Rock Bottom and Recovery.
It’s actually quite difficult to say where and when I experienced ‘rock bottom’, I chose to google the expression in order to get some sort of definition, which is as follows.
“The culmination of a descent to a place where a person has nothing left to lose in terms of possessions, status, wealth and perhaps even shelter, food and warmth as a result of self-destructive behaviour.”
My own experience therefore, if based on that particular description, went on for many years.
I started using drugs and alcohol in my early teens and aside from what I would consider the ‘occupational hazard’ of horrific speed comedowns (Is there any other kind?) and the occasional ‘bad’ acid trip, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I started to experience some of the situations described above.
Maybe it says much about my own lack of self-worth/care, or perhaps it was the naivety of a drug saturated youth, but having a gun pulled on me, while out of my tiny mind on acid and crack in Los Angeles during the late 80’s, didn’t really seem to be anything other than a minor annoyance. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified by that and quite a few other similar situations at the time, but ‘rock-bottom’? No, nowhere near it I’m afraid! It’s just what ‘happens’ right?
My decent into crack-induced psychosis, a journey that started in California in 1988, was somewhat interrupted by a return to the UK and my unbridled enthusiasm for taking huge quantities of Ecstasy and acid. As far I could see, it would have been rude to not join in with the rest of the country plus the fact those two drugs and a few tonnes of weed of course had as I have already mentioned, stopped my inclination to smoke crack and get guns pointed at me, ‘rock-bottom’ was still, many years and a lot of late night/early mornings of “I really love you mate, got any pills?” away.
Oh yeah and then there was the heroin addiction that was NEVER going to happen to someone like me of course. *sighs*.
You’re 21, you’ve been awake for three days raving, you’ve done A LOT of pills/coke/speed/acid and been terrorised by French techno, your best mate pulls out some tinfoil with a fat beetle of skag clinging to it,
“Fancy a go on this mate?”
When in Rome and all that eh?
You are suddenly feeling better than every other drug you’ve ever taken could possible make you feel, you are Keith Richards jamming with Hendrix, Moon and Morrison AND you can fuck the girl lying next to you for HOURS.
It’s not as if you’re ever going to get a habit or start injecting is it?
Of course not, that would be stupid right?
17 years later you are living in a stolen motorhome, marooned on the side of a mountain in the middle of the Spanish countryside. You have not had a bath for 3 months, your teeth are falling out, breakfast consists of a litre of something almost resembling cheap wine. You are a shade of yellow that would make a budgie look anaemic, you occasionally phone home to emotionally terrorise your aging mother for money which, if not sent IMMEDIATELY, will mean an imminent death at the hands of the local Gitano’s (That’s Spanish gypsy in case you didn’t know).
Although surrounded by a community made up of pan-European soap-dodgers, drug dustbins and criminals on the run from Interpol, you are, by far, the smelliest, most toxic and unpopular excuse for a human being for miles around.
At least the weather here is decent though eh?
By now, there is only one ‘Gitano’ drug dealer that will still have anything to do with me, possibly because he actually does smell worse than me and therefore standing next to me for a few minutes each day while I try and sell him some useless bit of crap I’ve probably stolen from a hippy while they were busy hugging a tree, makes him look good.
He doesn’t sell heroin or crack as separate commodities, his ‘bags’ contain a heart attack/respiratory failure combination of the two. The fun bit is, not knowing what percentages he’s gone for while making up his 20 euro baggies of joy. It’s soon apparent, today is a heart attack kind of day, a scenario that plays itself out while I’m staggering about in a disused chicken shed a few minutes’ walk from his place.
I’m going to die surrounded by fossilised chicken shit, discarded crack pipes and human effluence in Spain, at least the weather here is decent though eh?
I didn’t die. (In case you hadn’t figured that out yet)
Four weeks later, 2nd June 2006, I staggered into a 12-step meeting, still using, after which, I went to stay with a friend where with the help of her and the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous here in London, I have managed to stay clean, a day at a time, ever since.
I did what was suggested, simple as that.
I am now a father to a 7 year old daughter who I adore more than words could possibly say.
I spent 6 years working within the treatment ‘field’ but left in June 2013 to pursue a more creative career.
I have just completed a four week, West-End run of my own one man show, based on a novel I wrote which was published in 2014, entitled,
Too High, Too Far, Too Soon (Mainstream Publishing)
I still attend NA on a regular basis and my beloved Liverpool football club have still not won the league title, but we live in hope eh?
This article appears in the current issue of Intervene magazine, available now via
Simon Mason is the author of the memoir,
Too High Too Far, Too Soon. (Mainstream 2013)
He is currently completing his first fictional Novel, Lola and (almost) writing a book with and about the Musician Mick Head, (Pale Fountains Shack, Red Elastic Band)
He has also written for The Guardian, Loaded, Vice and Sabotage Times.
Follow him on Twitter @simonmasonsays