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No Longer High Art

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By McCarton Ackerman

08/07/12

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Was there a moment when you realized something had to change?

Several years later, in 1984. I was living in Orange County and was miserable, doing a lot of coke. My car had been stolen, so I took the insurance money and bought an ounce of cocaine to go out and sell. I was at someone’s house in Orange County later that night and we’d been shooting up for hours. I put a three-quarters of a gram of cocaine into a needle and it was just too much. I went out cold, writhing about, tongue in the back of my throat and eyes rolled out. My friends who were there all ran out into suburbia screaming at 4:00am. The only thing that saved me was the guy living next door to me hearing everyone yelling. He was an EMT and coming home with his partner in the middle of the night to use the bathroom before going back to work.

You quit doing drugs after that?

I stopped doing hard drugs from there, but still had anxiety attacks and was smoking cigarettes and pot to deal with it. That New Year’s Eve, I quit everything. I started drinking again eventually because my doctor at that time, who knew about my sobriety, said it was okay to have a few drinks. It was absolutely retarded. So alcohol became my new drug of choice until I eventually just had enough and got fully sober on June 15, 1989.

What advice would you give to people who are trying to maintain their sobriety?

Stay present and be very aware. And try to form meaningful relationships in your life with great people. If you can afford it, try to get a therapist as well. It helps bring out things in your life that are there but aren’t always being addressed. Especially for addicts, that level of accountability is important. 

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer currently residing in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Time Out New YorkThe Huffington Post, abcnews.com and usopen.org, among others. He has also written about Carré Otis and Celebrity Rehab, among many other topics, for The Fix.

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