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Cocaine and the Brain: The Neurobiology of Addiction

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Biology 202
2000 First Web Report
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Cocaine and the Brain: The Neurobiology of Addiction

Christine Farrenkopf

In the eyes of the public, the word addict stirs up a negative image: a person of low moral character who willfully chooses to engage in questionable behavior. This image is perpetuated in the media; on a recent episode of E.R., the chief surgeon criticizes another doctor for allowing a heroin addict (who has been treated for an abscess) to exchange a dirty needle, explaining "we donât want these low-lives hanging around the hospital." The social stigma attached to addicts reflects the great gap that exists between scientific knowledge and public perception of addiction. Just as mental illness was viewed as a social problem instead of a medical issue until the last several decades, drug addiction continues to be seen as a character flaw instead of as the biological problem that it is.

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is a "chronically relapsing disorder that is characterized by three major elements: (a) compulsion to seek and take the drug, (b) loss of control in limiting intake, and (c) emergence of a negative emotional state when access to the drug is prevented" (1). This disorder results from the repeated use of a drug over a prolonged period of time, causing physical changes in the brain.

Perhaps the most addictive of drugs is cocaine. Cocaine acts on the mesoaccumbens dopamine (DA) pathway of the midbrain, extending from the ventral tegumental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc). (2). This pathway is also known as the reward pathway as it is the area of the brain that is activated when someone has a pleasurable experience such as eating, sex, or receiving praise. (NOTE: The reward pathway was discovered through the technique of intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) (3, p.53). An electrode was implanted in different areas of the brains of rats and was activated when the rats voluntarily pressed a lever. Stimulation in most sites in the brain was not reinforcing (ie, the rats did not regularly activate the electrode), but one site in particular was reinforcing: the reward pathway. Because of the positive effects felt when this pathway is stimulated, such behavior is reinforced.

In the DA pathway of a normal person, a transmitting neuron releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter), which then binds to dopamine receptors on the receiving neuron; an action potential is then propagated in the receiving neuron. (4). After this has occurred, the dopamine reuptake transporters (DATs) of the transmitting cell pump the dopamine back into the cell to be used again.

Cocaine binds to the dopamine reuptake transporters, thus blocking them from functioning. (See web reference (5). for an animation of this process.) As a result, dopamine levels increase in the synapse, and consequently, the receiving neuron is continuously stimulated. This constant firing of the neurons leads to a feeling of euphoria. In addicts, cocaine blocks between 60 and 77 percent of the DAT binding sites; in order to attain a "high," at least 47 percent of the binding sites must be blocked by cocaine. (6).

Cocaine also acts on the reuptake transporters of serotonin and norepinephrine, and therefore, the levels of these neurotransmitters are also increased. (2). Serotonin plays a role similar to dopamine in the DA pathway. Norepinephrine stimulates the "fight or flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system characterized by heightened heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, and body temperature as well as dilation of pupils and sweating; these phenomena produce an energizing feeling (7). p.103.

At a certain point, cocaine usage ceases to be a voluntary action: this is the onset of addiction. The positive reinforcement of the sensation of euphoria eventually alters the brain so that the use of cocaine is obligatory. Animal models have been used to demonstrate such positive reinforcement (8) p.1262-4. Lab rats were fitted with long-term intravenous catheters and were taught how to self-administer doses of cocaine by pressing a lever. The fact that the rats continued to self-administer cocaine demonstrates the desire of the rats to be under the influence of the drug. In addition, there is a correlation between the level of the dose of cocaine and the number of infusions a rat would give itself: the lower the dosage, the smaller the gap in-between self-administrations. This indicates that the rat is aware of the level of cocaine in its system and its desire to maintain that level through subsequent injections of the drug. These experiments demonstrate the "compulsion to seek and take the drug" aspect of the definition of addiction.

Another factor in the reinforcement of cocaine use lies in the fact that after cocaine administration, dopamine levels fall significantly below normal, pre-consumption levels (8) p.1272. The user therefore feels a "low," and the immediate response to alleviate this low is to take another hit of cocaine to again raise the level. Such behavior is referred to as a "binge," when a user continuously takes hits of cocaine to recover from ensuing lows (3) p.158. This demonstrates the "loss of control in limiting intake" aspect of the definition of addiction.

Recent research has shown that reinforcement is also linked to cocaineâs ability to act on genetic material: it activates the gene that codes for the protein delta-FosB (whose levels are elevated in addicts) (9). This protein in turn activates the gene that produces a component of glutamate receptors (GluR2), which binds the neurotransmitter glutamate. An increase in GluR2 production has been shown to increase sensitivity to cocaineâs rewarding effects.

Over a long period of usage, the brain responds to the above-normal levels of dopamine that are present during a hit. The main manifestation is a reduction in the number of dopamine receptors on the dendrites of neurons (10).; if there are fewer receptors, then there will be less stimulation of the nerves in the DA pathway. This demonstrates how the brain of an addict is physically different from that of a normal person.

Due to this physical change in the brain, an addict will respond differently to a particular dosage of cocaine. Tolerance develops in many addicts, wherein a larger dosage is needed to attain the same high that a user initially experienced (11, p.38). Sensitization may develop instead, wherein a user becomes more responsive to cocaine without increasing the dose (12). The biological mechanisms behind these two phenomena are not completely understood. There is evidence that whether tolerance or sensitization develops depends at least in part on the manner in which cocaine is delivered to the body: if cocaine is taken in spaced out intervals, sensitization results; if cocaine is taken continuously through an IV or through closely spaced injections, tolerance results (13). (14).

Because of the altered physiological state of the brain, events that previously caused stimulation of the DA pathway (pleasurable experiences other than cocaine use) no longer do; only cocaine can induce the feeling of happiness. When an addict ceases taking cocaine, he has no source of stimulation of the DA pathway and therefore experiences severe depression, irritability, and anxiety (symptoms that are opposite of the effects of the drug) (8) p.1271. (This is the "emergence of a negative emotional state when access to the drug is prevented" aspect of the definition of addiction.) Other factors also contribute to the negative behavior associated with withdrawal. For example, tests in lab animals have shown that levels of coricotropin releasing factor (CRF), which induces stress, rise while in withdrawal (8) p.1273.

With repeated drug use comes a phenomenon known as place conditioning, wherein particular places and cues become associated with cocaine use (15). Experiments using lab rats support such a conclusion (8) p.1267. Two distinct neutral environments are set up, one of which is paired with cocaine and the other with a placebo. When the rats are allowed to freely roam between the two environments after experiencing both the cocaine and placebo, we find that they choose to spend more time in the environment where they were given cocaine. This demonstrates that the drug comes to be associated with a certain place.

The road to recovery from cocaine addiction is a long one, particularly because a patient must struggle to overcome the odds of relapse: approximately half of recovering patients succumb to relapse within a year of detoxification (16).

The negative emotional state that results from cocaine withdrawal often causes patients to begin using the drug again. The challenge is to withstand the urge to use the drug during the time when the body "resets" the DA pathway (ie, more dopamine receptors will be activated due to the low levels of synaptic dopamine, which in turn will allow activities other than cocaine use to stimulate the reward pathway). Studies have shown that numbers of dopamine receptors will never return to pre-cocaine use levels.

Because addicts grow to associate certain places and cues with cocaine use, exposure to such stimuli may cause a relapse once an addict has "quit" (17). If reminded of an event linked with cocaine use (such as passing by a place where one formerly used the drug or watching people smoke crack), a recovering addict will very likely feel a strong craving (10). Such a reaction to these memory-based stimuli raises the question of how long memories are able to induce a response. Recent research has shown relapses in lab rats even after four months of abstinence (17).

There is no well-established treatment plan for cocaine addiction, but the most effective measures are to combine a medicine with drug counseling. Drugs such as vigabatrin are being developed that seek to reduce the pleasure of a cocaine hit (this drug stops cocaine from increasing dopamine levels in the DA pathway and prevents subjects from developing place/cue associations in baboons) (18). Anti-depressants are often prescribed to alleviate the negative behavior of withdrawal. New research is concentrating on neutralizing cocaine in the bloodstream so that it is unable to affect the DA pathway (18). While medications are an important part of the recovery process, counseling also plays a seminal role as the patient must learn to resist the urge to use cocaine. Group and individual therapy sessions aid patients in coming to terms with their problem and building up self-confidence (19). Cocaine-specific skills training (CST) teaches patients to identify the places and cues that cause them to feel cravings; they then seek to avoid or adjust their reactions to such stimuli (20).

Viewing cocaine addiction as a chronically relapsing disease of the brain is a new concept for much of the public. Such scientific evidence forces people to re-evaluate their views of addicts (in particular the stereotypes associated with them) as it demonstrates that an addict must be recognized as someone with an altered brain state, just as someone with a mental illness or Alzheimerâs (15). Addicts cannot be cured through incarceration; instead, the process of recovery requires both counseling and medication. In fact, the lasting biological effects of cocaine addiction are so far-reaching that rehabilitators often comment that there is no way to "cure" someone of cocaine addiction - - one can only learn how to live with it.

WWW Sources

1) The Neuroscience of Addiction, Research article on mechanisms of addiction

2) Addiction to Cocaine and Amphetamine, Research article on mechanisms of cocaine addiction

3) Addiction: From Biology to Public Policy Goldstein, Avram, M.D. Addiction: From Biology to Public Policy. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1994., In-depth discussion of biological aspects (in addition to social aspects) of addiction, appropriate for undergrads

4) Cocaineâs Pleasurable Effects May Involve Multiple Chemical Sites , Description of cocaineâs effects at the neuronal level

5) Animation of Cocaine Blocking Dopamine Reuptake

6) Brain Scans Open Window to View Cocaineâs Effects on the Brain , Research on dopamine reuptake transporters

7) Psychology of Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Research Perspective. , Jung, John. Psychology of Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Research Perspective. Thousand Lakes, CA: Sage Publications, 2001.

8) Fundamental Neuroscience, Zigmond, Michael, ed. Fundamental Neuroscience. New York: Academic Press, 1999., General neurobiology textbook

9) Scientists Identify Brain Chemicals Involved in "Switching On" Cocaine Addiction, , How cocaine affects our genes

10) How It All Starts Inside Your Brain , Article on biological mechanisms of addiction, appropriate for the layman

11) Cocaine Addiction: Theory, Research, and Treatment, Platt, Gerome. Cocaine Addiction: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

12) National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Report: Cocaine Abuse and Addiction , Good source of all aspects of cocaine and addiction

13) Addiction, Dopamine, and the Molecular Mechanisms of Memory , Research article on addiction

14) Addiction Becomes a Brain Disease, Scientific research on mechanisms of addiction

15) Addiction is a Brain Disease, and It Matters , Written by the director of the Nation Institute on Drug Abuse on addiction

16) Treatment: New Ways to Stay Clean , general article on drug treatment

17) Study Sheds Light on Cocaine Relapse , short article on cue-induced relapse

18) Seeking Ways to Crack Cocaine Addiction , Article discusses medications being developed to help overcome cocaine addiction

19) Combining Drug Counseling Methods Proves Effective in Treating Cocaine Addiction , Information on drug counseling

20) Coping Skills Help Patients Recognize and Resist the Urge to Use Cocaine , Information on therapy for cue-induced relapse



Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

01/01/2006, from a Reader on the Web

A recent family member just arrived home after spending 30 days at Hazelden, which teaches the addict and the family that Cocaine addiction is a disease and not a question of will power. As a result, I began my research online and saw your article. You seem to state the same thing but I disagree with your conclusion, as I disagree with Hazelden's philosophy. Your paper did not prove that addiction is a biological disease, it only explains what happens when someone becomes addicted to cocain in a scientific manner. A disease is an illness that people don't have a control over, an illness that people don't invite into their lives. Your papers states that addiction becomes a disease after a period and intensity of use. How can that be an illnesss when you cause the condition? You are causing the problem. If a football atheletes perpetually hurts his back from the sport and has permanent back pain, is that a disease or a chronic pain? Your paper also states that to cure the addiction, an addict must resist the temptation and go through counseling and rebuild self esteem. That is will power, determination and control. How can you conclude that addiction is a disease then? I truly would appreciate a response back. I have an issue with this claim. I feel that to give an addict such reasonings is to tell them that they are not in control and that if relapse or death happens, it is the fault of the disease. That is misguidance in my view. An addict should be held responsible for his or her action and recognize their weaknesses and failures so that they can truly work on their problem. Thank you.


Additional comments made prior to 2007
just read your notes on cocaine addiction, i would also like to disagree with calling this addiction to cocaine a "disease", surely you are giving every coke addict a free ride to continuing with their addiction. if someone freeely takes this drug knowing the damages they can get from it that is a choice, not a disease.
so, is cocaine addiction,in the same category as,someone with ms or me, thats what i would think you were trying to say, these are also diseases, but people with these diseases didnt choose to have them, a cocaine addict made their choice on their first lesson of taking the drug.enough said ... Wendy Pearce, 18 February 2006



Serendip you do not understand what the word addiction means. Your example about back pain makes no sense. No one wakes up or is born intrinsically addicted to alcohol, porn, or cocaine. You have to experience a thing to become addicted. If you want to blame someone for that initial experience than that is a different story from telling someone it is their fault they are "addicted" Addiction is a biological and frequently psychological state, the brain transmitter chemistry has changed such that a person is completely driven to get the 'high' created by that drug. There is no matter of "willpower," their brain is telling them without the drug they will die. Addicts do not have control over that urge, it has become a chemical force of nature in their brain. Relapse itself even cannot always be considered willpower since the 'once addict' still has that wiring in their brain to tell them to get high. It is a very powerful force and not one that is easily overcome, and really only something that an addict can truly understand. Fortuntalely there is help for addicts beyond willpower, like using methadone maintenance to wean someone from the need for cocaine, but the road is long and hard regardless ... Reader on the web, 2 April 2006



Hi, just read your page, very interesting and very helpful. I have lived with an addict who injects cocaine. I have seen what has happened to a once lovely person and the effects his addiction has had on us innocent bystanders. He did this to himself, we didn't ask for him to inflict the misery on to us too. It is a self inflicted addiction not disease. My father is an alcoholic! His behaviour patterns are similar to my ex-husbands but neither has a disease. Addiction is not disease in the sense that my non-smoking healthy living grandfather, who died of lung cancer had. I am still very bitter towards my ex I must admit and so my empathy for addiction is low so maybe I am not looking objectively at your page, but addicts not only abuse themselves but those who love them. The Hep C he contracted using shared needles is a disease! ... Karon, 3 April 2006



I am responding to someone's response to the article on cocaine addiction. S/he states: "A disease is an illness that people don't have a control over, an illness that people don't invite into their lives," and then suggests that since becoming addicted has to do with choices the addict makes, it isn't really a disease; that treating it as if it were a disease somehow prevents the addict from being "held responsible for his or her action" -- that addicts must "recognize their weaknesses and failures so that they can truly work on their problem." Cocaine and the Brain: The Neurobiology of Ad... Reality is more complex than yes-no, black-white, or a disease-personal weakness dichotomy. Addiction is a coping mechanism, with, as both the article and responder point out, a scientific, biochemical neurological basis. And with the notable exception of crack babies, few addicts are born addicted. But addiction is a disease nonetheless, a social disease. Unfortunately, for some who survive the trauma of dysfunctional childhoods with repeated physical and emotional abuse, a drug induced 'feel good' may be the only joy they have ever known. Physiological and psychological addiction take over, and it will take community support, counseling, drug therapy and yes, individual will power, to break free. But the abused child who grows up to be a drug addict doesn't invite or choose the abuse. The disease model is closer to the truth of the cause of addiction -- a toxic social environment with multiple dysfunctional experiences. And like any other disease, some people are naturally more or less susceptible to addiction -- not everyone who grows up under socially adverse conditions becomes an addict, and some who seemingly have had ideal environments do get hooked. But just because the etiology is not bacterial or viral or genetic is no reason to circumscribe the paradigm of addiction to 'bad choices' or 'not enough will power'. The problem won't get solved without looking at the whole picture of causation, and the disease model holds the promise of bringing light, without heat, to this war zone ... Judy Brody, 14 April 2006



I am a cocaine addict. My choice is rock cocaine. I have been clean for a week and a half, and it is hard. Hard to sleep, i dream of smoking it. I get shaky and want it so much. I am not in any treatment plan or on any anti-depressant drugs. I have no job at the moment and no money. That is the only reason i am clean. I try to think of other ways to get high and can't. I am so uncomfortable in my own skin. I think of ways to kill myself and came close. I know the affects and that it is a serious thing, but i want it. I just don't care any more. I have been going through some serious withdrawl and i know if given the chance i will do it again. I do wish i would have never started. I don't know why i am typing this, i guess because i have no one to talk to. I am in pain and there isn't anything i can do ... Laura, 10 May 2006



I have been using for about half a year; my use escalated when I realized it helped me - or so I thought - stay sharp and alert on the job. I deejay overnights at an easy listening radio station.


I am scared and confused-- I came out to some members of my family when my use started getting out of control.


I curse the day I ever started using. I would like someone - anyone who is dealing with the same problem - to email me; perhaps (in addition to NA meetings) we could help each other deal with this.


My friends who don't use aren't talking to me much anymore.


Please help; I hope I can return the favor ... Ben, 29 May 2006



I think that your article made a lot of sense. I am trying to figure out how to deal with my fiance/ father of my child's addiction to cocaine. I have been with him for 3 yrs and I have recently found out that he had had a previous problem with it and was using it again. In fact, you broke down the process of cocaine addiction so well that I feel the need to leave him. I can't deal with the lifetime resposibility of having a cocaine addict with a permanently altered brain state as a partner. He will never be the same ... Krystle, 31 May 2006



I agree with the comments the last writer shared. I have a thiry year old son who feels smoking pot is OK. After all it's not crack/cocaine or heroin. Well he graduated to the former. I never really thought it was that powerful addiction unless you were using it. I don't agree that is really biological if you conciously choose to smoke it. I do believe it's a lot about self esteem and caring about yourself. My son was in a terrible auto accident in January and almost died. He was the passenger in the car of someone who had smoked crack the whole weekend prior to the accident. For six weeks I sat by his bedside praying he wouldn't die. Then he miraculously lives and ends up on my doorstep telling me he has been on a crack run for the past two months.


What to do? ... Reader on the web, 4 June 2006



In most academic institutions, my premise is akin to intellectual suicide. Society and science today probably finds my stance as laughable, yet the men and women upon whom this country (America) was founded would not be blind to the wisdom. Drug addiction, as well as alcohol and pornography addiction, are simply attributable to our human nature. The bible calls it "sin," yet we can't have that today, now can we? The Old Testament called it "idolatry" and today we call it "addiction." Christ died for us all and gave us a means whereby we can gain strength and the power to overcome. For us to think we might escape the claws of coccaine on our own is folly. A loving God really does care. (1 Corinthians 10:13): "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I know this may sound like the crazy talk of a religious zealot, yet God is real... and He really does want us to go to Him for help. Coccaine and all ... Frank Zedar, 10 June 2006



I would like to respond to the reader that stated Cocaine addiction is not a disease because the individual's chosen actions brought it about. If this were true, then most Diabetes, heart disease and Cancer are also NOT disease, as lifestyle factors (smoking, lack of exercise, etc) predispose an individual to these illnesses.


It is already a crime to obtain, own and use cocaine. Adding more blame on the addict may make you feel justified, but it does nothing to resolve this problem. Every addict also has blameless family and friends who are victimized. To search actively for this brain altering disease's treatment should be a priority; leave the blame game to the courts ... Bonnie Clancy, 27 September 2006



The mayor of Bridgeport, John Fabrizi, was exposed as a Coacine addict when the FBI was conducting an investigation on corruption in Bridgeport, and inadvertingly revealed the info on Fabrizi which the Feds didn't intend to divulge at that point in time. The mayor says he is off Cocaine and cured and is taking treatments or something to that effect. Connecticut Post, the leading newspaper in the area, conducted a series of interviews and tests on the mayor, which the mayor agreed to and reported that the mayor had no signs of being on Cocaine.


I knew a drug addict who was addicted to drugs and his wife threatened to leave him unless he went for rehabilatation. He went and kept getting high marks for recovering from drug addiction, but he confided to me that he was still on drugs and was able to fool all the experts. Is this possible?


Is it possible that a mayor of a city of some 200,000 people or the largest city in Connecticut can govern and make decision coherently. Can the mayor properly govern? Could he have fooled Conn. Post the same way the above mentioned addict fooled his wife and even his doctors? ... George Mougios, 24 November 2006



i found the aricle interesting and learned a lot about what the drug can to do the bis handrain as a recovering alcoholic sober for six years i can appriciate the info as i live with and am married to what was a closet coke addict, just since christmas of this year did things get really out of control, our kids and myself are homeless and struggling to make it while he is working a great job and staying out every time there is a dime in hiack... s hand i am at wits end i love him to death but need to know what kind of meds would work for himif any he really needs an out as do i and the kids we want our family back, thanks ... Judi Lamb, 8 June 2007



I found your article extremely in depth. Comprehenable. It is unfortunate that in with all the information that we have that addiction is still so widely misunderstood. Choice comes into a drug addicts life maybe one or two times. Much in the same way unprotected sex comes into an HIV carriers life once or twice. Even Diabetes and many forms of Cancer are avoidable, yet once people have succumbed, it somehow seems easier for people to acknowledge the repercussions of aquireing mentioned diseases as just that. Agreed in almost all cases, the addict did at one time have a choice. Once this disease gets into the brain, it is like any other disease. If left untreated it will change your life immeasurably and more than likely kill you ... Warren, 17 October 2007



The response from [a] previous reader is INCORRECT. A disease or illness is not always unprovoked, look at the obese person who became diabetic or the smoker who has lung cancer ... Kristin, 22 July 2007



In response to the reader comment From 1/1/06.......... Since June, 2006, I have fallen prey to what I feel to be the beginning of cocain addiction. I Was baffled by the craving and submission aspect of this drug and my struggle with my lack of power over it. that is, untill I read your article on the subject. After reviewing the article and one readers comments, I have to thank you sincerely. in my younger years,( I am 44) I partook from time to time(once every year or two) with friends and relatives on special occasionsand never craved afterwards. i believed that i wasn't capable of becoming addicted because it really wasn't important to me at any other time. Until March 2006, it had been some 15 years between usage. last summer with what I believe to be wonderful, nice caring successful people, we all kinda got into it together. And I of course believed I was above the possibility of becoming addicted. Then around January 2007, I decided that I was over my phase and was going to quit. Two weeks later, told myself that it was under control and that every now and then was still ok. But I descovered after every shameful morning after, I would say that this was the last time, and a few weeks later, was unable to say no. This went on until June. then one night one of my close friends that was my party buddie and I started talking and we both realized that we both had the same concearns and decided to quit together. and we did. for 103 days. And we did it twice more since then. and now I can finally admit that I am an addict. My stuggles continue, but i try to accumulate more and more Successes, days. We now call each other when we have the cravings, and are going to continue fighting the monkey.Ther are still moments of discouragement, but the successes are greater and adding up. I am weak, but i'm going to win. I believe the statement to be correct that at a certain point, when you cannot control your mind, the addiction has become a disease. i also believe this is not true for everyone. I call it two types of addiction, voluntary and chemical. My fiance who struggled with alcohal all her life passed away two years ago. and after watching for four years, I can honestly say that she had a disease, no control over it whatsorver. thanks for having a place for information. were not all bad people. Learning day by day ... Jon Meadows, 3 November 2007



My 24 y.o. daughter died of cocaine intoxification Octtober 21, 2006. She had been diagnosed with having bipolar disease by her child and adolescent psychiatrist. She had had this psychiatrist for the last eight years. Previously, she was a heroin addidct and used methodone. When she tapered off of the methodone, she immediately went to cocaine. I either was in denial, or clueless to how affected by drugs she was. I sent her to therapy constantly, as well as to as many rehabs as I could afford. I feel I could have done more, and will never forgive myself for not doing more to help her. I miss her so much. I will never get over this or forgive myself. Please help me ... Shelly Crawford, 12 December 2007


Jeremy's picture


I just left the florida drug rehab . I went there for cocaine abuse and didn't even really think I was an addict. After remaining open minded I came to the conclusion that my problem was well out of my hands. I have continued to stay clean for 6 months now and have learned a lot about myself since I left treatment. there is hope!

Jose's picture

Tobacco smoke contains a

Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are harmful, and about 70 can cause cancer.1,4,7 Smoking increases the risk for serious health problems, many diseases, and death.1,4

People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death. Although the health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, there are benefits at any age.1,4,8,9 You are never too old to quit.

Stopping smoking is associated with the following health benefits:1,4,8,9

Lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
Reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels outside your heart).
Reduced heart disease risk within 1 to 2 years of quitting.
Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not disappear, they do not continue to progress at the same rate among people who quit compared with those who continue to smoke.
Reduced risk of developing some lung diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, one of the leading causes of death in the United States).
Reduced risk for infertility in women of childbearing age. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

Smokers' Attempts to Quit

Among current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, nearly 7 out of every 10 (68.8%) report that they want to quit completely.10
Starting in 2002, the number of former smokers is greater than the number of current smokers.10
See below for more specific data.

Percentage of adult daily cigarette smokers who stopped smoking for more than 1 day in 2010 because they were trying to quit:10

More than 4 out of 10 (42.7%) of all adult smokers
Nearly 5 out of 10 (48.5%) of smokers aged 18–24 years
More than 4 out of 10 (46.8%) of smokers aged 25–44 years
Nearly 4 out of 10 (38.8%) of smokers aged 45–64 years
More than 3 out of 10 (34.6%) of smokers aged 65 years or older

Percentage of high school cigarette smokers who tried to stop smoking in the past 12 months:11

Nearly 5 out of 10 (48%) of all high school students who smoke

Ways to Quit Smoking

Most former smokers quit without using one of the treatments that scientific research has shown can work.10 However, the following treatments are proven to be effective for smokers who want help to quit:

Brief help by a doctor (such as when a doctor takes 10 minutes or less to give a patient advice and assistance about quitting)6
Individual, group, or telephone counseling6
Behavioral therapies (such as training in problem solving)6
Treatments with more person-to-person contact and more intensity (such as more or longer counseling sessions)6
Programs to deliver treatments using mobile phones12

Medications for quitting that have been found to be effective include the following:

Nicotine replacement products6
Over-the-counter (nicotine patch [which is also available by prescription], gum, lozenge)
Prescription (nicotine patch, inhaler, nasal spray)
Prescription non-nicotine medications: bupropion SR (Zyban®),6 varenicline tartrate (Chantix®).6,13

Counseling and medication are both effective for treating tobacco dependence, and using them together is more effective than using either one alone.6

More information is needed about quitting for people who smoke cigarettes and also use other types of tobacco.

Serendip Visitor's picture

the woman who's 24 yr old daughter passed

Dont blame yourself. It was not your fault. You need to forgive yourself so she can move on too. Drug addiction is hard but in the end its only the addict that can make the choice to stay away. No matter how any one tries to help.

I am 28 now. I was an addict from the time I was 17 untill 26. After I had my son I got real bad into crack. I went down hill fast. My son went to live with my mom and I was selfish and cruel. I didn't know my son well and I did nothing to get close to him. I was a sad excuse for a human being. My family especially my mom was there for me 100 percent but it didn't matter. I was on a road to destruction. It wasn't untill July 31 or 2012 when I got arrested for my first time did I start to change. I spent some time in jail which was the greatest thing to happen in my life. I got to know me and know I didn't belong there. That I belonged with my son. Now im drug free. Its been 2 years and theres no more triggers. The memories of the people are still there but the urges to do it are gone. J can be beside someone getting high and I just leave because it discusts me. I got a great job now and me and my son are close. He trusts me now. And I love to be with him.

To all the people out there struggling. You can do it. You just have to let go of your fear to let things go. The things you know you just have to turn away from them. Explore. Experience new things. Find new friends. Get to know who you are. Who you want to be. Chase your dreams. Because anything is possible. The fear of leaving familiar things is what stops people from moving on but once you take that first step and find something good and stay focused everything else will just fall into place. It wont be easy but it not hard nor is it ever impossible. Even when you feel alone that's ok. Because all you need is you. You are the power

Cannons mark's picture

My experience

Hi all
After the unexpected death of my husband I was introduced to crack for " getting through it"
A best friend... Not so much. He is a functioning crack addict. I was hooked and we smoked crack every weekend to the tune of 700-1000$
Every weekend and on holidays when he was off work, as a teacher in Chicago there were many days off.
I was a mark... Financial means and a roof over his head. Prior to this introduction, I never used any types if drugs and drank very little. I used willingly for 2 years. When I realized I couldn't function like I used to, I quit. Literally cold. Turkey. I was tertibly sick for weeks. Depressed for months but never went back. No rehab no script drugs. Tears and pain. I told one person. I was/am embarrassed by the decision. I'm clean for 3 years. No desire at all for the shit.
He's still lying, using, drinking 5 bottles of whiskey in two weeks to help him come down. I kicked him out, moved and am living life again.
I'm proof people can stop. Some can not....that's a given.
Lost 20k to the drug, my sanity, my strength. I'm back now. Won't give it up ever again
Bless you all

Serendip Visitor's picture

Will the brain ever fully recover from crack cocaine?

I've been clean for about a month from infrequent crack use. I feel fine but I do still experience a craving here and there but I quote scriptures and I've been able to conquer each craving one at a time. So thats going to be my strategy here on out. but my question is will my brain ever be able to function at maximum capacity again?

Serendip Visitor's picture

Addiciton is a disease!!

Although choosing to pick up and use cocaine, knowing the drastic consequence that could be involved, it is a DISEASE. Just because someone make a choice does not mean it not a disease. If it was all about choices, then we wouldn't need places like Hazelton. Were do you get your employees. Calling a disease of the brain gives NO ONE a licensed use the it as an excuse! Ugh!! I am a first year Master's Student who knows this is true!!!! Get new employees or a new supervisor!! As Albert Einstein said, " The definition of insanity if doing the same thing over and over expecting diffrtrmy results." Sounds like a pretty screwed up brain "insanity", ugh!

Middle Aged Lady's picture

ex user

I remember the early 80's. Almost everyone used coke once in a while. I got into it heavy for about 6 months. Thankfully someone gave me a heads up that my use was out of control and I quit cold turkey. I had a bad week of withdrawals and cravings, then I was OK. I did have a few moments here and there when I wanted it, mostly when I was around people using, but I have never used again. I was lucky and I knew it.

This was the 80's and the thinking was that coke wasn't physically addictive only mentally. I knew it was physically addictive because I had horrid withdrawals. Of course I was called a liar, but I knew what was what.

I also smoked cigarettes. I have been on and off nicotine replacement therapy for many years, yet reverted to smoking several times. I finally decided to stay on the replacement for life. Health issues cause me to stop. I have been without nicotine replacement for about 3 months now. It's hard.

How to Relieve Stress's picture

Cocaine addiction

What scares me is that there are so many people addicted to cocaine that we do not know about, egs. celebrities, government officials.

My brother used it in the past but thankfully he got himself off of it. I had no idea he was doing it. He behaved perfectly normal.

I would always tend to the natural methods of helping an addict to get off of the drug and recover.

Good luck to all of you who are recovering.

Serendip Visitor's picture

this comment is for the

this comment is for the person that was talking about the mayor of Bridgeport and his cocaine use.
I have been a user for the last 10 years and currently 4 months clean.
I have held the same job for the last 10 years working for an engineering company, my friends I used with range from school teachers, Nuclear Operators, Project Managers and bankers.

Science Enthusiast's picture

How about applying thories of coc Addiction to smoking addictio

I read with great interest the research involved in the effects of cocaine on neurotransmitters and addiction. In studying dopamine, seratonin, etc. levels in smoke addicts, there is a distinct correlation. If any of you nuerologists or scienctists are reading this, I beg you to direct research to this area. There are far more smokers that can benefit by understanding and possibly using neurotransmitter supplements to alter brain chemistry; decrease addiction and level out the euphoria brought on by this deadly drug.

It worked for me but only with a great deal of academic reasearch and working with one of the foremost integrative MD's in the US at consiberable costs - this should be standard practice rather than drugs, nicorette or patches to quit smoking - which rarely work. PLEASE Help people change the brain & delete the addictions. And just think as neuroscience continues to develop, applied adjustments in neurotransmitters may help all addicts and probably those suffering with ADD & AFHD!

Serendip Visitor's picture

A Way Out

I have been a poly drug user sine I was 15. I tried cocaine for the first time, when i was 15. All through high school i used LSD, MDMA and smoked pot. Between then and now (30yrs old), I have used every drug imaginable except crack cocaine and heroin. My cocaine use really started up in college and before I knew it, the addiction began. The first year I used it maybe 2-4 times. The 2nd year about 10-15. By the 3rd year I was using almost every weekend on binge episodes for the duration of two years. My final year I realized I had a major problem. My friends were into mdma, and I decided to try it to substitute my cocaine use. It led to me using far less frequently, however binge episodes still took place. When I graduated college, I moved back home but fell into severe depression. I also developed sever anxiety and panic attacks. I found myself unable to get out of bed. When I did i would go into severe panic, to the extent that i would have to go to emergency. This continued for a year, in which time I would job hopp and scrounge off a meager living. I became devistated of what happened to my mental health. Most my friends found high level corporate jobs and I was working as a valet attendant. I had a more impressive degree than they and was known in school to have greater intellect than most. But my mood became so low no one would conider higher me within a prestigious company or position. At this point, I was abstinant from all hard drugs but continued to drink alchohol and smoke marijuana. I swore off cocaine and ecstasy, as I was sure they were the root cause of these problems. My depression did not light up (partly due to alchohol and marijuana; also due to unwillingness for solid therapy and recovery support); and seeing I couldnt surrender myself to full recovery, I chose continue a routine of job hopping, living off friends couches, and moving to different towns and places to change everything but myself. This eventually led to me living in Las Vegas, where my alchoholism grew 10 fold. I would still abstaint from other substances, but worked, gambled, and drank for a period of six months. After defeating myself, i moved back in with my parants and decided I would began "my version" of recovery. I saw a doctor and manipulated him to artificially remove my anxiety and panic with a pill. He did so and prescibed klonopin. This did the trick, as long as I was on it. Still abstinant from everything but alchohol, I made a come back within one year to where I was earning $70k a year, became a home owner, and finally a married one. At this time I decided "another dance with the beast" was due, so I began convincing my wife to steal pain killers from her mom, simultaneous with my old fashioned marijuana habit. Things went so so, for a while. Eventually, after months of igniting arguments with my wife, becoming emotionally abusive, being generally stressed, and experiencing the other "side effects" from my drug usage, my wife divorced me. I held it together for 2 years, but a combination of the mortgage meltdown, my company going bankrupt, and my drug / alchohol usage, I lost my home to foreclosure and went bankrupt. I went through two jobs in the next 6 months, losing both from indirect consequences of drugs / alchohol,and ending up at the point where I was practically homeless. I was utterly defeated in every respect imaginable.Friends would no longer want to talk to me. The ones that did became concerned over my mental state. I stood out majorly at parties and events, and eventually, just being in public it became apparent to people around me that I wasnt well. I moved back in with my parents, managed to get on unemployment payments, and continued my roll. But everywhere I went, I had such a depressed glare it became embarassing to be seen in public. I had no one left willing to hang out with me, and through efforts of my own, became acquainted with an old friend whom was dealing cocaine. I decided to hell with my life at that point, as I was so neive and delusioned from being intoxicated all the time, I could not understand the cause of my depression being from continued use in substances. I hung with this friend for 8 months, smoking pot all day, snorting cocaine, and watching him move up the ranks of a street dealer. He was picking up such large quantities at one point I knew we would be doing real time if and when we got busted. The people he was buying from were mid level gang dealers that made my heart skip beats just seeing. The fools were were selling to were ones I was jealous and envious of. White collar workers with jobs I felt I deserved more than them. To me, at that time, society had utterly betrayed me. I worked and had nothing. I was forced into this position as a consequence of greedy bankers, a messed up wife, poor healthcare, and on and on . . I didnt care, as to me nothing was my fault. It was not my doing that I was unemployable and broke. It was the banks faut. The employers fault. My ex wifes fault. My parents fault. But not mine. One night after doing several runs with him my friend looked at me. His teeth were starting to decay from years of use. I knew this guy when he was a teen. We were both 30 - and we knew we were probably going to die soon. I would talk to him about my planned suicide. That I wanted him to go with me. (consequence of cocaine abuse is suicidale idealogy) In reality, if we were lucky we would be in jail. He then told me he didnt want me to join him where he was headed. That he wanted me to recover. That my depression and sadness was taking a toll on him, and being I was the only college graduate from our group of lost souls (many of my friends were institutionalized, some were dead already, as we came from a group of heavy raves in the late 90's), I might have something to salvage. He was worried I would probably kill myself, and that while he wasnt done with his "guerilla dance"; he wanted me to be, at least with him. He dropped me off at my car, and that was the last I ever saw of him. I slept in my car for a few hours, called my mother while hysterically crying, asking her to pick me up, as I was too messed up to drive. My mother did so, and a day later I checked into rehab and fully surrendered myself to something else. I was officially done. I spilled the truth to my old doctor about my real history, my past, my usage, my friends dealing, everything!, whom gasped and immediately submitted me to intensive outpatient rehabilitation. I saw therapists and drug counselers every day for the next three months. I was suicidale all the time, and had police coming to my parents house checking on me, as the doctors would call them and request this. No one else in my rehab group was as determined as I to get really out. No one seemed to be really done. They thought i was dangerous and crazy. I cried every night, prayed all the time. I kept going to meetings and rehab. I first went to NA meetings, as the cocaine withdrawl had some heavy cravings. But the alchohol was even worse. I spent the next 3 months moving from NA to AA and doing step work everyday. Little by little by life has come back. I went through 3 jobs the first 6 months of my sobriety, as I was unemployable for a while, and would get let go just after a manager would take one look at the nightmare expression I had on my face. I didnt care. I stayed sober, I found other jobs. I got put on the right medication. I was off the klonopin, on higher anti-depressants. Eventually I got hired back into mortgage banking, with a boss that could tell something happened to me, but bless her, somehow understood that I was officially done. For the first time I understood about GOD. How God exists in other people, in all of us, and that we only need to adhere to his will instead of our own.I kep showing up, doing the best job I could. I adjusted my meds, worked out all the time. And never dared leave AA. I have been working for this company for one year now. I go to AA like its a religion. I slipped and drank once in the last year, as I couldnt fully understand how these steps work, and became miserable at times in (white knuckle sobriety). But I never gave up. I practiced the steps over and over. I delfated my ego, I looked at where I went wrong since I was toddler. Now I get them. Now I understand things about me that go way back to before my first drug. Why I took drugs, how I was selfish prior to taking them. Now I am happy. I am sober. I love my job. I love my family. I love AA-as they were the only ones whom would really understand where I was, and helped get better. The steps in AA are guiding force to having someones life become manageable to where you can and will work again, enjoy life, be sober, useful to others, and transform into a self sufficient and supporting person in society.

s's picture

A Way out

Thank you for sharing! I am very proud of you.. keep going

Serendip Visitor's picture

my experience with increasing cocaine quality: closer to OD.

I am brazilian, recently graduated as an engineer, about to graduate in the second engineering major by the end of the year, promising career, used cocaine recreationally for over 10 years and the past two have been mostly downhill. i am still able to work, study, etc. with no particular problems, and with "good enough" results (even though I could have accomplished so much more...), but during these past two years cocaine has been a part of my recreational life whenever possible, making friends who are addicted as well, or hanging out with old acquaintances who also love this disgusting, mind-altering and depressing habit. so, this is my climax, the reason why i am writing here (I can't sleep at all, reading sad but inspiring comments from so many cursed people such as myself): after being able to "score" better and better quality cocaine in the past 12 months, i got in touch with 5 grams of almost 100% pure cocaine (at least I believe it to be, nevertheless it's alarming how increasingly pure cocaine is becoming more and more accessible to the upper middle class, especially in emerging countries, as well as crack in the lower classes) and the past seven days were the worst in my whole life. I come from a decent but unstable family, with a former cocaine addict/lifelong alcoholic father and a "wholehearted but unable to deal with everything on her own" mother, especially due to my father's violent and promiscuous behavior in the past, and to my destructive self-indulgence.
now i really fear for my life, i could really have overdosed, and i see now i need help. cocaine is a delightfully potent poison, which causes extreme pleasure and excruciating pain all the time (there's never absolute pleasure, there hasn't ever been for me at least), and I had almost more than I could take. If you (whoever might be reading this) are a cocaine addict such as myself, then you know 5 grams is nothing, and this is why I feel so scared now. It was the most intense cocaine high I've ever felt, and... the little solid white shiny rock would never end..... and even though I knew of the risks and started feeling really uncomfortable, especially due to my family noticing I was absolutely out of myself (not violent, nothing like that: "just" visibly intoxicated and afraid of getting caught by my family, which actually made it even worse... do we ever stop to realize how much pain we inflict to the ones around us? impaired judgment or just gross selfishness?) I just stopped when it was over. Like a goddamned zombie, even though I could work, eat, sleep a little in the meantime. I've never actually craved, but i know 2-5 days from now it'll come for sure. No one gets high like i got with no consequences. I feel like I'm a monster. I'm gonna start psychological/psychiatric treatment right away and have urine exams done randomly whenever I'm asked to, so my family can help me deal with this once and for all. I feel hurt, guilty, desolated by my own compulsive stupidity and in need of getting out of this.
No one leaves the cocaine habit unharmed. I am paying my price for it and the longer I wait to face the pain of dealing with my addiction, the longer and further from being able to turn back I'll be. So, I will walk the path, knowing two things: It will be painful indeed (it's a cliché always worth riding), especially because I will have to accept the fact that I am an addict and therefore I need to be controlled, control which even being done by loved ones, really upsets and hurts my huge ego. And that, even though I am in so much pain, tampered by the necessity of moving on with life, I still feel lucky. I still feel it can be much worse, and I just have to keep on being negligent to all the damage I did to myself and to all the impending ruin which may befall, to see that worsening become my actual life real soon. I'd better take the opportunity of being happy once I lose it forever. And I feel my time is running out. Really hope this helps anyone at least as much as it helped myself, just by letting it all hang out. And my deepest feelings of hope, strength and faith in recovery and in starting over to everyone. Everyone should be entitled to a fresh start whenever they really want it from the bottom of their hearts. Peace.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I understand what you're going through completely.

Thanks for sharing; really appreciated your honesty and openess. Would love to know about your progress, if you ever decide to return to this page. I have a similar background and working through some of the same issues described above. Hence, your story resonated with me.

Serendip Sharon-MN's picture

Still Sober and Strong

I am so sorry we share the same story of addiction. My prayer is that we also share the same story of recovery. I am doing just great. My son is now 14 and entering high school in Honors Classes and on the school scooer team. I continue to coach his park and rec soccer team and am proud that he so far has made the choices to not get involved with drugs and alcohol. I would love to hear from you and chit chat if you would like. I am always open to sharing positive growth with others. You can follow up with me at

Have a great day,


Sharon-MN's picture

Beware Other Dangers In Cocaine

Contaminated Cocaine Can Cause Flesh to Rot and Cocaine Induced Neutropena

Report finds veterinary medicine in drug may cause death of white blood cells and outer layer of skin to die

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 1 (HealthDay News) -- Cocaine abusers -- already at risk for an abnormal heartbeat, blood pressure problems, hallucinations, convulsions and stroke -- can add another potential health complication to the list: rotting flesh.

"If you are a user of cocaine, you should be aware that some of the cocaine is not clean and can have other agents that can cause you to have a low white-cell count or skin tissue death," said Dr. Ghinwa Dumyati, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Rochester and an epidemiologist for the Monroe County Health Department in New York.

In a report in the June 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dumyati and doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center discuss two cases involving women with a history of cocaine use who came to the hospital for help when they noticed purplish plaques on their cheeks, earlobes, legs, thighs and buttocks.

Their profiles were typical of toxicity with levamisole, the doctors reported. The medication is a veterinary anti-worming agent, approved for use in cattle, sheep and pigs. It was once used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and kidney problems in humans, Dumyati said. It's no longer approved for use in people in the United States, she said, because of adverse side effects.

But it's often used to cut cocaine, before distribution to the user, she said. "Almost 80 percent of the cocaine coming into this country has levamisole mixed in," Dumyati said.

Exactly why is not known, she said. Some say it might enhance the effects of the drug, which include a euphoric mood or ''high" and a boost in energy. It also might be used to stretch the drug and increase profits.

"The person using cocaine would not know this [levamisole] is in it," Dumyati said.

In the new report, the doctors concluded, based on the women's symptoms, that cocaine laced with levamisole cannot only cause problems with white blood cells -- a problem previously reported -- but also death of the skin's outer layer. They said that physicians should suspect cocaine abuse when they see patients with skin lesions caused by tissue death.

"The drug may induce an immunological reaction producing inflammation or vasculitis, an inflammation inside the small blood vessels," Dumyati said in explaining the link to tissue death. "The result can be the death of the epidermis or outer layer of skin."

But that's not all that's bad about levamisole. "It has other side effects," she said. "It has effects on bone marrow function. There can be a drop in the white blood cell count."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in late 2009 on a cluster of cases of problems with white blood cell counts linked to cocaine use. Called agranulocytosis, the condition occurs when bone marrow fails to make enough white blood cells.

The report noted that levamisole was found in some of the people with agranulocytosis and cocaine exposure.

But the reports of tissue death associated with contaminated cocaine are newer, said Dr. Kurt Nolte, a pathology professor at the University of New Mexico and one of the authors of the CDC report. "Tissue death has been associated with levamisole in a clinical context," when the drug was used therapeutically, he said. "I've not seen any cocaine users with this."

But it's not a surprise, given the amount of cocaine that has been laced with the medication, said Dr. Juliet VanEenwyk, an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health, who also contributed information to the CDC report.

"The increase [in cocaine containing levamisole] has been really rapid," she said. Until a few years ago, she said, probably less than 10 percent of cocaine supplies had it. Now, experts suspect that 80 percent do.

Dumyati said that the skin problem is treatable, but "if you stop using cocaine, most of the cases would get better."

Agranulocytosis, on the other hand, is a serious illness that requires hospitalization for treatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more on cocaine.

SOURCES: Ghinwa Dumyati, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Rochester, and epidemiologist, Monroe County Department of Health, Rochester, N.Y.; Juliet VanEenwyk, Ph.D., state epidemiologist, Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Wash.; Kurt Nolte, M.D., professor, pathology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.; Dec. 18, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; June 1, 2010, Annals of Internal Medicine

Anonymous's picture


The above post notwithstanding, I wanted to say that it is engaging and refreshing to read respectful debate on this semantic issue. Disease is defined as "A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes". - If this is indeed the definition, and if continued use of a drug results in a permanent bio-chemical disorder in the brain, then we can safely conclude that addiction qualifies as a disease. Whether or not this condition is brought about by choice is irrelevant. it is the condition we are concerned with defining here, not its behavioural genesis. As the definition so clearly points out, the condition is pathological, and is attributable to various causes. Sounds like addiction to me.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Exactly. There are plenty of

Exactly. There are plenty of self-inflicted diseases, and their victims deserve empathy, compassion and proper treatment. 'You did this to yourself, therefore, you need to suffer the consequences' mentality is simply not productive. Our society, as well as medical and law enforcement communities need to have a better knowledge and understanding of drug addiction, so that the overall treatment methods could be improved. People who make questionable lifestyle choices about their nutrition, for example, get proper care and acceptance when they develop diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Instead of focusing on blaming the addict for being responsible for developing his or her addiction (the same way we could blame a person for ending up with lung cancer due to his or hers nicotine addiction), we need to concentrate on finding better ways to treat the disease itself, as well as search for more viable and sensible prevention methods.

Anonymous's picture

Addiction or desease

I can understand that it actually becomes a disease once addiction is set; however, unlike many diseases, it is one kind of disease that the addict initially invited in by choosing to take the substance in the first place before having the "addiction disease".

On the other hand, I can also understand that there are certain individuals that despite taking it once or twice in their lives they won't become addicts, therefore having made the same choices than an addict made at some stage, they don't develop the same disease. That suggests that there must be some sort of genetic or personal bio-physiological characteristic that gives a predisposition, which would support the disease theory since people can't control having or not this predisposition.

But still a first choice is there in the addiction process, and nowadays people know the facts. When you catch a cold, you really had no choice in any part of the process: You couldn't see the virus you picked up without realizing, and even if you take good care of yourself you can still catch it. So there I see a big difference between this kind of disease and the kind of disease addiction is said to be.

Maybe we should first categorize diseases.

Dave Ebert's picture

disease concept of addiction

Professor E. Fuller Torrey wrote that "you cannot link the words "mental" and "disease" together except metaphorically, just as you cannot have a "wise space" or a "purple idea". You may have a brain "disease", but it must be a mental "disorder". That being said, this argument about addiction being a disease or "something else" is mostly semantic. Obviously, addiction is mainly a mental illness. The physical craving of addiction is over in days or weeks- it is the mental obsession, compulsion, innate craving which endures for years. Researchers have to rely somewhat on new definitions of existing words or invent entirely new language. Let's just go with "illness" or "disease" for now. Yes, it may be a semantic problem with old definitions, but we're in a new age. More and more research over the years prove that most addictions, and particularly cocaine addiction, cause specific brain alterations which are physical in nature, regardless of whether you exercise the spurious argument that addiction was "voluntary" because you took the drug yourself. Billions of people drink alcohol without the expectation of addiction, and yet 10% or so still become addicted. People get botulism poisoning by eating canned food- therefore it is self inflicted. Should we refuse to treat botulism victims? How about if they got the illness through botox injections? Addiction is an illness of sorts, and we must continue to seek medications and therapies to help. 12 step programs have a great success rate, especially when accompanied by professional help and medication. The main problem is controlling relapse- the 12 step programs are free, ongoing relapse prevention group therapy- financially free and omnipresent.

Anonymous's picture

(reply; person who replied to "i wrote about my experience"

thanx 4 reading about my experiences in both my life story,s. your so right, he will relaps,the girl he,s with now is his ex, she was with him a long time b4 me but she wont have it that he took coke 4 many years. i met him over 5 yrs ago & he took it then, we were just friends then, he took it just 4 recreational use then but got badly addicted a year ago. she doesnt take it but u r right in saying she is a better enabler coz he took it when he was with her years ago but she claims he didnt. she still thinks he doesnt but i know he has been while he,s been back with her coz i can tell even by a txt from him. when he,s on it he rings me but i dont answer. i get angry that he,s getting on with his life with her happily while im left to pick up the pieces but im sure in time she,l be the one who,s picking up the pieces of a shattered life. she just doesnt know anything about addiction & thinks that because he,s with her & she,s warned him that if he takes it ever again she,s leaving. she thinks thats enough to stop him. he,s been taking it up until xmas that i know of. i think she must know but she doesnt want to look a fool losing her home for the 3rd time. im lucky. i own my house & no one will ever make me homeless. i dont think he,s had any 4 the last 2 weeks but that wont last. she,l suffer like i did even though he never done anything bad 2 me its still not a good relationship 2 be in & its not normal. my daughter cried 4 him on new years eve. that broke my heart but he,s emotionally detached as well as having apathy towards us. he,s normally a very caring person. i cant see him changing. like you i think about him all the time & i live in hope that one day he,l come to his senses & think "what have i done " but im not sure an addicts brain ever returns to normal & he,s always gona be "at risk" he,s 39 years old. his mates all take it so he has little chance coming off it. i know he,l try to come back at some point but i want to be strong enough to say no. iv worked hard 4 what iv got & i wont lose it for him. the days are long but are getting better. il look back on this one day & think "what was i thinking" addiction is a life long battle. its not a desease. a desease is something that invades us involuntry, coke addiction or any addiction is self inflicted. anyone with common sense knows its addictive & dangerous.your also right in saying we will meet someone who will treat us with respect. il just be very wary of everyone. im so glad you replied to my post because i dont talk about it to anyone i know because i feel a bit stupid for putting up with it. people who know me think im a strong person but he ground me down bit by bit without me knowing. i wish you well in your future & anyone else going through this. its a comfort to know im not the only person going through it even though it feels like it. he has a lot of baggage, if we had to carry what we want would we still want it?

Anonymous's picture

To "I wrote about my

To "I wrote about my experience" I just read both your posts and I can't believe how so many things you said is what happened to me. I kicked my ex out back in July and its now Dec. and I STILL YET everyday think about him. I can't stop obssessing over him and wonder how he is doing right now, I haven't heard anything from him since he left here. We have previously split up and got back together so many times and I guess he just gave up on us, which is ok as now he is not manipulating me anymore and I don't have to deal with anymore relapses. That part is gone and I feel better about that but I still can't stop thinking about him. I am always hoping he shows up on my doorstep as a recovering addict and alcoholic. I know its just a fantasy of mine.

You have to get to the point that he WILL relapse. It happens all the time, there is such a low success rate. With my ex having dual addictions i know the chances of him fully recovering both addictions is extremely low. He has been at this for many years and still at it.He is 42 yrs old. Most likely the new girl is an addict as well or maybe she is a better enabler ...for now. Their relationship won't last. If he seemed VERY happy with you and told you he loved you so etc... Chances are he is will do the same thing to her and the next and the next. They are just buying time and looking for anyone to support thier habit. Even if you didn't physically give him money for drugs, you support him by paying all the bills, keeping a roof over thier head, groceries, laundry and all living related things. This way someone is taking care of them when they don't want the responsiblites of taking care of themselves. I have heard of so many addict men are like this, they always MOVE IN with a woman who has her feet planted and stability, or the woman is an addict themselves and they can help them get thier drugs.

My ex was always afraid of living by himself and has told me this. It is because he failed everytime he tried. I will not support an addict and refuse to be used. It's hard to swallow the fact that he USED me. I have too much self- respect to allow that. I can't wait to the day I wake up and not think about him. I also hope that one day I will find someone who treats me with love and respect and live a happy life. I have to focus on that to keep me going.

You have done right so don't ever regret your decision! You showed yourself self-respect. You are a good loving human being and you don't deserve to be used and abused by an addict. I said the same thing that I could'nt believe I was in a relationship with an alcoholic much less a coke addict. What the hell was I thinking??

Keep going your doing great. Just keep moving forward and maybe both of us will be on a better path before too long.

Tina Yurner's picture

I'm Hurting As I Write!

I logged on this site to see about the longterm affects that crack cocaine has, also to see if there was a cure. But I saw so many women that has or is still going through the pain that I am expirencing right now! After being with my husband for 10 years, we finally married. He was incarserated at the time, when he was released he began his same activity all over again. I was so hurt, but he showned no compassion toward me what so ever. He was sentenced to prison for a previous charge in Sept 07. We corresponded throughout his incarseration, he convinced me that he would never go back to that lifestyle. Well he has after being released from the halfway house only a week, he was back,he has lost his job & continuely goes on weekly binges until I finally told him that I will not support him anymore, while he goes out there & alters his mind,(he's paranoid) & detroys his body. I am sitting at this computer right now with a broken heart, because I believe that he is layed up in a run down motel with a lady or ladies that like to indudge in the same activity for days at a time like hisself, which brings a very strong sense of jealousy. I am very torn on going to get him from this environment(I always know where he's at) & leading on my faith to get me through this. I waited for this man for two years & I wanted desperately for this marriage to work. But I have decided to put my faith in the Lord!!!! I have no control over this man, so therefore I will continue to pray for his safekeeping & for God to please take the cravings from this drug away from him. But it is comforting to see that I am not along in my despair & that their are others out there hurting too>>>>>>>>>>>>... Pray without ceasing!

sharon's picture

I would like to speak to you

dear woman,

my name is sharon, I read your words just recently and i feel your heart. I just found out that my fiance is an addict. I left him without telling him why. I got scared from this.

its been two months since it happened . our marrige was cancelled and all of our plans. now im pregnant 5 months. i miss him like crazy and want him to be close to me. my ex is what called functional body knows about that and im dying to talk to someone who understands and share this experence.

please contact me, i would love to share, to talk and learn more... my email is
thnk you sharon

Serendip Visitor's picture


I strongly advise you to take care of yourself and your child by NOT letting this man back into your life!
I dated a man who had a bad cocaine habit. I was truly unaware of the grip this drug had on him and I was deeply hurt and exhausted by this relationship. I am sure that you would like your baby to have a good daddy - but unfortunately it is probably not him. If it was so bad that you kicked him out, do not imagine that the birth of his child will make him change.
Unless he goes to rehab, counseling, gets medical treatment, holds a steady job, stays away from his old friends completely and opens up a savings account in your child's name - believe me - he is still using and will make your life and the life of your child a living hell.
Take care if yourself and your child.
In time you will see what type of man he really is. Most cocaine users are very proficient liars and though they may have a sweet side, their main goal is to make sure their drug use continues without interruption.
Do not let this man interfere with the well being of your innocent child. Take care if the child yourself and with whatever family and friends can assist you. I assure you your cocaine using boyfriend will not rise to the occasion, unless he does ALL the things I stated above. And then I would only allow supervised visits. See what he DOES, not what he SAYS.
Good luck to you and your child.

Sharon-MN's picture

You Can Contact Me

Dear Sharon,

You can contact me privately at sharon @ brightondesign dot net. Feel free to contact me. I would be happy to talk with you and share more if you would like.

I am still sober but sadly my sons father who I spoke of is dying from neutropenia, aquired from smoking crack cut with levamisole - a veterinary anti-worming agent, approved for use in cattle, sheep and pigs.. I guess from speaking with his doctors when he was hospitalized for 3 weeks; this is becoming more and more common. Very sad, but I guess the saying that there are no old addicts is true. They DIE from their addiciton and sometimes they have no choice but to suffer the consquences in the end. Even though they want to finally sober up it is to late. I am so grateful that I got out with my soul and my life.


Anonymous's picture

i wrote about my experience

i wrote about my experience with cocaine on 5.10.08 COCAINE AFFECTS. well its been two months since i sent it and even though my ex no longer uses cocaine im left with my life shattered. He did contact me not long after i sent in my story askin if im ok. i was so pleased. We sent each other text often after that and even got to txt a few nice txts to each other. We both still kept our distance, especially me, i didnt want to go through anymore hurt. He would txt to see if he could come to see me but i knew it was just for sex and i was to fragile to be used for that so i refused. We continued to txt and he bumped into a few members of my family, he would txt to say it made him feel sad, thats the first sign of emotion he had since stopping the coke. I was relieved that he was finally on the mend. On the last txt i recieved from him just over a week ago he told me he regrets what he put me through. We didnt txt for a few days and i didnt want to push him but got a bit worried after i sent a txt and he seemed a bit cold with me. I told my friend and she said just a few days earlier she was old he,d moved his ex back in with him but she was worried about telling me so she put it off. i txt him straight away upset that after over three years with me he,d gone back to her. He wouldnt reply, i found her number and phoned to ask if it was true, she said she,d been back with him a since we split up, i told her about him txting me but she called me a liar, she said he used me for somewhere to take his drugs and for my money which is untrue because i never funded his habit. he gave me alot of money to refurbish my house because we both intended selling both our homes to buy a place together. he owned his own company and i was never short of money. he also had his own place so he didnt need to use my house, i was really upset by what he,d told her, she also said he used to be a nice lad untill he met me, she said i let him take the cocaine so its my fault he was in this mess. i hated him taking it, i never consented to it, he just kept promising he,d stop and i believed him. im devastated that he blames me for it. now he wont have anything to do with me because he,s convinced if i hadnt let him then he,d be ok. iv never touched it myself. i cant eat or sleep, im taking each hour as it comes because each day is too long and the nights are even longer. I have to go to work every day with a smile on my face and in front of my children, little do they know the pain im in. why has he turned on me? i know he,s gone back to her because he was desperate for normality and he thought he,d get it with her, he,s back to where it all started, he was unhappy with her so took it regular to be able to face life with her but with me i think it reminds him of when he got hooked. I know he loves me and i know he doesnt love her but he told me in a phone call before i found out he was back with her that he had to be selfish for his own health even if it meant loosing me, he said he had to put himself first which i totally agree but he has had no thought for me at all, he knows him going back to her would break my heart, iv been through so much with him, she hasnt. i dont know how im gong to get through xmas. i cry when my children go to bed. he refuses to speak to me. He,s not the same person i fell for, he,d never leave me so upset normally. how do i move on, i cant get him out of my mind, iv tried to ring a drug line to see if they could explain why he was behavihg like he was but they told me i needed a relationship councellor and they couldnt help me, it took me long enough to pluck up the courage to ring them so i couldnt ask anyone else for help. i dont know if i want to be at work or at home, where ever i go i dont want to be there, i have so many reminders. my family dont know what to do with me because its the first time theyve seen any emotion from me. i thought love and tears where something only other people experience, iv been almost emotionless since a child, iv never been loving and couldnt shed a tear for anything untill i met him, he taught me how to love and to accept love, iv had no reason for being so cold, i had a brilliant childhood and was loved by my parents and brothers and sisters, iv just never liked to be cuddled untill i met him, i miss his love and his cuddles. am i the cause of this, why didnt i put my foot downand stop so angry with myself. people think im coping because i pretend im ok, i still take care with my appearance, iv been inundated with male friends trying to contact me since i announced my split. iv even been asked out by a 26yr old and a 28yr old, im 44 years old but have a young out look on life and i love fashion. iv a good job a car and my own house but it means nothing wiyhout him. why am i feeling like this, im a very strong person and normally fiercely independent. why do i want and love a cocaine addict, life goes on, i must pick up the pieces of my shattered life for my kids sake.

Marcus Taylor's picture

He wouldn't have stopped

My ex girlfriend became so arrogant and aggressive when she started using cocaine again. She promised me that it was all in the past when we got together. She had no money or job so I guess she got clean as a result. 9 months later she was using heavily to the point she didn't even try to hide it anymore. She was back working as an events manager in the London club scene with plenty of money and it was readily available.
As far as I know she's even dealing it to our friends in the small town where we lived at the weekends.
As soon as I didn't fit in she dumped me in the most humiliating way she could with no emotion and blamed me for numerous things that weren't even true.
As I cried on her parents driveway she said "how can I go out with someone as sad and pathetic as you?" Then her dad came out and gave me grief, he blames me for money that was stolen from his bank account which I know she took.
Anyway she was right, I was sad and pathetic to waste my tears on someone that is clearly so empty and flawed not to mention that her body is in pretty bad shape after all the years of losing and putting weight on rapidly.
I don't believe she was ever going to give up, I was just a fill in until she had the money to use again.
Anyone that is sad enough to throw their life away for so little deserves what they get, I don't need to try and get revenge, the drugs will do it for me. I know she lost her previous job through stealing from her old club to fund her habit, as sure as she changed her attitude towards me she will do the same again. She is 34 years old and was even in hospital earlier in the year because of pancreas problems caused by years of shit gear so she probably won't live that long.
As the Bible says "fools always return to their folly",and "let the dead bury the dead".
Next time a woman mentions a previous addiction I'll walk straight away.

Jennie's picture

It would seem that all

It would seem that all humans are capable of becoming addicted. You could choose any person; give them an addictive drug for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, take it away. They will go through withdrawals; biologically that’s how it works. At that point, they will do anything to get the drug back. Therefore, I believe that addiction is both biological and a choice, because you choose to take the drug for two weeks (as stated above). However, after those two weeks, it becomes biological because the brain and body demands it. When you completely remove the drug, and go through rehab, the excuses should stop. The drug is out of your system, and you have been given tools to deal with your problem, if you use again….it is your choice.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Is it really my choice though

Is it really my choice though if my brain will not stop screaming for it

susana's picture


I read with intrest Jon Meadows story with his and his freind addiction which seemed way out of control,I too seemed to relate to this story.
I would love to no if Jon and his freind have been a success story and give hope to others.

Anonymous's picture

cocaine affects

iv been with my boyfriend 4 over 3 years. we were so close and iv never been so in love or felt so loved. he was the nicest kindest person iv ever met. both my children adore him. we,v been thru alot 2gether but always came out the other side even stronger, a year ago this month we had a crisis that i thought we,d never get through but we both loved each other 2 much 2 part so we worked the problem out and were happier than ever with big plans 4 our future. we got engaged and planned 2 marry. at the time of our crisis he started using cocaine by the day. he previously used it 4 social occasions even b4 we met. at first he said he needed it because he was stressed and it chilled him but after a week of use i told him no more drugs, every night was the same excuse, just 1 more night. he wasnt aggresive and never raised his voice, he helped around the house and was more confident when he had it. i ended up turning a blind eye 2 it because if i mentioned it then id have 2 have a go at him through taking it, if i didnt have a go then i felt i was just as guilty as him 4 letting him so i only mentioned it now and then. things got worse and he would only leave the house when he went 2 work, he would sit in the bedroom every night drinking and snorting his coke. he became very withdrawn and depressed. he didnt like visitors incase they found out his secret. i was feeling very low and felt like walking away many times but i loved him 2 much 2 leave him. i thought he,d fall apart without me. things got bad till he couldnt take anymore. i scanned the internet tried alsorts 2 help even sat outside in my car while he got hypnotised once a week, it didnt help so i phoned a few help lines and finally got him help with a therapist, he decided 2 move back 2 his own house so my children wouldnt suffer. i also invoved his sister with his permission so the full burden wasnt on me. a week later he met his therapist and stopped using there and then. he txt me after 2 days saying our relationship was over and he had no feelings 4 me. i was devastated. he was so loving and loved me so much. i couldnt understand why. he then said i was the reason he took it because he was never really happy with me, i couldnt believe what he was saying, i tried talking 2 him but he started getting very abusive and saying things that were so out of character. he wouldnt have hurt me 4 nothing or so i thought. his family have cut me off and im so depressed. he refuses 2 have any contact and im left feeling so isolated. i have no close friends because i stupidly cut them off so they wouldnt visit. they,re all in steady relationships aswell so they wont bother anyway. im 2 ashamed 2 tell my family and they all have thier own lives anyway. my oldest child has gone 2 australia after graduatig from uni and im trying 2 keep things normal 4 my 11 yer old. its so hard. i got antidepressents from my doctor 4 the first time in my life, im normally a very strong stable person but i cant get 2 grips with this. i miss him so much. 4 anyone out there who,s on the verge of using drugs you must consider the damage not just 2 yourself but 4 those who love you. its destroyed me but i have 2 stay strong 4 my children.

Serendip Visitor's picture

His problem not yours

I can feel the heartache in your comments. Users can be a very cagey lot. You are lucky to be rid of him. I was involved with a user and put so much energy into that relationship I was devastated when he left. Many of my former acquaintances turned on me as well. He made up all types of reasons I was unworthy and so on. They were not true then and are not true now. A user can seriously erode your self esteem.
In the future you will look back on this and wonder how you could have been so taken in.
Never mind. Next time you meet any type of user -RUN AWAY!
You are lucky you have 2 good kids and very lucky that you did not marry him. He would have destroyed you.
Forget about his family. The more time that passes you will probably see more clearly that you were in an impossible position. Perhaps you will speak with others who have been there as well.
I have always been a trusting and honest person. My relationship with my user ex left me shaken and isolated as well so I can relate to how you feel. It as if a robber came into my life and stole something from me.
So - good riddance. He would have taken even more. That is the behavior that most drug users exhibit - that is why they are called "users". They use and manipulate the people around them too. He will find his own tribe. Don't go back. He has betrayed you and he is not trustworthy.
Good luck to you and your kids. I hope you can find a decent trustworthy man in the future. For myself I have found the experience very draining. I am happy to see forums like this where others share their experiences. It gives me hope and strength. You and I are not alone. As far as I can tell, the only thing I did "wrong" was that I did not know what my partner was really all about - I thought he was a trustworthy man but he was not.

tc's picture

broken heart

I sit here at 5 am so confused and hating cocaine. My world has been turned upside down and inside out because of coke and the behaviors related to using it. I have loved a closet cokehead for 8 years. We have created a family and life together. We have a daughter together and he has been a father figure for my other daughter (her father my husband died when she was 22 mo).

For the first 6 yrs I never even knew he used, it wasn't until a random woman in town told me. She was like, "didn't you know he used coke, him and his bros are known for that". Not to make excuses, but I was a busy mama and spec. ed teacher who worked long hours. I just thought he was having a bad day,drunk or jus being mean. After that day, I started to look closer at things. I started to find small and medium baggies, broken pens and tin foil. That is when I bought drug test for him to take. Boy did he explode at me. To this day, I have never seen him do it, I couldn't tell you where to get it, how much it costs or how they sell it. What I do know, he makes me cry, accuses me of being crazy and keeps my family at a constant confusion. I would think it is relationship issues and pray for relief. However, the crazy making was him trying to get coke, use coke, of cover up his use. After I found out his coke things got worse. I found out All of his 4 bros use, his dad uses, his friends use. I call it the circle of doom.

Two years ago I put him out because I could not take the choas any longer nor did I want my daughters to inherit or recreate a life like that. He begged and begged to come back. I let him back pending he passed drug tests and we had to go to church together. It worked for a while. Then it started again. I recongized the weird ways, heavy drinking, lieing, paranoia that I was having an affair, hatful about sharing any of his money, sleep walkin and peeing in corners,lazyness, abusive language, punching hole in wall, kicking and knocking down stuff and a wierd smell about him. That is when I bought coke test. He exploded again. I have not let him back because he wont to change he says one thing and does something else. He doesn't view it as a problem and refuses help. He wants us but wants his drug too. However, he never ever admits he wants or needs the drug. I have noticed that he make excuses or starts a fight to be around the people who use it and totally dumps us.

Now, 90 % of his family has turned on us. His father called me and cuzzed me, told me not to call him, his wife, nor go to their house. They call me "la policia", liar, bitch and many other things. They say I am making a big deal out nothing. I say, "they aren't in my house living with the ups and downs" One minute he is crying next minute he is yelling, punching,lieing, paranoid and more. I am so heartbroken. How can he choose that life over us? Our family is beautiful, I work hard and make a decent living, I am clean woman, I cook good, kids get good grades, I am getting good grades in gradute school, I speak three languages, we go to church, on and on. He blames me for the break up. It is like he wants us to lie down and take it like dogs; keep living in the chaos. I miss him I want a healthy family. I don't want another husband or new father. I just want him to get better so we all can.

I have began seeing a counselor to help me. The girls and I begin group counseling on the 30th this month. I figure we need help too. I am contemplating moving away to keep from falling for his lies.

Thanks for listening...I have so much to say and can keep going

Serendip Visitor's picture

I hear you too. Same comment

I hear you too. Same comment to make. I had a "secret user" boyfriend. I became disgusted with it, especially since I asked him point blank about it and he said "been there, done that". He lied about it and I became involved in the relationship under false pretenses. I have been around the block once or twice and am not interested in that lifestyle. The ending was pretty much the same thing. Every thing was my fault, I was making a mountain out of a molehill, etc.
This is so common it is unbelievable. I am sorry you went through this. You are right to choose a clean life for yourself and your children. Learn from this experience. Maybe hindsight you will see there are some signs you may have missed. So what if everyone else is "doing it". If it is not for you, then just get out of the relationship and take your kids away from it too.
It is very typical for heavy users to become enraged when their "secret" is discovered and to start finding all sorts if shortcomings in their partners. You are lucky you go to church each week. I am sure that gives you a strong spiritual base of strength. Just get away from him. You were meant to be happy, not living with a distrustful adversarial man. It is not healthy for you. Difficult as it may seem - WALK AWAY.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Some help...

Hey I read your message coming onto here randomly, I wanted to give you some information on what is really going on with the person who you love. Addiction is something that in cases like this, needs professional help. Your man is not only doing cocaine-but if you are finding tinfoil and broken pens-that means he is freebasing the cocaine. Freebasing is using the crack form of cocaine by burning it on foil and inhaling the fumes, it has the exact same effect and level of dependence as SMOKING CRACK. Now the reason I point this out is because using cocaine is highly addictive, but in it's powder form, when snorted (although terribly addictive and having bad-long term repercussions) it is nowhere NEAR as bad as the effects of smoking it in FREEBASE form-which is smoking crack. Smoking Crack cocaine is terribly addictive, and once using in this form takes total control of a person's soul. This is why they say crack kills, because it kills relationships, it ages you rapidly, it eats away at you physically, it becomes the only thing you think about day in day out-you will do anything for it, you will constantly chase it, you will sell your children for it---because when you do not have it in your system and you need it, you go through physical withdrawal and anger until you are able to relieve the pain of not having becomes a constant fight and it will not get better for him unless he goes to Rehab or a drug detox centre. Now that crack is in his system, it cannot be solved by counselling he needs to get professional help. Not that it is impossible to quit cold turkey, but it takes a very strong-willed person to do so. By the sounds of it, he cares more for his addiction than for you-I am sure at one point he loved you very much, and perhaps he still does, but at this point he is not going to be a father or lover or anything positive for your girls unless he gets help. I have researched this as I lost a good childhood friend to heroin (we had lost touch for a couple of years) and I researched alot, I read articles, watched videos on youtube of heroin and crack addicts, and I am a 29 yr old educated woman with alot of "streetsmarts" so to speak. I grew up knowing that you can be a strong person, but the instant you try a drug like heroin or crack you are addicted, it's over, and you will definitely relapse, because once it is in your system-the brain switches-another hit, another hit, another hit...just to relieve the pain. And I sympathize with people who didn't make the right judgement call and are now doing anything to feed the sickness. The reason I wanted to message you is because I truly want you to know that you are better off without him and his family until he makes the change for himself, you have done all you can to try and help, it is out of your hands now, and it is going to hurt and you have to be strong, but God doesn't give you anything you cannot handle, and you will be okay sweetie. I just wanted you to know...I know alot of people that recreationally snort coke-there is alot of that in the city-alot of it, it really hurts me...but although I do not judge them, I know for a fact that they are NOT stupid enough to Freebase cocaine-because although it is the lesser of 2 evils, it is different-because freebasing is crack and it is way more highly addictive. He needs professional help. And you need to get away from this negativity until he gets a hold on this, and whatever happens you are not responsible...I am just so sorry that you have to experience first-hand the effects of drug abuse. Hang in there and keep your head up, be strong for your girls, and enjoy your life, it is too short to waste on this sadness.

Serendip Visitor's picture

just hold your ground and

just hold your ground and keep praying and listening to God.

Sharon-MN's picture

25 years of Use - 10 Years Sobriety; Still deal w aftermath

I often wonder what my life would have been. There was verbal, physical and emotional abuse in my first memories. At 8 my friends mom would hug me, tell me I mattered and gave me pot and Heineken beer to drink. At 9 I started running away and was institutionalized and prescribed thorazine and haldol by 11. For my 12th birthday I was in my 12th institution, including chemical dependency treatment. When I was 15, I had a period of non-use when I lived in my foster home. My foster mom told me God had a purpose for me and everyday she told me she loved me. I often got in trouble but that was my behavior, not me. After I was sent home because I was doing so good I immediately fell back into partying. During the future years of high-school I was raped, had two abortions, was molested repeatedly by my older cousin and almost succeeded at suicide two times, both times the prognosis was I was going to die and I was quite happy with that. As I began dating I dated some really awesome guys who today are strong husbands, great fathers and strong Christians. The only problem back then was that they would not fight with me and makeup. I thought they really didn't care about me so I broke up with them. Of those 4 guys, any of them would have done anything within their power to make me happy. I did not know how to be happy, I never saw anyone in my family happy and I did not know how to accept love. One thing I learned during high school was that to be thin meant you could participate with the "good" people. My mom was a cheerleader and home coming queen, my dad was captain of the football team. My brother was in football, hockey, student council, and worked on the Junior Republicans with a Congressman who ended up being my neices God Father and friends with my brother for life even with a 20 year age difference. The only thing I really had control over was my weight and I began adding cocain, amphetamine, and even trying to drink enough to trigger ketosis in my body. Oh - forgot about the only eating on Fridays and when I screwed up I would totally scarf and then barf - known to us girls as scarfing and barfing. From this point forward I did not smoke pot and I drank to get drunk and always had boyfriends who were coke dealers. My early 20's would bring accidental drug induced overdoses, black outs, and looking great because I was so skinny. I went to college for graphics, drank and snorted my way through. I was again raped but this time it was by someone I knew. After college I ended up working in the music industry and at times between projects I was a stripper. This was the period where I started smoking crack. People knew I was a drunk but they did not realize the depth of my addiction. I was never able to obtain longer than 6 months to the day of sobriety. During this time I bought a house, 80% down. Outside of being a really weepy drunk and depressed all the time I did have money and lots of it. My brother was also a functioning alcoholic, president of his frat, working with politicians and consulting on the side.

Then the day that would tie me to my addiction forever. I brought this good looking guy home to get high with and he never left. I was looking for someone to fill the lonliness in my house, not someone I would have to deal with for life. A year and a half later I found out I was pregnant. "We" decided that I was going to keep the baby and for the first time in my life I checked into treatment. I ended up using 3 more times during my pregnancy, each time for 4-7 days. I remember taking a hit and feeling my baby squirming around in my belly and being revolted. I took huge hits that should have killed me and I became so paranoid that I truly thought people had button cameras and that the DEA was behind my mirror on my fireplace. I actually chipped out some of the bricks and broke the mirror. I have never loathed anyone to the extent I loathed myself feeling my son moving around in distress.

My son was born clean and without the Hepatitis C I contracted from my cousin who molested me. He died two years after my son was born. From that point forward I really tried staying straight because where a year earlier I was on the door step of death, now I had a human being who needed me to teach them how important they were and to teach them that even if you drink, smoke pot or try meth once you may be trapped for a life time.

My sons father and I did not stay together because he could not stay sober and I could not stay sober being around anyone who was going to use. The first year and a half everytime he "came back" I ended up using with him. I knew I would never find lifetime sobriety that I needed to give to my son. What he deserved. I finally went into a dual diagnosis program for my depression and addiction which lasted 6 months for me. The longest they had ever had and they had to shove me out the door I was so scared. There was a group of 8 of us whose insurance would not pay for aftercare so we made our own group. We met for 18 months. To date, 10 years later 5 of us are still sober and in contact with each other. Talking to the program director, this is also a statistical record. The first 2 years I often fell to my knees begging for God to carry the burden for me because I was so tired. Everything was a trigger for me: aluminum foil, rubbing alcohol, bic pens, plastic soda bottles. I knew to the second at what time of day how long it would take to get from such and such highway exit sign to get home and get that hit. I thought I would never grocery shop, drive to the city or drink a soda without wanting to get high again. I could have cared less about drinking, no bit loss - I was tired of hang overs and feeling linke shit. Even though I felt like shit I could not stop wanting crack. It was like being hit on the head with a cast iron frying pan. I could be having a conversation about a play I had seen or talking about the politics that China had given to the East back in 240 BC, yet 65% of my brain was consumed with thinking about getting high. Then there was the paranoia that took four years to go away. After it would get dark I was in pure terror to leave my room. I had to keep the baby in my room because if he would cry I could not leave my room to go get him.

As time has gone on I have lost the desire to smoke crack. I never knew what would happen if I was face to face with it again but found out last December. It was my sons birthday and the one thing he wanted was for his father to be there. He had come to visit a few times and it was going well. So the deal was my Mom, me and my son would pick him up after school; go see I AM; and then to dinner at Red Lobster. We got to the house and walked in. I could smell the crack and wanted to vomit. My sons father blew out a hit and ran out the back door and hid under he deck. His prostitute girlfriend was standing there telling me that he had gone to the store like we were blind or something and the quadrapaligic man who lives there was screaming at her to stop lying and apologizing to my son, mom and me. It was so crazy. My sons self esteem plummeted and he still says it is the worst birthday he ever had. We went to see the movie but could not get him to go out to dinner. He asks about seeing his dad and calls him and asks if he can stay straight for a day and come see him. The wounds of addiction never heal and leave wide the next generation to addiction.

Today I have been sober 9 years and 5 months. My brother will not let me have his daughters when he is in town from Washington DC. My father does not see me at all and neither of them have anything to do with my son because in their minds he is a "Crack Baby" and his dad is still an addict and I am not capable of being a mom because of my drug use a decade ago. I can count the times they together have done anything, like even visit with him on one hand. To my political brother he is an embarrassment and to my dad who abandoned our family, he goes with my brother because he is looking for his forgiveness. I have not seen or talked to either of them for over 9 months, having left my last message in April.

On the other hand my son is the light of my moms life. I am seeing a psychiatrist for bi-polar and boarder line personality disorder. I also see a therapist 2 x's a week. Since I sobered up I had gotten a job making 60K+. When I developed crippling Rhumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and Multiple Chemical Sensativity my life changed drastically again. I have beaten the Hep C with Interferon treatment and make the choice everyday to stay clean and yet more hurdles. This time though I do not deal with it through alcohol or drugs. There are times I want to escape being a single mom either for the moment or for good. Because of these fluctuations in my moods as my abilities become more limited I am now part of a DBT group which is targeted CBT. Last week I was diagnosed with pancreatitis, most likly brought on by my drinking for 20 years when I was younger and all the medications I take now. None of these were my choices and only 10% of alcoholics get pancreatitis, do you think I would have believed I could get so many diseases??? I never dreamed even at my worst moments of using that I would get high with a baby inside of me. Yet as my brain changed and the neurons warped I could not help myself. At that moment I probably had less choice than the diabetic with cake. That is why detox to start and being very far away from your source can be helpful in helping you step up that first stair out of hell. Their are also medical crutches to help. I took Naltrexon for one year and when I started taking it 5 months into my sobriety it helped so much. I may have made it sooner if this tool had been used previously.

There are many paths to sobriety. First though you have to be willing to take the risk and then when you do want to use you need to put it off until tomorrow and make the decision tomorrow. This worked for me and lots of praying. I decided that there could be a chance that there is a God and from what I had read in the Bible I am just the kind of person Jesus hung around and forgave. The hardest thing to do is forgive yourself, especially when others may never forgive you.

God Bless - You all have a choice, just like a diabetic has a choice to eat the piece of cake, you have the choice to pick up the rig, pipe or bill.

Serendip Visitor    Christine's picture

Very interesting/moving story

That was quite interesting reading your story. I wish you the best and really hope and pray that you will carry through with your plans to be clean and stay clean and that you make it. I think you are well on your way. You should write a book about your life, its sad but moving, and maybe you can help others. I have raised children who were born to parents who have addictions and simmiliar life story to yours, I still feel for these people and wish they would become clean for good but I can apprecite the immense and enormous struggle they have also. I feel so sad for the children who loose out on their parents due to the parents addictions...I am seeing it far too frequently in my neighbourhood.

Anonymous's picture

thankyou for your story. i

thankyou for your story. i have been using cocaine recreationally for a long time, i am 29 now and i have known for at least a few years that i am addicted. i manage to hold a job but use reguarly at least once a week and it affects me, i know i have changed since i started using and have now lost count of the amount of binges i have been on. most fridays i start by being with friends but always end up by myself snorting until midday the next day, until it runs out. depression always follows, i go through life on this vicuos cartwheel like a fucking lab rat.
i have had chest pains before and had several tests. my fitness obv is not at its best but the docs say im ok, i just have to stop using drugs. i last used 4 days ago.
i know i could survive if i stop using now, mqaybe i will never be the same becase of my experience, it scares me that i will not ever be happy as i would have been if i would have never snorted that first line.
my father is a life long alchoholic, a nice guy, but lost cause. he also has bipolar. i often feel lonely but seem to have a perfect life. i am english and live inb colombia, i have a penthouse pad, jeep and work in a rich school. but it is only a matter of time before i could end up dead or (im sorry to say it) like your ex who is a complete waste of a life.
thankyou for your story, i congratulate you on your courage, for today at least you have been an inspirayion. i pray that friday i will do no cocaine and ake each day as it comes.

Anonymous's picture

good for you ! You go girl!

good for you ! You go girl! Your story is a inspiration to everyone.

Anonymous's picture

What's a girl to do?

I just found out that my boyfriend uses cocaine. He says that he has it under control. He thinks that he can beat this addiction. I've been crying for him, because I care about him alot. Sad to say that after reading this site with the comments and all that he has really harmed himself by using this drug. I feel that there is nothing much that I can do. I want to know from a cocaine user, what do they expect from their spouse? Do they expect us to stick with them, especially when their desire for a woman is extremely vague? I am about to walk out and count this as a loss. Please, help me out someone.

Ric's picture

Boyfriend on Cocaine

No one has cocaine under their control. Any thought or statement to the contrary is complete and utter self-delusion and denial. What kind of relationship do you have with your boyfriend? If you are in it for the long haul and you intend to live with your partner forever it is time to make some tough choices.

If you are dealing with a casual relationship and starting to spend time together, you will most certainly not succeed. Cocaine is the devil's mistress, to put it mildly, and you have NO chance to survive together in a healthy relationship with your boyfriend and cocaine. Either walk away or choose to inform yourself thoroughly about addiction and surviving as the spouse/partner of an addict. You can research and attend al-anon meetings in your town and learn from other spouses of addicts.

I know many couples who have pursued sobriety (both as couples or as spouses of users) and succeeded in staying together and pursuing enormously productive lives.
Living and staying together with an addict is not and easy path, and it takes complete honesty, clarity, and enormous work. What true and worthwhile relationship doesn't? If you want to succeed as a couple, cocaine cannot be in your life, period. I strongly suggest you start by simply reading and informing yourself.

Anonymous's picture

Not everyone enjoys life.

Not everyone enjoys life. Not everyone's life is enjoyable.

RozNor's picture

No, life isn't for everyone.

No, life isn't for everyone. And those who exit life by their own hands are obviously suffering beyond all comprehension. I believe those who commit suicide aren't looking for death as much as they are just looking for peace. It's unfortunate that, for some, death really is the only way to stop their suffering.

Anonymous's picture

Can't you people just accept

Can't you people just accept the fact that a lot of addicts just simply do not want to live? Life is so incredibly painful and cocaine is the only thing that brings relief. It may be temporary and destructive, but...why would they care? It's good enough.

I know most of you can't understand how a human being despises living, and how they can choose to turn to the effects of cocaine. I was diagnosed with severe depression when I was barely a teen and put into a mental institution - and that did not help me at all, in fact, it made me worse. All my life I just did not want to live. I'm not going to kill myself, because I don't know how I would go about doing that, since I am extremely terrified of excruciating pain.

I have nothing except for cocaine, I love it. Sometimes I hope I get a heart attack when I feel those tight chest pains. I don't even bother calling an ambulance. But nothing ever happens to me. I have never overdosed.

It's also against my religion to commit suicide. Even though I don't have much never know what may happen after death.

I'm sick of all these theories and stereotypes of cocaine addicts. Not all of us do cocaine to gain more energy to work. We don't all spend a fortune on it - I get it for free. We don't all steal or whore ourselves. Its really pathetic to see the questions on cocaine addiction tests - I only answer YES to 1 or 2 of them.

I'm not a complete addict that has succumbed completely to the drug - although one time in my life, for a very short period of time(one week)I felt the urge of an addict. But I can't tolerate side effects for too long, so I just stop for long periods of time. I do it once a week because I have nervous breakdowns every weekend. And unfortunately I am currently experiencing high levels of stress due to some personal problems, so its the only thing that stops those tears from gushing out of my eyes and physically aching my heart.

And for those ignorant people who claim diabetes and cancer is obtained willingly due to carelessness - diabetes is genetic and so is cancer, you cannot always control it. My family has a history of diabetes and there may be a chance of myself being diagnosed in the future. However, I welcome cancer and any sort of disease that could end my misery. I hate breathing, I hate sleeping, being awake, eating, feeling hunger, extracting bodily fluids, walking, talking, touching and feeling.

I hate being alive. Don't get me wrong, if there was a really quick and easy way to end my life, I would be the first in line. But for now, I love my cocaine.

Marcus Taylor's picture

You love getting high

I've heard stuff along those lines from addicts before,it's a good excuse to get high, you know it's wrong to abuse yourself but it's all you have. Thanks for not wasting emergency services time so that those with a more fulfilling life don't lose out.

RozNor's picture

There’s only one word to

There’s only one word to describe that post: poignant.

I completely understand the deep resentment the severely depressed have for this mortal coil. I really, really do. But you know, within the sadness and pain of your words comes this incredible passion. I don’t hear that much passion in the words of people who aren’t suffering with depression and who generally enjoy life. Your words, to me, scream, "I may want out, but I’m gonna go out kicking and screaming". Many depressives never feel that and end up taking themselves out of the game.

I sincerely hope that you will find one tiny nugget of life that you can channel that passion into. You’d be a force to be reckoned with to be sure!

On the addiction side of your post, absolutely there are all sorts of reasons people use. Some abuse drugs. Some are dependent. Some are social users. Some use to self-medicate. Some use because they’re lacking coping skills. And on and on and on... And just because someone uses a drug does NOT automatically mean they are addicted, and so have some brain disease. There are social cocaine users who can take it or leave it. There are those who used crack for a couple of years and just said "that’s it." And they never picked up again. Rare cases, but true.

The theory stuff crops up when trying to explain that moment where compulsion meets action; why someone would continue to use even though they know they will pay serious consequences because of their using, or they continue to use even if they have already paid serious consequences for their using. And of course, using is a criminal act. This is what everyone is trying to figure out. What is it? What does it mean? Where does it come from? This doesn’t mean much to someone who has not yet reached the point where using has touched any aspect of their life in any negative way. And those people who are truly wanting recovery don’t necessarily care about this debate right off the bat. They just want help.

That’s really all that’s going on.

Lastly, your honesty about loving your drug...? Many addicts would never admit that, and instead hoodwink those closest to them into believing they HATE it and DON’T really want to do it. Your candor is quite refreshing :)

Bob H's picture

Thank you for a well

Thank you for a well researched and balanced article.
I would accept that cocaine addiction is disease like in many ways, but in all honesty, it is not a disease. And it is not a weakness. It would be best classified as a disorder.

To many addicts allow the disease theory to be their free ticket...I have a friend who even attends NA, and it is a joke, as afterwards she and several fellow memebers of the group go out and party again. In short, they embrace the idea of disease because it means no responsibility for their indulgence.

You can blame a number of things for what makes a coke addict, and I truly doubt the addicts themselves can answer the why. But I do know that a disease is something you fight. Its something you try every means to kill off because you know its going to kill you. Its something that has a specific cause and specific effect. And while addiction is almost relatable to some of these things, it fails to qualify for all of them in most addicts.

So what do you do to save an addict? I have been trying to answer that question for years because someone I love is a hardcore addict. And I would sel my soul to save her. But no matter how hard I try, in the end, its the addiction that will win. And when I look at the situation fairly, the matter is addict needs to want to quit. They need to fight. And unless they are willing to do that, its pointless to try. I can respect someone who fights the best they can and looses. Thats part of life. But to give in and just say I am powerless over my addiction, so I have to indulge it...thats the same rational used by serial killers last time I checked. At what point do you go beyond the bs of semantics? At what point do you stop hoping? Saddly, questions like this maybe never be answered.

Ric's picture

Addicts and serial killers???

What are you really saying? cocaine is a disease, its not a weakness, but in your opinion maybe a "disorder?"
Inform yourself. Educate yourself about this complex subject: Start by reading about addiction, behavior, and perhaps study the particular substance you want to understand.
The assumption that users somehow justify the "disease theory" to get a free ticket, is just mind-boggling. Addicts don't want to be addicted. They don't want the pain, they don't want the disease and despair, the loss of family and friends, the loss of money and ultimately the loss of their own life. Are you nuts?
Understand that the addict will do ANYTHING to use, even go to meetings under the pretext of fellowship to be around other users who may still be using. Sound convoluted? It's far worse than you know.

You're right- addiction is a disease you fight every day, one day at a time. You fight it with many different approaches and resources. You fight it in fellowship, in the hospital, in therapy and counseling, in prayer, in gratitude for what you have and others don't; you fight it in shame, fear, and helplessness when you are out of control and can't stop. "Most addicts," as you refer to them, are your fellow human beings, just like yourself, full of shortcomings and virtues.

I have yet to meet the recovering addict who has said "I am powerless over my addiction". On the contrary, every addict that has fought back, restarting many times over, has ultimately triumphed. This is a gargantuan effort, and it takes more for some folks than just wanting to quit using. It takes interventions, aggressive involvement from family and friends, professional help and a sustained commitment to staying sober for the rest of one's life. And this is just the beginning.

Last time I checked serial killers and addicts have absolutely nothing in common.
You say you want to save and addict? try saving yourself. Love yourself, friend. Embrace compassion, kindness and love in your heart and you may have a chance to understand the enormous frailty of the human heart.