Many of us are still perplexed to realize how long we went on, never
getting the same high we got at the beginning, yet still insisting,
and believing -- so distorted was our reality -- that we were getting
from cocaine what actually always eluded us.
We went to any lengths to get away from being ourselves. The lines
got fatter; the grams went faster; the week's stash was all used
up today. We found ourselves scraping envelopes and baggies with
razor blades, scratching the last flakes from the corners of brown
bottles, snorting or smoking any white speck from the floor when
we ran out. We, who prided ourselves on our fine-tuned state of mind!
Nothing mattered more to us than the straw, the pipe, the needle.
Even if it made us feel miserable, we had to have it.
Some of us mixed cocaine with alcohol or other drugs, and found
temporary relief in the change, but in the end it only compounded
our problems. We tried quitting by ourselves, finally, and sometimes
managed to do so for periods of time. After a month we imagined we
were in control. We thought our system was cleaned out and we could
get the old high again, using half as much. This time, we'd be careful
not to go overboard. But we only found ourselves back where we were
before, and worse.
We never left the house without using first. We didn't make love
without using. We didn't talk on the phone without coke. We couldn't
fall asleep, sometimes it seemed we couldn't even breathe without
cocaine. We tried changing jobs, apartments, cities, lovers -- believing
that our lives were being screwed up by circumstances, places, people.
Perhaps we saw a cocaine friend die of respiratory arrest, and still
we went on using! But eventually we had to face facts. We had to
admit that cocaine was a serious problem in our lives, that we were
What Brought Us to Cocaine Anonymous?
Some of us hit a physical bottom. It may have been anything from
a nosebleed which frightened us, to sexual impotence, to loss
of sensation in or temporary paralysis of a limb, to a loss of
consciousness and a trip to an emergency room, to a cocaine-induced
stroke that left us disabled. Maybe it was finally our gaunt
reflection in the mirror.
Others of us hit an emotional or spiritual bottom. The good
times were gone, the coke life was over. No matter how much we
used, we never again achieved elation, only a temporary release
from the depression of coming down, and often, not even that.
We suffered violent mood swings. Perhaps we awoke to our predicament
after threatening or actually harming a loved one, desperately
demanding imagined hidden money. We were overcome by feelings
of alienation from friends, loved ones, parents, children, society,
from the sky, from everything wholesome. Even the dealer we thought
was our friend turned into a stranger when we went to him without
money. Perhaps we awoke in dread of the isolation we had created
for ourselves; using alone, suffocated by our self-centered fear
and our paranoia. We were spiritually and emotionally deadened.
Perhaps we thought of suicide, or tried it.
Still others of us reached a different sort of bottom when our
spending and lying cost us our jobs, credit, and possessions.
Some of us reached the point that we couldn't even deal; we consumed
everything we touched before we could sell it. We simply could
no longer afford to use. Sometimes the law intervened.
Most of us were brought down by a medley of financial physical,
social, and spiritual problems.
When we found Cocaine Anonymous, we learned that cocaine addiction
is a progressive disease, chronic and potentially fatal. It fit
our own experience when we heard that, contrary to popular myths
about cocaine, it is possibly the most addictive substance known
to man. We were relieved to be told that addiction is not simply
a moral problem, that it is a true disease over which the will
alone is usually powerless. All the same, each of us must take
responsibility for our own recovery. There is no secret, no magic.
We each have to quit and stay sober; but we don't have to do
is Cocaine Anonymous?
We are a Fellowship of cocaine addicts who meet together to share
our experience, strength, and hope for the purpose of staying
sober and helping others achieve the same freedom. Everything
heard at our meetings is to be treated as confidential. There
are no dues or fees of any kind. To be a member, you only have
to want to quit, and show up. We also exchange phone numbers,
and give and seek support from one another between meetings.
We are all on equal
footing here. There are no professional therapists offering
treatment, and no one "runs" the
group. Everyone in these rooms is here because he or she has
a desire to stop usIng cocaine. We are men and women of all ages,
races, and social backgrounds, with the common bond of affliction.
Our program, called the Twelve Steps of Recovery, is gratefully
borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, whose more than 50 years
of experience with substance abuse teaches us that the best human
help an addict can receive is from another addict. Some of us
may first come to C.A. while in a treatment program or seeking
individual psychotherapy. We say, "Fine, do whatever works
for you." We don't pretend to have all the answers, but
experience has taught us that a recoveri.ng addict will almost
certainly relapse without the ongoing support of fellow addicts.
We welcome newcomers to C.A. with more genuine warmth and acceptance
in our hearts than you can probably now Imaglne-for you are the
life blood of our Program. In great part, it is by carrying the
message of recovery to others like ourselves that we keep our
own sobriety. We are all helping ourselves by helping each other.
What is the First Thing?
To the newcomer who wonders what is the first thing he or she
must do to achieve sobriety, we say that you have already done
the first thing:
Ours is a one-day-at-a-time program. We suggest that you not
dwell on wanting to stay sober for the rest of your life, or
for a year, or even a week. Once you have decided you want to
quit, let tomorrow take care of itself. Just for today, you don't
have to use. But sometimes it is too much for us to project even
one whole day drug-free. That's okay. Just for the next ten minutes,
you don't have to use. It's okay to want it, but you don't have
to use it, just for ten minutes. After ten minutes, see where
you are. You can repeat this simple process as often as necessary,
using whatever span of time feels comfortable. Just for today,
you don't have to use!
In the C.A. Fellowship, you are among recovering cocaine abusers
who are living without drugs. Make use of us! Take phone numbers.
Between meetings, you may not be able to avoid contact with drugs
and druggies. Some of us had no sober friends at all when we
first came in. You have sober friends now! When you begin to
feel squirrelly, don't wait. Give one of us a call; and don't
be surprised if one of us calls you when we need help!
It may surprise you that we discourage the use of any mind-altering
substances, including alcohol and marijuana. It is the common
experience of addicts in this and other programs that any drug
use leads to relapse or substitute addiction. If you're addicted
to another substance, you'd better take care of it. If you're
not, then you don't need it, so why mess with it? We urge you
to heed this sound advice drawn from the bitter experience of
other addicts. Is it likely you're different?
We thought we were
happiest with our cocaine, but we were not. In C.A., we learn
to live a new way of life. We say that it is
a spiritual but not a religious program—our spiritual values
are accessible to the atheist as well as to the devout theist.
We who are grateful
recovering cocaine addicts ask you to listen closely to our
stories. That is the main thing—listen!
We know where you're coming from, because we've been there ourselves.
Yet we are now living drug-free, not only that, but living happily;
many of us, happier (than we have ever been before). Few of us
would trade all our years of addiction for the last six months
or year of living the C.A. program of sobriety.
No one says that it is easy to arrest addiction. We had to give
up old ways of thinking and behaving. We had to be willing to
change. But we are doing it, gratefully, one day at a time.
Reprinted & adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services,
Inc., c. 1939, 1955, 1976