Cocaine may have saved my life..???
Updated: Apr 5
"I know this is going to sound strange but cocaine saved my life"
The evening before I left Hope Rehab Thailand, I heard those words uttered by a friend. My ears, mind and every part of my body instantaneously ignited. It almost felt as if through his words, he had just injected an invisible line of the drug directly in to my consciousness. I was intrigued by this provocative statement and listened intently. After my friend fully explained what he meant, I found myself agreeing with him and started wondering had cocaine inadvertently also saved my life too? Let me explain using a boxing analogy.
George Foreman-Alcohol (Red Shorts)
Muhammed Ali-Cocaine (White Shorts)
The Rumble in the Jungle was a historic boxing event in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), on October 30, 1974 which pitted the undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman against challenger Muhammed Ali, the former heavyweight champion. It is widely considered as one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th Century with an estimated 1 billion television viewers worldwide.
For those who have no idea about the fight, Foreman started as heavy favorite and looked certain for victory as, for the first 7 rounds he beat Ali up pretty solidly. However, he succumbed to fatigue in the 8th round and a quick flurry of punches by Ali knocked Foreman to the ground, stripping him of his crown and previous air of invincibility! It was a stunning, unexpected victory for Ali who had verbally taunted Foreman throughout the fight.
"Alcohol Beat me Black and Blue.
Cocaine Delivered the Knock Out Punch"
My lifestyle was the epitome of unsustainable living. I have often used the boxing analogy to describe my addictions. The simplest way to put it is that alcohol (and gambling) beat me black and blue for 7 rounds of my life. Yet, time and time again, I would always go back for more alcohol-induced punishment, no matter how progressively bad life had become.
It was only when cocaine came along that life quickly spiraled out of control and it delivered the knockout punch in the 8th round, just like Ali did to Foreman in Zaire.
Would I have made it to rehab to deal with an alcohol and gambling problem? I simply don't know. I would like to think so but cocaine made the decision for me. Control was relinquished.
George Foreman represents the alcoholic in my life; I went to war with the world every day just like he went to war with Ali in the 'Rumble in the Jungle'. Every second, of every round, of my life had become a constant battle for survival. I was only too willing to engage in a duel with the biggest and best of them. However, in the process I also took many hits, both real and imaginary, which like Foreman, were slowly wearing me down, both physically and mentally, albeit unbeknownst to me.
Eventually through sheer exhaustion, I surrendered unconditionally, admitting complete and absolute defeat, thereby actually achieving the ultimate and highest victory possible which is 'Freedom'. I did not know this at the time. That came later with much soul searching and, of course, the help of the staff at Hope Rehab Thailand.
We admitted we were powerless over...that our lives had become unmanageable....
Like Foreman, I thought I was winning, just like all alcoholics/addicts delude themselves in to believing throughout their lives. Ali verbally taunted Foreman throughout the first 7 rounds of the fight. I felt the universe (as well as my incessant negative internal chatter) was constantly taunting me and laughing at me as I stumbled from one alcohol or drug fueled disaster to another.
The addict/alcoholic in me developed a siege mentality. As a result as it felt like the whole world was out to get me and that I was always destined to lose. It weighed heavily on my mind and was mentally exhausting. I wonder did Ali's taunts get inside Foreman's mind. Did he started to experience similar negative thoughts as a result of them?
By the 8th round, Foreman may also have been drawn in to a false sense of security and delusion. He had not reckoned that Ali was as cunning, powerful, baffling and patient as he turned out to be. In the blink of an eye, amid a quick flurry of punches Foreman was on the canvas and the fight was over. Ali's 'CocainEsque' blitz finally floored the previously undefeated fighter.
It must have come as a huge shock to Foreman to suddenly realize he was not invincible. He was on the ground, defeated and there was absolutely nothing he could do but hold his hands up and humbly admit it. Most alcoholics/addicts in recovery know how this very feeling of complete surrender is hugely significant and maybe absolutely vital.
In the end maybe Foreman was lucky. He was brought to his knees by Ali in the 8th round before possible, serious life-threatening damage was inflicted in later rounds as he tired even further. At the time, the defeat must have caused serious hurt to his pride and ego but, as Marcellus Wallace in 'Pulp Fiction' insightfully declares:
"Pride only hurts, it never helps".
Cocaine floored me in the 8th round of my life. If it had not, I doubt I'd be around today to tell the tale; the descent had been alarmingly fast and equally terrifying. My pride had to be completely smashed before I could make any meaningful progress in life. Brett Walker, Addiction Therapist and Sober Coach, at Hope Rehab Thailand, helped me see that more than anyone. I've renamed him Marcellus Wallace in honor of his achievement!
Like Foreman, I admitted defeat which wasn't an easy thing to do by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, is was an act of bravery I, at one stage, would have considered beyond me. Our complete surrender meant we both lived to 'enjoy' many more days. Foreman had a very successful life after this fight. Had he continued battling on to the 12th, he probably would have been dead years ago. Had I not admitted complete and utter defeat in July 2019, I'd also have been dead by now. Of that, I have no doubt.
The catchy headline "Cocaine may have saved my life" does not mean I am advocating following my path, thinking it will save you too. It won't. I was lucky, very, very lucky. Cocaine finally brought me to my knees, yet thankfully, for me, delivered me straight into the excellent care of Hope Rehab in Thailand where my recovery began on July 09 2019. I'm very grateful to all the staff there for their help both before, during and after my time there.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Why wait for the knock out punch to take action?
A life in active addiction is a living hell. Whether you care to acknowledge it or not, every day represents a fight for survival. You never know when that fatal knockout punch is going to land. It will. It is in the post for us all. While it is true that 'No One Here Gets Out Alive', how you choose to spend your days is within your control. The level of pain and suffering you have to endure each day can be greatly reduced by seeking help. With #COVID19 there are so many online meetings for AA, NA, Recovery Dharma, GA and every other addiction out there! Help and support is readily available.
Do you wish to continue on the same tragic journey through life in silent pain with no meaning or purpose? This was exactly how my life was panning out because of alcohol, gambling and drugs. These substances and activities were bringing a slow internal death to my life devoid of love, joy and happiness. In their place, self-loathing, apathy and a deep sense of distrust of the world and everyone around me polluted my mind turning every thought dark.
Through all the dark days, the wild nights, anxiety laced mornings, the arguments, depression, regrets, fear, guilt, anger, hurt caused, bitterness and recriminations, one thing that kept me going was a steely belief and determination within myself that change was possible. I never gave up 'Hope' that I could one day arrest the malady that I believed had enveloped and warped my mind.
I am happy to have discovered that in this long painful fight, 'Defeat Brought Victory'.
One thing, I have found in the last 13 months is how 'Authenticity' and being yourself is not an easy choice as people can be very uncomfortable with any change that challenges the norms. I will write about this in greater detail in another article but I will share with you with this quote by E.E.Cummings:
"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night, and day, to make you everybody but yourself - means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight -and never stop fighting".
Compared to all the previous fights I have been through, this one is a walk in the park! I am happy to report that it is a very enjoyable journey of self discovery for me filled with an internal peace and serenity that, in my wildest dreams, I never believed possible.
In the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, beautifully wrote:
"To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation".
You too can overcome your demons and enjoy peace, love and joy. Don't ever give up.
If you have a problem with alcohol/drugs or are struggling with your mental health in general, I suggest you please seek help today. Do not suffer in silence. There is so much support available nowadays. Here is a link to some excellent mental health and addiction counselors at Hope Rehab, that I have personally used, who I highly recommend.
Eugene Leonard 20/08/2020 Hoi An Vietnam