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"Drinking gave me something that I didn’t know how to give myself back then."

I am a queer, Vietnamese person who moved to the United States at the age of 8 years old. Throughout my life I have faced many challenges from physical, emotional, sexual abuse, homelessness, and many other life events that had impacted my mental health. Growing up in a community that didn’t have any resources, understanding of what mental health is, or what programs are available, I have used drugs and alcohol as a source of escape.

Drugs and alcohol were that fix I needed to get away. It was either that, or plan my attempt to end my life once again. It was my escape where I found friendship and even a relationship. I never admitted that I was dependent on substances because it was not what I imagined substance dependency would look like.

Dependency to me was being like the “street druggie” on corners tripping out or just drunk everyday, even though I started drinking every other day. Drinking gave me something that I didn’t know how to give myself back then. It gave me permission, permission to be myself and to break down the barrier that I created to lock myself in.


It wasn’t until a dear friend, brother, mentor, someone who I really respected had that conversation with me. He asked me about my ability to say no, and through that conversation I realized that substance use was not something that I thought it to be. So I made a personal commitment to myself to be aware and look for the root of my problems. After that, I began sobering up for over 5 months. Although I do drink, this is just the beginning of my journey of healing from substance dependency. We all have to start somewhere.