On Saturday I was walking by the Hillsborough River alongside a row of parallel parked cars. In one of the cars was a man sitting in the driver seat. As I was walking by, he lifted a large, hardcover book up to his nose and snorted a line of some white powder through a rolled-up dollar bill. The fact that he was oblivious—or maybe just unconcerned—with me witnessing his nasal ingestion of what was most likely an illicit substance, really cracked me up. I laughed, but kept walking.
In my pre-sobriety days, I snorted some lines myself. Mostly cocaine and crushed pills (Xanax, Oxycodone, other narcotics). Cocaine was the worst. I remember the comedowns being particularly vicious. It felt like my soul was being sucked out of my body. I would lie in bed, writhing and paralyzed, unable to do anything but endure the pain. As Rick James said: "Cocaine is a hell of a drug."
I recently watched the Netflix series Narcos, which recreates the saga of Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel. Actually, my dad was a minuscule fraction of that epic Columbian drug trade, as it spilled over into Miami and moved north through Florida and the rest of the country. He did prison time for minor trafficking. I never got involved with the selling though.
Cocaine alters consciousness in a peculiar way. The molecule acts as both a stimulant and an anesthetic, so there is a hyped-up numbness that arises. In theory, it's a great combination, because the mind stays focused without being distracted by the burdensome signals of pain. But, as we all know, the theory collapses under the weight of its own artificial constructs.
There's a myth that percolates the so-called counter culture, and that is that great artists have produced great works because they were high on drugs. While I don't doubt that a portion of famous songs, books, paintings, and other compositions were crafted while under the influence, I don't buy into the suggestion that drugs enhance the overall creative process, at least not in the long term.
I've never written with as much purpose, clarity, or color as when I found AYP and stuck with sobriety. The inner sensuality of the natural mind, uninhibited by synthetic stimulation, is unquestionably superior. Even so, I'm still healing, and often times treading water—trying to generate enough momentum to reach a better plateau.
The effects of long-term use of drugs like alcohol and cocaine don't just fade away with a next-day hangover. They last for years. Prolonged use results in prolonged recovery, and the process of regeneration and reintegration is long and arduous. But I'd rather be licking my wounds on the way to freedom, than staying comfortably numb and drifting further away from the truth. It's not that hard of a decision or commitment. The logic is perfectly sound, and the love of the chosen ideal is perpetually sustaining.
The higher power is in us.