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EDITIONS
Monday, 24 June, 2002, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Crack cocaine nearly killed me
Crack dealer
Julie was using crack all night and all day
Privately educated Julie, 31, came from a privileged middle class background but developed a crack habit which forced her to sell all her belongings.

She eventually confronted her addiction and sought medical help and the services of Narcotics Anonymous and has now been "clean" for three years.

I was a chronic crack user.

But crack wasn't my only problem.

I had always been a drinker and dabbled in other drugs as a teenager, but by the age of 24, I was taking crack.

My dealer came round to my house one day and I asked him for a rock (of crack).


I was transformed into a wild animal and would hobble around the street

Julie, former crack addict
He said: "If you have one rock, this will be the end of you".

A rock cost about 20 and would last about 10 minutes.

I took a chance and decided to smoke the thing.

The first buzz is really good and then within 10 minutes I realised it was gone and I realised I wanted more.

From, that moment onwards, all that I cared about was crack.

Obsessive behaviour

I spent all my money I had from working on crack.

I also started to con my parents to say I needed some more money.

I ended up becoming obsessed by it.

It was like a hurricane. I sold everything in my house to pay for it, except my bed.

At 25, I didn't have a life. I was sitting in my room by myself.


Crack became more important to me than my family

Julie, former crack addict
I was psychotic and I was hallucinating. I was transformed into a wild animal and would hobble around the streets.

I would get my supplies from one guy, but would occasionally go to crack dens.

I broke every value. It ruined my life.

I had lost my friends and crack became more important to me than my family.

Crack becomes obsessive and you become isolated.

In the end, my dealer came round and found me with no electricity and no food.

He took me back to his house and I went and lived with him.

But that was really bad because I was given endless supplies of drugs.

Staring death in the face

I would use crack for 14 days and nights then take Rohypnol and crash out for two days and then start again.

You can't imagine what it's like. It's hell.

My family knew I was on crack. My mum and dad went to Narcotics Anonymous

They didn't know if I was going to die or not.

Crack cocaine
Crack is easy to acquire
Then one day I looked in the mirror and realised if I carried on for another month, I was going to die.

I needed to get into a detox place because I was so ill.

It was like a life or death thing. Do I want to live or die?

I wasn't sleeping or eating. I was six stone in weight.

I was taking 12 rocks a day at the height of my addiction. I was using crack cocaine all day and all night.

Crack was very easy to get hold of; as easy as going into an off licence and buying a bottle of wine.

Treatment costs

I got into debt.

I spent 45,000 worth of BUPA money on detox and rehabilitation clinics, but nothing worked.

I would come out of treatment after a day or two, instead of six weeks and come out and use crack again.


I was using crack cocaine all day and all night

Julie, former crack addict
I had no money left and nothing to support me except this dealer.

I kept saying to the dealer I so wanted to be out of this situation.

The dealer was completely clean. He never used it, but made loads of money selling drugs.

The dealer took me round to my parents and said: "Just take her to this detox centre."

I went to the detox centre and all they said was: "Get on with your life."

Normal life

I got funding and went to a day treatment programme, even though I had the most immense cravings.

But because I wanted to get off it, I stuck with it and went to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings to stay clean.

Every day I would go there and I would keep asking for drugs during NA meetings.

Within two to three weeks my compulsion to use crack had gone.

NA is about the only thing that works.

It is based on the principle that someone who is a crack addict cannot stop of their own volition.

I have been off it now for three years and I'm now back to a normal life.

If I can get off it, anyone can do it.

Julie is not her real name.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"In deprived areas, there has been a sharp increase in young people using crack"
See also:

24 Jun 02 | Scotland
17 Oct 01 | UK
07 Aug 01 | UK
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