Ask an Expert: Can I Use Cocaine in Moderation?

By Roland Williams 02/19/15
Today's question is on if it's possible to use cocaine to party once in a while without being an addict.

Last year I made $60,000 net and spent $23,000 of it on cocaine which I probably am addicted to. I mean I can't say I am not. I am a white collar addict. 32. I do web work at a straight company that doesn't do drug testing but got into the blow as a musician, my wished-for career that ain't working out. I'm having increased problems keeping my game going at work - I already burned out all my sick days for the year and have been telling people my doctors can't find my problem. When I am there I still get the job done but who knows how long that is going to last. I have no interest in NA or 12 steps and would like to be in a place where I can party now and then on coke but not be dependent on it. Does that exist? Are there measures I can take - more exercise, say, or some pills - that would allow me to maintain with going completely sober? - Roger


Roland Williams:  Hi Roger. First of all thanks for writing and I really appreciate your honesty. I know from working the last 28 years with people struggling with alcohol and drugs, that many of them really wish, like you, that they could figure out a way to continue to use “every now and then” without having all the problems. As a matter of fact many addicts spend years of their lives trying to moderate, control or cut back on their use. It’s common that they try to cut down, switch brands, avoid the hard stuff, limit the amount of money they spend, only use on certain days, avoid hanging out with certain people, staying away from different places, etc. 

And one of two things usually happens, they happily discover that they can manage their use, and get high like a “lady or a gentleman” or they discover as I did and many many others, that drugs and alcohol eventually kicks their ass…and not just once, but over and over again. After a while most people get tired of getting in the ring with “Mike Tyson,” as much as they tried to hang in there. The dope was just too big and too strong. 

So in reading your question it appears that you might want to be careful, I’m a bit worried about you, actually. You seem to be headed for trouble and I think you know it. If you think you’re “probably and addict” you are probably correct, and a white collar addict is still and addict. As you say, you are spending more than a third of your salary on cocaine, your “wished for” career isn’t happening, and your are jeopardizing your current job; you are lying to your employers and have wasted your “sick-time.” And even though you say while you are there at work you “still get the job done,” in actuality you are probably giving them about 70% of your capability.

Also every time you purchase, possess and use cocaine you are committing a felony. And I would suspect there are several other areas of your life that have been negatively impacted by your use, i.e your health, your relationships, your social life, your ambition, your mood, etc. I can tell you that most of the time, addiction’s negative consequences get progressively more severe. If you continue to use, things are most likely going  to get worse rather than get better. I think it’s time for a change.

One of the diagnostic criteria for addiction is the “loss of control.” That's an interesting concept which I’m sure you may understand. What it means is that 9 out of 10 times the addict/alcoholic can keep his word and use responsibly, however 1 out of 10 times a switch in the brain gets activated and even though s/he only intended to drink 2-3 or just use a little bit of blow, something goes crazy and they are off on a run, using way more than they intended, for longer periods of time with major consequences. The deal is, the addict cannot consistently predict,(key word “consistently”) the amount, effects, duration and consequences when they use. It’s actually like playing “Russian Roulette.” So that means your desire to “party every now and then” will probably eventually include some problems, and if you are willing to pay that price and take that risk, “Party On.”. 

However if I were working with you, I would respectfully invite you to get some “clean time”... i.e no drugs and no alcohol, clean and sober.Give it 6 months, and see how it feels, I would want you to have something to compare your current life to. And I’m not just suggesting abstinence, I’m talking Recovery. I would encourage you to really get healthy while you are abstaining. Develop a plan to take good care of your body, your mind, your emotions, your relationships and your Spirit. It’s fine that you don’t want to go to NA or work the 12 Steps, but I would encourage you to get around some people who understand addiction and could support you getting healthy. You will need someone you can talk to about everything, so maybe look for a good therapist, mentor, advisor, etc. 

Then after six months of really giving sobriety a shot, if you still want to “party,” at least you are making an educated decision. If you are unable or unwilling to get abstinent and things start to take a turn for the worse, I would strongly suggest you get yourself into treatment. And there are treatment centers that specialize in working with people who don’t want the 12 Steps. If you have any trouble finding one, shoot me an email at[email protected]

I wish you all the best, and would love to hear how things go.  



Roland Williams, MA, is an internationally recognized addiction interventionist, author, educator, trainer, counselor and consultant. He heads and has provided treatment and program development consultation to major institutions around the world. A popular keynote speaker, he authoredRelapse Prevention Counseling for African AmericansRelapse Warning Signs for African Americans (with Terence T. Gorski), and the Relapse Prevention Workbook for African Americans.    Full Bio.

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