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Observations placeholder

Cash, Johnny - Cocaine Blues



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Johnny Cash - Cocaine Blues

Cash – the Autobiography of Johnny Cash

Everything just got more difficult as time went on, with Vivian and with drugs too. Amphetamines are hard to handle, and once you're into them to any extent you find out very quickly that you have a pressing need for other chemicals. I soon had to drink alcohol, usually wine or beer, to take the edge off my high if it got too sharp or knock myself out after being up for days, and after a while I got into barbiturates, too.

I wasn't high all the time.

Sometimes nothing I did would keep me in pills, and I'd be stuck somewhere out on the road, having to go clean. I feared that more than I feared my own death, but when it happened, I'd begin to feel pretty good after two or three days without drugs. Then, though, I'd get home, usually on a Monday, and I'd find the stress of my marriage so hard that I’d drive to that druggist, get two or three hundred pills, head out into the desert in my camper, and stay out there, high, for as long as I could.

Sometimes it was days.

Vivian, my preacher, and some of my friends fought for me, trying to make me save myself, but that just infuriated me, and I started staying away from home even more. I'd go out on tour and stay out when it was over.

All the time my habit just got worse, never better. I knew that, but it wasn't something I wanted to admit to myself. The crashes were coming closer together and I was burning myself out more often, going up to and past the point of total exhaustion, doubling and tripling and quadrupling my intake and getting a smaller and smaller margin of advantage.

That would all reveal itself to me, as would the logical destination - death - when I got to the end of a binge and found myself shaking, sweating, cramping, hurting, and scared beyond the ability of any chemical on earth to take away my fear.

Those states were temporary, though. The alcohol and barbiturates would knock me out eventually, and after a while, hours or days, l’d be able to get high again..............

June said she knew me - knew the kernel of me, deep inside, beneath the drugs and deceit and despair and anger and selfishness, and knew my loneliness. She said she could help me. She said we were soul mates, she and I, and that she would fight for me with all her might, however she could.

She did that by being my companion, friend, and lover, and by praying for me (June is a prayer warrior like none I've known), but also by waging total war on my drug habit. If she found my pills, she flushed them down the toilet. And find them she did; she searched for them, relentlessly.

If I didn't like that and said so, I had a fight on my hands. If I disappeared on her, she'd get Marshall or Fluke or someone else in the crew to go find me in the wee hours of the morning and coax me back to bed.

If I'd been up for days until I'd finally had the sense to take a handful of sleeping pills and crash - there was always an instinct telling me when to do that, pointing to the line between 'almost' and 'fatal'- I'd wake up from a sleep like death to find that my drugs, all my drugs, no matter how ingeniously I'd hidden them, were gone.

She only gave up once, in the mid-'6os in the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.

By that time I was totally reduced - I hate the term 'wasted'- and it's incomprehensible to me how I kept walking around, how my brain continued to function. I was nothing but leather and bone; there was nothing in my blood but amphetamines; there was nothing in my heart but loneliness; there was nothing between me and my God but distance.

The source of the experience

Cash, Johnny

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps