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I Had A Cocaine Addiction: Big F*cking Deal

I’m usually shame-less. People call my writing “brave.” I’ve written about abortion—my own. I’ve written about sex clubs—reporting from the tangle of bodies within. I’ve written about masturbation—the time I joined in a “masturbate-a-thon” fundraiser, and ended up setting a world record for longest time, shall we say, um … engaged. (Six-and-a-half hours … and yes, my parents are very proud.) I’ve written about transgressive art and performance. A former classmate recently told me that he had become she. I hugged her and said I was happy she’d found herself. I’m comfortable on the farther edges of society. What I live, I write. I’m not afraid to reveal.

I’ve been “coming out” about my addiction as well. My friends know I don’t drink anymore. My family and close friends know why. My closest friends also know that for a couple of brief periods in my life, I did cocaine. A lot of cocaine. Way too much cocaine. I’m hardly the first writer to find that cocaine made my words sparkle. Just see Poe, Edgar Allen; Freud, Sigmund; Sorkin, Aaron; or Easton Ellis, Brett. But then coke started to take over my life. First I had fun. Then I had a habit. Then the habit had me. I needed to stop. For good. I picked up my one-year medallion in March.

I vividly remember the night I went to my first meeting.

The words, “I’m an addict,” forced out through sobs, were the hardest words I’ve ever had to say out loud.

Now, those words roll right off my tongue. Not with pride, but since that very first night, not with shame either. That is, until the other evening, when I reached out as a recovering addict to someone I believed was struggling with addiction himself.

>My friend had posted on Facebook:

“ … just when I think I’ve gotten that beautiful doe-eyed monkey off my back, she’s there again. whispering in my ear and telling me that I want that white gold…no…telling me that I need it. I wake up craving it….and yes, I give in. several times a day. not wanting my kids to see how weak I’ve become. daddy the addict. daddy’s white kryptonite. I want it so badly now that I can taste it. will I give in? probably. if i find that my supply is low, i know where i can get some and as soon as i walk through the door, it’s in the spoon…and i’m taking a hit…and then another…until the room spins and i can’t take any more. Pray for me. I guess I’m confessing I have a problem.” 

White gold? In a spoon? What else could it be?

“Do you have a problem with coke?” I immediately texted him. “I’ve been there; kicked it a year ago. You can talk to me.”

It was only after I’d sent it that I saw the hashtag below his post: #chobani. The “addiction” he’d revealed was to Greek yogurt. Meanwhile, I’d revealed myself as a recovering cocaine addict.

Minutes later he’d texted back: “Now I’m concerned about you…”

But in that “you” I didn’t hear concern. I heard pity…condescension…contempt.

I’d reached out as someone who “had it all together” in recovery…and I’d ended up feeling like a fuck-up for outing myself needlessly—over a Facebook joke, to someone whose familiarity with drugs likely starts and ends with ibuprofen.

I cried for two days.

Then my sponsor kicked me in the ass. Metaphorically, anyway.

“So you had a coke problem…” she chided me. “Big f*cking deal. You wanna see how many people in the world have coke problems, look at a tabloid magazine — practically every celebrity has a coke problem. Come to a [Fill In The Blank] Anonymous convention. You’ll see thousands of people who’ve had drug problems. You had a coke problem too? Big. F*cking. Deal. It’s what you did about it that matters.”

She suggested to me that what I “heard” in my friend’s text was not his pity, condescension and contempt—but my own. That perhaps as I dug deeper into myself in recovery, I wasn’t altogether comfortable with what I was finding—something, she added, that tends to happen the deeper we allow ourselves to go. I considered the coincidence that I found myself in this situation just as I was preparing to work on the “searching and fearless moral inventory” of myself. Ah, the universe does have a wickedly warped sense of humor, doesn’t it?

But even as I was beating myself up, my kind and loving sponsor shook me gently to remind me that regardless of what my friend’s text said, there was no actual cause for “concern.”

“I’m not worried that you’re going to go out and use or go out and drink,” she told me, confidently.

And that was true. As upset as I was at needlessly breaking my own anonymity, the thought of numbing that pain with a martini or scoring some coke had never crossed my mind. Not even once.

I’ve run through that text conversation with my friend a hundred times over since the other night. If I could push Rewind on it, what I wish I’d said was: “I appreciate your concern, but there’s no need to worry. I had a problem. I took care of it. I’m in recovery, and I’m doing fine.”

In other words: Yeah, I had a coke problem. Big f*cking deal.

Norine got “sober” in May 2011 and “clean” in March of 2012. She has a 7-year-old son who loves to join her at 12-step meetings. Earlier this year, she created the illustrated humor blog Science of Parenthood. When she’s not blogging about the mysteries of parenting at Science of Parenthood, Don’t Put Lizards In Your Ears, and Lifescript’s Parent Talk, she works as a freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in More, Health, Redbook, Marie Claire, iVillage, Family Circle, Fitness, Shape, Prevention, among others.

This post originally appeared on SoberMommies on June 10, 2013.

(original) photo credit: Neal. via photopin cc

19 Comments on “I Had A Cocaine Addiction: Big F*cking Deal

  1. Norine – I so appreciate the humor in this and the embarrassment of reaching out to someone only to learn that they were trying to make a joke. I’ve been there. So painful! Your sponsor sounds like a real gem. Glad you are in recovery and doing so well. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story! XO

  2. I wonder if your friend feels just as embarrassed and awkward as you do. After all, when you dissect the conversation, he was making light of a serious issue, and you were trying to help a friend. I’d say you come out on top here.

    • Thank you! My friend and I had a very long talk and while I never intended him to have this particular info about me, he’s assured me that knowing makes no difference in our friendship. Which is nice to hear.

  3. What a wonderful post, thank you. Your candor and humor help shed light on an issue that has spent way to long in the dark. Though my substances are different I can relate to the feeling of shame and the freedom that comes from admitting I have a problem and getting help. Thanks again!

    • Hi Kathy, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Probably the most important thing I’ve grasped in recovery is that addiction has many faces — shopping/shop-lfiting, Facebook, gambling, drugs, booze, sex, porn, food, exercise, work — but the disease/condition is the same. When life becomes unmanageable and one loses the ability to stop the behavior — whatever it is — then recovery/support programs are helpful. My hope is that no one has to suffer because they are too embarrassed to reach out and get the help they need/want.

  4. I know I should be picking up on your sobbing, but, oh Norine, the YOGURT. You are a funny writer! And brave. Thanks for sharing.

  5. “It’s what you did about it that matters.” Absolutely. Thank you for this post.

  6. trust me when i say, i’m sure your friend loves who u regardless of your hurdles in life. u overcame them and that is all that matters. it isn’t the falling down, it’s the getting back up (paraphrased something that Bruce Wayne’s dad said). u’re stronger for it.

  7. We all do things that we think will change another’s opinion. Don’t sweat it. It sounds like your friend is a keeper 🙂 Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up

  8. I overshare. Constantly. Some people find that shocking. I do (I suppose) to blatantly show that I am not ashamed. That being said, drug addiction is no laughing matter. Although you managed to make it kind of funny. I hope that’s what you meant to do. Otherwise I’ll feel like an ass. Either way, I hope your friend can get the help he needs for his Greek yogurt problem. I hear that shit is REALLY hard to kick. Not that I would know.

  9. So I’m in recovery, and have some shame about people knowing too…but I love what your sponsor said. “Big fucking deal.” So true. I try to remind myself of the hundreds of talented celebrities and “successful” people who’ve kicked something too. And if that person was going to judge you over that, then they’re not worth it, IMO. Thanks for posting!

  10. I am a constant member of ‘Shit I said too much, or totally missed what you were saying there’ club. It’s a great club that provides me hours of embarrassment and enjoyment. I probably woulda thought same thing coke vs. chobani. Who makes a joke with Chobani in it?

  11. It’s awkward to reveal more than you want, but it’s wonderful that you’re willing to put yourself out there to help people. I’m glad he realizes that having an addiction doesn’t change the person he knows you to be.

    PS: Greek yogurt ain’t THAT good.

  12. Hi Norine!
    I am so happy you have a sponsor who supports you so well! I love that she keeps it in perspective. I mean big fucking deal. We all do stuff we aren’t proud of. I have so much respect for you for writing this. Btw that Chobani joke was stupid.

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