Lesson from a Crack Addict

Lesson from a Crack Addict


I once knew a crack addict who I met in long term treatment.  I was there for primarily alcohol, but I used other drugs as well, including marijuana and cocaine.  He was there because he smoked crack and would go on binges and this obviously destroyed his life to an extent.  So he was living in long term treatment in order to get his life back together.  I learned some things from this guy, but it took several years for some of the lessons to really sink in.

First of all, this crack user was doing something subtle but important: he was separating crack addiction from other drug and alcohol addictions. He claimed that he never cared much for smoking weed or drinking alcohol, and that he had tried them both in the past but just never got anything from them.  But of course, when he tried crack cocaine, he was instantly hooked.

Through talking with this addict over a long period of time, both informally and in group therapy, he mentioned a few times that he did not even believe that trying drugs or alcohol would really set him off in his addiction….he was basically hinting that he figured that he was immune to these other drugs (and alcohol), because they just never did anything for him.

Creative Commons License photo credit: tanjila

That should have been a big warning sign right there. And I think that it was, and the therapist at the time jumped all over him and made sure that he understood the concept of cross-addiction, and that playing with these other drugs would inevitably lead him back to his drug of choice, if he were foolish enough to try it.  So this guy kind of paid lip service to the idea that he would definitely not be one to tempt the fates and ever allow himself to try another drink or a drug, even though secretly he was holding on to the idea that he was probably immune to those substances.

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Well you can probably already guess the rest of the story.  I met up with this guy a few years after we parted ways and both left the long term treatment center, and guess what?  You guessed it….he had relapsed with his drug of choice–crack cocaine–but only because he had let down his guard and allowed himself to experiment with other drugs.

Folks, there is no such thing as cross addiction, or alcoholism, or cocaine addiction….it’s ALL addiction. That’s it.  If you are addicted to cocaine, you are addicted to all mood and mind altering substances.  If you try to break this little law of addiction you are gonna pay the price for it eventually.  And this crack addict tried to circumvent the law and he ended up right back at it again.

So when you hear people say that they are cross addicted, or that “my only problem is alcohol,” that should be a warning sign: they are not thinking about drugs and alcohol correctly.  All mood and mind altering substances are dangerous to the addict.  If you are addicted to one, you are addicted to them all.

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