I was introduced to cocaine at a party; I’d had a fair bit to drink and thought ‘Why not, it’s only one line.?’ I have to say it did nothing for me, no effect whatsoever. Until the next time I took a line, snorting deeply, and then another line through the other nostril, and my life was changed. I felt happy, excited, my head was clear, I had a rush of sexual excitement and was overjoyed to discover something I felt I’d been looking for all my life!
At first I only used at weekends, and with friends. Happy and jolly times, in a bar or a club, but increasingly I spent a lot of my week looking forward to these evenings when I could use. I was introduced to a couple of dealers so I could buy enough to share with friends, and the dealers seemed nice, friendly people. I had their numbers so I could phone and they would meet me anytime, anyplace. Just a phone call away.
It didn’t take many months before I wasn’t using just at weekends. I had a stressful job as a hospital doctor and when I got home I would treat myself to a large whisky. And a line of coke – taken in the bathroom so my wife wouldn’t know. When work became particularly stressful I would snort a line (or two) before leaving the house, just to set me up for the day.
I hadn’t realised how gradually my use had been increasing. I firmly believed that I was in control of my using and could stop at anytime. If the family was going abroad on holiday I wouldn’t dare to take any coke with me, and I didn’t look for any when I was there, but I spent a lot of my holiday time sleeping, which I now realise was part of my body’s recovery. And I also spent a lot of time thinking about using as soon as I arrived home because I always made sure I’d left a coming home present for myself.
After a couple of years I was using at work. I had my own office and a door that could be locked. I was shortening the length of my ward rounds, often not going to meetings and had cancelled some outpatient clinics. I felt less and less in control of my life. My social life fell to bits because all I wanted to do was to be left alone to use – preferably on my own but with using friends if I had to.
It was one of my using ‘friends’ who introduced me to free basing, which is a way of inhaling pure cocaine vapour. The effect is immediate and shockingly pleasurable, and becomes intensely compulsive. I could be up all night using before attempting to work the next day, convincing myself that I was perfectly able to do it. How I wasn’t discovered is still a mystery to me; perhaps it would have been better if I had been found out because that would have put a stop to my using.
After some years my life became a nightmare. I was intensely worried about how I could afford the next batch of cocaine (I was spending in the region of £1200 a week) and I knew it was increasing. I had lost a couple of stone in weight, my pulse rate was persistently high and I looked like death. I knew I had to stop – but I couldn’t. And the cocaine had stopped working, but I couldn’t do without it. Trapped!
It was a blessing when my wife discovered one of my pipes. I told her I was extremely stressed at work and was smoking skunk. She took the pipe to a friend – an ex-drug user – who told her what I was doing. It felt a relief to me that she had found out.. She contacted the Sick Doctor’s Trust who advised that I should go to the local British Doctors and Dentists Group. Which I did, completely high on cocaine. I didn’t pay much attention but one guy there was a cocaine-using dentist, and he told my story. I spoke to him after the meeting and he offered to take me to some CA meetings. I would have a use-up before going but gradually, and over a period of time, he guided me into thoughts of going to rehab. I finally threw the towel in and went. It was the first day of the rest of my life. There I learnt about addiction, why it happens, what happens to people who are addicts and how to stop using and get your life back.
My biggest realisation was that the addiction isn’t in the substance or the bottle – it’s in me. I relate to people, places and things addictively in order to get the next hit. Having learnt to get my Addict off my back and into the corner I am freed up to live the life I want to live, as long as I keep an eye on my Addict and stop it jumping onto my back. I now have the tools to help me do that – going to CA meetings and to the BDDG – so I can be fully in the world and not just have one foot in it. And the life I have now is so much better than the one I had before.