Citation: JJ. "My Two Most Vivid Memories: An Experience with Crack (ID 22385)". Erowid.org. Mar 2, 2006. erowid.org/exp/22385
Crack is responsible for my two most vivid memories - the first time I tried it and when it came very close to killing me.
I was introduced to crack cocaine (incidentally, I did not try snorting the powder form until after I smoked crack) by a couple of friends who sold me high-quality weed made by the Canadian government for those with medicinal marijuana permits. I was already severely drunk from malt liquor and stoned from marijuana that night. They called a trustworthy dealer and bought a gram of high-potency crack (usually caramel-colored) for $120CAN (or roughly 75USD). They stuck some brillo pad in a pipe and broke off about a tenth of the stone and walked me through how to smoke it properly. Even though the effects of smoking cocaine are as close to being instantaneous as possible in the drug world, I did not know what to expect so there was about a ten or fifteen second delay before I realized how powerful this drug was. As I held the smoke in for a ten count and exhaled, I thought I felt nothing except a little excitement that was neither bad nor pleasurable. The complete rush some writers have called a 'whole-body orgasm' hit me shortly after and I distinctly remember demanding 'more' as soon as the realization of heaven-on-earth came. Some people say that the effects of smoking crack lasts 10-15 minutes. For me, it was just a shortest instant of gratification (if it even existed) - the sharpest of peaks - everything afterwards was just a great increase in energy and confidence geared towards obtaining more of the drug. My friends actually had to calm me down as I was getting violent, even though I am not a particularly violent person. I remember telling them that I don't remember many of the details the first time I had sex, but I will remember this, the first time I smoked crack, forever.
The inevitable and 'horrible' crash was nearly nonexistent, with the help of a couple of Valiums, the first time I smoked coke. It felt like I experienced the greatest moment in my life from a chemical and with impunity. I was well-aware of the addictive qualities for crack and did not try it again until a month later, when I was introduced to the crack binge, when repeated doses are taken to maintain a high for hours and hours. I took a new blast of crack whenever I started to feel bad from the last blast. My first blast that day lasted almost an hour, but by the end of the day, I was taking 25-50mg hits of stone every 10 minutes just to feel bad. The dopamine in my brain was depleted and all the new crack did was reset the crash. Still, the bad feelings (agitation, thirst, headache, dull, burning sensation in the stomach, and a horrible mixture of exhaustion and insomnia) became so excruciating that I continued hitting the pipe, knowing I would no longer get euphoria and happiness, just to reset the bad feelings. But I found out that the longer the binge lasted, the rockier the inevitable landing is; the longer you avoided your inescapable punishment, the worse it was going to be. Trying to sleep that night, even with two Valiums, I suffered from paranoia and vivid dreams so real, I cannot be sure they weren't hallucinations.
One month afterwards (this is only about the forth or fifth time I've ever tried crack), I bought a large quatity (over two grams) of rock for a party on the weekends. However, the party was cancelled and I was stuck with two large stones. I did not know whether or not I planned that Friday night to finish everything myself or do a little and save a little - I just knew that, party or not, I was going to have some. This would be the first and last time I tried crack alone. I vacillated between very small doses (10mg or so), arguing to myself that it would produce a mild, pleasent high, without the powerful craving and horrible crash, and large doses (100mg), arguing to myself, this is the only way to get your money's worth. I binged until I felt so awful, I couldn't do anything except crawl to bed to suffer a sort of semi-sleep where I felt like I was awake and in my room, but at the same time, I was dreaming (or hallucinating) things like being able to see through my hands.
Saturday morning, I felt somewhat depressed, so I thought I would take a blast of the pipe before hitting the showers. I felt good stepping in the shower, but during the shower I became angry because I thought I took a lousy hit and cheated myself (I used this as an excuse to take another large hit as soon as I stepped out of the shower). After stepping out of the shower, I went through a long and controlled binge, using only miserly amounts, for seven hours before I got exhausted and went to bed. Fortunately, a friend woke me up with a phone call to go out so I took no more rocks that night.
By Sunday, I had smoked slightly more than half my two grams of crack and I was able to hold off my cravings until Sunday night - my excuse was to watch the 75th Acadamy Awards IN STYLE. I started using small amounts and was pleased that the highs, unlike yesterday, were good and that my self-control prevented me from hitting the pipe in intervals shorter than 30 minutes (roughly a commercial break for the Oscars). Then came my pledged 'last hit' (I would save the rest for a mini-party for two); I wanted it to be memorable so I used close to a tenth of a gram this time. The rush was tremendous, but I thought, 'I felt this before' and decided to immediately follow it up with another large hit to obtain that elusive, orgasmic, tears-inducing joy. After that I was fucked up and I knew I was fucked up and I knew a horrendous crash was coming afterwards so I decided desperately to finish all the crack I had (I did not want ANY more temptations for the weekdays). I took another large hit with a lot of marijuana (it alleviates the crash symptoms, although not better than Valium - but I ran out of Valium). Afterwards, I still had about a fifth of a gram left but my heart was beating like crazy so I decided that enough was enough.
But it was too late. I had already overdosed. I distinctly remember that during Nicole Kidman's acceptance speech, maybe two minutes after my last hit, an electrical wave coursed through my body and I developed a hyper-awareness of my heartbeat. I immediately panicked; I am only 19 and I've never had a heart attack before. I stood up and found that alleviated problems for the time-being. Then my heartbeat became increasingly irregular (alternating between hard and weak pumps) and I became increasingly uncomfortable. I sat down to watch the Oscars again, although I could not focus on what was going on. I found that sitting made it worse and quickly stood up again. By then, I had thoughts of dying and was more afraid than I've ever been in my life.
I went to my room and paced back and forth in an imaginary line about two meters long - the next day, I would boast that I walked off a heart attack. For THREE HOURS I mostly dangled between collapsing and just concentrating on walking back and forth. Waves of death and panic swept me and became overwhelming on several occasions. Fortunately, I discovered that drinking water and particularly sticking my hand in a cup of lukewarm water temporarily helped things. Unfortunately, because cocaine shrinks blood vessels, I doubt my digestive system was still working and the water I took in was going nowhere. Soon, drinking water made me feel worse, despite my completely dry throat. Eventually, I felt waves of ice running down the blood vessles (or nerves) of right side of my body. My right leg went numb and blue; my lips turned cold and blue. My fingertips became icy cold, but I was still sweating a little from my palms (a good sign). Eventually all sweating stopped and so did my breathing. I was horrified that inhaling no longer became an involuntary action and every time I forced myself to hyperventilate I realized that the limited blood supply pumped from an erratic heartbeat was being given to my lungs FROM my brain and every time I breathed I felt dizzy. At one time, I felt ice shoot up the back of my head, causing it to twitch a few times. That was the closest I came that night to collapsing and going into seizures, or simply dying from stroke or cardiac arrest. I did not call 9-11 because I decided I'd rather die than suffer the embarassment of hospitalization. I took too much alcohol twice before, and survived without hospitilization. The difference, however, with alcohol, barbituate, and heroin O.D.'s is that it would be signalled by the victim giving in and going unconscious; with coke, I was wide awake, terrified, and fighting for my life.
As I dragged my numb and blue right leg, pacing back and forth, I developed a distinctive voice of survival in my head telling me things like, 'never do this again,' 'you're going to make it through,' and 'calm down.' From about 10 P.M. to 1 A.M., I was in a survival ritual. When the routine of going back and forth threatened to hypnotize me into unconsciousness, I would go to the washroom, turn on the tap, and wash my hands (for reasons unknown, this really helped for a shortwhile). Then, when the stimulation of the water threatened to overexcite me, I would go back to my room and walk back and forth. I found that when my legs weakened to the point I could barely walk, folding my hands around my stomach would increase the blood going to my legs. When I could barely feel my hands, I would drop them from their folded position to receive an immediate and comforting rush of blood down my arms and to my hands. And then this terrifying process of sharing of blood between my arms and legs was repeated. When my heartbeat became too weak or erratic, I found that gently putting a hand on my left chest helped restore the beat somewhat. I could do nothing about my lips, gums, and tongue, which were all numb and slightly blue. My tongue was also covered in a frothy, white film.
Staying in control was an exhausting fight, and by the end, my mind was ready to give up when a wave of relief hit me as fast as a coke rush. I was suddenly aware of more than just my vitals and could look appreciatively towards common items in my room, items I completely ignored for three hours. About a minute later, I wanted to pee. Conditions worsened to near death again, followed by another wave of relief. After 1 A.M., this cycle occured every half hour for about another two hours, always becoming less and less severe. Unfortunately, I discovered the obvious long after I was out of the extreme danger zone: removing all articles of clothing, particularly the belt and the wristwatch, really helps blood circulation. Lying down really exacerbated things and after I felt confident enough to lay down and attempt sleep, I almost set off another heart attack.
There was no crash after Sunday night. The next day could've been the best one in my life it wasn't for a bad headache, recurring chest pains (it felt like someone punched me in the sternum), and that mix of exhaustion and insomnia. My mood, however, was of celebration. I literally felt like a baby, born again. I went to the mall and smiled at everybody and bought new clothes and a wireless keyboard/mouse for myself. I had many things happen to me that could've killed me but this was the only time I had an internal battle for survival; it was the only time I stared death down. On Monday, there was a genuine feeling of having been given a second chance by Someone of inexplicable greatness (I was and I remain devoutly un-religious, despite having always believed in some sort of God). The ultimate realization from being at death's doorstep is frighteningly ambiguous: I am either vulnerable and no more special than anyone else in this Universe, or I AM special and invincible.
A trip to the doctors today confirmed that I have developed noticeable and permanent scar tissue on my heart, confirming an authentic heart attack. I am still young, and I used to run cross-country, and still lift weights and play basketball. I owe my survival to my mental and physical fitness - both of which are diminishing. Yet, I am still very new to the crack habit, and I am not ready to give it up yet. I have decided to never buy quantities larger than a gram and to never mix crack with other stimulants. Even though I do not recommend using crack cocaine, and I realize I'm kind of crazy for deciding to continue to use it after such an experience, I still want to see if I can tame this drug, which is very attractive to me because everything about is FAST: the effects AND side effects, added on to the fact that it is not physically addicting. I have went through similar compulsive phases with nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana, when I started using those respective drugs, but have turned all three into very manageable, non-problematic, and purely recreational habits. I have only tried chasing the dragon (smoking heroin) once and stopped not because it didn't feel good (it felt great), but because I tried crack shortly thereafter and it was so much more powerful.
In the end, the problem with cocaine (the GOOD cocaine) is that it is the only drug I know of where there is NEVER satisfaction. I never reach a point when you can honestly tell yourself, 'This feels good; I'm just going to ride out this high.' It's always, 'MORE, MORE, MORE.' Although the general cravings for cocaine are not too bad, the immediate cravings are the worst of any drug - it is literally impossible to stop doing cocaine (well, smoking and, I suppose, injecting it, at least) until my supply runs out or until I've died (or nearly died). I maintain that cocaine, even in its infamous smokeable form, is far from the worst habit to develop, it is while I am doing it that I must be EXTREMELY careful.
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