January 20, 2021

Authenticity over Fake Positivity: How a Real Friend Helped me Get Off Drugs.

I was 17 and quite “experimental.”

LSD, molly, Xanax, ‘shrooms, weed, even cocaine; young Rubaab wanted to try them all. But, the drugs weren’t really getting in the way of my life, per se. 

I got all A’s in school, somehow—even though I was usually barred-out (high on Xanax). 

I had a part-time job at Starbucks, so I was making money, too. I was a good ol’ productive member of society. The drugs didn’t seem to interfere with work or school, so I gave myself a pass to keep doing them. I also started creating philosophical justifications for my drug usage. My own “self-realized” philosophies, that is.

My philosophy on life was that it was all about the experience; there was nothing more to life than what you experienced. And my philosophy on drugs was that they altered your perception of reality, therefore providing you with a different experience. Inevitably, my philosophy on life and drugs came together. 

Younger me justifying her drug use would sound a little something like this: 

“I do drugs for the experience. Life is all about the experience, and drugs provide you with a different perception of the same reality—giving you a new experience. So, I want to experience reality in different ways by doing different drugs.” 

And so, young Rubaab was completely justified in her drug use. I eventually started meditating (even while I was still using all types of drugs). I really started to enjoy meditation, too. It anchored my attention to the present moment, bringing me deeper into my experience of life.

As I said, my philosophy on life was that it was all about the experience—so I quickly adopted meditation as a habit. I wasn’t the only one meditating. I had a dear friend meditating as well; his name was Ahree.

He was the one who recommended I start meditating on the app “Headspace” in the first place, and he also happened to be the one friend I had who wasn’t doing drugs or supporting my drug use. One day while we were hanging out at the park, we were having a conversation about meditation. 

“I started doing this new technique I made up on my own,” I shared excitedly. 

“So, you know the body scan?” 

(The body-scan is a technique in which you scan through your whole body with your awareness, from head-to-toe, so you can become mindful of how each part of your body feels.) 

“Yeah,” he replied, smiling. 

“Well, I started adding gratitude to the body scan. So now, every part of my body I become aware of, I give thanks for it,” I finished—with a big grin on my face. 

His smile slowly faded away. 

He looked at me dead in the eye and said, “What’s the point of giving gratitude for your whole body in meditation if you’re just going to hurt it with drugs?” 

My smile faded with his words. I stammered, trying to find something to say in response, “Uh…I…well…yeah, I guess you have a point.” 


You could hear the leaves rustling with the wind and the sounds of the cicadas. The air was humid, and the sky was cloudy. 

“I feel what you’re saying. I’m contradicting myself,” I said, awkwardly breaking the silence. 

“I’ve been telling you you need to stop doing those drugs,” he replied. 

This moment was profound; it deeply touched me. I sat with myself later that week. I was giving thanks for my body, and after our conversation, I couldn’t help but be aware that I was constantly hurting my body with drugs. My joy and gratitude turned to tears of despair. 

“If I am truly grateful for you, body, then I wouldn’t hurt you in the way that I am. I’m sorry. I promise I won’t do drugs anymore. I won’t hurt you anymore.” 

I wish that was the happy ending, but it wasn’t. But, hey, what’s a recovery without a relapse? 

I did drugs a couple more times after that moment. 

I was hesitant to do them, but my positive friends encouraged me and got me out of my comfort zone (sarcasm). Funnily enough, something went wrong both of the final times I tried doing drugs. 

First, I did a Xanax bar at night, before bed. I had work the next morning. I slept through three hours of a ringing alarm and missed work. I showed up three hours late and got written up. So, I took it as a sign from the universe not to do drugs again. So I vowed not to do them—again.

And then, the opportunity to take ecstasy presented itself while I was with my “friends.” We were cruising in the car. 

“I’m going to pick up some ecstasy, do y’all want some?” asks my friend, driving. 

I replied, “Hmm…I want to try it, but I’m trying to get off drugs, so I don’t think I should.” 

My friend encouraged me, “I think you should just do it if you want to try it.” 

“Well, okay then,” I replied—peer pressure at its finest. 

Suddenly, I had a green pill shaped like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. 

I popped it. I waited. And then, I had to pee. I went into the restroom of a store nearby, and I started feeling sick. My chest and stomach were struck with a sharp pain. I felt nauseous. As soon as I entered the bathroom stall, I threw up—a lot. 

At that point, I finally took the hint. I vowed for the third and final time not to do drugs. And this time, I stuck with it. As of today, it’s been over three years since I’ve touched a drug. It was difficult at first, but reminding myself how grateful I was for my body helped me take better care of it. 

Thanks to my dear friend, Ahree, I completely changed my life. (And thanks to the universe for making things go wrong when I relapsed.) 

Ahree didn’t support me in everything I did, and he didn’t just tell me what I wanted to hear. Instead, he supported the things that were healthy for me, and he told me what I needed to hear. 

Real friends challenge you to live up to your utmost potential; they don’t stroke your ego with fake positivity. 

With my friend Ahree’s support, I stopped doing drugs and deepened my meditation practice, eventually bringing me into a transformative inner-journey. 

Oh, and about that friend…he and I are together now. We’re a couple, walking hand-in-hand down our paths and keeping it real with each other every step of the way.

I smile in gratitude as I finish writing this, for the blessing of having a real friend and for how far I’ve come. 


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