to admit to myself that I was out of control and could not stop.  I tried, repeatedly, but the physical agony of withdrawal was more than I could stand.  Not only is it a pain unlike any other I’ve experienced (and that includes childbirth!), it is life threatening without proper medical care.  I entered into treatment in January of 2010 after telling my family and loved ones that I had a problem and needed help.  From that point on I’ve been free from this crippling addiction.  Sadly, most people are so far in denial they cannot admit that they need help to themselves let alone others.  Or they simply have no support system to help them, and care about them.

The new face of addiction is me, you, or maybe someone you love.  It does not discriminate.  This is not just a “poor person’s disease” anymore.  Abuse and addiction of prescription pills crosses all age ranges, races, and economic status.  It’s the middle school-er down the street, a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or your best friend.  If we are to have any hope of stopping this disease we have to look past our prejudices and preconceived ideas about what addiction is and who it effects.  Talk to your children, your friends, your family.  If someone you know is suffering from addiction to prescription pills or to learn more about this disease please visit to learn about treatment options, how to recognize the early warning signs, and what you can do to help prevent someone you care about from becoming an addict.

All poll votes are anonymous.  If anyone would like to speak to me personally about my experience, or just need someone to talk to please feel free to contact me.  All communications will be held highly confidential.


Little Dogs, Giant Hearts


Diego and Monte caught snuggling.


My two miniature Chihuahuas are the coolest dogs on the planet.  Of course they are my furkids so I’m more than biased, but even self proclaimed “little dog haters” fall victim to these little rascals charm.  My oldest, Diego, is a black and tan with hair on the longer, fluffier side.  He’s about 9 months old and weighs in at a whopping 5 pounds.  Monte, my youngest, is mainly blonde with white on his chest, legs, and feet.  His eyes and muzzle are black, and he has a coarse strip of dark blonde hair running down his spine.  Monte is about 6 months old and judging by his little pork chop thighs I’d say he’s clocking in around six pounds today.

Diego, by appearances would appear to be the tough guy right?  He struts confidently around with his chest puffed out and tail held high and proud.  But confront Mr. Cool with a larger dog, aggressive or not, and his chest instantly deflates, tail clamps firmly between legs, and he scats ass for the high ground.  Monte, my little neurotic mess, is actually the fiercest little warrior.  It does not matter if a Great Dane mad with rabies, or an over excitable Pug comes barking.  His tail stands ram rod straight, and his hair stands on end from his neck to his butt, he throws his chest out and goes charging into the fray, barking like a banshee.  When he believes he is protecting his family this little dog has unlimited courage.  Not so when a thunderstorm is raging outside but put a threat in front of me, my son, or Diego and this tiny terror rips off his shirt and goes Hulk.

Diego is my social butterfly, and very concerned with his appearance.  He believes it is not only my job to keep him looking his best but Monte’s as well.  It begins whenever lazy bones decides to get out of bed for the day, which is usually between 10:30 and 11:30.  He hunts down Monte, who has most likely been up since 7 with me, and proceeds to paw at Monte’s face until Monte heaves a great sigh and begins cleaning Diego’s face.  Monte will start with the eyes, getting out any unwanted sleepies, then moves in to tackle any plaque on Diego’s teeth.  The first time I witnessed this little ritual I had no idea what was happening as all I saw was Diego, with his mouth open as wide as it will go, and Monte diligently cleaning his molars.  Occasionally Diego will return this favor but not very often, typically leaving Monte’s dental hygiene up to me. Don’t worry, I use a special toothpaste and brush, not my tongue.

Diego loves meeting new people of any size or age, and approaches everyone as if they are long lost friends.  He bonds quickly with men and would probably trade me in without a second thought.  Monte on the other hand is immensely distrustful of strangers, and fiercely loyal to me.  The poor boy had a rough start in life, but once he entered my home he was there to stay.  It took some time but once he was secure in the knowledge that this was his forever home, he opened right up, showing off his quirky, lovable personality.

I had no intention of ever having two chihuahuas at once but I am forever happy that it ended up that way.  Their vastly different personalities and temperaments compliment each other and bring out the best in both my boys.  They have an unmistakable bond with each other and also fight like only brothers can.  Everyday is happier and brighter because these two brothers from another mother are in it.  And with a life span of up to 20 years there will be many, many crazy days ahead.Diego posingmonte riding dirty (dirty laundry that is)

The Joy’s Of Being A Bartender Or Waitress

Why do some people seem to revert back to childhood upon entering a bar or restaurant? Most of you have probably never realized this unless you’ve worked in the service industry before, but its true.  You may even be doing it yourself!  I’ve worked in the bar and restaurant business for fifteen years and have met all kinds but as time goes on you begin to see patterns, or “categories” if you will.

Customers come in the door and fall into one of two categories.  The first category marches straight through the door and makes a bee line for the closest open table.  Even if said table still has plates, spills, and tip money from the last occupants scattered all over the place and there are five empty, clean tables surrounding it.  This type of customer doesn’t care.  They will sit rigid, glaring at everyone around them, making sure no one gets any ideas about moving in on their new turf.  Once this has been accomplished they turn their glare on you, no matter how busy you are at the moment.  If you don’t move over there double time they will usually add aggressive hand gestures to the glare, making sure you notice them.

The second category of people are the ones who enter slowly.  They meander into the place as if stepping into a new universe.  Moving at the speed of smell, looking around as if seeing walls and tile flooring for the very first time.  Meanwhile you are patiently standing, holding their menus, while fifty other people need to be waited on.

Once you get everyone seated, or the already seated’s table cleared off you begin the process of collecting drink and food orders.  In all my years of experience things usually work this way, you seat the people and take their drink order.  Then you go get the drinks and bring them back and hopefully are able to take their food order, get it to the kitchen and move on to the next table.  Sounds simple right? Not so much.

Here you see a wide array of types or categories people can fall into.  There is the “never been to a restaurant before” type that never bothers with that stupid thing called a menu that explains what the restaurant has to offer.  These people start barking their order at you rapid fire sometimes before their butts have even hit the chair.  It does not matter if you are in the middle of taking their companions drink orders or are laden down with a tray of food or drinks for another table.  If you do not immediately drop what your doing and scramble for a fresh sheet in your ticket book you get “the look”.  The look is something most of us in the business are familiar with.  It’s when a customer looks at you like your an early form of chimpanzee.  There is no pleasing these types so take a deep breath, smile, and inwardly know that they are in fact the idiot.

Then there are the “I am special, and simply cannot eat off the menu” types.  These are the ones who thoroughly read the menu (sometimes more than once), then promptly order something that’s not on it.  Usually that something is so far from what the restaurant actually serves that you may briefly wonder if its supposed to be some kind of a joke.  I’ll use an example-

Once upon a time I was working at a bar so far out in the middle of nowhere that the mosquitoes wouldn’t even come there.  I had a group of four come in, three men and a pencil thin woman with a terrible boob job.  Bad Boob Job read the menu, which consisted of four things, all of them deep fried, then asked for a Cesar salad.  I stared at her in disbelief for a moment, waiting for the punch line.  While looking into her heavily made up eyes I realized she was completely serious.  It went something like this-

“Ma’am, we don’t have salads. We’re just a bar that does a handful of deep fried food.” I explained slowly, patiently, in my reserved for small children and retarded animals voice.

“Well,” Middle Aged Barbie huffed, “Can’t you just throw some lettuce, cheese, and maybe some tomato together and put some ranch on it?”

“You mean make you a salad?” I said while trying valiantly to keep a straight face as the woman’s companions began to snicker. “Ma’am, we don’t do salads, we don’t even have lettuce or tomatoes here.” I smiled sweetly as Big Boobs Barbie clenched her overly bleached teeth and glared around the table at her tittering friends.

“I guess I’ll just have an ice water, with a slice of lemon,” she snapped while waving her hand as if I was a bothersome fly.

It took every ounce of will power I possessed not to burst out laughing as I walked away casually saying, “Sorry, but we are out of lemon.”

Poor Barbie was nearly apoplectic with rage after that but hey, don’t go to McDonald’s wanting steak and lobster. And definitely don’t go to a hick bar in the middle of BFE wanting Cesar salad and white wine.

Some of my personal favorites are the reasonably intelligent adults who turn into toddlers on the verge of a temper tantrum when faced with a menu and a waitress.  Let’s say they order a ham and Swiss sub. You wait to see if they specify what kind of cheese they would like.  They don’t, so you suppress your sigh of annoyance and ask them. Your met with a blank stare.  You wonder briefly if they are trying to tell you telepathically, or maybe you slipped into Swahili by accident.  Finally they sigh loudly as if you have failed them somehow.

“Well what kind of cheese do you have?” They whine, irritated that you have made them think about it.

“Sir, right above the subs is a section that tells you all available toppings, cheeses, and dressings.” This you say patiently and politely all the while inside you are screaming, “Its the huge bold writing that says SUB TOPPINGS you freaking dolt!”

Finally they select a cheese after ten minutes of careful deliberation and three questions.  Meanwhile the entire restaurant is filling up with people to be waited on.  Before you can stop yourself you make the fatal mistake of asking if they want any other toppings, and the entire mind numbing process repeats itself.  Of course the flip side of not holding the customers hand through this difficult process is when you bring their food to the table and they stare at it dumbfounded.  Then they turn to you with disdain written all over their face and haughtily ask for Swiss cheese, lettuce, and mayo, as if this had all been ordered and you simply were to stupid to write it down.  Clenching your teeth and forcing a smile you head back to the kitchen muttering to yourself, “Oh you wanted Swiss cheese with that? How the hell am I supposed to know if you don’t order it in the (expletive) first place @#%!!!”.

There is no rhyme or reason to this madness.  It doesn’t matter if the customer is in their twenties or eighties its always a variation of the same cycle.  They come in, their manners and common sense go out.  All of us bartenders, waiters, and waitresses are familiar with this strange phenomenon.  We have long since given up trying to explain it.  We simply go to work with the patience of saints, and keep our profanity laced tirades relegated to the kitchen.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve just begun so check back often as I will continue to post new articles daily. I write about everything under the sun (and some above), fiction, non-fiction, you name it. If you have any suggestions, advice, or just want to talk feel free to email or comment.