Submitted by megan on Thu, 08/06/2009 - 17:06
The personal experience I have of crack use is second-hand and of thankfully short duration.
Way back in the way back, for 4 years, I dated someone addicted to alcohol. I'm not talking the kind of person who'd probably be very uncomfortable if they had to go for few days without a few beers. I am talking about a serious and pernicious addiction that worked in a brutal and not-quite-predictable cycle.
He couldn't manage school, kept getting fired, had a hard time finding a new job. When he was drunk it was a nightmare with both of us out of control. The time he spent sober I spent sick-stomached waiting for it all to start again. It made both of our lives a fucking mess, and it took me two years of breaking up, trying to be friends and then taking him back to get him out of my life once and for all. The final straw was finding him drunk in my apartment with a teenaged runaway who lived down the hall.
The penultimate straw was crack.*
When he told me about this new habit he'd picked up - in the bathroom of a bar where he was drunk was the going story - I was only moderately surprised. I already knew that something had been going on for a few months. We lived in the same rooming house, went into and out of each other's rooms at will. He was suddenly gone most of the time, reappearing for a few minutes here and there, barely stopping to talk, in and out, at random hours. The only thing I could imagine was that he was cheating; I couldn't track him down to talk about it.
One evening, wanting a book, expecting him gone. I unlocked, fast knocked, and opened his door. It caught hard a few inches in with the chain pulled taut. It was dark in the room. I heard bedclothes rustling. A shifting sigh. He came to the door and leaned his forehead on the frame. The rest of his gaunt face was shadowed.
I have something to tell you he said.
That it was drugs made sense to me.The Other Woman spectre had been looming further and further away. He'd cheated on me before** and hadn't acted anything like what was going on. This time too, he'd gone through all of his money and an awful lot of mine, always for "rent" or "prescriptions."
You wouldn't think I'd be relieved about crack, but I was. I'd been handling his current substance for years at that point. Fundamentally, I didn't feel like this was much different. The behaviour, yes, and the scariness factor, yes. But not the core truth of it. He was no more emotionally stable when he was using just one substance. I was no more able to hold us both afloat.
After that conversation through the gap, he went into an outpatient clinic specifically for crack users. To the supposed wonder and irritation of the whole group, he found it remarkably easy to stop doing crack. Though he was a liar of pathological proportions, this still rings true. The erratic behaviour stopped and we went back to the more predictable drinking cycle, at which I was at least fairly practiced. He didn't go through money quite so fast. But he was around a lot more.
It didn't take many more weeks of that before I got him gone entirely. So far in my life, doing that is the hardest thing I've had to do.
This post all started because of the house across the street. It's always been a bit scoundrelly, but I thought of the tenants sort of affectionately that way. If they were scoundrels and sometimes loud, they mostly kept to themselves and seemed smoothed over, fairly agreeable with anyone who wasn't themselves or their asshole of a landlord. I thought of them as Our Scoundrels.
New people moved in a few months ago, and Our Scoundrels moved out because of them. They and the people who come because of them are a jaggedy lot, spilling into the backyard across and up and down the street.
I found out just a few days ago that it's a crack house. Lots of us on the street are upset, not so much about what is going on but how disruptive it is to the tenor of the whole street. Me included.
All of that is what I sat down to write about, my concerns with what's happening, but with my own reactions as well. But what's above is what came out instead.
I hope to get to what's going on now over the next week or two.
*I know. You'd think that taking up crack on top of booze might have been last straw material. Apparently, my head loved that wall.
**Most notably while I was in the hospital after having tried to kill myself. I was bitter about it for a long time and now it just boggles my mind.