My Father’s Cocaine Addiction

Earlier Tonight

I had a strange feeling that told me to call my father. Sometime in February I found out he relapsed on cocaine again, after he promised to help me with bills during Christmas. I’ve struggled to get him to help me financially for years, going back to when he left in November 2010. I feel like the money he promised for Christmas, and all the promises from years before, have gone up his nose instead.

Despite being respectful, I’ve grown to resent my father. After mom and I were left to fend for ourselves in 2010, he continued pursuing his “music career” instead of seeking help for his addiction. He is fully aware we have sold most of what we owned – my mom’s jewelry, furniture, DVDs, books, computers, and musical instruments. Still, he makes excuses whenever I need help paying the bills.

The conversation begins cordially. We chat about music – his default topic as a guitarist. Once again, he’s looking for other musicians to jam with and having no luck. The topic shifts to seeking treatment for his addiction. In my mind, I didn’t think my father would be using cocaine very often or he would be dead. I ask him how long he’s been sober, expecting at least a month or so.

After a pause, I hear “7 days”.

I ask him how often he’s been relapsing. “Does it matter?” He replies with a sad laugh.

The tone becomes much more serious. My father says he is thinking about checking himself into a treatment center for drug addiction. Someone is apparently willing to help pay for his 30 day stay. He’s finally on the 12 Steps program. He has a 70 year old sponsor that helps keep him in line. Despite all of this, he still relapsed as recently as last weekend.

Wake Up Calls

He relays a story to me. An addict my father never met is briefly awoken from a chemically induced coma – just long enough for doctors to inform him what surgeries they will be performing on him. In the short time he is awake from his coma, someone managed to put him on the phone with my father. This is how desperate people are to get through to him.

We talk about an old friend of the family, who we recently found out passed away in 2009. She sadly never recovered from her drug addiction.

We talk about old friends of his who suddenly passed away without ever using hard drugs. My father is surrounded by wake up calls.


Mom and dad used to play in a rock band called The Stereotypes. This was recorded in 1999.

A few years ago, he told me he had to burn away every part of his brain that enjoyed cocaine in order to become free from his addiction. He burned away a lot more than that: memory, talent, empathy towards others, maybe even happiness itself.

Recently I asked him how long exactly he’s been struggling with this addiction. He said it got bad in 2004. I was astonished. Mom and I didn’t even become aware of his secret until 2007. Mom started her Cocaine Widow blog in January 2008. He’s been fighting this disease for 11 years now – almost half my life.

“I have 20 people trying to keep me alive”, he said. After watching him relapse on cocaine again and again these past 8 years, I really don’t know if that will be enough. If he goes into treatment, he’ll only be able to write snail mail. No phone or Internet. But once the 30 days are up, he’ll be right back out in the real world – with all his contacts and all the money he needs to get high.

I have the distinct feeling that my father will not be a lot around for much longer. He has always been such a secretive person. He has never been so honest about his recent sins before.

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About Dylan Franks

My name is Dylan Franks, and I'm a game designer and musician. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. View all posts by Dylan Franks

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