Cocaine Blues

One of my favourite early Bob Dylan songs was Cocaine Blues. I don’t know why the lyric “Cocaine all around my brain” has stuck with me for decades. But the accompanying lyric “This old cocaine ‘bout to make me sick” never meant much to me until I sat down with Kenny, the Area Chair for Cocaine Anonymous, to learn about addiction as a chronic illness.

There’s a great deal of stigma attached to the term “addict”. Pop culture and politics has shaped many of the public perspectives of cocaine addiction and what we think of addicts.  It was a revelation for me to explore the lived experience of an addict and how peer support plays a role in treatment.

Kenny shared with me his story, in advance of Cocaine Anonymous Southern Ontario chapter’s annual convention in Toronto on September 20-22. He tells it in own words with a hope to change the predominant perspective.

Kenny presents as the proverbial guy next door. He had his first contact with a mind-altering substance at age 13 when a schoolmate introduced him to sniffing nail polish remover. “Lets’ give it a shot”. He did. And he enjoyed it.

You might expect to think it was all downhill [...] continue the story