Around 2003 my partner and I moved from Calgary, Alberta (Canada) to Squamish, British Columbia (BC). We had both moved to Calgary from Prince George, BC only the year before but shortly after moving to Calgary I got head-hunted by an executive search firm for a position in Vancouver, BC (close to Squamish) with the BC Government. I had also spent about 15 years of my life rock climbing in Squamish where I had many epic and death-defying adventures – including one Near Death Experience during a long lead-fall – that the area and the Stawamus Chief in particular, are very Sacred to me personally. Therefore, after commuting back-and-forth monthly between Calgary and Squamish for over a year, we decided to buy a place. Of course it had a view of the Stawamus Chief from every window, I was in heaven.
Although most heavy drug use had left my life many years before and I was merely a weekend pot smoker at the time, I found myself developing an attraction to cocaine, and later crack cocaine. Since I was earning big money back then, and I tend to be (some would say recklessly) indifferent and generous with money, I was pretty popular at the 1/2 dozen or so Squamish crack houses I would frequent 2–3 times a week spending anywhere between $100–$1000. There is another remarkable story here about trust which I will write about in another article.
I must briefly pause my story to mention the two RCMP officers who showed up to my condo in Squamish when I called the emergency line and said “I have guns and and I am suicidal”. I am moved to tears as I write this sitting in Granny’s Pub (Gibsons, BC), recalling how unconditionally, genuinely and sincerely compassionate both those RCMP officers where — particularly the female officer who directly engaged me. The other Dude seemed to focus on getting the guns under control, which made sense. They both had trigger locks and so he actually complemented me on that. I honestly felt the single largest shift in mood with regards to my desire to off myself, as a direct result of the authentic, sincere and heart-felt compassion of that female RCMP officer. Bless her heart, her kindness, her compassion. I am sure I wrote a letter to her through the RCMP expressing my gratitude, maybe I can find it later.
After a brief hospital stay under Section 28 (1) of the Canadian Mental Health Act…
28 (1)A police officer or constable may apprehend and immediately take a person to a physician for examination if satisfied from personal observations, or information received, that the person
(a)is acting in a manner likely to endanger that person’s own safety or the safety of others, and
(b)is apparently a person with a mental disorder.
… I was back home and so after 5–6 years of a steadily growing and very expensive crack habit, I was now going to commit myself to quitting crack cocaine (the second dysfunctional substance problem of my life). This was — expectedly — much harder than I anticipated. A level of ignorance bolstered somewhat by the well-earned self-confidence that had developed after kicking my first “habit” many years before. Crack is a shit-drug IMO and the worst thing I have ever inflicted upon my body, mind and soul. Also a story for another time.
Crack cocaine creates an ASTRONOMICAL psychological tractor-beam — a soul-sucking and almost inescapable relentless pull to get that next hit. I have watched young, grown and old men/women crawling across filthy and garbage-covered floors or carpets with their noses on the ground picking every millimetre of space or carpet apart if only to find one single dropped crumb of crack. For me, I would usually go until my bank accounts were empty — sometimes that was often.
Many years of multiple-month abstinence, followed by short binges, became a pattern. For around 2–3 years I could not get to the point of actually quitting crack entirely. Every few months I would go for a few beers, the boundaries would drop, the recklessness went up, and out I would go seeking crack — and it was easy as I knew where most of the crack houses were and the many dealers in town.Eventually I started to pay close attention to all the psychological and environmental triggers which ultimately led to using. I made some quick determinations such as the direct link to a few pints and then boundaries dropping to where what I would not consider a few hours ago, I am now seeking compulsively.
I also learned, quite by accident actually — that when I smoked a joint the next morning – often on the down-side of a long crack-night – the ASTRONOMICAL psychological tractor-beam which would usually compel me to find more funds for one more hit, DISAPPEARED almost completely.
So radical was the shift in thinking, self-control and will that I know for a fact I both thought and uttered the words “wholly shit that was a big change”. After around a year or so of the environmental and social changes I implemented (drinking less, cutting ties with dealer “friends”), combined with using weed immediately following any time I “slipped up” and used or just felt the craving spontaneously, I was finally able to stop using crack cocaine. The dramatic and immediate effect smoking pot had on those cravings was a significant factor in helping me quit crack as those cravings are/were ASTRONOMICAL!
A few years later while doing research for my Master’s Thesis in Transpersonal Psychology, I learn that a Vancouver, BC based study found this exact linkbetween cannabis helping to reduce the cravings of crack/opiate withdrawal!
“Research done by the BC Centre on Substance Use in Vancouver shows that using cannabis may enable people to consume less crack. Could marijuana become to crack what methadone is to heroin — a legal, safe and effective substitute drug that reduces cravings and other negative impacts of problematic drug use?”(Study)
I call that VERY COOL! Something I found accidentally, something I discovered through my own process of critically self-evaluating my own addiction to crack and related behaviours, turns out later to be a confirmed link between cannabis and reduced cravings for crack!
Are You Struggling With a Substance?
I am not a doctor, nor am I a licenced mental health care practitioner or psychologist and so I am not in a position to offer any professional advice on addiction. If you are reading this and struggling with a substance problem, the one suggestion I would make based on personal experience, is to SPEAK TO SOMEONE you trust and feel safe with.You are most definitely NOT ALONE and millions of people around the world struggle with substance issues. But struggling alone with a substance issue also leads to increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and ruminations over your situation — feelings which only lead to more cravings and more use. Every community has some form of outreach, every community has some form of community-led or government provided supports for substance abuse and mental health issues. Please consider speaking with a family member, a close friend or one of the outreach support services in your community. Personally I have overcome two major substance abuse challenges in my own life, millions of people around the world also overcome their challenges and go on to lead healthy, happy, productive and fulfilling lives. So can YOU!
“It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you.” — Russell Brand
You are a child of this universe, literally, with the same rights to and capacity for, happiness and well-being as everyone else. And by taking that first small step towards accepting your need for help, and developing the desire/will to change, you are already half-way to attracting the people, services and opportunities to support you on your journey to quitting and returning to living a happy and healthy life. You deserve this, YOU are loved and “within you is the divine capacity to manifest and attract all you desire” (Wayne Dyer).
Johnny Stork (aka the Jolly Mystic Dude)
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson