General Fiction posted July 10, 2024 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

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Julia's story

A chapter in the book Enough

Enough - Chapter 13

by Jim Wile

A brilliant young chemist creates a new opioid with unknown benefits and pitfalls.
Recap of Chapter 12: Brian and Fran pay a visit to a rehab facility in Winston-Salem and decide to enroll him in a four-week outpatient program, which he will attend for four hours a day. He will continue taking his morning classes at high school and spend the afternoons at rehab. While there, they meet with the staff psychiatrist, who gives him a withdrawal schedule for the Oxy and gives Fran the medication to dole out to Brian on weekends when he’s not at rehab.
Brian’s first experience there was attending a group therapy session for the six youths in the program. The group is led by a therapist named Raffi. As the chapter ends, it’s the turn of a cute girl named Julia to tell her story of what brought her to rehab.
“I’m Julia Entwistle. I live in Lewisville with my parents. I’m addicted to barbiturates, which I’ve been taking since the spring. I play the violin. My father is the conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony, and my mother is the concert master of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. That means she’s the first chair violinist. My mother started teaching me the violin when I was three. I’m 16 now.”

The older of the other two boys started mimicking playing the violin in an exaggerated fashion, while the younger one began laughing.

Raffi said quietly, “Alphonse,” and gave a slight shake of his head. Alphonse quit horsing around, and Julia continued, “I auditioned for and got into the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra when I was six. I was the youngest one there, by far. Most of the kids were of high school age. I was really nervous for that audition, but I did okay. I became concert master when I was seven. The other violinists hated me, although I never talked to anybody. What did a 7-year-old have to say to a high school kid anyway? But they still hated me.”

Alphonse began air-playing the violin again and fake-sobbed.

“Alphonse, that’s very rude,” said Raffi, and he stopped.

Raffi then said to Julia, “You sound like you are quite a talented musician. Do you like playing the violin?”

Julia thought about this for a few seconds. “I love it… but I also hate it in some ways for how it affects me. I get very nervous when I have to audition or compete. It’s like, if I don’t win every audition and contest, I’ll be a failure. My parents have great hopes for me, and if I’m not always first in everything, I feel like I’ll disappoint them.”

She fell silent for a while.

Raffi said, “Tell us how you got started with barbiturates.”

“In April, I had to audition to get into a summer festival in Aspen, Colorado. Usually, you make an audio tape and mail it to them, but in this case, my mother set up a live audition for me with one of the teachers there at Aspen who lives in Charlotte. He would be hearing some other auditions too. While waiting for mine, I confessed to a girl who played bassoon how nervous I felt, and she handed me a red pill and told me I’d feel a lot calmer in 10 minutes. She called it a ‘ruby slipper.’ It was Seconal. Sure enough, in 10 minutes, I settled right down. I wasn’t nervous anymore. In fact, I felt very pleasant. I’d never felt quite like that before. And I played great and soon found out I’d won a position in the summer program.

Turning to Alphonse, the younger boy cracked up and imitated Julia in a high-pitched voice. “I felt very pleasant, Alphonse,” then snorted. “Girl, you was buzzed!”

“Henry, that’s enough,” said Raffi. “Let’s let Julia continue.”

“Yeah, I guess I was buzzed, but it helped me get through the audition, and I liked that feeling. Later, I asked bassoon girl where she got the ruby slipper, and she told me from a kid at her school who sold drugs. I decided then to buy a few myself for future auditions. Back home, I asked a girl I knew, who I’d been friends with when we were little kids and who looked like a druggie now, where I could find some, and she gave me the name of a kid.

“He didn’t have any ruby slippers, but he had something he called goofballs, which he said did pretty much the same thing. He said the high would last longer, although it took a little longer to kick in. This was phenobarbital.

“My only source of income is my allowance, so I didn’t have too much money, but I spent it all on buying as much as I could afford. Although they were supposed to be for future auditions, having them in the house tempted me to try one one afternoon when I’d been practicing and was having trouble on a particular piece. I was getting very frustrated, so I wanted to see if the pill would settle me down.

“Like the kid said, it took longer to kick in, but when it did, it was really nice. In the next couple of weeks, I went through the rest of the pills I had bought. It’s like, they began calling to me from the back of my closet, and I couldn’t seem to resist them. It felt so good when I took them. Sometimes the feeling would last the whole day. My mother wondered what had gotten into me because I became very chatty, almost hyper, when normally I hardly say anything. Seemed kind of weird to be both relaxed and hyper at the same time, but that’s what it felt like. It was just really nice.

“But I quickly ran out of the pills. I even asked my dad for a raise in my allowance so I could afford more. He had no idea what was going on, so he gave me the raise without question, and I immediately spent it all on more pills.

“Soon it was time to go to Aspen, where I spent a month playing in the summer festival. I didn’t have any pills left to bring with me and found I really missed them. I hadn’t taken them long enough to develop a physical addiction yet. I didn’t need them, but I sure wanted them. When I returned home after the month, it was time for school again. As soon as I got back to school, I sought out that kid and bought some more pills. My dad was nice enough to have given me four weeks’ worth of allowance to make up for the time I was in Aspen, and I spent most of it buying more pills.” She paused then.

“And so,” said Raffi, “you found that even having them around was too tempting for you. They ‘called to you,’ as you put it. And you mentioned that your body was not physically addicted to them, but yet you had to have them. This is known as a psychological addiction, which is a key part of substance abuse.

“Barbiturates are one type of substance that can become physically addicting, but many substances can become psychologically addicting. Food, for example. Marijuana is a type of drug that isn’t physically addicting but can become psychologically so. When a substance makes you feel good, it activates a portion of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which controls feelings of pleasure and makes you desire to recreate those feelings. That’s what can lead to addiction. We’ll talk a lot more about this in the coming days, but Julia, do you feel like sharing how you ended up here at SBH?”

I’d been sitting there for the last 10 minutes, entranced by this girl’s story and by her. Although not quite like my own in terms of the precipitating event or the absence of a physical addiction so far for her, I could certainly identify with the psychological part. The Oxy called to me when it was around, and I was powerless to ignore it. I realized then what an important component of my addiction the psychological part was. Perhaps it had even overtaken the physical need for pain relief that it gave me.

Julia resumed, “Last week, it was my dad’s 50th birthday, and we celebrated at home with a fancy meal my mom had prepared, Chicken Cordon Bleu.”

I glanced at the two boys, who were looking at each other and rolling their eyes. They stifled some laughter, and I heard Alphonse whisper, “I got me the Chicken McNugget blues.”
Raffi glared at them, and Julia continued, “My dad was in a good mood and offered me some wine with dinner. My mother objected a little, but he said it would be only one glass. An hour earlier, I had taken one of my goofballs, which helped me relax during dinner. I always felt somewhat uptight and serious around my parents, but the goofball mellowed me right out. I gladly accepted the wine. I liked it, but that’s all Dad would give me.

“After dinner, I cleared the table while my parents continued talking, and I poured myself another glass in the kitchen. I was feeling real mellow as I did the dishes and continued drinking more wine, but soon I began feeling very drowsy, and I must have passed out because I awoke in the hospital in a private room. I had been in a brief coma. When I came out of it, at first my parents were relieved, and everything was all lovey-dovey, which is unusual in my family.

“But later, they got very angry with me when the tox screen results came back. The doctor had ordered a tox screen when I was unconscious because it was an emergency situation. That’s when they found the phenobarbital in my system.

“My parents were really pissed and asked where I got it and how long I’d been taking it. I lied to them and said it was just one time, but they didn’t believe me and insisted I go into rehab. They were right, of course. I was addicted, and they had no faith I could stop on my own.”

Raffi said, “Julia’s experience highlights a couple of important things about taking barbiturates, as well as a number of other drugs. First, they don’t mix well with alcohol, and the combination can be lethal. Second, it’s extremely difficult to overcome an addiction by yourself. I hope that by being here, we’ll all come to understand our addictions a little better and develop the skills to combat them. Thank you for sharing that with us, Julia. Does anyone have any questions for her?”

One of the other girls said, “How she get addicted so quickly? She ain’t been taking them pills very long.”

“I guess I didn’t understand about psychological addiction. Yeah, I’d heard about it in a class at school, but you don’t think too much about it applying to you. It’s always other kids that happens to. But I was wrong.”

“That’s the thing about addiction,” said Raffi. “It doesn’t take long with some drugs to quickly become psychologically dependent on them, even if you haven’t become physically dependent yet. And some people are genetically predisposed to developing addictions. That means they are born with that tendency, which was passed to them by their parents. For these reasons, it can be so dangerous to try a drug even one time. Are there any other questions for her?”

No one had any, so Raffi said, “Thank you for sharing with us today, Julia.”

The group meeting went on for a while longer, and we started discussing strategies for coping with peer pressure. That wasn’t really my problem, so I zoned out, instead thinking about the similarities between Julia’s addiction and my own. Both of us started out by trying to cure one thing, but the original intent soon began playing second fiddle to the pleasure the drugs gave us. It was a conundrum.



Brian Kendrick: The narrator of the story. At the beginning of the story, he is 12 years old and in 6th grade in Kernersville, North Carolina.

Francine (Fran) Kendrick: Brian's older sister. She is 18 at the beginning of the story and goes to junior college, where she studies law enforcement.

Chloe: Brian and Fran's cat.

Sandi MacReady: She is a pretty blond and Brian's crush in high school.

Derek Shafer: Brian's best friend and lawn mowing partner.

Josh Bennett: Sandi's boyfriend. He's the center on the high school basketball team.

Don Robbins: A high school acquaintance of Brian's. He is a rich kid who throws a summer rave party when his parents are away.

Rafael Ortiz (Raffi): Youth group therapy leader at the rehab facility.

Julia Entwistle: One of the six members of the youth therapy group at rehab. She is 16 when we first meet her, plays the violin, and is addicted to barbiturates.

Alphonse: One of the boys in the youth therapy group. He is a cutup.

Henry: Another boy in the youth therapy group. He is also a cutup.

Alex: One of the girls in the youth therapy group.

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