Can You Freebase a Burrito? A True Story

burritoWhenever my friends and I sit and talk about addiction, the conversation is almost never about drugs. It may start with drugs, but usually finds its way into how messed up we all are without them. After being clean for over a decade, sometimes, drugs seem so far away. However, addiction continues to wreak havoc in all our lives. I was told when I first got clean that drugs were just a symptom of my problem. That addiction will manifest itself in my life in so many ways. I figured that it would be in relationships, friendships, and such. But I never thought addiction would get me again… in the form of “The Grilled Stuffed Burrito” from Taco Bell.

It was a typical day at work. The clock was moving slow, boss was in a bad mood, and I was hung over from 2 nights of staying up late feeling sorry for myself. That’s usually my addictions first attack… get me feeling sorry for myself, and I will surely begin thoughts that will sabotage my life. It keeps me tired and very obedient to negative desires. I decide that a little lunch will do me good, and I head out to the local Taco Bell. I see a sign for the “All New Grilled Stuffed Burrito – A large, warm, soft, flour tortilla wrapped around seasoned ground beef, hearty beans, seasoned rice, a blend of three cheeses – cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella, creamy Pepper Jack sauce, and Fiesta Salsa, then grilled to perfection. (You can also upgrade this item with marinated and grilled all-white-meat chicken or authentic carne asada steak.)” I put the actual description to illustrate what sold me. Even writing this makes me salivate.

When I held this warm burrito that was grilled to perfection, I knew it was going to be great. When I took the first bite, I had the same thought that I had when I did my first line of cocaine, “Where have you been all my life?” There are no words to describe how delicious this was. How comforting it made me feel. I no longer felt sorry for myself, the day no longer dragged… I was full… and I felt good… real good… too good.

For the next 2 weeks I ate the burrito everyday at lunch. I changed it up a little, sometimes with hot sauce, sometimes with chicken or steak. Every combination, better than the next. Can I find a way to make this even better, more pure? Can I freebase a burrito? I was hooked, and I had no idea. One day my boss asked me what I was doing for lunch and I told him that I was going to get a burrito. He said, “Joe, I’ve noticed you have been eating that burrito a lot lately.” I could only respond the way an addict in true denial does, “I’m alright, I got it under control.”

Another week of daily burrito consumption went by. The only outward sign of this affecting my life was the massive accumulation of hours I was wasting in the bathroom. There was only two explanations for this… either the daily doses of burritos, or the onslaught of Dysentery. Thankfully, I was living alone at the time, and had to explain myself to no one. My downward spiral was on, addiction had me in its clutches, and I chose to ignore all negative signs.

A few days later I found myself on the road for a TV shoot and hours away from any hook ups for my current “food of choice”. I wasn’t panicked because I knew this was a national chain. I asked the guy I was working for if he knew where I could find any. He said that he didn’t think there was any in the area. From that moment on obsession grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Knowing that there weren’t any in the area, made my cravings for one all the more strong. I would have compromised myself at that moment, just to smell one… or know that one was near. I frantically found a computer and Googled it. I found one 30 minutes away. Can I drive 30 minutes and make it back in time for our shoot? I had to try. I printed out the directions and left without telling anyone. I was in full addict mode on the way to his fix.

Any addict will tell you, that the act of going to get your stuff is always the best part. The anticipation is exhilarating. You run through all the scenarios of how great it will be once you get it. Will I get chicken, beef, or steak? Hot or mild sauce? Should I not get a drink so I could savor the flavor for hours? I was insane. I was speeding and looking out for police so I didn’t get pulled over. I had not one second to give if I wanted to get back in time. Then, on my left, in the distance, I saw the purple sign with the big yellow Bell. I even turned down my radio for full concentration. My stomach started moving and growling in anticipation of the greasy goodness that was about to be had. As I approached I saw a no left turn sign and that the u-turn was a quarter mile up the road. I couldn’t risk it so I pulled a screeching left, cutting off a car and found myself in the drive thru window. I ordered my burrito and pulled into the back corner of the parking lot. As I unwrapped, I noticed that it was not grilled. Not Grilled! But that’s what makes it so great! That was the difference between that and lesser burritos on the menu. I was furious! But, I couldn’t go argue with them to get another. It was lunch time and busy. I would have been late for the shoot. I looked at myself in the rear view mirror. As I was about to say to myself… ‘Do you believe this?’… I paused. I looked at myself, and for the first time had a moment of clarity. I saw it all clear…and I was ashamed. I figured I would take a few breaths and calm down. I would eat this burrito and then stop… for good. As I placed this big, fat, greasy, devil in my mouth I started to cry. I couldn’t even bite it. I looked to my left and saw a family staring at me. There I was, a young man with years of recovery from drugs, shamefully weeping in his car, with a burrito in his mouth. The woman asked me, “Is everything OK?”Without even taking the burrito out of my mouth I said, “I don’t know.” She quickly got her family away from me. I shamefully ate the burrito, and got back to my shoot in time.

When I got home that night I started to get honest with my sponsor about what I’ve been up to. We talked about the power of addiction and in all the ways in can affect us. I am proud to say that I went a whole year without the grilled stuffed burrito. My sponsor said it was unnecessary for me to give it up totally. It wasn’t the burrito that was the problem. I just came to it in a vulnerable time in my life and that went out of control. He knew I was in a better frame of mind now. I decided to go get one and see what happened. Though I wanted one, when I got there, I felt like it was an old relationship that hurt me. Even though it wasn’t the burritos fault, I thought it was best I stay away. I decided to look forward with my life, try something new. I went for the “Spicy Chicken Burrito – A warm, soft, flour tortilla wrapped around shredded chicken that has been slow simmered in authentic Mexican spices, seasoned rice, creamy Jalapeño sauce, and Fiesta Salsa.” It sounded good… real good… too good. So, I did what any addict with clarity does when confronted with that strong an urge and doesn’t know what to do… I got the hell out of there.