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By Kevin Repass
Cocaine is a drug that has sadly become glorified by movies such as Scarface and Hollywood icons such as Charlie Sheen. I am here to say there is nothing enjoyable about being addicted to cocaine. It is one of the most addictive and dangerous substances. You never know what you are really snorting up your nostrils or injecting into your veins. I am here to open up and confess about my personal struggle with cocaine addiction.
I was first introduced to cocaine at the age of fourteen. I remember the immediate rush I felt from it. I did not become addicted at this point in time mostly due to financial restraints as a young teenager. It was, however, a sign of what was to come later on in my life. I did not see it at the time but I had what is known as an addictive personality- once I found a drug connection it was game over.
My cocaine addiction peaked at my mid-twenties. I was making a pretty good living and had stability with my girlfriend at the time. I felt as if I was living like a king. I let the good life I was living get to my head. As addicts, it is common for us to have very large, self-centered egos. Unfortunately, my ego and selfish need to indulge myself with cocaine would be the beginning of my descent to rock bottom. Cocaine made me a lot more aggressive, irritable, moody, angry and unpredictable. I would let my addiction take priority over matters that should have been more important. I was working at a very busy restaurant and I was usually one of the last to leave late at night. I found myself using in the bathroom just to keep myself going throughout the shift. My addiction at work would soon become an addiction at home and abroad.
I would frequently travel out of town for concerts and stay at hotels. I would always bring cocaine with me. I started using just about every day, especially on my days off. My addiction felt more like a possession. I would soon find myself alone- feeling depressed, suicidal, rejected and withdrawn from society. I had no friends, no family and no support system to lean on. This is one of the most dangerous times to be an addict; thus my addiction would grow even worse. I started doing the one thing I never thought I would do- shooting up cocaine.
Everything in my life had fallen apart. I felt like a helicopter slowly but surely spinning out of control, just waiting to crash and go up in flames. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I found myself experiencing daily withdrawal symptoms. I was physically fatigued. I was experiencing frequent chills and tremors. I was in a dark place mentally and emotionally so my depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts grew worse. I just wanted to escape from this black hole I felt like I dug myself into. I was scared to admit to my family how low I had sunk.
My family was well aware of my drinking problem but had no idea about my problem with cocaine. I was ultimately begging for death and saw no other way out of my misery and suffering. I had to come to terms with the harsh reality that I was sick. I was a drug addict. My family finally reached out and gave me the chance at restoring myself to sanity and a better way of life. I agreed to go into a detox and treatment facility. I was not doing it for myself at first. I was doing it for the few people I had left in my life that actually loved and cared about me.
After treatment, I decided to move into a sober living house. I felt as if accountability and structure was the only way to prevent relapse. Recovery truly is a matter of life and death. People like me push ourselves over limits that we as humans should not be. We truly become possessed and held prisoner by chemical substances. Once we break free from this chemical prison, we begin to grow and realize the person we have shown others throughout our addiction was not our true self. We begin to see the errors of our ways. We start to feel human once again. We continue on a journey of forgiveness, redemption and evolution from the shell of our former existence similar of a cocoon turning into a butterfly.
My best advice to parents or loved ones who are dealing with someone who is addicted is to not enable but do not give up either. If you believe someone you love is addicted, do not enable their addiction by any means- especially money or transportation. Do not to be judgmental, be sympathetic.
A lot of people who struggle with addiction also struggle with some form of mental health issues- most commonly depression and anxiety. Try to make note of any significant changes in behavior, especially mood swings and irritability. Identify any key people, issues or events that could have lead to addiction. It is very important to know who your loved one is associating with especially in active addiction. Do not turn a blind eye or be in denial that your loved one may have a problem.
Addiction can happen to some of the closest people you know, whether you want to believe it or not. I suggest taking a calm, collective approach. The sooner you reach out, the better. It is obviously imperative to try and get your loved one help as soon as possible. Addiction will only get worse over time. If your loved one is unable to break free from the power of addiction on their own, I would highly recommend seeking treatment. It could save a life in the end.
Kevin Repass is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He is a writer for https://yourfirststep.org/ a south Florida-based company dedicated to providing resources and information to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.