Apart from the fact that the process of getting it to your nostril is littered with death – 16,466 died in the Mexican drug war alone last year – coke is pretty fucking boring. It’s never as good as you think it’s going to be and the people you chat to for hours to get that extra line can be tiresome. Really, why are you still doing it? Maybe you can’t stop, in which case Cocaine Anonymous are the people to talk to. With daily meetings throughout Sussex, the work they do is amazing. Robert filled us in on how it helped him.
How did you start on the coke?
What started this for me was the millennium celebrations. I wanted to get a bit of cocaine after I saw on the TV that the price had plummeted. I thought, ‘That’s a good idea.’ I bought some for the party and thought I’ll do some and then stop. It’s now 2012 and I’m three years in recovery. That’s how long it’s taken me to stop having that party.
How did you get into trouble?
As it went on, my boundaries of morality were altered. I found myself hanging out with the sort of people who would approve of my addiction so my quality of life was slipping all the time. The worse things got, the more I did. I kicked a lamppost while coked up and broke my foot which meant I couldn’t work for 12 weeks. That meant I could go hell for leather for three months. I lost my job eventually, and my family. Unfortunately I inherited a bit of money from my grandfather which meant I could keep going.
How bad did it get?
I started smoking crack. You’d have trouble putting £500 up your nose, but when you’re smoking it £500 is nothing. I was smoking that amount of crack a day by the end. The dealers would lend it to me when I didn’t have any money and when the money ran out it got pretty scary. I’m 6’2” and I weighed about seven stone. I’d smoked a house-worth of crack cocaine. It took everything from me. Then someone suggested Cocaine Anonymous.
What did you think when you first turned up at CA?
I was really surprised to find people in the same situation as me that had found sobriety and had gone for periods of time without cocaine. It was a relief. I started to do what they suggested and started to get clean myself. Now I’m three years without drink or drugs. The people I’ve met there are the most trustworthy people I’ve ever met. They’re really true friends, we really help each other, really account for each other.
Do you have to stop taking coke to go to CA?
No, not at all. I went to Cocaine Anonymous for months before I was able to stop. Ultimately we’re trying to achieve sobriety but that’s not everyone’s experience when they walk in the door with a raging coke habit. It takes time. People tend to come along, have a look at what we’re doing, try and stop by themselves and come back when they really can’t. Anyone that’s got any problem with any drug can come, even marijuana
What was the turning point?
When I was about half way through the suggested programme I sat down with my father and we talked and cried and I realised I couldn’t put him through this any more. I went to see the Bob Marley film last night and before I wouldn’t have been able to sit through it without nipping to the toilets for a line halfway through. Life is so much better.
There’s a perception with coke that you should be able to dip in and out of it.
It is one of the most addictive substances on the planet, but I don’t think when you’re taking it you really know what addiction is. You think, I’ll will it away. I’ve had friends who could take it and then leave it but I’m one of the minority that cannot take drugs safely. It was very subtle and took a long time to bring me to my knees.
What do people need to look out for as a warning sign?
If you’re breaking your own rules. If your rule is, I’ll only do it every other Saturday, and you find yourself doing it every Saturday then you’re already in a problem. If that is happening, come along to Cocaine Anonymous and listen to some of our stories. I always said to myself I couldn’t have fun without getting coked up but since being in recovery I’ve had the happiest three years of my life. My daughter has got her father back, my father’s got his son back.
HELPLINE: 0800 612 0225
Illustration by Rory Taylor At rorytaylor.com