I spent many of the formative years of my twenties as a bartender. I was usually the resident daytime bartender. I worked Monday through Friday, open till, about six in the evening. I went through periods, however, where I worked Saturday five till two am, and the Sunday Football crowd (that had to stop because I can not be disturbed during football). Hang around bars for any length of time, and you hear groups of people one-upping each other. Men seem to do this slightly more, but by no means is this a game that is regulated by gender.
The stories start out normal and get more and more ridiculous as time (and booze) progresses. You know where else you hear this a lot? Jails and rehabs. In jail there is a lot of inmates bragging about their crimes. Their convictions are worn as a badge of honor. Extra points are allotted for crimes that a person was charged but not convicted of. Everyone is the hardest motherfucker out there. They have robbed more banks, or boosted from more stores, or made more money off of selling drugs than just about anyone in the history of criminals.
Rehabs (and on the streets to a degree) the one-up-manship is twisted in sort of sick, twisted game to prove who is the biggest, most hard-core junky. Everyone likes to talk about how bad their habit was. Oh, and their dope or crack or meth or whatever was the best shit EVER. On the streets are the a good deal of addicts whose sole hustle is to cop for people. They hang around looking for people (usually white people) who don’t know where to get anything. They then proceed to tell you how great the shit they get is. They usually need some extensive amount of shit to get high, but whatever dope they are trying push you to get at the moment got them ripped as balls off of just one. You then pay them a pill to cop it. Of course the trick is that they usually know that dealer really well and get a deal if you are buying a decently large quantity and end up with a few extras. One way to see if they are trying to work you is to see if they are spending any of their own money on the shit. A homeless dud begging for money all day will try to talk you into just about anything in order to get one or more for free, but if they are spending their own twenty that took them probably four hours of pan-handling to get… Well you get the idea.
As an addict, I never found anyone who found shit that was better than what we were already getting. What someone who spends thirty dollars a day thinks is great, I more than likely will not, what with a thousand plus dollar a day habit.
This is the shift that would irritate the shit out of me in rehab. People going on and on about how much they spent, how bad their habit was, etc. They were proud of this shit. I never told anyone except the nurse how much I spent a day. Obviously, the nurse needs to know, because they need to know how sick you may get, how much medication you are going to need. I was never proud that my hubby and I went through about eleven hundred dollars a day between the two of us. When I was getting high, I always wished that I had a fourth dollar a day habit. I would have gone through much less physical hell each and every morning. We could have made money last all that much longer.
Sometimes, as sort of some sick ass, self-inflicted torture, my husband and I would add up how much money we spent in a year getting high. Well a thousand dollars a day for 365 days is $365,000 a year. This went on for eleven year. Subtract five years of clean time (two now and three awhile back) and that is six years of that. That is $2,190,000. Ok, there was months here and there that we only had habits of maybe three hundred or five hundred or one-fifty. So, even if I am generous, we spent at least $1,750,000 in six years of active addiction. You know how much I could have with that? A nice ass house, even around here. We could each have a Mercedes. So yeah, I am far from proud of “how big of a junky” I was. It is embarrassing.
I suppose it stems from the fact that when an addict has just entered rehab, they do not feel that they have all that much to be proud of. This translates into trying to out junky the next junky. Everyone spent more than the next guy, and the drugs were a higher quality than what everyone else got. Every addict went harder when they were on the streets than the next addict. Why? Why does anyone feel the need to brag about what is considered by the rest of society as an atrocious attribute? I think it comes down to being a defense mechanism of sorts. It is kind of like by telling everyone how awful and rough you are then you beat the outside world to the punch. Sort of, “Oh, you think that I am a horrible person? Tell me something I don’t know.”
The quandary with this sort of logic is that perception tends to become reality. When you continually out up a front of being an abhorrent human being, someone who is merely an addict, is that over time, that is who you become. You sink deeper and deeper into this reality. I am no stranger at shutting off the world so that they can not hurt me first, but accepting that you are an loathsome, despicable person and then becoming it simply in order to beat the rest of the world to the punch is really the ultimate act of self sabotage.
Really through, the minute we become addicted to drugs, we are steadily undermining ourselves. We have very little comfort in much as addicts, I suppose being able to wear the crown of the ultimate junky offers us some sort of sick, fucked up comfort.