The candies rattled as I eased a box off the pantry shelf. “Into the pinknwhites again?” my husband asked from another room. Damn it. I was usually good at slipping a box out of hiding without making a peep. My stash of candies lived in the darkest reaches of the pantry behind the rarely-used Cuisinart, the eight-gallon soup pot and a stack of twenty non-stick muffin tins. Nobody ventured into that section of the closet except Pink the cat, looking for something alive he could kill and eat.
I wasn't that far gone...killing for my candies. At least not then. From what I knew of addiction, denial loomed large in the diagnosis and treatment. Could I be sure I wasn’t dangerous?
Admittedly the substance I abused had a deceptively benign name...Good and Plenty! While it sounded much more positive than heroin or cocaine - too much of anything is too much. I realized my “GP” problem had exceeded bad habit status and drifted into addiction when we were traveling in Asia, my supply was running out and I had to mete out chips and morsels into small doses in order to make it through the trip. A half-lozenge a day is how I survived the last week. I’d hit bottom.
My Good and Plenty problem began years prior with the 16 grays of radiation I absorbed for tumor eradication. The offending benign growth in my brain was neatly zapped but there was corollary damage to my perception of taste. My tongue, formerly bathed in a pleasant neutral bath of saliva, gradually began perceiving phantom tastes...a gush of acidity, a dash of bitterness. The very organ I used to earn a living turned against me! There were other symptoms from the tumor - my right foot was permanently itchy, my left ear screeched, whistled and hummed non-stop, cognitive problems waxed and waned. Each of these perception problems bothered me intensely for a while but then, the brain as it does, adjusted and the itchy foot for example, was incorporated into my new normal. Taste perception problems would also have faded out of my daily consciousness had I not spent years training myself to be acutely aware of taste. How ironic.
The first time I tasted a Good and Plenty, post-treatment, I felt a rush of relief almost like euphoria. I consumed a box at one sitting and bought another. My husband, seeing my improved mood, bought me more. Why not..what the hell. It was a simple solution to a complex neurological problem. We made regular runs to the dollar store buying twenty boxes at a time. I ate nineteen and a half boxes of each purchase. My husband, feigning enthusiasm, ate one-half box for show. I caught him with a raised eyebrow watching me sucking and slurping candy after candy.
After a couple of months, I gained a few pounds and became aware of a sugar rush that now accompanied the taste relief. I began falling asleep, almost passing out, after an evening of munching. I resolved to quit, but couldn’t make it through an evening without a fix. I’d get up in the middle of the night rooting around in the closet looking for an overlooked box. My husband found me unconscious on the couch, pinkish drool staining my pyjamas, Pink, the cat looking on with feline disgust. My husband began to worry. I started sneaking around.
After the Asia trip and my realization that I was an addict, I resolved again to quit. And I did, cold turkey. A support group would have made the journey easier, but there wasn’t one for Good and Plenty abusers. In today’s interconnected world I could likely get a group together via the Friends of Fallbrook facebook pages! I’m keeping the option in mind because I can feel myself slipping out of control again. Let’s see...we can call the group AAA - Altoid Abusers Anonymous.