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  • Chabad Lifeline


When I first started doing cocaine, I felt like it helped me become more like the "real me." All the filters, nerves and reservations seemed to melt away. I felt like I could be really present, engaged, and honest. By the end, though, I rarely made it through the day without lying to someone I cared about.

I grew up repressing a lot. My parents were constantly at each others’ throats, and I learned to stay out of the crossfire as much as I could. The best way to do this was to avoid making waves, which meant that I kept most of what I thought to myself, and what I did let out was very considered and heavily edited. This went on until I left home for college.

After a few trial runs doing lines at parties, I was hitting the bars with a baggie in tow, doing key bumps (snorting small amount of cocaine off of your house key) in the bathroom between overly intense conversations with total strangers, who were usually happy to join me in the bathroom to “recharge.” Soon, I started to plan my entire week around these outings.

After college, I managed to find a job that paid the bills while leaving enough “discretionary funds” left over to party on the weekend. Until it wasn’t enough. Eventually, the weekends started growing to include Thursdays, then Wednesdays. I started hitting up my parents for small loans. Being dishonest with them came easily enough, given my unspoken resentment toward them and history of keeping my true feelings to myself.

Of course, the money vanished pretty quickly. So I expanded my network of “patrons” to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. At first I would recycle the same stories I’d told my parents, but after a while I found I had developed a facility for making stuff up on the spot. Car problems, late paycheques, roommates leaving without paying their half of the rent…they all seemed plausible enough in the moment.

The more lies I told, the more paranoid I became. I dreaded seeing any of the family or friends I borrowed from because I was convinced I’d slip up on some detail or another. So I avoided them, and even started socializing less. Weekends out turned into binges at home by myself.

If I had to pinpoint a “moment of grace,” it was during a phone call to a particularly generous grandparent. From the moment I opened my mouth to launch into a story, I could detect a weariness in his voice. I knew in my gut he didn’t believe a word I was saying, but didn’t have the nerve or the heart or even the words to call me on it. He agreed to wire me a few hundred dollars, but when I got off the phone I felt completely spent. I needed help.

I feel extraordinarily lucky that I found Chabad Lifeline. It’s hard to express the relief I felt going somewhere where I could finally be honest about everything I had done, and to explore what exactly had brought me to that point. I started attending Cocaine Anonymous meetings as part of my treatment plan, and quickly took to a culture where the entire point was to be as truthful as possible. It was a revelation. I hope to rebuild the relationships I've damaged among the people I care about most, and now I feel like I have the foundation that will allow me to truly be myself. Recovery is about much more than not using; it’s about achieving emotional sobriety and dealing with the things that had been left to fester. I’m working towards letting go of the bitter feelings I have towards my parents, for my own sake. And with Lifeline’s support, I feel like it’s finally possible.

*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Doug immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.

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