Hi, I’m Nellie.
Welcome to Drugslab Extra. On Drugslab we test drugs twice a month
to see how they affect our body. And on Drugslab Extra we answer
your questions about the world of drugs. There’s more to it than using drugs. If you have a question about drugs
or the world around it, let us know. We’ve done a lot of drugs on Drugslab. We discuss the risks, bad trips,
passing out, addiction. Besides an alcohol or XTC hangover,
things always end well for us. We feel good and we’re not addicted. In the Netherlands there are 6700
speed addicts. One of them is Paulien. I’m going to visit her today
to ask her all about it. Were you or are you addicted to speed?
-I am, but I’m not using right now. So you were addicted to speed. Were you addicted to anything else?
-I was addicted to not being sober. Can you give an example?
-Mainly uppers. Like coke, speed.
-XTC. The substances I was really addicted to
aren’t fun anymore. They make me sick. Like what?
-MDMA. I really can’t handle it anymore.
My body screams: ‘No, death.’ What happens?
-It’s fun for a bit, like 30 minutes. Then I get nauseous and headaches.
Just sick. My body says: ‘No, don’t do it.’
But I have used it an awful lot. What’s a lot?
-I think four days a week. For at least six months on end.
-That’s very intense. It’s intense stuff. True. But after so many times
it’s not that intense anymore. Which drug do you struggle with most?
-Right now that would be speed. What does it do for you?
-It helps me to understand the world. It takes away my negative thoughts,
so I believe everything will be fine. I have lust for life. For having fun.
And energy. It makes me feel better. I was struggling not to do drugs,
but then you do it anyway. You lose that battle every day.
You lose friends and you lose yourself. You want to stop using, but you can’t.
That doesn’t make any sense. Do you feel the need to use drugs now?
-All day long. Some moments are worse than others. If I’m really distracted by something else,
it’s not that bad. I wake up and go to bed with it.
It drives you crazy. How old were you when you started?
-I first smoked pot when I was 14. I first did hard drugs when I was 15. And when did you become addicted?
-Around when I turned 16. I was quickly addicted, because
I did drugs for the wrong reasons. It goes fast then. When I was almost 17,
I went to addiction care. You’re 22 now.
-That’s right. So you’ve been actually struggling
with drugs for over six years. You said that you used drugs
for the wrong reasons? The first times I didn’t use drugs
to party, but to feel better. Did you never think:
Shit, this is really bad for me? Not at that age. I wasn’t aware of that.
I didn’t get hangovers or anything. Now I’m aware of how bad it is.
I feel really bad now when it wears off. I was 22 years old
when I first heard of hard drugs. How did you come into contact
with drugs at such a young age? I hung out with a group, who I thought
were my friends, but they were dealers. They didn’t hang out with me
because they wanted to be friends… but because they realised
that I was unstable and depressed. And that I was basically desperate
and still very young. I wasn’t old enough to really think about
what I was doing. They gave me something to feel better.
When I used it I felt really good. I felt love for everything and everyone.
I felt super confident. I was super happy and cheerful.
Everything was fun. People were fun. The world was fine. I suddenly thought: Why do I think
there’s so much wrong in the world? It’s not that bad and I feel fine too. I lost a huge amount of weight.
My body felt really sick. Using drugs wasn’t fun anymore.
I ruined my nose. Everything fell apart.
I made me feel nauseous. You need to keep using more and more.
More than you can handle. My body was so weak,
I could no longer ride my bike. Sitting down for a long time hurt.
Lying down hurt. Everything hurt.
I couldn’t do anything. Could you sleep?
-No. How much did you weigh?
-44 kilos. Didn’t your environment
notice anything about you? They definitely did. It was hard not to. I still thought that I was an okay person,
but apparently I was no fun to be around. You didn’t realise that?
-No. No. I thought that I still looked healthy,
but when I look back at photos, I think… Jeez, I’m shocked.
What do you see when you look at it? An unhappy and broken person. But you’re not aware of that at the time. For a long time
I thought that I couldn’t get better. It becomes your image.
It’s familiar territory. I don’t even know if I want to get out,
but I do, but I don’t know who I am. You identify yourself as someone
who is addicted or who is unstable. That makes it so hard to get out. I know I can’t linger in that feeling,
because it solves nothing. Have you ever contemplated suicide?
-Yes, certainly. I’ve tried it a couple of times.
-To commit suicide? Yes.
-Jeez… When the addiction in your head speaks
and the cravings are killing you… you only think about the fun aspects,
but those are gone. You need to remember that it’s
no longer fun and never will be again. I often think that I can do it
one more time, but you just can’t. Because one time leads to more. You decided to go to a rehab centre.
-That’s right. Why did you decide to do that?
-Because I couldn’t go on any longer. First they put you in a detox ward. They don’t treat
the underlying problems there. You need to rest and detox.
That takes about two to three weeks. Is that hard?
-Yes, it really is. I saw sides of myself that I didn’t
recognise. I didn’t expect that. I thought I’d be chill about it,
but that wasn’t the case. I had fits. I tried to escape.
And I felt super lonely. Did you leave early?
-Yes. I stayed for two and a half weeks
in the last rehab clinic. Mainly because of pain problems.
The clinic couldn’t offer me… much more than some tramadol,
but I didn’t want to use too much of that. Were the pain problems a good excuse
to leave and go back home? No. I’m through with it. I do think that many people
in my environment believe that too. I get that. I’ve lied a lot in the past.
That’s how addiction works. So I’m not surprised by that.
It’s a pity though. You’ve kicked the habit before.
Why will you stay clean this time? I have a clear purpose now.
I get more support and I’m open. I’ve gone through so much shit now. I want to convert that into
a sort of energy to help others. I consider that as a new life purpose. That’s great, because people need
a life purpose. I didn’t really have one. I’m really struggling.
When I think about the downsides… and everything I could lose, I don’t want
to do it anymore, but I really fucking do. Are those the monsters in your head?
-Yes. I hear them all day long. I’m fighting hard to keep them at bay.
When will I stop trying? I find that scary, because after so many
years you should be done with it. That’s really scary.
I didn’t expect it to be this hard. Don’t you ever feel like
starting a new life without drugs? Last night I told my boyfriend
that I wouldn’t mind a normal life. Just watching television,
going to IKEA and eating casseroles. That sounds appealing.
-A quiet life? I think you’re brave and I wish you luck.
-Thank you. Well, I need to let this sink in. She’s a nice and intelligent woman.
She could’ve been my little sister. In my mind, an addict is someone
who lives in an alley. It makes you realise that using drugs
isn’t just fun and games. It has a really dark side. She a really tough girl,
but also very fragile. She said she used drugs to forget her
mental problems and to numb herself. That’s intense.
I’m glad that she’s doing well now. I think the conclusion of this story is:
Don’t do drugs to forget your problems. If you end up in a similar situation
and alarm bells go off: Talk to someone. It’s also a goal of Drugslab Extra to make
these kinds of taboos discussible. I think we made some progress
with that today. We’ll definitely keep you posted. This was Drugslab Extra for this week.
If you want to support Paulien… or if you have a story about addiction,
let us know in the comments. If you go partying, enjoy yourself,
but be careful and use your head. Lots of kisses. Bye. Two weeks later:
-This is a short update. I had a relapse.
Not one, but for several days. During the interview
I was confident that I would succeed. I really thought that I could do it,
but apparently not… because a dealer approached me
and I was too weak to resist. After the first time,
I couldn’t stop using. I was fucking angry with myself
and I didn’t understand myself. I still don’t understand myself.
I don’t know why it went wrong again. It was going fucking well,
but it’s so easy to mess things up again. I see addiction as
an alternate person within myself… who’s nagging me all day long
and who I’m constantly struggling with. I was winning the battle,
but now I’m losing it again. I fed that person and now it’s strong.
Stronger than I am, apparently. I wanted to be as honest about it
as possible so I came clean quickly. I’ve talked to counsellors. They told me that a relapse is normal. And that’s it’s part
of the recovery process. Because a recovery is a matter of
falling down and getting back up. You take a step back
and then one forward. I was told not to be upset with myself,
so I decided to try it again. It felt like that wasn’t possible,
but it was, so that’s what I did. I’ve been clean for a week now,
so that’s really great. I also feel more positive, healthier,
and happier and all those things. And very motivated. Next week
I’ll start to receive part-time treatment. Every week I have talks
with counsellors and at the hospital. I’m going to keep on fighting,
because I want a beautiful future… with my boyfriend,
and my cats and plants, of course.