The “war on drugs” has affected all of us, in one way or another. Lately, because of the increase in deaths as a result of people ingesting a lethal mixture of heroin and fentanyl, the issue of drugs has made its way to television news and to newspaper reports. Drug addiction is nothing new, however. In a series of interviews in this blog, I plan on exploring as much of the drug issue as I can. All I ask of you is that you read these stories with an open mind. People who become drug addicts could be your friends, your neighbors, or members of your family.
Today, I am sharing part one of Gretchen Beach’s story. I am very thankful to Gretchen, who so graciously permitted me to share her story.
Tell me about the things that you enjoy doing.
I like making other people happy. I love that about my job; we make other people’s dreams come true. We run motorcycle tours in Europe. It’s my husband Rob’s family business. The business has been going on for 45 years. You show up, and we give you your bike. We have a guide on a bike you can follow or you can go off on your own, and we carry your luggage from hotel to hotel. The tour lasts for two week.
Where do people go on these tours?
They occur all over Europe. They occur from Sicily to the south and Prague to the north and from Romania to the east to the islands of Corsicia and Sardinia to the west. It’s pretty awesome to see people’s eyes light up. It’s like when you take a child to something new; you see their eyes light up.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy most?
I’m in recovery, and I like helping other people finding their way out of a black hole.
Yes, the black hole of addiction. How old were you when you got into drugs?
I was older. I started using drugs when I was 23. I was abusing alcohol, starting at age 14. It was the thing to do. It was what everybody did. My parents drank, my friends drank, it was part of trying to fit in. Drinking was easy because there was always easy access to alcohol. I grew up in California, and my mom used a liquor delivery store, a store that delivered liquor. But then, I would call and place orders, and say that I was my mom. They didn’t care. This was the late ‘70s, early ‘80s.
I got married really young, and I was divorced at 23. Then I met my “dream guy.” It turned out that he was a drug dealer, and he was working with the Mexican cartel. I had been smoking pot, but I didn’t like it much. My dream guy and I were on a date at my house, and I offered him a joint. When I went to get it, it was gone. I was living with my cousin. He was a dope fiend, and he probably consumed it. At which point, the guy that I was dating said, “I have some coke; would you like to do some?” I have no idea of why I tried it. Drugs scared me. I grew up in the “just say no era,” and I think that my parents did a good job of instilling that in me. But I really wanted this guy to like me. So I did a line. I fell in love with coke. All it took was one line, and I was off to the races.
What was your relationship with your dream guy like?
We got engaged before my divorce was final. It was a train wreck from the start. I think that I liked all of the drama because my life had been so drama-free. I was 20 when I married and I met my husband when I was 16. The dream guy made it exciting. We were going out, and we lived near Hollywood. We were partying and hanging out with a pretty exciting crowd. It was an addiction to the whole thing. The drugs made it a train wreck. From age 23 to almost 30, I developed a one thousand dollar a day habit. There were bricks of cocaine in my house. He started getting really pissed off because I was doing all of his drugs.
So that ended, and I spent about a year still sort of chasing it and trying to get it, but I could never get anything as clean, and, obviously, I couldn’t afford it. I was dating men who would buy the cocaine for me. I didn’t have any interest in the men. I was hooked from the first line. I probably overdosed about four times, but was never medically treated. I was arrested once. That was when I was still with the “dream guy.” That was because his boss, the big guy, was in the car, and I was driving. They arrested all of us. He stashed his stuff in the car. So I got arrested for transportation, and I got lucky because they wanted him. They put him down as the driver of the car. So when it went to court, it was thrown out because I can’t be arrested for transportation if I am a passenger in the vehicle. I got very lucky and only went to jail for one night.
And I still kept going and doing drugs...
Please check back on Tuesday for part two of Gretchen's story.