I remember my first experience with drugs like it was yesterday. I was 15 years old, freestyle rapping with a room full of guys. They were smoking a blunt, and when it circled around to me I handed it off to the dude on my left. He asked “You ain’t gonna hit it?” I shook my head and said “I’m good.” It was just that simple. There was no dramatic just-say-no “above the influence” moment. My friend puffed and passed without missing a beat.
Despite my lifelong dedication to the straight edge lifestyle (which pretty much consists of being drug- and alcohol-free while also being badass) it always comes as a huge shock to people when they learn that I am sober. I have no idea why. My friend Kosine of Da Internz once tried to explain it by saying I have a “coke personality.” My other friend Punch, who works at a major label, crowned me “The most turnt-up sober girl” he knows. These are people who are in the music business, so they encounter folks every day who are full-blown turnt-off of molly, lean, silver haze, shrooms—you name it. I remind them of those folks? I don’t know if I should be offended or proud.
Being sober in the music industry is like being celibate at an orgy. Drugs and booze are everywhere. All the time. For free. And the truth is, I know so many friendly stoners, happy drunks and functional cokeheads that it’s hard for me to judge drugs as a bad thing. We all have our vices. I’m not against drug use; I’m against drug abuse.
But just because I am not anti-drug use doesn’t mean I endorse them. I know how bad addiction can get. When I was growing up, my dad was a substance abuser, and it tore my family apart. I experienced things no kid should go through. One night, while my mom and siblings and I were hiding from my dad in a battered womens’ shelter, my younger brother and I made each other a promise that we would never drink or do drugs. And I never did.
I don’t think I am missing out on anything by being straight edge. I remember all of my fun times, I don’t struggle with hangovers or regrettable one-night stands and I never have to worry about drunk-dialing my ex and confessing how much I hated his nosey-ass momma. Plus, if I did get drunk or high I probably would be a lightweight anyway, seeing as I once passed out after drinking a black coffee mixed with two 5 Hour Energy shots. And one time I took a No-Doze while I was recording and ended up staying awake for two days. And another time I had too many of those fruity Red Bulls and went to a Lollapalooza afterparty in undies and a button down shirt because I forgot to put on pants.
Now that I think about it, maybe I do have a slightly druggy personality. Except in a badass, non-twitchy, I-could-pass-a-urine-test kinda way.
RedEye special contributor Nikki Lynette, a Chicago native, is an indie recording artist whose music appears on MTV, VH1, Showtime and more.