I was watching the Winter Olympics and happened to catch an interview with skater Adam Rippon (who by the way, bravely came out with his eating disorder struggle). Alan was giving an emotional interview in which he stated, “I want to throw up, I want to go over to the judges and say ‘can I just have a Xanax and a quick drink.’”
In anecdotally scanning the social media reactions there were two distinct observations. The general spectator generally found the statement authentic, funny, and endearing. The other reactions I monitored were in the recovery and mental health community. Many expressed shock because of the potentially deadly effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol and the specter of it being made out as something hip and cool in the vein of Madmen’s Betty Draper popping a “mother’s little helper” with a glass of wine.
For me, Xanax and alcohol were not hip and cool. Mixing them was not an Olympic sport. When Rippon made the comment, I was immediately taken back to a time early in my recovery when I came upon a 2 mg Xanax bar that I had hidden at the bottom of a shoe box of change that I often used to conceal my drug stash.
It was a time not long past mixing Xanax and alcohol being routine for me. Mixing, Xanax with Jack Daniels would erase entire days because that’s what I wanted. Not long after mixing, I defecated in my pants after passing out on the combination. After becoming suicidal while under the influence of Xanax and alcohol and having to be taken to a psychiatric facility. You want true authenticity on the topic? There you go.
It was a shoe box with that Xanax bar lying innocently with years of accumulated lose change and many other memories. Susan B. Anthony Dollars. Fifty-cent pieces. My first-day desire chip taken from “John G.” sobbing, powerless, and broken during my first 12-step meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous being the most known). Worn, corroded pennies, nickels, and dimes. Fragmented memories and dreams.
I see foreign coins in the box. Drunken trips to Mexico. Signs on every bathroom stall that cocaine is illegal and you will go to jail. Didn’t care. Never saw one of those signs on the countless United States bathroom stalls I utilized to snort my cocaine. Would it have mattered? Nope.
Slot machine tokens and left-over casino chips from various casinos in Vegas. My favorite place to do cocaine. Then I would pop a Xanax with alcohol to undo the effects and pass out. Unused chips from The Palms and the Hard Rock Casinos. Meeting places with my drug connections.
Looking at that forgotten Xanax bar, I feel my heart rate quicken. I talk about addiction triggers all the time and how to deal with them. Now here it is. It’s me. It’s now. A decision. I could pop it and no one would ever know. Is it about that? A new cycle of guilt. A new cycle of sobriety. Staring at that tiny, white, oblong object that had the ability to stir up so many intense memories and emotions within seconds while erasing my life one day at a time. Frantic calls to my dealer for baggies of Xanax to bring me down.
I pulled that Xanax bar out of the shoe box of memories. I walked upstairs to my toilet and dropped to my knees as I had done so many times before either in the throes of bulimia or intoxication praying to the porcelain goddess. I flushed it down the toilet. I remember it clear as day because I was sober. It was not cool. It was not hip. I was not laughing. I admittedly, did laugh when Adam Rippon joked about it because I know the reality of misusing Xanax. It is definitely not an Olympic sport.
Brian Cuban (@bcuban) is The Addicted Lawyer. Brian is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Addicted Lawyer: Tales Of The Bar, Booze, Blow & Redemption (affiliate link). A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he somehow made it through as an alcoholic then added cocaine to his résumé as a practicing attorney. He went into recovery April 8, 2007. He left the practice of law and now writes and speaks on recovery topics, not only for the legal profession, but on recovery in general. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.