How Travel Saved Me From A Drug Addiction

Have you ever made a promise to yourself and then went against your own word?

Because I did. I’ve been debating for a while now whether to write this or not, due to recent security measures made in the States. Oh well, if I’m banned then so be it. It would make a pretty cool story, wouldn’t it?

Not just that, I feel it’s important to share my experience. Now before I explain that difficult period in my life, I feel you need to understand the point that led up to my excessive drug use. What I class as ‘excessive and what you do’ may be a different matter. However, from my perspective, it has probably been one of the lowest points of my life and now I’m ready to open up to fellow travellers or readers.

Growing Up

Growing up, I have always been the good, honourable and pleasing child. At school I liked to think I excelled, never getting detentions or disciplined. In fact, I feel my siblings used to get mad as my parents would compare their school reports against mine (perks of being the eldest and most studious). I attended three schools in England there’s an option for a three-tier or two-tier education system. I was in the three-tier area, which meant I attended a first school, middle school and a high school.

I recall in my last year of middle school year 8 at the age of thirteen going on an open day of what was going to be then my next school i.e high school. At the time I was mesmerised by the sheer size of the building, age ranges of students and the freedom. Upon returning to my middle school close by, I still remember to students of the high school say

“If you go to this school, you’ll end up taking drugs.”

Well, innocent thirteen years old me at the time thought, “that’s ridiculous I will never be like that.” Except I did, but not during my studies. 

Now, I’m sure we can all agree on that most people have taken the odd joint of weed now and then. In fact, most teenagers coming of age like to experiment. Which is what I did with cannabis. What led me down the gateway wasn’t weed, it was music. Alongside sports, an all-time passion of mine was music. Which meant I’d save up my allowance and go to concerts at least four times a month. I have such a passion, I’d purchase tickets for bands I didn’t know just to gain a wider knowledge of talented individuals out there. This passion burned profusely inside of me until I got my ultimate freedom granted at aged sixteen. Why sixteen?

Becoming Sixteen

When I turned this age, after picking up my GCSE exam results my mum granted me permission to go to my first music festival. Which meant, no parents just friends camping for five days in muddy fields with over 80 big names in worldwide music. In other words, a great way to get drunk and socialise. My first festival was fun, even though my naive self got robbed. It led me to annually attending many music festivals each year. It got to the point when I was working I’d attend that many as opposed to going abroad, making me easily spend £1000 per year on festivals.

The more I attended these festivals the more I met experimental individuals who introduced me to the darker drug realms. Here I would commonly take MDMA (Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine) in pills or powder form. Usually, it takes about 30 minutes to kick in and can last up to six hours depending on the dose. It gives you almost a loving high and increases the dopamine, norephedrine and serotonin in your brain.

Likewise, I’d take ketamine (horse tranquillizer), cocaine, MKAT (mephedrone) and 2CB (psychedelic drug). Some of my funniest times have come from these yet also my grimmest (sniffing ketamine off a 5 kuna piece coin at 9:00 AM in Croatia, to the time of forgetting my own name and date of birth). 

Amongst my social circle these drugs moved on from festivals and we started taking them regularly back in our city. In fact, I recall it was rare to find someone who wasn’t a drug user back then. This was due to a popular rise in underground dance music with house and techno becoming extremely prevalent.

Drugs In The City

As a result of this, world-class DJ’s would come to our home town. It became so popular, drugs like MDMA was so cheap i.e £10 per pill that people chose to take them and have water when clubbing as opposed to drinking alcohol. Today, this is often still the case in some areas of the U.K. As back then, a night out fueled on alcohol would easily cost around £80-£100. Looking back also in nightclubs, I’d say about 60-70% of the attendees were on a form of the drug if you were engaged in the underground dance music scene. 

We got involved in taking drugs and liking dance music so much,it became a regular on the weekend. We’d all pool at a students house, pre-drink and take whatever drugs we could then leave to go out about 11:00 pm. From there, we’d stay at a club till 4 am then have an afterparty at the house, often staying there the following day or getting to sleep at 2:00 pm. Sometimes I’d go on benders going out on Friday, returning home on Sunday evening. 

Then travel came into my life. One day I set out on achieving my ultimate dream of visiting Japan and realised at aged 18 something had to give way in order to achieve this. That meant limiting the number of nights out I’d attend. Which I did and it meant I took drugs less. Once I visited Japan I got the travel bug. It made me realise I was wasting my life taking drugs, spending so much of my money on a high. Except it still couldn’t stop me from giving in to peer pressure when others offered me it on a night out.

My teenage years went out and then came in my adult ones. The drug scene had changed and the new go-to was cocaine. I’d become hooked, I’d take cocaine as well drink alcohol going out. It got to point at 1:00 AM I couldn’t enjoy my evening if I didn’t have a gram of cocaine to hand. During 2018 I had quit my job to travel the world. Before I set off, I spent a lot of time taking cocaine wasting my savings. In fact, once I took it for five days straight going out wasting my savings on it.

Then came NEPAL. 

I travelled to Nepal to trek to Everest Base Camp and had plans to visit the Philippines afterwards.  Except I didn’t and here I still am in Nepal. A lot of my Nepalese friends ask me the same question “Alex, why on earth you living in Nepal?” as most of them want to emigrate. Well, what they don’t know is how lucky to realise the culture and society they have. A culture where drink and drugs don’t define your life proving there is more to life. Likewise, a place where you don’t get judged if you choose not to take. Plus, the kind of drug problem that is faced here are only the minute ones like marijuana.

This country made me fall in love with nature so much and also in love for the bond between family as well as community. Nepal has made me finally come to my senses. I realised there was so more to life than drugs. I’m over a year clean now that’s if you don’t count weed and I’ve forgotten the recreational high to compare my life too. As cringe as it sounds, I now live on a natural one and have the willpower to say no.

Likewise being away from my home town helps too. As much as there’s beautiful scenery surrounding me I come from the drinking capital of England. There’s not much to do in comparison to the cosmopolitan cities like London and Edinburgh. Which means, if I were to remain I’d probably have become a victim of that due to my surroundings.

I’m not saying travel will stop your addiction, but it has sure as hell straightened mine out. 

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Extracts of Alex

Navigating Nepal and the World

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