by Randi Reed
During a 2007 interview with MusicBizAdvice.com to promote her band’s album Shed the Skin, ZouZou Mansour of Soraia talked with me about her past drug addiction. She was incredibly open and shared powerful insight about what it’s like to descend into drug addiction, as well as how she got out of it. With Zouzou’s permission, here is a transcript of that section of the recorded interview, in its entirety and unedited, in hopes that it may help someone.
RR: Later, you had an addiction problem. Having grown up around a lot of that, one of the things I always wanted to know was, at what point does it go from one thing into, “Houston, we have a problem?” Meaning, are you aware of it in the back of your mind at the time but don’t care, or is it total denial and then hits you later?
ZM: I drank as a kid here and there, but I was so afraid of my father I barely drank. I never had a problem with drinking until my mother died. I was 17 years old, I had always been a straight-A student, very quiet…My dad was a very strict father. I’d already been to the studio [to intern and learn about recording], I’d met Obie [O’Brien, producer and recording engineer] and everything. I remember feeling like my whole world had crashed. Things just got weird at my house. I couldn’t take it and I just left. When I left I started wanting to do all the things I wasn’t supposed to do.
I remember the first time I did a line of coke I felt nothing. I remember clearly feeling nothing and then wanting to do more because I knew it wasn’t a problem. I was doing it pretty much every night with this guy I was hanging out with and I felt for sure I didn’t need it.
I really believed I didn’t need it, and it got bad fast, because I got kicked out of the house—I was living with a friend at this time–and all of a sudden these things were being done to me. I was just the victim and really didn’t understand that I was just a kid and I needed love. But honestly I just rejected that at the time, because I was so hurt and you just start stuffing, and you find people that have…we were talking about energy. You find people with that same energy, the same hurt the same anger, and numbing it is such a release such a wonderful thing and it feels–You think it’s the greatest thing on earth, and before you know it you hang out with people whose behavior you never would have [tolerated] yourself and in your relationships.
Your good friends, I guess, stop talking to you. You have a problem, and you ignore them. It got worse and worse and I saw my life going…Work was all about drugs and alcohol. Whether I hung out with [people], and how long I hung out with them became about drugs & alcohol. How much they could give me, or if they could give me money enough to get it. I mean, I got really bad. I got into many other things. I got into heroin. I got into shooting up…I know I died twice, and I have no idea how I started breathing again.
It got bad fast. I mean fast. I wasn’t like a slow falling into, or once in awhile. It was fast. I liked it and I wanted to do it all the time. Anybody that didn’t want to, I didn’t want to be around them. It got to a point where I found people to put up with that behavior. Like co-dependent people that thought they could fix me, and I’d manipulate that. I’m not an unattractive girl so I’d use that. You know what I mean? You lose all kinds of senses. Right or wrong for you or anybody else. They’re all a way to get your thing.
And, um…I remember one day I was with a friend of mine she couldn’t stand people when they threw up–really weird thing. And I went to her house, and I just remember she finally kicked me out, I had drank so much alcohol and done so many drugs and snuck ‘em, you know what I mean? She didn’t know. I really believe she didn’t know.
But um, I ended up on her pavement outside thinking for sure–and it wasn’t the worst time, but I thought for sure I was gonna die. I was like, that’s it. When’s the big one? You know? (Laughs.) And I can laugh now, but it wasn’t so funny then. And finally her boyfriend came down and brought me [into my girlfriend’s house. She would hold my hair while I was throwing up. She helped me out all night and made sure I was OK. She told me she never wanted to see me again. Nobody else wanted to see me again. She was really my last friend, I guess. She said, “I never want to see you again. I’ve seen this with people before. I’ve had friends like this, you’re not good for me.” I thought, how selfish! I’m going through a hard time here! (Laughs) And I heard myself say those words, I’m just going through a hard time. And I knew…as soon as I said it I was like, Wow. It was really like the biggest epiphany ever in my life.
It really was the moment I heard my own words, and heard them from like truth. I was like “Wow I don’t ever want to not have some kind of drug or drink in my body ever.” Like, when I did it, I didn’t want to ever be without it. It was horrible. Every moment that I wasn’t with it was a moment of, how am I going to get it? That’s how I saw my life. As a slave. You know? And when you realize you’re a slave with things, you know that’s hurting…I didn’t even think about how much I was hurting other people. I can tell you stories that would just make your head spin.
There was this one night I remember I went out… My father was really sick so I was staying with him. I told him I wanted to go out to a club and I’d be back, I just needed to borrow $40. You know? He gave it to me–I’m sure with some trepidation because he wasn’t sure what I was doing. And I went out, and I never went back. I used that money and then I just kept getting more. I didn’t care. You know? And the next night he found me, and you know it was a bad day. It was really a bad night, and a bad day. A lot of bad things happened, and he was like, “That’s it.” But I didn’t think about people. I didn’t care.
RR: So what turned it around?
ZM: I knew I could live…I’d thought of suicide so many times and I tried it and it never worked! (Laughs) So I realized I was gonna live that way, in that hell, for the rest of my life, which would probably be a really long time. And the things and the people I was involved with were, let’s say, below, like, dirt. They were bad people.
What had happened was, I started going to college. I tried all the things that most addicts try, which is move away when you have a moment of sanity. You move away, you go back to school, or you start dating that guy that was safe and normal. You know what I mean? I had gone back to college and I had a brief period where I hadn’t used anything. I started using again, and that’s when I realized, “Well, I’m doing all these things to get better, and inside I still want to be dead. So, do I live life like this?” Or do I try it maybe in a way I’ve never tried before, ‘cause I don’t know what it’s like to be a sober adult. I had no idea. I’d never been one.
So I remember calling–her name was Fern, she’d been my friend– thinking I was insane, you know? That would be easier than believing I couldn’t live without it. That I needed it. Know what I mean? I said, I don’t know what to do. But she was like, do this: don’t worry about anything today. Don’t worry about tests you have in school, don’t worry about if or when you’re going to stop. Just today don’t do anything. And I was hurting so bad I was like, I’ll try it. And I did and I’ve just never touched anything since.
RR: What advice do you have for someone who may be going through it, and for loved ones who have someone who’s not ready yet?
ZM: Well loved ones, you can tell them they can’t control anyone’s behavior. But boundaries…I mean, when my girlfriend said to me that was it, that really woke me up. I can’t tell you how many people said that to me and it didn’t mean anything. And this person didn’t mean more or less to me than some other people. I mean, my father told me forget it. I loved my father a lot. It didn’t make any difference. But people setting boundaries, people saying “I won’t accept unacceptable behavior, I’m not going to watch you die.”
Because I think sometimes addicts don’t really know how bad they are. They just think, I gotta get through the day. They’re really daily thinkers, like, “How can I get my thing?”
So I think for those people, yeah, find support, and if you believe in God, pray. If you believe in the power of the Universe, talk to somebody. Talk to somebody who is not the addict [about] how you feel, cry about it. But set your boundaries with that person, because you’re not helping them by giving them money, and you’re not helping them by giving them a place to stay. It was only when my options were gone and I had to live with the worst of the worst that I knew where I was. Still took me a little time after that to get out of it, but I knew where I was. And that’s part of the process.
If you’re an addict and you really want to get better, you would admit that you have that problem. And [that] no you really can’t go without it. You know? And you go to somebody. Anybody. Whether they’re a sober person that’s been through it, or just somebody you know. But it has to be somebody that you’re safe crying to. Because a lot of addicts have a hard time trusting people with their feelings, so if somebody’s going to turn on you …Go to somebody who hasn’t heard it a million times. Definitely try a meeting then. Whatever it takes for you to be able to say how you feel about it…Your important thing is talking about it. Not feeding into the fear of how am I going to live my life without it. You know?
Articles and tips in Body and Soul are not to be taken as medical advice, and consulting with a qualified physician is always recommended. We know you knew that, but we have to say it.