1. Lee Garibaldi
I am not in any way an expert. I am answering based strictly on my own personal experience. So here we go.
I wouldn’t have ever considered myself addicted to cocaine. But I have spent countless nights awake shooting up coke in my past. Despite this, I was mostly addicted to heroin. Cocaine was more of an occasional thing because people would give it to me or it was around so why not. The difference is that cocaine is more of a mental addiction and heroin is more physical.
When you do coke, it just makes you want to do more coke. You just keep doing more and more because you don’t want to come down. Coming down from coke is hell. Unless you have a buffer like heroin. I used to line up my shots depending on how much coke I had so that I would start with pure coke at the start of the night and gradually decrease the coke and increase the H until my last shot was pure H and I could sleep off the cocaine without feeling bad. The next morning, I would be dope sick but have no desire for more cocaine. That’s how it was for me. Keep in mind that cocaine also comes in many forms and most people don’t actually inject intravenously as I did. I cannot speak for the smokers and snorters though. I was strictly IV.
The good thing about cocaine vs heroin is that you CAN stop. You don’t have painful physical withdrawals like with heroin. In fact the worst part of using coke for me was actually using it. It isn’t even a good feeling (for me) but it tricks your brain into thinking it is so you don’t want to stop. Days pass and you don’t even notice. You will spend every penny you have on coke because the minute you start coming down, your brain goes into autopilot so you don’t care about anything else or want anything else or even comprehend that anything else even exists. Cocaine is not a means to any end except more cocaine.
If you think you might be addicted to cocaine, please get help. Even if it is just a friend you trust who can watch over you for a few days and make sure you’re okay. I quit heroin alone on someone’s couch with nothing and nobody to help me. I cannot even begin to tell you how that feels.
On the other hand, if you think someone you care about may be addicted, it won’t be easy to help. As an addict, I can tell you two things:
- The president of the US could have told me I was an addict and I would have told him to bugger off. I didn’t believe anything anyone said about me. I had to come to the conclusion on my own. And I did… eventually. It took months of heavy use before I finally admitted I was an addict. It gets worse though because…
- Realizing you have a problem is not the same thing as being ready to fix that problem. I knew I was an addict for years before I cared to do anything about it. And nothing anyone could say or do was going to change that. The day I made the decision to get sober was not at the fancy rehabs my parents forced me into or during the various treatments they threw their money into. It was just a random day when I decided I had enough and I knew it would stick because I went cold turkey. I felt everything. And I never want to feel that pain again. I know the price of using. It isn’t worth it.
So what does it feel like to be a cocaine addict? I guess it depends what stage you’re in. Denial, realization, acceptance, not ready to quit, ready to quit. I don’t know if everyone goes through those same steps. But if a person is in any but the last stage, you cannot help them. Nobody can. Only the addict can help him/herself. When he/she is ready and asks for help, be there for them. But be wary because addicts are tricky. They might lie to get something from you. A friend of mine used to joke about how rehab was a vacation for addicts (for those of us with wealthy parents). We could go get high until we were so strung out and couldn’t take it anymore and then tell our parents we are ready to get clean. A good rehab is like an all inclusive resort. They give you meds so you don’t feel sick and they have activities and gourmet chefs and they take good care of you. You can spend a month there with your family footing the bill somewhere between $600-800/day for a decent place and then you leave there refreshed and ready to start another run on the streets. Addicts don’t even realize how many people they are hurting. Or they choose not to. Eventually, you come to a fork in the road and both paths lead to a dead end – choose drugs and eventual death or choose immediate death (suicide). I remember the day I found myself there. It was on a bridge and I had made the decision to jump but couldn’t gather up the nerve. So I eventually turned around and walked away.
Addiction hurts a lot of people. I assume that you ask this question for a reason so I will add one final thing: if you need someone to talk to (someone anonymous, experienced, and nonjudgmental), feel free to message me privately. I’ve been sober for over 6 years. I’ve seen and heard and done a lot of things. And now all I can do is try to help other people who are suffering the way I once was. No matter the situation and the choice you make, I wish you well.
Comedian Lenny Clarke once said “I did cocaine once, for like, nine years.”
That is a strong approximation of the addiction to this drug. When I first tried it, I was in college, and had been a heavy pot smoker along with many mushroom trips and ecstasy fueled nights. Cocaine was a natural progression. I was scared of it at first – it’s intimidating and there is a bad stigma associated with it.
Yet, it was love at first sniff.
When you first get addicted, it doesn’t feel like an addiction. It cures boredom, it makes you feel incredibly cool and powerful, like no one around you is cool enough to be in on the joke.
After a couple years of this, I could not imagine not using. I was using minimum three times a week. I was missing work, scaring friends and parents, being out until dawn, sometimes later. I started using solo rather than with friends. It became all-consuming, and I had to have it.
It got worse.
As my life was rumbling around me, bring broke, failing at jobs, living at home, I would do anything to support my habit. I stole money from friends and family. I would drive my dealer around in exchange for free product. Nothing else mattered. I had convinced myself that cocaine was the only GOOD thing in my life. That is how warped your brain chemistry becomes.
It got to a point where I lost many close friends due to my behavior. These are relationships I have never been able to repair. I am beyond fortunate that despite it all, my parents remained incredibly supportive. I knew had to quit, for them. And for me. But I needed to reward their faith somehow. I was at a fork in the road. One path would lead to utter destruction; the other, redemption. I chose redemption.
It was exceedingly difficult. I remember being utterly pissed off at myself not NOT doing cocaine when it was readily accessible. I somehow garnered enough internal fortitude to persevere through awful mental withdrawal, shame, and regret.
Ironically, I no longer regret it. I continue to silently weep at the pain I caused and the relationships and time I lost. But having come out the other side, those experiences made the successful executive I am today. Could I have achieved this success without it? Absolutely. But I will not dwell on things I cannot change, and I am a happy and strong person having confronted my issues and overcome my struggles.
I’ll end with another quote from a comedian, this one being the great George Carlin:
“What does cocaine make you feel like? It makes you feel like more cocaine.”
3. Brent Williams
I can tell a story without the happy ending. A decade or so ago, I was playing in a band and our bassist (a good friend of mine) had rediscovered his love for crack. I was honestly oblivious. He was losing weight, but he was just joking about it, “Look at me. I’m Greg from 15 years ago!” I thought he was on a diet.
But no. He was on crack. Greg was an extremely successful man. He was director of IT for a firm. He was married to a lawyer. Had a couple of daughters, and his wife had just given birth to his son. They had a vacation home. He drove a custom van, played on custom-made basses and amps. He would constantly rip on me ’cause I thought investing in Google stock was a bad idea, and he’d tell me how much he was up every day ’cause of his wise investment.
I was alerted to his crack addiction when his wife showed up to band practice the day before a gig. She dragged his ass to rehab. I was pissed ’cause me and another band member shared bass responsibilities for that show. It was awful, we sucked. But we didn’t have time to cancel, so the show went on.
Greg’s wife told me that he had discovered a crack source (and “the wrong crowd”) hanging out at our practice facility. After unsuccessfully sending him to rehab twice, she had kicked him out of the house. He had blown through all their savings. His Google stock was gone. He tried to live in their vacation home, but they had to sell it to pay for his crack habit. Me and a couple band members did the math and counted he was probably smoking about $2000 a day. Two thousand dollars. Every day.
So I wasn’t surprised to see him hanging around there again very soon after his wife kicked him out. He told me he couldn’t wait to start playing music again. I told him I didn’t think it was such a good idea just yet, but left the door open for the possibility of working him back into the band.
I remember a time I showed up early to band practice, and there was Greg. Wasted in our practice room. I guess he was living there, but he knew our practice schedule so he would sneak out before we were going to show up. So I asked him for his key and told him I don’t think it’s a good idea that he hang out there anymore. I also pretty much told him that he was out of the band, which really killed his spirit. I still feel like an ass for that conversation. But I was trying to be a good friend. Trying to remove him from the crack element.
Next time I saw him, he had sold his van and was driving a motorcycle. He asked me to let him into our practice room to get some of his gear he still had in there. He sold it all, of course. Or some of it may have actually been stolen. There are more stories about that, but I won’t get into it.
Greg eventually killed himself. I still can’t believe it to this day. That guy had everything going for him. A beautiful family. A successful career. Friends. I mean, it was truly a blessed life. But crack ruined it all. He ended up dead, dirty as hell, found spending his last days in the apartment of a sketchy crack dealer. He never knew his son. Isn’t there to see how his beautiful family has grown. All because of some stupid rock. That’s what it’s like to be addicted to crack.
4. Trina Peterson
My first Husband, my son’s father, was addicted to cocaine. It was similar to a tragic lifetime movie. He was physically abusive and put us in financial ruin, and I would fix it. I would forgive him and my cuts and bruises would heal. We were a sad cliche and my child was growing up in a horrible life.
One day I woke up, and saw my husband standing over my child and I with a baseball bat. I asked him what he was doing and he said, calmly and matter of factly, “I was going to kill you and our son and then myself, so we can all be together.”I suddenly heard this pop. I will tell you what that was later.
I told my husband don’t be silly, everything is going to be fine, and gave him 40 dollars to buy me a carton of cigarettes, (knowing he would never return with cigs or money, he was an addict). I packed for my son and I and went to a neighbors to call my family. I had to promise them it was the last time and I really meant to leave him, to save my son.
He came home as I waited for my brother to pick us up. I said, “Honey, Cj and I are leaving for the weekend to visit my dad. Here’s fifty bucks, please don’t hock and pawn everything.” He was pleased to have the cash and couldn’t wait to cop more dope. “We will see you Monday.”
He called me monday to, tell me, “I’m really sorry and missed you guys, but I pawned the car, tvs, vcrs and sold some furniture. When are you coming home?” I said, “I love you but I love our son more and we can’t come home.” When you are clean, you can take him fishing and hang out with him for summers and weekends but you have to get clean.”
That pop I heard, was me pulling my head out of my ass. I realized, my kid should have a shot at a happy life and so should I. No matter what, we had to go. Three months later my husband killed himself.
5. Jennifer Wilson
I openly share my story of addiction with the hope that it will prevent even one person from going down the path that I explored.
It all started when I began dating Tina. She was fun and exciting. I remember being in a local bar and she asked a stranger if he had any coke. He was confused, and she just laughed. I thought she was kidding.
Later that week we were out at a different bar with my roommate and her boyfriend, when Tina got serious about finding some coke. My roommate’s boyfriend made a call, and pretty soon the two of them were headed out to the local grocery store parking lot to meet a dealer. They returned, and we all left the bar and headed home. In the car I began to get a bit nervous. I had never done any hard drugs. I was a pot smoker for sure, but I had always been afraid to try anything harder. Tina stuck her finger in the tiny baggie and then stuck it in my mouth. The white powder tasted awful and bitter, but it had an instant numbing effect. I liked it. I kind of felt like I was at the dentist.
We arrived home and my roommate’s boyfriend took a mirror off the wall. He began cutting lines of the white powder. Four neat lines. One for each of us. I remember vividly my roommate’s boyfriend looking me in the eyes and saying, “you DON’T have to do this. In fact, I would prefer that you didn’t.” But then Tina said something about not being a pussy, and I knew I couldn’t turn back. Besides, I wanted to know why Lindsay Lohan thought it was so awesome…
Flash forward a few months. I am a hot mess. Tina and I broke up, but I continued to do coke with my roommate and her boyfriend. I have no money since all my money is going to cocaine. At this point, we were doing it about 3 times a week. Each time, we would stay up all night, even if there was work the next day. I went in to work without sleep, sometimes I would do a line before I left just to get through the day.
I lost 20 pounds in less than 2 months, and my face was beginning to look gaunt. I thought I was hiding my addiction well, but I think everybody knew. We would go out to clubs and I would go to the bathroom about once per hour; sometimes doing lines with my friend in the next stall.
My sister gave up on me. She told me that she hoped I didn’t kill myself, and stopped talking to me altogether. I lost friends; people began distancing themselves from me. Soon all I had left was my roommate and her boyfriend. But that was all I needed. Them and the sweet white powder.
One night, we got a batch of coke that was more pure than what we were used to. We generally did what we called “Hollywood lines”, which were twice the size of a normal line. We did two of these in a row of the pure stuff, and I knew almost instantly that it was too much. My heart began racing and I literally couldn’t sit still. I began walking in circles around the house with a crazed look on my face. Eyes wide; heart racing. I remember thinking “I’m going to die. I OD’d, and now I’m going to die in my living room.” I remembered then that alcohol can bring you down from a high, and I ran into the kitchen and chugged a beer. Almost instantly, my heart slowed and the panic stopped.
You would think that an incident like that would make me want to quit. Nope. When you’re addicted, nothing else matters. Friends and family don’t matter. Your life doesn’t even matter. You just exist between highs.
My turning point was when my mother found my coke straw in my car. It was a clear straw but so caked with cocaine residue that it wasn’t clear anymore. My mother picked it up and just started to cry. She blamed herself; she asked why. I couldn’t answer her. I had no answer. I didn’t even know why.
After that day I decided to quit. I literally just walked away from it. I had support from a few friends that I had left, for which I am forever grateful. In order for me to quit for good, I had to move cities (about an hour away), and delete a lot of the contacts in my phone. I still spoke with my old roommate, but I had to wait a few months before I could hang out with her.
I’d like to say my recovery was difficult, but it really wasn’t. I was so focused and determined to change my life that I just did it. I know it isn’t that easy for most addicts and I consider myself very lucky. My advice to anyone considering trying cocaine is this: DON’T. It is true what they say; it only takes one time. Then you’re hooked. The high is unlike anything you’ve ever felt, but that’s the problem. You want to feel it all the time, and you’ll do almost anything to achieve it.
I thank God everyday for my life. I know I could have overdosed at any time, and I am so glad I didn’t. My roommate and her boyfriend quit too, soon after I did. They are married now with a beautiful son, and another baby on the way. Our story has a happy ending, but I know a lot do not. Do not become a statistic. Trust me.
6. Xandor Schiefer
I wrote a “Letter to my addiction” a few months after getting sober (drug of choice: cocaine):
It’s taken me a while to get to know you; you seem to have many faces. I still haven’t seen them all.
When we first met, you were different. You were friendly and approachable. You were sociable and fun to hang around with, easygoing and always ready for a good time.
You accepted me for who I was; you didn’t pressure me. You were the person I wanted you to be, needed you to be. You were the only person who I felt could really understand me, and because of this I trusted you.
You gave me the space to be me; you were low maintenance, let me have other friends and hobbies and interests.
But you were only biding your time; I must congratulate you on your patience and endurance. You got to know my weaknesses, you learned how to manipulate me. Once you had me figured out you changed, demanding more of me: my time, my money, my relationships, and my soul.
You took me for a ride.
You were everything I wanted you to be for so long that when you changed you had me in your pocket. I needed you: who you used to be, and at first I didn’t see you change your colours. When I did see it, I denied it. I lied to myself about it. I didn’t want to believe, I didn’t want to see how you were changing. But eventually I had to admit it to myself: you were no longer the same.
I thought I could still change you. I didn’t want to let you go, the memory of who you used to be was too beautiful! We could still work this out; there had been some innocent misunderstanding somewhere along the way: a simple mistake.
My friends (those that you hadn’t gotten to) and family said you were bad for me, but separating would hurt too much, so I chose you over them; traitor that you made me.
While I was trying to change you, you were changing me. By the time I realised this it was too late: I was in too deep.
You shouted me, beat me, raped me into the person you wanted me to be, needed me to be. I ran away, but I had to come back, over and over.
My family couldn’t let go of who I once was, and they tricked me away from you, away from your house. I left a lot behind: things I value, things I’m sorry to lose, things that don’t mean anything to you.
Nothing means anything to you.
I’ve had some time now to get some perspective. My wounds are mostly scars now. They ache sometimes, but most days I feel whole. I see your face around, flirting with strangers, bedding my old friends. I see you glance my way and wink. It hurts to resist but I do it anyway: I think I’ve learned my lesson.
I have always heard that cocaine was not physically addictive. Physically addictive like heroin or tobacco. I think this may be responsible for a lot of people getting psychologically addicted. “Well it isn’t physically addictive” is a justification I remember using. Having quit both coke and tobacco, I know the difference. Physical addiction is harder to quit in the way, you have decided to quit but your body changes the rules. This only happens for a limited period of withdrawal. Psychological addiction is a different matter. There is no real big “hump” to get past but the memories of how you liked the drug keep coming back sometimes years afterward.
I got involved with cocaine when crack first came on the scene in the mid 80s. It was called freebase then. Not that many people knew how to cook the coke to make freebase, not even dealers fairly high up in the organization. I don’t think I heard the term “crack” for a good year after I got involved with freebasing. As far as I could tell the term “Crack” had more to do with how it was marketed to the public a few rocks at a time with the acid base already removed rather than indicative of a substance, but that was the perspective I was looking at it from.
There was several ways to separate the acid from the cocaine “freeing the base”. The hydrochloric acid was a preservative. It also was hard on the septum of the nasal passages for those that snorted it. This was the big “benefit” of smoking it rather than snorting it. Smoking the coke was a lot more intense high than snorting it. I really think it was actually a very different type of high. The other poster describes the high gotten from snorting.
The high from smoking coke is very intense somewhat like an orgasm, not as physical though. It only lasts for 30 seconds to a minute, heart pounding, and the user is almost immediately ready to take another hit right away. Snorting it lasts much longer maybe up to an hour depending on the quality. Describing a high to someone is always tricky the only time I have seen it don well was by Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that was LSD. Arguably easier to describe to someone that had never taken it.
There is a psychological component associated with snorting. That of being over confidence or thinking the idea that you just had must be genius. And no one has ever been that smart before. That component, at least as far as I was concerned, was missing when smoking the drug.
One component missing from snorting coke that was present in many sessions of smoking it was, after the last of the drug had been consumed, the thought that we must have been careless with the handling of the drug an some must have made it’s way to the floor. So a hunt through the ubiquitous shag carpeting for that errant rock of coke ensued. Never was a rock of coke found but the occasional bread crumb or tiny piece of pizza was smoked at 4 or 5AM.
Like the other poster, I did go broke. I came to an epiphany when I started seriously consider selling my car to get more cocaine. At that point I was able to break the cycle. I am sure I learned some things from this time period, a few things about chemistry for one thing, but overall it was a huge waste of time and money.
I have done a massive amount of drugs.
Predominantly crack (smokable cocaine), which I do frequently now, and which is a very expensive habit. I used to spend from $300 to $500 a week for about 10 months, I have been using it for 9 years, I now use it about 1-4 times a week and spend about $300 a week, half of that on heroin.
Crack is by far the most addictive drug. Meth would come (a distant) second. Heroin is joke (a myth actually). Heroin is not addicting at all except as something you’ve fallen in love with (I’ve done a lot of heroin, cigarettes are more addicting than heroin).
Crack addiction occurs when recovering from a high, it can be extremely painful when recovering, it’ll last from 1 to 3 hours. Your thoughts could be completely insane: the very worst that schizophrenia can be. That is why people would do anything to get another hit: so it can heal the pain and they can be better prepared to recover from it, which can be done peacefully if you’re prepared… So what I am saying is, there are two kinds of addiction, the “recovery addiction”, which is painful for 1-3 hours and you need more of the drug, which is crack and meth, and there’s the “fallen in love” addiction which is how I describe cigarettes and heroin: they are mostly lifestyle addictions. The “recovery addiction” will have you do all kinds crazy shit: you will drive massively far early in the morning to get a little more, you will empty your savings, etc.
I’ve been there. So how does it feel? Well, when you do stupid shit like I described you feel stupid and can’t believe you’d do something so completely stupid just to get high, but when you don’t lose your cool and don’t do anything you regret then having a drug habit isn’t bad, it’s fun and rewarding in its own way, that’s why I come back to it.