All Photographs + Text Copyright 2013 Christopher Keeley

A Pickle can't go back to being a Cucumber.

If you put a cucumber in a bottle of Alcohol, the cucumber gets pickled like a drunk. That drunk can never go back to being a cucumber, because the drunk got pickled. ItÕs over, at least any thought of being able to control my alcohol (drug) intake. I watched my tolerance go from happy, giddy, and fun and pleasure, to sad, miserable, severe depression and utter hopelessness. I also got to the point that I was losing control every time I drank alcohol. This often progressed to an unexpected remorseful state of blackout oblivion. I also ended up taking drugs that I would have never imagined taking, but I had to escape my present reality.

This is why I believe in the deepest part of my soul that I am an addict and always will be an addict. I know I am an addict. When I talk of alcoholism, think of addiction. When someone says drugs and alcohol, think of drugs and drugs. If I were a grape, IÕd be a raisin. I wasnÕt playing with a full deck of cards. Once you reach the late stages of addiction, like myself there was no going back, not to any state of casual use, or taking any kind of drug, recreationally, or even socially. It was never a part of any agenda that I had, as far back as I could remember, to become hooked on drugs.

I know today I had no chance, as it was in the hand of cards I was dealt. I have the pre-disposition to the disease of addiction. I was born with it. My grandfather was 50% Irish and 50% Welsh, my grandmother 100% German, on my fatherÕs side. On my motherÕs side I have ancestry that is Dutch, Spanish, Cuban, French, and English. My mother says the Spanish/Cuban gambling blood did me in; I tend to think that the combination of the Irish blood mixed with this red-hot Cuban blood did me in.

I have been told my one grandfather went to Alcoholics Anonymous in the early days of the 1930Õs. He recovered from alcoholism but later had a few strokes and was confined to a wheelchair. On the other side of my family one uncle died from a sudden cessation of drinking alcohol, to which he was addicted. He died in a hospital, to which he had been admitted for other reasons, and went into severe withdrawal. The hospital apparently wasnÕt aware he was an alcoholic, whose dependency had to be treated or at least dealt with. He did not receive the appropriate care, to put it mildly. He died at a fairly young age. So I have the disease of addiction genetic trait on both sides of my family. If you were to shake my family tree to see if any heavy drinkers would fall out, a number would fall out.

I continued to use drugs so unsuccessfully and abusively that I was unacceptable to my own peers. I managed to use up my quota before the age of 25 and to completely have to quit taking any and all drugs. I didnÕt become an addict. I donÕt look at it that way, that I ŅbecameÓ an addict, that I developed addiction, that I crossed a line somewhere. It was always there, addiction was always there. I never fit in. I was a kleptomaniac as a child. I loved to escape into a fantasy world. I was obsessive compulsive. I had little girlfriends in the first grade. I would already dream of being with them forever. I was naturally dishonest. I liked doing things the easier, softer way. I took shortcuts. I broke all the rules. I could never just have one or two; I would have to use, until their wasnÕt any more left, or I was passed out in a stupor.

This lack, or loss, of control, was evident when I attempted to use responsibly, such as drinking Beer, Wine, Whiskey, or Rum moderately, smoking Marijuana and Hashish, dropping LSD, Quaaludes, and Valium, or eating psilocybin mushrooms, microdots, smoking opium, shooting Dilaudid, swallowing Tuinal, Seconal, Nembutal, eating Peyote Buttons, shooting, snorting, or smoking Cocaine, dropping Bi-Phetamine time release tablets, Preludin, Black Beauties or White Crosses, and guzzling Bourbon on the rocks. I was an all or none kind of guy, except I never found myself with none. That is when I would panic, impending doom, how could I face reality, an unknown concept. One time I was locked up in a psychiatric hospital, and I snorted my Thorazine tablets, hoping for a better effect. The powdered chemical burned the membrane in my nose. Workmen in the hospital were fixing the floor, and I sniffed their leftover unattended glue in a brown paper bag, to catch a cheap buzz. I even ate Morning Glory seeds and Nutmeg when nothing else was around. Stolen Sherry from my motherÕs bridge parties was the pits, and sweet Brandy, when I couldnÕt find anything else to calm my nerves, because my parents had locked up all the booze, away from my crying urges.

When I was older I was given a liquor quota of two beers and half a bottle of wine a day by my parents, but the booze was still locked up out of my reach. When I did happen to find the liquor closet open, I would steal bottles and hide them underneath my mattress. These bottles were usually fifths of Johnny Walker Red, Bacardi Rum, Tanqueray Gin, Four Roses Bourbon, and Stolichnaya Vodka. I hated Gin, but if everything else would be noticed missing, IÕd settle for the Gin. My parents were diplomats with a lot of responsibilities for entertaining people, so a fifth or so a day would never be noticed as missing. I truly believed I was living in paradise, being toasted and completely inebriated the whole time. I started first thing in the morning, because my hands shook so bad. On the day after a terrible bender, I would hold back until the afternoon because I was so sick. The cycle continued until I was hospitalized. I thought I had Cirrhosis of the liver from chugging down all that straight booze. Whiskey on the rocks was my favorite.

On July 4th I went to a free Rock Concert on the Mall, with fireworks, by the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building. There must have been hundreds of thousands of people. I would go alone with a half gallon of Bacardi Rum and some rolled joints. When I woke up, from passing out from drinking too much, everyone was gone, and it was just myself, in the middle of the field, with a vicious throbbing headache, from the hangover. This happened on numerous occasions, and I never learned from my mistakes.

I have many horrendous stories to tell regarding the progression of my active disease of addiction, and my successful recovery story has been the same in an opposite direction. You would be able to say that I am now an acceptable, productive, and responsible member of society. Today I am filled with gratitude, free from a self- imposed prison unable to accept life on lifeÕs terms. I have found joy and happiness that anyone could have ever imagined. I also reached a state of total despair and hopelessness, which progressed to the point of not wanting to live anymore. I believed that there was no hope for me. I was far-gone, way beyond any means of being able to get better. The drugs no longer worked and that was my only mechanism for survival. I did not know my problem was me, and all I had to do was stop taking all mind changing, mood altering drugs.

Many psychiatrists wanted to medicate me on numerous drugs, and they did. Today I stay away from those kinds of diagnoses and realize that it is alright to experience the very many emotions that I do, and that I can survive them through, art, talk, sleep and acting out compulsively and obsessively in healthy ways. I share with others that they donÕt have to take any psychiatric drugs, home grown, bought in a store, home made, street drugs, or not yet invented drugs, to find happiness. ItÕs okay to go up and down. Moodiness is creativity, why numb that source of creativity with psychiatric medications? The mind-body spirit doesnÕt need to be clouded by drugs in order to cope. One man I know, a mind-body spirit expert, puts on some loud James Brown and some disco music to dance the blues away, that burst of energy gives the mind the jolt it needs to overcome Depression. He also meditates on some new aspect of nature, focuses on it, and the distraction helps oneÕs centeredness with the Universe.

I have found that helping others unconditionally cures depression. Selfless service does wonders for complaints and lack of gratitude. The magic pill is when a person cares and shares experiences about where they have come from and how wonderful life can be. This simple message of complete abstinence from all drugs (Mind altering - Mood changing) can help any addict overcome the desperation of active addiction. We get out of ourselves, and help those who havenÕt found hope and gratitude. Just being alive and appreciating life with all of its ups and downs.

I donÕt remember my first drink, but it could have been a Cr¸me de Menthe watered down with ice, by the pool at age 4, in Bamako, Mali. I do remember my last Alcoholic drink. On May 25, 1983, I drank some Bacardi Rum and Ginger Ale in the locked psychiatric ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was being treated for suicidal ideation, addiction, depression, mania, manic depression, schizophrenia, and insomnia. God knows how I made it to Narcotics Anonymous, but luckily for me, I was sent to the Shepherd and Enoch Pratt Hospital that had a drug rehabilitation center that lasted 60 days. The treatment model was one of complete abstinence from all drugs, including any psychiatric drugs. The drug rehabilitation program utilized Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The counselors were recovering addicts (alcoholics), and they didnÕt tolerate any medications of any kind. They also didnÕt tolerate any bullshit. You cannot fool someone who has been there and pulled the same scams, lies, half-truths, and excuses. I had been detoxed six weeks prior to my drinking the Bacardi Rum, and I had a little Marijuana too, which made me paranoid because I knew all the staff at Johns Hopkins were observing me.

My last drug ever, was on December 28, 1983, and that was a Dilaudid injection into my hand. In my denial, I lay down on the floor to enjoy my rush, but my experiences of any kind of pleasure were ruined by the fact that I knew that I didnÕt have to live that way any more. It was a scary feeling, because now I truly knew that I was powerless over my addiction, that my life was unmanageable, and I knew I couldnÕt do anything about it. I had been exposed to other addicts who were clean, happy, and loving life without the use of drugs. I was not in control of my life, and the compulsion to continue using drugs, specifically Dilaudid, was so strong that I couldnÕt stop on my own. I can now say that through the help of attending meetings and helping other addicts I have not had to take any drug of any kind since December 28, 1983. I also lost the desire to get high many years ago.

I am not the brightest star in the sky, but I had principles. I had compromised my own set of values to keep up with the progression of addiction. I truly believed that I wasnÕt going to get hooked and that I was only going to smoke pot until I was sitting in a rocking chair looking at some beautiful exotic sunsets, on a beach, in a remote part of the world. The worst drug I regretted ever taking was PCP. I used this drug because I had run out of Marijuana and I was psychologically dependant on it. I couldnÕt go a day without getting high.

When I was arrested for driving while drinking, or drinking while driving, being drunk behind the wheel of an automobile, I was mandated to attend some Alcohol awareness classes in Georgetown, Washington DC, to save my learnerÕs permit from being revoked. From those classes I learned for the first time that I was an Alcoholic, and at the top of my paper I wrote, Yes I am an Alcoholic, (Addict), but I am not ready to quit, yet. At 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday I showed up for my intake interview with alcohol on my breath, and the interviewer confronted me on it. I said, oh yes, I did just drink a beer, but that was because I had a lot yesterday, and it helps with the shakes. She said to me that I had a problem. I said, how do you know, just because I had a beer in the morning, on the bus, on the way down here? That was sick diseased thinking (insanity), because I truly believed that I had control, and that someday maybe I would stop, when it got bad enough. I didnÕt understand that if I did continue down my path of drinking, I would end up dead, in a jail, or committed to a psychiatric hospital. Now, later on in my addiction, I did end up dead, at least for a few hours and in a coma for three days. I did end up in many jails, but not for very long, as the crimes I was caught for didnÕt amount to much. And I was committed to three psychiatric hospitals, in one of which I might have still been residing up to this day had I not escaped.

When I try to think back to the progression of my disease of addiction, I am reminded of many pleasurable days of using and also some horrific stories. To paint a picture, it was a subtle progression, but it took off like a raging dragon. I remember smoking Marijuana and Hashish in Princeton, New Jersey in the seventh grade. I also remember seeing a boy my age who we presumed to be an alcoholic because he was drinking alone by himself in a crowd of people. He was drinking to get drunk and hated life. But we were also sneaking booze too. I remember drinking Ripple or Boones Farm Apple Wine, Schlitz beer, and Colt 45 Malt Liquor on the campus of Princeton University. I drove this guyÕs car into a ditch, not knowing how to drive. The guy was what someone called a Cuckold, an older man going after these 15-year-old girls we were hanging out with, smoking Hashish in the woods. He couldnÕt tell anyone that I had been the driver, or he would have been in big trouble.

During that same period I was also in Athens, Greece. My friend Jesse and I would go to this American style restaurant and order steaks and red wine. We drank several bottles every night getting drunk. This was the beginning of that progression, getting loaded for the effect of it. We also went to some Greek island by ourselves and continued the wine drinking and smoking Hashish on the beach. This was the summer after seventh grade. We woke up, fully clothed with our faces in the sand on the beach, never having made it to our sleeping bags.

By the eight grade I was living in Kampala, Uganda with my parents. I found some very powerful Marijuana there, at practically no cost. It was called Bhangi, and was so strong that I hallucinated. I also became dependent, psychologically addicted. I was stoned the whole time, and that is all I did, stay high. My accomplishment was keeping a buzz going, until I was 25 years old. I met my first hippies at a movie theatre and I was fascinated by how these people could travel the world in such a carefree style. I remember buying this hippie a first class ticket to the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or Shaft. It may have even been the movie Little Big Man. I handed him an already rolled Marijuana cigarette that you could buy in the open-air market for about five cents. It was almost like a cigar in a cone shape. He had long red hair and a scraggly beard. He was wearing an Indian vest and sandals. I know I blew his mind. I was fourteen years old and looked like I was twelve.

  • Chapters of the Paradise Life Book

  • Dada to the Bone

  • Stomach Pain Basilica

  • The Disappointment

  • Moment of Clarity

  • Roads Not Safe

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  • Harassed but not arrested

  • The Surgery Acute care Lumbar Hemi . Laminestomy

  • The Bear

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  • Suspicious Activity

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  • A Pickle can't go back to being a Cucumber.

  • Awake and Alive

  • Nine High Schools Without a Diploma.

  • Turquoise Sports Car Totaled by a Telephone Pole

  • Whitepipes, Weed and the Wild Coast.

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  • Woke up in Swaziland instead of Switzerland.

  • Three Nasty Letters.

  • Three early traumatic events.

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  • God is laughing at me.

  • David Lesh's death.

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  • The Biggest Blow to my Ego.

  • Hardest Laugh

  • The Day I quit smoking for real.

  • Thanksgiving weekend 1974, my first Acid Trip.

  • Instances of Trouble Two

  • Instances of Trouble One

  • Ride the White Pony

  • Paradise Life

  • coincidences 1

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  • coincidences 8

  • journal september 1995

  • Catskill Mountains Photographs - Trees - Spiritual gathering place cultivating a heightened awareness of the connectedness of, and spiritual essence in, all things. A Journey outside ordinary time and space into a parallel reality.


  • Social Documentary Digital Photographs Indigenous Encounter Divine Moment, Light and Sympony 2007

  • Social Documentary Digital Photographs Indigenous Encounter Divine Moment


  • Social Documentary Digital Photographs Indigenous Encounter Divine Light


  • Social Documentary Digital Photographs Indigenous Encounter Divine Symphony


  • Georgetown glimpses of memory January Photographs


  • March on the Capitol to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 2007

    Washington DC

  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 1


  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 2


  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 3


  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 4


  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 5


  • March on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq Photographs 6


  • Martin luther King Jr. Holiday Washington DC Photographs


  • Martin luther King Jr. Holiday Photographs Washington DC


  • Orlando

    Miami Florida

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    Sydney Australia

  • MiamiBeach Girl

    Orlando Florida

  • CW

    Orlando Florida

  • Sara

    Portland Oregon

  • Edward's Angelina
    copyright 2007 Le Poulin
    © Le Poulin 2007
    New York City Angelina + Brad
    peace and love Edward

    New York City

  • Chris at the Argo Bar drinking a Tuborg soda water wearing a WaxTrax t-shirt circa 1991

    Sifnos Island

  • Looking in the mirror - Sara cannot see herself as beautiful

    Portland Oregon

  • Antoinette lost her leg while intoxicated stumbling and tragically falling down into traffic

    New York City

  • Three days after a Suicide attempt

    Portland Oregon

  • New Years Day Washington DC Photographs


  • New Year Day Street Washington DC Photographs


  • December 2006 Daily DreamTime links

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  • Selection of Favorite Photographs


  • September 2006 Daily DreamTime links

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    August Daily Dreamtime

  • Paradise Life Photographs - the book


  • July 2006 Daily DreamTime links

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    -- HON. TOM LANTOS ( November 02, 1990)

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