Addiction’s Grip on Sonny
It was the emptiness. It wasn’t that I needed it to make me better at something, it wasn’t that it calmed me down, or that it made think better, it was the emptiness that made me go back, the need to fill a void with something, anything. My struggle with depression and mental illness is what led me to my addiction, just as it was for Sonny. There was an undying need to feel something more, to stop the depression, the anxiety. I took that first pill at 16, and it still hasn’t left my body. It is forever a companion to me. In James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” the character of Sonny also faces the suffering of drug addiction and clearly depicts the slippery slope into addiction.
The first pill wasn’t where the problem started. Just as Sonny’s first shot of heroine wasn’t where his problem began. It was the constant depression. I tried to distract myself from the hole in me that is was creating. I picked up a creative outlet: art, just like Sonny chose music. When Sonny, as a teenager, went to live Isabel and her family, the narrator says that “Sonny was playing for his life,” and as I began to draw and paint, I felt this kind of emotion too. I would eat sleep, and draw; it was my life. Sonny is playing to cover up his own depression, to distract himself from it, and since it is the only thing to distract him, the only thing he feels is the drive to play. Without it, he has no life, no reason to get up every morning. Running from his own depression is what ultimately leads to Sonny’s addiction.
There a came a point in my life where even creating the most complicated works of art did nothing to fill my void. I began to lack creativity, and it seemed like I wasn’t gaining any skill, only losing it. I knew t...
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... it, yet, all the same, I knew everything I was doing was locking me in with it.” Sonny is describing the dilemma that all addicts face: wanting to stop, but not being in control, not being able to, being trapped and feeling like there is no way out..
But even after all the suffering, the soul searching, the agonizing days of withdrawals, the constant emptiness that finally gets solved, addiction never ends, and “Sonny’s Blues” shows the dark truth that lingers behind the happy ending of Sonny recovering. Even as a recovered addict, I still have a constant fear of one day returning to my old habits. It is a fear that walks with me every day, a thought that always lingers over my shoulders. The same fear that Sonny admits to his brother. “It can come again, I just wanted you to know that,” he says, warning his brother that he may again lose the endless battle.
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