There is nothing like surfing. Unless you have experienced it yourself it is incredibly hard to accurately describe. I grew up near the ocean so surfing has been part of my life for a long time. Unfortunately, so has drinking and drugs. My drug of choice has always been Xanax, but Xanax, drinking and surfing do not mix well together. Here’s how surfing helped me quit Xanax and alcohol.
For many years I tried to make the love triangle work, but as the saying goes, “threes a crowed”. After a particularly ugly and public breakup, drinking (starting at a young age with fake IDs) and Xanax took over my life. Surfing reminded me too much of my ex and I tossed it to the side like a wet towel into a dirt clothes hamper.
I was running on Xanax and alcohol – literally. I hardly slept, I barley ate and I was running at least ten miles every day.
My Xanax prescription quickly ran out, I went through a month’s worth in just over a week. I’ve had the same script for it since high school and it renewed its self automatically once a month but now I had to go see my doctor to renew the script.
She was horrified at my condition. I barely weighed 80 pounds. She only agreed to fill the script if I went to see a therapist, so I did – for about a week.
I loved being totally messed up. I couldn’t feel anything, physically or emotionally. I couldn’t remember anything – good or bad- happening – so there was nothing to even have feelings about. I couldn’t even remember to show up for work as the surf instructor for my local shop.
I had managed to turn my life into a total shit show and as much as I thought I was hiding it, I wasn’t. Everyone, but me, could see that I was throwing my life away.
A very close friend of mine heard what was going on and invited me to come down to Nicaragua for a fresh start. She owned a surf camp and said there was a spot for me to come teach yoga and surf lessons. It was a chance to get away from the drama and try and get sober.
I had a rough start. My friends through a massive going away party for me the night before I left and I barely made it on my flight and it was even worse when I landed. There is a pharmacy right at the airport and you can buy Xanax without a prescription.
I don’t remember getting picked up or the drive to the beach, which is over an hour from the airport down a mostly dirt road. I do remember waking up to perfect waves unable to surf due to a raging hangover. I couldn’t even look at the ocean without getting sea sick.
Sadly, this happened more times than I can count. Eventually I was given an ultimatum – get it together or get a flight home. Things didn’t change overnight but they slowly got better and getting back in the water helped a lot.
Watching people surf and not being out there because of your own stupid choices is worse than a hangover. It is pure self-torture.
I would watch people surf wave after perfect wave and this uncontrollable anxiety would just bubble up inside and me and the only way to make it go away was to surf.
It is the ultimate fear of missing out feeling and what initially made me get back into the water. I easily fell back in love with surfing but I had done so much damage to my body and was so out of surf shape that it was pretty rough getting back into it, but so worth it and I haven’t given up surfing again since.
Like I said before, the feeling you get surfing is pretty indescribable. It is an addiction in and of itself. It is better than any other high and it is natural.
Sitting out there in the ocean, floating on a tiny board makes you feel so small yet so connected to the earth. Problems and emotions float away and it is just you and the wave.
You have absolutely no control over what is going to happen yet you totally trust the process. You learn to go with the flow and let the wave guide you.
All you need is just one wave to completely change your attitude, one wave can make all the difference and you want to be totally sober to fully experience everything.
I never again want to miss a session because I’m hungover or get sick in the water because my bad choices from the night before – it is just not worth it.
I also want to be in top shape, physically and mentally, to catch as many waves as possible. Surfing may not solve all my problems but it sure as hell makes everything easier to deal with.
Thanks for reading!