blurry photo of a blond woman at a party, standing in a dancing crowd. She wears headphones, a black and white crop top and there's a man dressed in black with black eye shadows on her left, a man with a white t-shirt to her right.

How I Went From Party Girl to the Sober Friend

I was a young, single DJ. Drugs were part of my identity – until they weren't.

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

“I want to disappear. I want to numb myself until I don't have to feel anything anymore. I'm addicted.” This is what I wrote in my diary last year, on the 11th of October, 2022. At that point, I’d been using drugs for almost ten years and had just signed up for a local rehab centre. The thought of quitting terrified me, but it was the only option.

The first time I dropped a pill was at a festival, just after graduating high school. After that, I’d use every now and then, mostly to experiment and make fun nights out even more fun. When I started DJing in clubs, things changed and I started snorting lines every weekend. My life was a party; I enthusiastically went all out.


I did just fine for years. I passed all my exams at school, had a busy social life and made a name for myself as a DJ. Then COVID happened, clubs closed down and my four-year relationship came to an end. My drug use became obsessive: Drugs were no longer a means but an end in themselves. I’d do coke, poppers and ket every weekend. I’d stroll around the city looking for afters – a habit that earned myself the questionable nickname “Keta-Queen”. I regularly laughed about the strange adventures I had with my mates, or even complete strangers. 

Alongside all the fun, I was also dealing with some pretty serious negative side effects. My skin was destroyed. I lost eight kilos in about two months. During the week, I’d get heavy comedowns and jagged crying spells. My friends also told me they had the feeling I wasn’t really listening to them and wouldn’t ask them questions whenever we had conversations. On top of that, I had accumulated a fair bit of debt.

Still, I didn't think my weekend drug use was an issue. When my psychologist – whom I’d been seeing for a few years to deal with my feelings of loneliness – suggested maybe it was the drugs that made me feel down, and that quitting would be a good idea, I laughed at her: "Quit? Never.”

I was a young, single DJ in Amsterdam. Drugs were part of my identity. What would be left of me if I would stop? Although I was a sports fan, had just graduated and was starting my career as a journalist, nothing defined me quite like partying.

I lied to myself for months, pretending I could handle that work-hard and party-hard lifestyle just fine. Every Friday, I’d forget I had been miserable from Monday to Wednesday.


At the beginning of August 2022, things really took a turn for the worse. I started having suicidal thoughts for the first time, which I described in my diary:

“Last Friday, after a meaningless afterparty, I kept using ket and poppers alone for two hours in bed, and I couldn’t really distinguish reality from hallucination. It felt like I was going into a psychosis which I couldn't get out of, and it caused me to panic completely. It was so scary. But instead of stopping, I just kept going. Another line, another drag of poppers. All I wanted was to disappear, far away from here. As I write this, I'm sitting on my roof terrace, watching the sun slowly disappear behind the buildings. I might as well jump off this roof.”

I was so shocked at my own dark thoughts that I decided to sign up for a rehab programme that same evening. They have a name for this in treatment: rock bottom.

Hardly anyone realised I was doing so bad because I was so good at hiding it. But even if they had said something about it, it probably wouldn't have made a difference. No matter how many times you’re told to do something about your drug use, hitting the bottom is usually the only way to see it for yourself.

I was pretty hesitant about rehab. Because I was still functioning well socially and at work, I was afraid that my case wasn’t “bad enough”, and that they’d raise an eyebrow on seeing me. On the other hand, I was also afraid I’d be admitted immediately and they’d tell me I’d never be allowed to use drugs again. But these thoughts turned out to be misconceptions. 


There was no need to stop immediately and the sessions at Jellinek were actually very chill. Every week, I had a face-to-face conversation with a practitioner. We investigated the underlying reasons for my drug use and determined it was a coping mechanism. Drugs calmed my busy mind and made me feel less lonely for a while. I was diagnosed with ADHD and high sensitivity, a combination that can make you more susceptible to addiction.

After identifying the reasons for my use, we discussed new healthy coping strategies and decided on a quit date: the 30th of October, 2022. In the weeks leading up to this deadline, I used more drugs than ever, because I knew I was going to have to stop after that. On the last night, I celebrated my 26th birthday with all my mates and mixed six different types of drugs. When the party came to an end, around 5AM, I frantically looked for an afterparty, but couldn’t find any. I crawled into my bed crying.

It’s been five months since I last used alcohol or drugs – I stopped drinking too, because drinking made it more likely for me to use drugs. My treatment, which I have now completed, lasted for 13 weeks. Initially, I was going to stop using for six months, but we soon decided to extend that to a year. That way, I get to experience all the seasons and the holidays sober. I sometimes flirt with the idea of ​​never using alcohol or drugs again at all.


Many people ask me how I'm doing and if being sober is hard. Sometimes it is. DJing for the first time without booze felt very strange, because I had nothing to calm my nerves with. It's also difficult when I'm with people who drink a lot. 

On a weekend in Spain with my girlfriends, they ordered sangria at every single bar during the day and switched to bottles of wine in the evening. That made me feel distant from them, as if we were on totally different frequencies. They were having fun being drunk or hungover, while I was contemplating how the fuck I would keep this up.

Two weeks after I quit, I also went on a date. I had let my date know in advance that I was no longer drinking and thought I’d share the rest during the date. But after less than half an hour, the guy asked me if I’d “just stopped drinking”, because he’d brought some GHB and coke with him “just in case”. He ordered one drink after another. When he had finished his eighth Old Fashioned, I ran away.

Lots of people around me are actually contemplating their relationship with alcohol and drugs, but I’m often the only sober one in the room. I sometimes feel lonely, or even a little left out. I was at a restaurant for a birthday the other day, and while I was waiting in the line for the bathroom, a group of six people squeezed past me to snort some coke in the toilet. That felt strange: They used, and I didn't.

Despite all of this, quitting was easier than I thought it would be. When I first went out clubbing without using, I felt downright euphoric. It was such a huge win for me. I am also much more aware of what is happening in my life, and I can sense my limits much better.


Before, if I found myself on a date with that drunk guy, I would probably have accepted his offer. When parties were boring or annoying, I would just take more drugs to make the evening fun. Now I just go home when I'm tired. This is, still, such a special feeling for me. 

My priorities have shifted, too, from partying (and being hungover) to my career, spending quality time with my friends and doing sports. The biggest gain is perhaps the peace of mind. I stand behind everything I do: None of my behaviours or feelings are affected by chemical processes, everything is real. I no longer have to constantly worry about what I said or how I behaved.

Some things about myself are radically different, too. I have to get used to being one of the quieter people in the group at times. In the past, I used to dance on top of the bar; now I choose to stay more in the background. I'm getting to know myself in a different way now, and I actually quite like that introverted version of me. 

It is quite a challenge to break a habit. It takes willpower and perseverance not to give in. But you can learn to deal with it, and also make yourself proud.

Addiction is something I’ll have to be vigilant about for the rest of my life. I don't know what the future will be. Sometimes my mind wanders off to what my life would be like if I drank and did drugs again. I wish I could be that person who can do it without taking it too far, but it is still too early to say whether it will ever be possible.

Quitting has been a great decision for me, but the chaos in my head and my fear of loneliness are still present. Drugs were a quick fix for that, and now I’m learning how to deal with it in a more sustainable way. There’s still a long way to go. But what I know for sure is I'm never going back to numbing myself like I did before. Booze and drugs do not define me.