My Childhood Drug Habit

It’s not often I like to talk about the dark days of my childhood.

People always say that the writers that are genuinely famous and genuinely talented have had heartbreaking childhoods with abuse and poverty and broken families… That if you grew up in an affluent part of Anytown, U.S.A., that you can never truly write engaging stories if all your experience lies in happy times. That family dinners and trips to the amusement park and hugs and bountiful holiday seasons will only allow you to write for shows like 7th Heaven.

Not that there’s anything wrong with 7th Heaven.

Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for me, there were some dark times for me when I was about the age of 10. Around that time, both my parents were working and I often arrived at home after school with no parental supervision whatsoever. I was left to my own devices to horrific results.

Let me just say first that there was no addiction in my family whatsoever, except for a huge gambling problem across the board. There was no alcoholism and no strung-out drug addictions, either. My family was the perfect, healthy nuclear family. And all was good until I got into the medicine cabinet.

There, at the top shelf, easily accessible via a step ladder was a white plastic bottle with easy to crack, childproof top. Filled with multi-colored pills that were to be pursed out one-at-a-time. But on that dark gloomy afternoon, I wasn’t concerned with will power. Hell, I was ten years old.

I cracked open that bottle of Flintstones Chewable Vitamins like a kid strung out on coke. And man, were they damn good.

I ate about thirty vitamins that day, using them to play out stories I had already seen on the animated television show based on the vitamins. Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, Bam Bam and Pebbles. These two went out bowling…gobble, gobble. These two got in trouble from their wives for spending all night at the Moose Lodge…gobble, gobble. Brontosaurus burgers, Rock Hudson, feet on the freeway…gobble, gobble, gobble…

There was more sugar speeding through my ten-year old veins than ever before.

The Flintstone Vitamin addiction continued for six months after that infamous day. Although my parents thought there was something strange going on with the rapidly disappearing vitamins, I always seemed to be able to alleviate their fears by telling stories of spilt bottles and water glasses. And each time the parents were away, Fred & Me would play.

Sugarsugarsugarsugarsugarsugarsugarsugarsugarwheesugarsugarsugarwheeeeeeeeeeee.

One of my sugar fits where I tried to see how fast I could run around in circles without throwing up was interrupted by an early afternoon arriving mother. She spied me, sweat beads on my forehead, spied the empty bottle of vitamins on the counter, and looked into my eyes.

The indentations of her nails in my arm as she whisked me up the stairs to my bedroom and threw me inside made an impression I will never forget.

It was my only dark moment in my childhood, and I will continue to use it to fuel my tortured and depressing writing from this day forward.

18 comments on “My Childhood Drug Habit

  1. Will - June 15, 2004 at 8:51 am -

    I applaud you in admitting your problem. But, as a relatively happy fourteen-year-old, is my career (and I use that word lightly) as a writer doomed?

  2. Pauly D - June 15, 2004 at 8:57 am -

    You said “relatively happy.” I suspect there’s some room inbetween “relatively” and “whole-heartedly” to have some depressing experiences that will make you the next David Sedaris.

    Good luck!

  3. Hilary - June 15, 2004 at 8:58 am -

    That is exactly why my parents would never buy us Flintstone vitamins.

  4. monkeyinabox - June 15, 2004 at 9:08 am -

    Truly, you were ‘Flintstoned’.

  5. Kathleen - June 15, 2004 at 9:15 am -

    (giggling to myself)

    I knew it was gonna be Flintstones Vitamins before I even read this.

  6. Enigma - June 15, 2004 at 1:43 pm -

    ditto kathleen. i did too. you are so the driver of your own short yellow bus

  7. Andrea - June 15, 2004 at 2:03 pm -

    Paul,

    Great story…I had an addiction, but not to vitamins…to PEZ! Small, colored brightly, and sugar, sugar, sugar. What more can a kid ask for?

  8. Kristi - June 15, 2004 at 2:12 pm -

    I friggin’ love those things! I didn’t get them very often as a child, but as an adult, I seem to want to make up for that which was denied me in my youth. Is it wrong to buy those as an adult and eat them like candy?

  9. sarahk - June 15, 2004 at 9:16 pm -

    ha, thanks for the grin; somehow, i had a feeling…

  10. ti - June 16, 2004 at 6:43 am -

    I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but there should probably be a warning label on this story. The iron contained in children’s vitamins can be lethal to children when taken in large quantities, thus the reason for only one vitamin per day. Iron overdose is one of the most common childhood ingestions, and is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in children.
    If what your after is just sugar, Candy Corn is the answer.

  11. Pauly D - June 16, 2004 at 7:57 am -

    Wow, I did not know that about iron poisoning.

    Maybe eating all those vitamins caused my stomach to be so iron-strong that you can hit me in the stomach as hard as you want and I won’t even care…

  12. Kathleen - August 14, 2004 at 3:01 pm -

    It kinda gives new meaning to their slogan:
    “10 million strong, and growing”

  13. Ashley and Michelle - January 25, 2005 at 10:12 am -

    It is definately ok to buy them as an adult and eat them like candy. In fact we just did today. and so far have downed like 10 each and we are still alive. they were the extra vitamin C ones so we have had enough vitamin c to last us good for a month. no more runny noses for us thats right. I love fred.

  14. Jane - February 21, 2005 at 8:05 pm -

    Cute story. I too had a experience with the flinstone vitamins. Around the age of 16 I took a few of the vitamins, the purple ones were the greatest. I ate about 25 of these thinking nothing of it. Later that night, while going to a friends home I was ill on the way to her house, and told her I didn’t think I could make it up the stairs. I had in the past fainted once from a hot bathroom/bath, but nothing compared to this I really thought I would die. I passed out two times comming up her stairs, about 20 steps led to the door. My body never felt so hot before. My friend ran and got her mom and really thought she was watching me die. she said my eyes were rolling back in my head and I apparently was convulting and I remember trying to fight this feeling off so actively, my body was thrashing and I was trying to stop it. Anyhow the rest of the evening I laid down and the vitamin episode did not come to mind right off, of course after really thinking over the day that was the culprit. I look back and am thankful I did not die from that because I have never felt anything so close to death as that day. I’m sure this doesn’t happen to everyone but a few, so if your going to take Fred, Wilma, Betty or Barney …just take ONE!!!!

  15. craig - March 20, 2005 at 2:33 pm -

    Hello, If the company would make these vitamins in “placibo” form, they could possibly outsell the actual vitamins! Another adult that enjoyed being Flintstoned!

  16. Diana - January 11, 2006 at 12:01 pm -

    That’s a good point, lol. The vitamins are quite flavorful considering they are vitamins after all. They are basically candy, but ‘enhanced’ with vitamins that have the potential to be deadly in large quantities. Perhaps that is why children and anyone for that matter find them ‘addicting’ in a way; it’s not that your body is physically addicted to the pills, but it is that in your mind, you’re thinking “wow, these are so good and they are good for me because they have vitamins in them”.

  17. ISaid - December 19, 2006 at 6:56 pm -

    Wow. You guys got Flinstones…and I got Ritalin.

    Addiction is…Addiction.

    1AH

  18. Vitamin Nut - June 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm -

    Ha Ha! Strung out on Flinstone Vitamins. Who would have thought that Fred and Barney would become a controlled substance? Honestly though, vitamins are good for you. 🙂

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