Chasing the dragon for the last five years

Chasing the Dragon Illustration by artist Jessica Doyle yellow, blue, green

Today marks five years sobriety for me off of GHB.

I drew this dragon five months ago. I added the watercolour five days ago and the image just screamed chasing the dragon once the colours began popping it to life. It still needs more work mind you… Subconsciously, I still chase that illusive dragon when working, creating or even when alone thinking or researching. When what I’m working on, creating, thinking or researching climaxes, I certainly do, feel high and struggle to get to the end. I almost can’t contain myself at times and must run outside to smoke a cigarette and sadly, nicotine is the worst drug of all, as it doesn’t even make you high.

I silently research drugs, their uses and legalities. I consider it a hobby and when I feel the need to use a substance that most certainly will cause me angst, I read back in my journals about the gruesome detox and agony I suffered through for months when sobering up from GHB.

It’s not a pleasant experience to break out in painful large blisters and pimples all over your back, arms and legs and to lose feeling in your extremities and watch your fingers and toes go blue from slowed blood circulation as you reduce your dose of GHB slowly and by half each day for one week at home. It’s not human to recoil into an infantile state regressing to points in one life while awake or asleep when bad things happened only to have to vividly relive them again and again until you aged and moved onwards to the next abuse or trauma.

Process of chasing the dragon illustration by artist Jessica Doyle winsor and Newton watercolour blue green

And I certainly don’t miss the need to dose every half hour at times and the need to overdose just to sleep for two hours at a time or the constant fear of knowing that I would die from sudden withdrawal without GHB running through my system if my drug dealer ran out of it or I forgot my bottle at home after leaving the house for that day. I would return home for the bottle. Always. You hit a certain point with GHB addiction where there is no turning back to just recreational use. Missing a dose can send you into convulsions. Missing a dose can stop your heart from beating. Missing a dose can take your breath away forever. While taking too much can make you fall asleep and go into a coma.

I do miss the first five months of the addiction; the time when everything was wonderful, my brain worked properly and life seemed easier even if it was only a charade.

And most of all, I DO NOT REGRET taking GHB or becoming addicted to it as there were times when it, was perfect.

Over the years people have said to me why not take a Xanax or a Valium to calm down. Are you kidding me? Really, offering a sedative to someone who was addicted to them for two full years (albeit the illegal kind) is like offering a recovered heroin addict a T1 or an alcoholic a just a small shot of whiskey.

Studio of artist Jessica Doyle showing chasing the dragon illustration paint watercolour acrylic

So, chasing the dragon is akin to being amongst the living.

Chasing the dragon is a work in progress. Thus far the mediums used are Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens and Winsor and Newton watercolour on Arches watercolour paper. It measures 8×10 inches (20,3cm by 25,4cm). And I do not ever smoke inside. My household is a strict non-smoking and scent free home.

The programs offered by addiction treatment centers are designed to help treat addiction to any kind of illicit drug.

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22 thoughts on “Chasing the dragon for the last five years”

  1. Thanks Jessica, this is an interesting story about the piece and a compelling concept. It’s a lovely piece, the dragon looks familiar!

  2. Congratulations on fighting the battle and for celebrating 5 years of sobriety. It sounds like it’s been a scary road. I love how our thoughts and feelings spill over into our work, what would our art be without them.

  3. You are an inspiration and thank you for your genuine feelings and thoughts.
    Congrat’s on your sobriety. And, don’t be too hard on yourself about smoking. Good things take time.
    Your art is wonderful! I am, as you know, a huge fan of yours and appreciate your talent!!!
    with respect and kindness,

  4. Ditto on Nancy’s comment Jessica. Don’t get down on yourself for the smoking. Yeah it would be healthier to quit but look at what you have accomplished – five years sobriety from GHB. We’re all human, which means being imperfect. You’ve fought the GHB dragon and won! Addiction is a horrible, gutwretching, despairing disease. It affects every thought, every cell- it is horrific – let’s face it just plain SUCKS! No one every get’s a get well card for their pain and suffering.
    I love your work Jessica and your honesty : D

  5. Wonderful post, Jessica and congratulations. Someone, here in the comments, just said the one word ‘respect’, and that’s how I feel too. I know what it takes, not GHB though. It takes a helluva lot of determination and will-power to crawl up from the muck and the mire. Most people have never done that. They have just lived ‘ordinary’ lives. It certainly adds to ones life experience and it’s a humbling one.

    I come from a very small town in Sweden, and for some reason that’s beyond me, this little place was the one that had the most GHB users in all of the country! I worked in the health care sector, and saw many … many young people died from it. Others went into a coma, but woke up, extremely agitated. I don’t know anything about what type of high you get from it.

  6. Thanks for sharing so much of your story Jessica; it is what drew me to your blog a few months ago. Not all of us are in a position to share where we have come from or what we have lived through in such a public way. I really connect with where you have been and completely understand that notion of still looking back wanting and imagining, but knowing where you are now is a better place. Well done on your sobriety, I know that 5 years will have seemed a life time and also a blink of an eye, its hard won and well worth celebrating.

  7. Scary stuff… I can’t really imagine what substance addiction feels like, although I have seen the hold these drugs have on others, and cannot bring myself to say “Just quit!” It’s never that simple. Not even for smokers.

    It was interesting to read that you don’t regret taking it. Aside from the initial happiness it brought, do you feel that the journey it took you on, has shaped you into who you are? Like a reeeeally baaad relationship, that began with promise.
    Those who are strong enough to survive and defeat their addictions, find themselves a different creature at the end… perhaps a better one?

  8. Thank you… the road is less scary as time goes on. I just take things day to day and sometimes hour by hour when needed. Mostly the days are good though :)

  9. Thank you Nancy for being a reader and fan of my artwork. Without you all I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

    When the time is right I will quit smoking… soon.

  10. I guess that’s the thing: if it’s not one thing that’s causing us issues it’s another.

    Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog and for liking my artwork.

  11. The high is euphoric at times and for someone with anxiety or ADHD it can bring the much needed focus for doing everyday tasks and seeing them through to completion.

    So sorry to hear about what is happening in your hometown in Sweden.

  12. Yes, the time has gone by fast. I’m happy to be alive to tell the tale.

    Thank you for the comment :)

  13. That’s such a great way to put it my friend. Yes, it began with much promise or should I say focus.

    I hope a better one although I still fight with many demons and struggle with certain things but now I know the difference and recognize what those things are and make the changes needed before they spin out of control.

  14. Jessica,
    You have an enormous amount of courage to be so open here. I am struggling with prescription drugs. I have bipolar 2 disorder but I take some prescriptions that I don’t have to take and some over the counters that I don’t have to take mainly around sleep cause I am on some cancer meds that causes insomnia. So it is all a viscous cycle. Yada yada yada. LOL I love your art and your blogs. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Congratulations on being clean from GHB for five years. I’ve struggled with addiction my whole life so completely undersand. I love your art work as well. I found your site through Comfortable Shoes Studie (the fabulous Leslie) and am now a subscriber. I look forward to more posts.

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