Destination: Salvation . . . Just 3,000 Miles Southeast

Cocaine and I were best friends for five years. We went everywhere together; clubs, parties, relatives’ houses, you name it. It was a motivator, a friend, a pick-me-up, an escape and a good time. All it wanted in return was my career, my social life, my family, my heart and my mental health. Seems like a fair trade, right? Have you ever known someone who had a heart attack when they were 26? You have now. It took me a year and a half to shake myself free of this horrible drug—there are some days when I can’t believe how lucky I am to still be alive.

I had never understood people who said that they wanted to give up coke. I couldn’t understand how they’d want to stop feeling the way it makes you feel. It seemed insane to want to get off this ride, particularly if you could afford it like I could. After a while, I figured out those people were just further along in the process than I was. When I experienced was this stuff could do, I launched a halfhearted attempt to get clean on my own; self-detox, outpatient programs, the works. I tried everything accept the most obvious option, which was residential rehab.

I didn’t pursue an inpatient program because I was afraid of just how addicted I was. Even after I started feeling sick from withdrawal, I regarded cocaine as more of a hobby than an actual addiction problem. Then when I had my heart attack, things got serious and I knew that if I didn’t stop cocaine, it would stop me. A family friend who heard about my heart attack and cocaine addiction told me about a luxury rehab in Palm Beach, Florida that saved him. We both live in northern California so I said to him aren’t there like a million rehabs right here in California? He told me he felt like he had gone to a million rehabs himself (actually just three in California) and relapsed almost immediately after leaving each one of them. I did not want to fly across country, but I also did not want to die from another heart attack at 26!

I was scared out of my mind at first in this strange place with strange people, and if I’m being honest, I was worried about being able to score in case this didn’t go well. To my amazement, everything went better than I ever expected it could and I had found exactly what luxury drug rehab meant: the best doctors, the best accommodations, the most amenities, the best of everything.

The day after I got back home after successfully completing my rehab program I got a call from my program. They had called to check up on me and to tell me that I ever felt the urge to relapse, to call them. Before that phone call I was confident that I’d be able to stay clean; afterwards, I was certain of it. I keep in touch with my therapist and six cocaine-free months later, I give thanks every day that I got on that plane and followed our family friend’s advice.