A Lesson on Crack

Dear Readers,
There is such stigma and misinformation about crack. Crack is cocaine. Cocaine is a naturally derived substance from the cacao leaf. It can be chewed or snorted- inhaled through the nose. Crack is cocaine that is heated with water and baking soda. This process eliminates the hydrochloride, which is salt. The only chemical difference between crack and cocaine is salt.
Ah, but this is the key factor, removal of the salt from cocaine makes it injectable and smokeable. Smokeable cocaine hits the lungs and brain in 20 seconds. The intense high lasts 5-10 minutes. If you inhaled the same amount of cocaine it might take up to 5 minutes to feel the effect and the high could last for 30 minutes. If one injected crack it would take about 1 minute to take effect. The injected crack high could last 20 minutes.
Therefore the means of ingestion and the length of the high would mean that the crack smoker would in an hour need to use at least 6x the amount of cocaine as the person who inhales cocaine. This is why crack is so addictive and in the end is more costly that inhaling cocaine.
As for the stigma associated with crack it was created by the media. No, I don’t mean the media lied, but it was easier to talk about the effects of crack on members of communities where there was high unemployment, poor housing and schools and poor health care. Add to that lead and whole communities without access to full-sixe grocery stories. Yes, it was easier to report on crack use in the black community. However, here’s another set of numbers: A recent survey indicated that by admitted users of crack 52% were white, 38% were black, 10% were Hispanic. Surprising? But numbers can be deceptive. Yes, over half of admitted users were white- reflecting the majority of America’s population. That 38% black is staggering. Black Americans make up less than 15% of the American population, yet almost 40% of the admitted crack users were black. These numbers do not refect the cost in human degradation and loss.  Nor do they reflect the previously mentioned economic and social conditions that spawned the crack epidemic in the black community and which still exist today. (That’s a subject left for another day another blogger.)
Crack is deadly and cheap and still available – today.
The Addict Writes

Its the Intense Sexual Pleasure that keeps you Hooked.

Dear Readers,

Sex on crack is intense and it is one of the reasons the drug is hard to quit and why many relapse.  Crack on the brain makes you feel beautiful and powerful and smart and sexy. Suddenly you and everyone around you seems so charming and enticing everything seems so bright. Take another puff and you are a sex goddess who can have uninhibited  sex for hours- as long as you keep hitting the crack pipe. But once the crack is gone, the ugly reappears. Your hair is stringy and dirty and the man you spent hours doing obscene things with is pasty and white and has a pot belly even though he’s rail thin. You hate him and you hate yourself. This regularly occurring “crash” might or should be enough to.make you quit, but then you remember the intense pleasure, how beautiful you felt and you and whomever you are with scheme to get more crack.
Who can you hit up for money? What can you sell to buy more crack and when there’s nothing else to sell you steal or sell yourself to buy crack. The crashes feel worse and worse and you cant stand feeling that way, you cant stand the way you look and the brain not so gently reminds you how good you felt just a short time ago. Get some more crack. Its not worth it to feel so bad and feel so bad about yourself. And because the part of the brain that causes you to make good healthy choices will now (because of the drug) tell you the most important thing on your to do list is get more crack by any means required.
Ones future therefore becomes very predictable you get crack and die using or end up in jail where its possible to get anything, but the costs gets a lot higher.
Don’t start. Never take that first hit or you will chase that high until it kills you or the circumstances prevent you from getting it. Either way the end is not happy.
Less than 3 percent of those who use crack recover. The Grip of crack is deadly while at the same time alluring you into a schackled life of delusion.
The Addict Writes

Embracing the Ugly in You.

Dear Readers,
I dont know where Im running to or why or from what, but I have a need to move fast and efficiently. The need for speed and to beat an imaginary stop watch is the overarching need in my life. For example, each work day the alarm is set for 6:13am. My walking commute to the train is 7 minutes. The train departs from Baltimore Maryland Penn Station at 7:00AM. 47 minutes alotted from bed to butt in seat on train!

While on the train, I monitor its progress as I utilize my commute time to forward some area of my life. (God forbid that I use the time to nap.)
The train arrives at Union Station Washington DC at 8:00AM( Usually later.) and I sprint from the train to the metro and walk another 7 minutes to my office. 8:24AM and the time game has just started.

I have done some form of a tight crazy schedule for as long as I can remember. I don’t try to figure it out, I just observe myself as I manage the way I am hard  wired. Its when the world won’t move on my time schedule, the worst of me surfaces. Woe to the delayed train and somebody please pick up the elderly person blocking my sprint down the stairs to the train.
No, I dont run the elderly person down, but the mere thought that I would like to, is enough to make me physically shudder.
I ask again, what need or fear is runming your show? Thankfully, its not crack anymore. Pinpoint one emotional need today. See if you recall the first incident or memory of that need. Own it, and become a better you for embracing the ugly side of you.
The Addict Writes

Its Impossible to Love A Using Addict

Dear Readers,
Its impossible to have a relationship with an addict who is using.
The deeper the addict falls within his addiction the more self-absored they will become. There will be room for no one else. The drug will become the most important thing in their lives.
Using addicts are untrustworthy even though they may proclaim to love you. Here’s why: They will justify their actions by using a theory of “personal exceptionalism”. This theory works like this:
Under ordinary circumstances most people would find these behaviors unacceptable;
But these are not ordinary circumstances; and I am not an ordinary person;
Therefore I can commit these acts with impunity- not being punished. ” And I need to get my drug!”
When I was 6 months into recovery, my boyfriend, the guy with whom I first used crack,  the only person with whom I smoked crack, was released from a 5 month stint at Hazelden. (His 5th time in inpatient drug treatment.)
He convinced the administrators at Hazelden to allow him to do his halfway house portion of his court mandated sentence at his mothers mansion which sat on five acres of land in the wealthy community of Bellevue Washington.
He lasted 9 days.
His mother kicked him out and he came to live with me.
He stole from and lied to me. He stole the money I needed to pay ($40) to see my children for my supervised visits.
Ultimately he stole a full length Christian Dior cashmere coat, my computer, and the bumper from my BMW. All of which he sold or traded for crack.
It took me years to get over him, mostly because I thought if I loved him enough he would stop using. I know now it’s impossible to love an addict while they are using. I was lucky- I did not relapse in the time he was living in my apartment. Thank God.
The Addict Writes

Take Care of Your Body it Houses your Soul.

Dear Readers,
I am ill today. I have some horribly bad cross between having allergies and the flu. I am appropriately caring for myself. Today’s only message is that self care, is our number one priority. My body, your body carries your soul.
As we prepare for the last official weekend of summer- the Labor Day Weekend, ask yourself “How am I caring for myself?” Are there medical, dental or psychological appointments  to make? Are there life style changes to make? Do one positive thing for your body today.
And if you’ve come to like this blog, please give me feed back. What did you like? What don’t you like. What do you want to read more about? Less? Do you have questions or perhaps another perspective or story to share?
I appreciate your time. Make it a healthy day wherever you are today.
The Addict Writes

FEAR Who’s Running Your Show?

Dear Readers,

I live with unidentified fear. Chaos was the   legacy of my childhood.  I am hyper-vigilant looking for what bad may come and how to protect myself.

For those of unfamiliar with the term “hyper-vigilance” it works like this:
Our father(or your father) at 2:30 in the morning pushes open our bedroom door. You know he’s coming because you have heard him arguing with your mother downstairs in the kitchen. By the time he flicks on the light switch and orders me and my sister out of bed, we are already alert and scared. (Whether he had his belt in hand, I don’t recall.)
If this happened once it can happen again. You think if you can see it coming- anticipate chaos- you can do something about it. Even if the only thing you do is be less scared. In the meantime, you remain  . on high alert. Which causes muscles to ache and is just wearying .

Over the years, I have battled with fear of betrayal and abandonment. Because in the end, thats what I fear most.

Drugs were not the only thing I used to quell my fear of being alone- because wasn’t I always going to be betrayed and then abandoned.
When I feel that either of those two things might occur, I first of all get really angry. “How Dare You Abandon Me?’ “You can’t do that because I’m going to leave you or better yet, Leave!”

Then, I get sad and weepy and feel betrayed and abandoned.
Well that person running my show was that nine year, scared and hoping not to get hurt.

For all of you who have suffered my 9 year old wrath, I’m sorry and I’m still working on myself.
Who’s running your show?

The Addict Writes

Self- Blame Shame and Forgiveness

Dear Readers,
Often times drug addiction is correlated to early childhood trauma. The same way the brain remembers the unexpectedly good, it remembers the unexpectedly bad.
When something bad happens to us as a child we do not have the mental capacity to reconcile why what happened to us happened. As children we see ourselves as all powerful- so we must blame ourselves for what someone did to us. And when we cannot reconcile wrong we create shame. Shame is a dangerous thing. With guilt you know you’ve done something wrong, and you can reason with yourself how to ameliorate, or lessen the damage you have caused to yourself or others. With shame you cannot figure out what to do to make things right- mostly with you.
Years ago when in rehab I shared a shameful secret that I had kept secret for 31 years. It was difficult to tell even my therapist. Somehow I got out the sordid tale of whipping the neighbor’s dog afterI had been whipped. I was nine, and was recovering from a cut across my thigh where I had been beaten with an electrical cord.
” I’m sorry Brownie.” That was the dog’s name. More importantly, I’m sorry little Brianna, I could not save you from our father’s whip and mental illness. I’m sorry Dad for what your father did to you.
The Addict Writes

An Attempted Suicide and A Happy Birthday

Dear Readers,
I’m glad to be alive today, it’s my birthday today! Twenty years ago at the height or the bottom of my crack cocaine addiction, I took 3x the amount of a prescription drug called Depakote- it’s for seizures- so that I could go to sleep.
Before I swallowed the pills with cheap white wine, I said to myself, “This could kill me.’ And I swallowed the pills.
I woke up 4:30AM the next morning. I threw myself onto my knees and promised God that if he took away my craving for crack- that I would be his forever. (And I am- although I don’t go to church or prosletize. I do good, where its needed and where the need for good finds me.)
I then called my sister, Beverly who had the means to pay for my 21 day in patient treatment program. She saved my life- I don’t know how long it might have taken me to get an inpatient bed through the state of Washington. Months, perhaps.  Her act of love and kindness probably saved me from prostitution and jail.
So thank you my dear sweet sister, Beverly for preventing a possible future of jail and degradation, and for the possibility of the life I now have.
The Addict Writes

We Turn Our Eyes Away –Stigma and Shame

Dear Readers,
I was one of the stars in my law class- the class of 1996. I was glamorous, lived in a beautiful condo, drove an old BMW and had in tow my very cute male children who were toddlers at the time. People wanted to hang with me, study with me- pretty and popular. When word got around that I was recovering from a crack addiction, even men who would have done anything to date me fled. There was no compassion, no concern about my boys, my law career- people treated me as if I had AIDS or pneumonia or the flu. Even worse, my scornful ex husband taught my children to be afraid of me… To watch me and report back whether they saw me using or drinking…
Addiction is a disease of the brain and doctors say its 50% inherited 50% behavioral. Yes, there is an inherited gene that predisposes some of us to addiction. It is exactly like the genes that predisposes people to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And just like in all those aforementioned diseases, our actions or lack of actions can trigger the disease. We don’t go around shunning pie eating diabetics; we don’t admonish our over zealous entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes even though overexerction and emotional stress could lead to any of the number stress related diseases.
But we step over the homeless alcoholic, turn our eyes away from the rail thin woman trying to turn a trick to buy her drugs.
I pose no solutions. I make no suggestions, but addiction is a disease. Tell your children, the same way you would tell them about any other inherited disease. The addict you prevent maybe your own.
The Addict Writes

Too Much For Saturday

Dear Readers,
Over the next seven days I am going to break down how addiction works in the brain and results in affects in the body.
 I have always wanted to know how addiction works in the body, so I did a little reading and found an article which even I could understand.
The information used in the “neurogym” article comes from a Harvard Study which began in 1938 and became the world’s longest study on human behavior.
The subjects were all male white men with the best of everything- and some of them ended up as alcoholics…  (Oh my how could this be possible – they had everything!)
What was discovered was the disease and yes, I mean medically defined,disease of addiction, is a disease of the brain. It’s the very part of the brain that helps us make rational choices. The hormone responsible is dopamine.
Dopamine is the reward drug of the brain. This hormone is released when there is an unexpected reward. And the brain remembers this reward and secretes more dopamine therefore tricking the addict to choose the thing that induces the greatest reward rather than life affirming choices like food, sleep and shelter.
So the first effects of addiction are behavioral, i.e. all the wrong choices- by diease. According to my resesrch (which was finding and using research from others)  The human brain was designed to register the rewards of food and sex…and not drugs.
(If there are any neuro scientists or Medical Doctors reading- please chime in.)
I know this is a lot to digest. Ask yourself what’s causing your dopamine secretion?
More on Monday. The addict writer chills on Sunday.
The Addict Writes