How to Recognize the Early Signs of Cocaine (crack) Dependency or Addiction
At the age of 29, with 4 children ranging in age from 3 months to 9 years old, a history of being a soccer mom, brownie leader, and raised in a perfectly happy and normal home with both parents, I decided to try crack cocaine. What followed was 8 years of life experience so harrowing, sick, and bizarre, that anyone that has not experienced would have a hard time even imagining it.
I now have 2 years clean and have reclaimed more of my life than I ever thought possible, however there is much that I have lost forever. I believe that it is my responsibility to share my experiences with anyone who is curious about the drug or is concerned about strange behavior from a friend, family member, employee, etc.
The entire crack culture is like living on a completely different planet and in the early stages we are experts at trying to mask the signs that there is something wrong. I will be writing several times a week about all the many different aspects and changes that happen to a person when they fall prey to this form of evil. I will tell you how it changed me and the things that it led me to do without a second thought, including two stays in women's prison.
Starting at the very beginning, you may wonder "how do you go from normal happy mom to crackhead?" Well the simple answer is that in my experience that people that wind up addicted to crack have some other issue in their life. I met so many people who had dealt with an unexpected death, many in their family as a child, at an early age.
There is generally always some kind of issues or pain under the surface and the drug is an amazing way to not have to emotionally deal with those issues. Mine in particular was my issues with relationships and inappropriate men. I had a counselor tell me once that I did not have an issue with drugs; I had an issue with men. As it turns out, it was facing that issue head on that helped me to get my life straightened out. Also, it seems that "people-pleasers" are ironically also very prone to this addiction, sensitive people that don't like drama. Again, this drug will make every issue just go away temporarily.
So, in the early days of my addiction, I made it a point to stay in close contact with my friends and family by phone, so that they would not suspect anything unusual. Early on, it is usually not a daily need, although it will develop into that at some point for everyone. The time frame may be different. In my case, it was exactly one year from the time that I started smoking, to the time that I fell apart publicly.
Some early warning signs will be more frequent excuse making for tardiness or canceling plans. I frequently would tell my babysitter that I had to work late, when in reality, I was getting high. I actually made up a whole second job around the holidays so that my mom would watch my kids evenings and weekends. I told her I needed extra Christmas money. I went so far as to tell her the name of a major retailer at the biggest mall in town and even called that store periodically with some crazy story that my family mistakenly had that number and was trying to get in touch with me, just to see if they had tried to call me there.
When I lost my home, I moved back in with my parents, and would actually smoke crack in their home while everyone was sleeping. Something very important that you should know, is that when people are smoking crack they do not sleep or eat for DAYS at a time. Usually bizarre behavior accompanies the sleep deprivation. If you are suspecting someone of smoking crack, try to feed them and see what happens.
If they seem to not be hungry a lot, or alternatively, seem ravenous (this is a result of not eating for days at a time, when you "come down", you can't get enough to eat. Crack smokers are almost incapable of eating three normal meals a day. Speaking of bizarre behavior, paranoia is a classic symptom of crack addiction and increases in intensity over time. Crack smoking changes people so steadily, yet gradually, that in the beginning you may be able to speak to them and not even know they are high. After time though, it deteriorates the nervous system so that as soon as a person takes a hit of crack they change immediately. That is when they start to completely isolate themselves from everyone except drug friends.
Next article will be about how crack affected me as a mother.