I was an average kid born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1956. Average childhood. Average life. Average abuse by a stepfather.
My mom became a single parent when I was 13, and we moved into a trailer park in Maryland in 1969. New friends, new school. Some of these new friends smoked pot. Wanting to be accepted, I tried it.
I had been told very bad things about drugs and pot and believed them, so there was a bit of fear there. I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me, but my new friends assured me they smoked it all the time, and it was really cool.
They said it was just a plant, totally natural. If God hadn't meant for man to use it, He wouldn't have created it.
They didn't have horns growing out of their heads, nor were they disfigured in any way, so I mustered up my courage and followed their instructions on how to smoke a joint.
They knew all these new phrases that sounded really cool, and they seemed so confident, so I trusted them.
I wasn't struck by lightening, nor did anything terrible happen. In fact, I felt pretty good. Everything started to seem really funny, and I started laughing.
This was the best I had felt in my life. I never wanted to stop feeling this good.
In fact it became the most important thing in my life from then on. More important than school, so I quit at age 15 to get a job so I could buy pot.
By then, these new friends had introduced me to LSD, PCP, speed and other drugs. I tried them all because, if pot made me feel so good, maybe these other drugs would make me feel better.
I might not have tried harder drugs had not the door been opened by that harmless plant. Sadly, I liked them all.
I went into the military at 17 and was introduced to alcohol. I kept trying to find the combination of drugs and alcohol to give me that "perfect high." I would achieve it for brief moments, but would end up doing too much of one or not enough of another, and wound up passed out or up for days.
I got busted for selling pot and was discharged from the military. I couldn't afford to pay for the amount of drugs and alcohol I was consuming, so I had to subsidize my income somehow.
This became a pattern for more than 30 years. This driving urge to feel good was the most important thing in my life.
It created havoc in relationships and jobs. How can I work or be in a relationship when everything was less important than my drugs?
The consequences got worse, too. It went from getting hassled by the cops to getting arrested. It progressed from weekends in jail to 30 days to 9 months and, eventually, to a prison cell for years.
Over and over. In and out of prison. Doing things I swore I would never do. Sticking needles in my arm, robbing people, carrying guns and committing felonies on a daily basis.
I finally achieved that perfect high. I've been clean now for almost seven years, and I am high on life. I don't drink or do any drugs in any form.
This probably won't happen to everybody who tries pot, but how do you know if you will be the one or not?
I certainly didn't think one harmless joint would lead me down the path it did. It was such a gradual, subtle progression, I wasn't even aware of it. It just kind of turned out that way.
It's Russian Roulette with your life.
Why take that chance?
Bob Rogers will complete seven years of sober living in November. He works for Community Recovery Resources in Grass Valley, coordinating programs for men and women with domestic violence issues.