In this incredibly personal piece, guest writer Junior Maxwell talks about his ongoing journey from chemsex addiction to sobriety.
Today I’m finally 1 year clean! Here are some of my reflections about the last year…
Walking back home after being fired was the moment I realised that my life would be next if I didn’t stop, I’m so thankful I lost my job that day because a week earlier people were asking me in work if I’d gotten a tan and I played along but really I was putting so much toxic shit through my body my skin was turning yellow. I felt like my kidneys were failing along with my liver; I wouldn’t sleep or eat for days at a time and I knew deep down it had to end, albeit this wasn’t immediately. I continued to relapse for another 4 months but I knew that big changes had to happen and scared the shit out of me.
I don’t want to be too depressing about my past today and I want to remain focused on my future but I will highlight the big changes I’ve made in this leg of my recovery in the hopes to empower others who are also suffering with Tina, GBL or chemsex addiction. There are a shit ton of us going through this lonely as fuck journey and Grindr, Scruff and other hook-up apps are the absolute epicentre for this chemsex epidemic and they’re pretending it’s not happening and they’re not doing enough to take responsibility for what their platforms are being used for and like a peer said to me the other day in a group – WE DESERVE TO BE SEEN.
Being drastic with my recovery for me was key this time. I removed myself away from Manchester, with fuck all belongings and I was CRIPPLED with debt. Thankfully, I had family to support me with my accommodation but the debt was mine to clear and I managed to do it over the course of 7 months.
During this time, I attended every recovery group with the LGBT Foundation (3 a week on average) and I began to make positive and recovery-focused connections and lifelong friends. They are the absolute core of my support hub; through sharing lived experience with one another, we were able to tackle loneliness together and I’m so thankful to have my peers in my life, they’ve been truly great to me, as have certain family members and friends for life (you know who you are) – if you were affected by my addiction and you were still able to stand by me, I applaud you for being so brave and patient and for not letting my drug-induced erratic behaviour define me as a person and for seeing me as a human being.
During the early months, I knew I had a fuck load of mental health issues awaiting me seeing as I was no longer numb from the G and Tina and I was right. Chronic social anxiety, zero sex drive, PTSD flashbacks, intrusive thoughts etc. I won’t lie, the first few months were the hardest for me but as time went on, I was starting to understand myself better and I ended up getting diagnosed with ADHD last year which made me find a sense of peace with my previous poor choices throughout life and understand that I’m not just somebody who’s ‘fucked up’ or a ‘write off’ and the medication I am now on for my ADHD has changed my life! I can manage money better, I’m always productive, clean, tidy, less impulsive; it’s played a key role in navigating my recovery in an organised fashion but the little things too – over Christmas, I’ve never wrapped up presents so neatly in all my life!
Another big factor is obviously sober sex. After attending chemsafe every week with the LGBT Foundation (a recovery group from those abstaining from chemsex), I knew I had to start having sober sex again but I was dreading it. I thought I’d never have the urge to have sex again without drugs and it took months before I even had a wank again but this year I’ve been re-exploring it and I was surprised to find myself enjoying it but I also realised I was lacking in body confidence. After years of having sex on drugs, not only do they make you have social and sexual confidence but you rarely get in your own head about physical insecurities but the more sober sex I experimented with, the more confident I was getting and with that of course comes sexual confidence. I’m still exploring but I’m making a lot of progress after months of avoiding it. Sex is absolutely so much better, whether it lasts 10 minutes or 2 hours, without drugs. Who wants to attempt to have sex when you’re rearranging porn for 12 hours whilst being hooked on Grindr for days at a time? I did! But why? I realise now that it was obviously a progressional thing the deeper I got into the chemsex world but now I have the gift of hindsight, I was just lost and wanted sex to escape my situation. Now I enjoy sex because I want sex, not because I want an escape from reality.
Aside from abstaining from G and Tina, there are a few other things I’ve managed to abstain from, the first one being weed! As much as it relaxes me, my ADHD consultant confirmed to me that they make my ADHD symptoms worse and I wholeheartedly agree with him so I sacked it off, shortly after I packed in the cigs too and switched to vaping; aside from the health benefits, it’s obviously a lot more cost-effective. I then turned my attention to the Mirtazapine I’ve been on for 4 years and I’ve been weaning myself off them since February and this is my second week without any anti-depressants. Instead, I’ve turned to supplements, vitamins and herbal therapies to aid me in my anxiety and depression. Meditation has been key and I’ve just applied to take part in an NHS Psilocybin trial to further aid me in my battle with anxiety, depression and PTSD.
On a final note, I just want to make it clear that I haven’t made it yet. Yes, I’m a year in but I’ve got my eye on complacency and I refuse to let that lead me into a relapse. I want to stay focused and I want to build a better life for myself. For this reason, I won’t be returning to Manchester (to live); I will be moving elsewhere but I visit Manchester every week and it’s just full of triggers and bad memories. It’s time to start a new chapter, in a new place – I don’t want to ‘run away’ from my problems – I just want a blank canvas and a fresh start.
TL;DR Life is good!
Follow Junior on Twitter (@juniormaxwell)