I’m what some people would call a “normie.” I learned this term while working in the field of substance abuse. Basically, a normie is someone who is able to have one drink and then stop, or take pain pills as prescribed and then stop when the pain is gone. I never considered myself fortunate for being one of these types of people, but in all honesty, I never really gave it much thought in general. Experimenting with drugs when I was younger was just something my friends and I did, but it wasn’t until I got older I realized there were some of us who couldn’t leave that phase of our lives behind – and at the time I didn’t understand why.

In high school, my group of friends was very smart. We all got good grades, never got in much trouble, came from loving families, and had dreams of doing big things when we got older. Sure, we dabbled in the drug world on the weekends, but come Monday, we’d all be back at school ready to get our learn on until the next weekend rolled around. Yes, there were a few friends who would come to school high, or leave during lunch to get high and then come back, but we were all just stupid kids, right? Not one of us thought those friends could actually have a problem, so we never said anything. Hindsight is always 20/20. Besides, what would we have said to them anyway? We were doing the same things they were, after all. It just wasn’t consuming our lives like it was theirs, but we were too caught up in whatever teenage crap we had going on to see the bigger picture.

We all graduated high school and most of us left our hometown to attend various colleges across the state; those friends who were getting high during lunch at school never left. One has since died of a drug overdose, one overdosed and nearly died but survived with major brain damage, and one we still haven’t heard from to this day – 17 years later. I was so mad at my friends who did this to themselves. Why couldn’t they just stop doing drugs like the rest of us? I remember attending my friend’s funeral and feeling legitimately angry while I looked at him, dead in the casket. He was dead and I was furious because he “chose” to keep doing drugs until it killed him. Why would anyone “choose” to end up like that?

If you aren’t aware by now, it’s important to know that ADDICTION IS NOT A CHOICE. While this fact has been argued and is still argued to this day, if you ask anyone who has actually experienced addiction themselves, or has had a loved one battle addiction, they will tell you it’s not a choice. If you look at the research that has been done on the effects addiction has on the brain, it will show you it’s not a choice. But back then I didn’t know. I thought if I was able to stop doing drugs and drinking, my friends should be able to also. I didn’t know that I was actually a normie, and I was one of the lucky people who were actually able to make the choice to stop.

Here’s what I know now; being a friend can be really difficult. Sometimes you have to call out someone close to you because they’re making decisions that could potentially hurt or kill them. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy and tell them the things they’re doing isn’t reflective of who they really are and they need help. It’s easy to get caught up in life, whether you’re a teenager or an adult. I don’t know for sure if I had said something to my friends back in high school about their substance abuse that it would’ve saved them. I don’t know that they would’ve listened, or gotten mad at me, or ended up the same way they did, but I know that doing nothing always yields the same results.

The thing is, people can give you tips on what you should do if you think your friends or loved ones are abusing drugs and alcohol. You can Google advice until your fingers bleed. You can use all of the information you’ve been given, follow it to a T, and when you confront your friends or loved ones, they can tell you to “F” off and that they don’t have a problem. They could yell at you, call you a shitty person, and decide to never talk to you again. But there is always that chance they will thank you for caring, thank you for being a good person, and accept your help. But you will NEVER EVER know if you can help them if you don’t at least try.

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