White Lines: Writers on Cocaine


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Every once in a while, I read a book or see a film that makes me want to take a long shower and brush my teeth because I feel so damn dirty. The last thing I remember that did this was the 1992 film

And so it was with this preparation that I picked up


I’ve never done cocaine, and frankly never had the inclination to. But after reading this book I was pretty seriously skeeved out by it. The stories of crack dealers keeping 14 year old house whores to service customers, and of mothers spending each nephew’s college fund were truly scary. I was particularly touched because I recently worked with someone who admitted their drug problem (not cocaine) to me. Though I don’t know the status of that person’s addiction (or treatment), I shudder to think of what would have happened if this person had devolved into the kind of addict I read about in the book, and I’d had to deal with the issues of them hitting bottom.

I think my favorite story is the one that starts with a recovering addict just out of rehab going to Hard Drugs Anonymous meetings. He’s lost his journalism career, his wife and kids, and soon, his house. The HDA meetings happen pretty much round the clock, and he locks himself in the church for fear of falling off the wagon. Depression and sadness over the loss of his family drives him settle him into a funk and he finally goes to see his old crack dealer, and, in a moment of weakness, to pick up the pipe.

However, something inside him can’t bring himself to suck on it, so he drops the crack pipe and breaks it, incurring the wrath of the dealer. As the dealer, sitting in his feces stained house, starts yelling at him, he finally cracks and kills the dealer with the broken stem of the pipe. Suddenly, he feels a million times better. He takes the dealer’s gun, ammunition, cash, and his dog. Having paid off all his bills, he goes to see his sponsor who tells him he thinks he’s fallen off the wagon. Nope, I’ve just killed someone, he says, and that’s much better than failing his no drugs committment.

Take a moment and pick up