The 5 Stages of My Cocaine High
You never know how deep you’re in it until you find yourself alone in your tiny apartment with the blinds drawn, wearing cheap neon shades and a ratty old shirt, going on three hours of sleep in 48 hours, anxiously muttering to yourself while shoving your face into the second eight ball of the day. Then again, I didn’t think I had a problem at the time. At least, it certainly didn’t start out that way. But then again, it never does, does it?
I’d experimented with cocaine a handful of times in college, but it wasn’t until my senior year that I really took the plunge. I’d just been hired as a bottle service waitress at a new San Diego nightclub and was instantly drawn to the glamour and thrill of the rampant party culture.
“As soon as the cocaine penetrated my brain, it prevented the dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts to build up in the synapse, thus staving off any sense of hunger.”
Being surrounded by throngs of beautiful people and having to wear tiny, skintight outfits to work every weekend made me incredibly self-conscious. I was never excessively overweight, but I constantly felt the pressure to maintain a slim physique. Then one night, two of my coworkers and I decided to share a gram of cocaine in the parking lot before work. I suddenly remembered everything I liked about it: the bitter taste in the back of my throat, the numb and tingly face, the unlimited energy. But what I truly loved most was that it curbed my appetite. As soon as the cocaine penetrated my brain, it prevented the dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts to build up in the synapse, thus staving off any sense of hunger.
On Top of the World
San Diego was like a grown up Neverland. There was always a party to go to, the champagne was always flowing, and drugs were constantly passed around. I turned a blind eye to the indiscretions at my tables: the rich men in expensive suits popping molly and the skinny girls running off to the bathroom every 20 minutes trading off the “communal clutch” amongst girlfriends.
What did I care? I was making more money than I knew what to do with and I’d never felt so alive and free in my entire life.
Shit Has Hit the Fan
When you’re making $3K in cash every weekend, buying $120 eight balls is merely pocket change. But that quickly changed after I quit working at the nightclub and only had my day job to fall back on.
“The crash was always the worst… Suddenly the feelings of euphoria and energy have been replaced with extreme angst and exhaustion.”
I’d come home from work feeling restless and irritable. I was barely able to afford rent at that time, but I needed that fix every night to reverse the agonizing comedown. Lucky for me, there was a heroin-smoking drug dealer that lived next door that let me buy at discounted prices. But even though I was paying $40 per gram compared to the usual $55, I was still racking up a shitload of debt in the process.
The crash was always the worst. During a binge, dopamine levels surge two or three times above the normal level, making you feel like you could take on the world; but when those excess neurotransmitters in your brain are depleted, your dopamine drops way below normal. Suddenly the feelings of euphoria and energy have been replaced with extreme angst and exhaustion.
I’d spend the entire night gulping down bottles of red wine and snorting the contents of the latest baggie I’d purchased just to put my miserable mind at ease. Then, like clockwork, I’d trudge into work the next morning wearing shabby workout clothes and no makeup, a slimy grease oozing out of my pores and my teeth covered in an acidic film, feeling jittery and paranoid from having slept barely an hour the night before.
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Crash and Burn
One second you’re flying high and the next you’re scraping your soul off the bottom of a termite-infested garbage can. You would have thought the chronic nosebleeds and sinus infections would have slowed me down, but they never did. Looking back, some of the things I did downright appall me: doing bumps in the car to “sober up” before driving home, sleeping with random strangers who offered me free drugs, doing lines before work in the morning just to stave off the depression and anxiety, stealing drugs and money from my friends.
I didn’t give a shit about anyone but myself.
All I cared about was the next high.
I’m incredibly lucky that I was able to pull myself out of that dark place when I did. It took me two years, $11k worth of debt, and a nervous breakdown to realize it, but I did it.
It’s been two years since I’ve touched cocaine and I finally feel grounded and in control of my life. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. In fact, it was a long and exhausting road and I often thought about quitting. But there is one thing I can say for certain: now that I’m here, I can’t imagine ever going back.