Stigma addiction cocaine
Illustration by AWT.

Lisa Smith is the author of “Girl Walks Out of a Bar,” her memoir of high-functioning addiction and recovery in corporate New York law firms. Smith writes about breaking the stigma around addiction and mental health issues, particularly for women.

Cocaine was magic to me. That is, until it wasn’t. 

Cocaine was the drug I truly loved. We became tight because of all the cool things it did for me. It made my brain sparkle and my body tingle. It picked me up off the couch and made me dance. A few quick blasts up my nose after one drink too many and I was back in action, like a blow-up doll with a fresh pump of air, ready to party late into the night. I felt so fantastic! Not to mention how gorgeous cocaine made me look in the mirror.

As time went on, though, cocaine became so needy. It demanded my attention during the week, not just on weekends. And every time I just wanted to have a simple cocktail, there was cocaine, beckoning me with its glistening crystal promise of extra happiness. 

Of course, I would never do cocaine during the day or take it to work with me. That is, until I did. It just wouldn’t leave me alone. Pretty soon, it was sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to wake up and play. To be honest, though, it wasn’t play. 

Cocaine was all out of magic. It didn’t get me high anymore. I just needed it to function, which I was barely doing. 

We started fighting. I knew I had to walk away. But cocaine had no intention of letting me go. There was the morning I woke up to find an orange traffic cone in my living room. Kind of funny, but I had no idea how it got there. It had to be cocaine magic, but not the good kind. The cool cocaine magic had long since disappeared.

I told cocaine I didn’t want to hang out anymore, but it didn’t make any difference.
It had gained so much power over me that on the day my niece was born I couldn’t make it out of my apartment to the hospital. I had been losing a fight with cocaine for two days straight and needed to get more. I ended up meeting my dealer instead of my new niece. 

Cocaine was all out of magic. It didn’t get me high anymore. I just needed it to function, which I was barely doing. 

Cocaine and I had our last big blowout one Monday morning in 2004. I thought it had decided to kill me and I was having a heart attack. In a panic, I reached out for help. I knew I couldn’t get cocaine’s hooks out of me on my own. I spent five days on the detox unit of a seedy psychiatric hospital in New York City. 

I never would have believed it, but that detox was where the real magic started. It helped me kick cocaine out of my life! I learned that if I wanted to survive, I’d have to keep it out. I found a lot of cool people who help me do that on a daily basis. 

Now, every day that I wake up and don’t need cocaine I find a little more magic.