I might act crazy but I don't smoke crack.
May 13, 2007 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Is my flatmate really on crack?

He's generally a decent guy, in employment and pretty chilled out. However, once in a while he and some quite dodgy friends go on a bender lasting all night, which on occasion lasts till about 10 in the morning. This made me think speed, but he apparently admitted to being a crack ‘addict’ to one of the other guys (who moved out a while back).

Now, is it possible to be a recreational user of crack w/out being an ‘addict’? What are the signs? He does spend an inordinate amount of time at the pub, which according to ex-flatmate is where much of the buying and selling gets done. This is in London, btw.
posted by Kiwi to Society & Culture (18 answers total)
crack? it's hard to be a casual crack addict... but what you describe does sound a lot like cocaine to me. Might he just be snorting and not smoking?
posted by tundro at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

A lot of people in London spend inordinate amounts of time at the pub... rest assured, they overwhelmingly are not crack addicts.
posted by modernnomad at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2007

It is definitely possible to use crack recreationally... just like any other drug.
posted by loiseau at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2007

Got the same thing going on at my place (in the US tho), but there is no admission of usage. It is just that I used to manage a homeless shelter and see alot of parallels in my roomie's behavior - binging, stuff getting broken, certain things said as an aside.

On my end, I am starting a log of his partying ways. I am also going out of my to make jokes about crackheads to see how he reacts. Recently, when I made some off the cuff comment about crack, he got very defensive. In the meantime, I am locking my room and other posessions. In the end, if the behavior continues, I will take it to the landlord.

The problem with crack (amongst many things) is that it user can still obtain it for relatively little money. Should your roommate become unemployed, he can still continue the habits that probably cost him his job. At the same time, without an income, he will resort to petty theft to pay for the drug.

>> it's hard to be a casual crack addict...

This is very true. Also, the fall into that lifestyle can be extremely fast. The price of a gram of cocaine will buy ALOT of rocks of crack. And crack/cocaine users are not known for overly rational thinking. In a polluted mind, the rationale for getting the high will easily push aside consequences of those actions.

Be careful.
posted by lampshade at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2007

If he's relatively new to the drug he could still be chipping. Did he have a powder cocaine habit prior to hitting the pipe? That's evidence of addiction progression if you ask me, which makes building a case for his being a long term recreational user harder to do.

You don't stay a weekend warrior on the rock for too long if you've really got a taste for it.
posted by The Straightener at 8:13 AM on May 13, 2007

I'd start looking for a new flatmate.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2007

1. It's possible to be a recreational user of crack, but as previous posters have mentioned -- it's damn easy to fall down the slope into addiction and a load of other shite.

2. If you need to ask if your roommate is on crack, something's not right with your roommate. Even if it's not crack, it ain't good.

3. Dude, it's time to start looking for a new roommate.
posted by huskerdont at 8:57 AM on May 13, 2007

Does it ever smell like burning rubber around the house?
posted by availablelight at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2007

Keep an eye out on payday. Addicts blow their pay packet on drugs and you'll often see people come in late or call out sick the next day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:47 AM on May 13, 2007

I also was going to ask about any burning rubber/plastic smells you might be getting whiffs of. A neighbor smoked crack and I could smell it through the closet-- NASTY.
And if you do smell this in your flat, lay down the law and do not allow it or else get rid of him!
posted by bobobox at 9:58 AM on May 13, 2007

I think the nub of this tale is how reliable is the person who is making the allegations about his admission of crack addiction. You say he 'apparently' admitted this, which seems somewhat unclear to me and could be third hand gossip or speculation.

There's nothing about your account of his behaviour that seems particularly indicative. Many young men will spend lots of time in the pub, many will stay out all night drinking, smoking weed, whatever.

If he was genuinely addicted, it seems unlikely that you wouldn't have noticed some more obvious indicators by now as he'd almost certainly be smoking in your shared accomodation, and you'd notice the pacing, the paranoia, the picking pieces of lint up off the carpet and trying to smoke them, etc.

It's possible that he's still in the early stages and is using occasionally. It is possible -- though pretty damn rare -- to be an occasional/recreational user of crack.

FWIW, I don't think crack smells like burning rubber at all. It smells a bit like solvents, a bit like petrol -- with the peculiar chemical smell of cocaine.

Here in the UK, crack really isn't that cheap. A ten pound rock might last ten or twenty minutes before he'll want another one. An average habit is probably thirty to fifty pounds a day. If he really does have a problem, he'll be burning through money pretty damn quick and will inevitably struggle to meet his financial obligations.

Wait and watch, IMO. If he becomes erratic, unstable or financially unreliable, any of those things are reason enough to find another roommate regardless of their personal drug of choice.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:31 AM on May 13, 2007

Best answer: It is very possible to be an occasional user of crack -- I was one, much like you describe your roommate. At the time, it was just one of the things my friends and I would sometimes do, every month or so. We did not do it more often than that, because it was comparatively expensive for an evening's entertainment, we had to deal with sketchy people to get it so it felt like more of a legal risk than other drugs, and a night on crack takes a lot out of you. It has been almost twenty years since then, and I look back on it as good times.

There is not really an objective definition of drug addiction -- you look for negative life consequences due to the drug to decide when casual use has crossed into addiction. E.g. Your roommate is employed, he has a place, he pays his bills, presumably doesn't steal or lie or whore himself, his personality has not changed for the worse, and apparently only goes on a bender "every once in a while." It does not sound like he is an addict.

If those benders are irritating enough to you in your shared space that you want them to stop, tell him so. If you are uncomfortable with any illegal drug consumption in your flat, tell him that. You have the right to determine, with your roommates, what goes on in your shared space. You have the right to choose other roommates if you want. What you don't have is the right to get all up in this guy's business. And OMGCrack! doesn't change that.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:56 AM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: PeterMcDermott, what happened is my present flatmate told my ex-flatmate, who then told me. What my ‘apparently’ was alluding to, was whether the word ‘user’ got changed to ‘addict’ in the re-telling. (I forgot to confirm.)

Methylviolet, that stage you went through does seem like the guy I’m sharing with. Interesting to know you can be a user and not addicted; most of the info on the web seems to be a bit alarmist on that matter. And yes, it does irritate me a bit because it’s not just a weekend thing. But no problem, I am indeed moving out because – he holds the main lease on the flat....
posted by Kiwi at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2007

It does not sound like he is an addict.

I think you need to know a little more about his interior mental life before making that judgement. If he spends days on end fantasizing about the drug, if his mood is affected by its absence in the times between binges and if his alcohol or other substance consumption increases in those same intervals when he's without his drug of choice then he would fit my definition of an addict. I don't think there's enough evidence here to really determine one way or the other.
posted by The Straightener at 3:00 PM on May 13, 2007

Interesting to know you can be a user and not addicted; most of the info on the web seems to be a bit alarmist on that matter.

It's kind of unusual for precisely the reasons that methylviolet describes. Unless you really, really like it, the people you have to deal with to buy it, the legal risks and the fairly unpleasant come down tends to limit the amount of time that you'll do it for.

And if you do really, really like it, your chance of developing a problem with it are fairly high because of its peculiar pharmacological action.

Like methylviolet, I was an occasional user in my younger days. Fortunately for me, the negative effects rapidly started to outweigh the positive ones, but the whole intermittent reinforcement thing that you get with it meant that I still continued to use it for a fair while, even though I'd long started to find the effects unpleasant.

The experience came to feel a bit like throwing twenty pound notes onto the fire in order to make yourself feel paranoid, anxious and guilty. But you keep on doing it in the vain hope that the next time you'll get that sublime, ineffable sensation of almost perfect exhilaration.

Friends weren't so lucky, and some ended up serving some serious jail time as a consequence of crack related activities.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:32 PM on May 13, 2007

If you just heard second-hand that he was a "crack" addict, take it with a grain of salt. Not to say he may not be on something, but it might not be crack. There's any number of things it could be instead. Some friends I know drink a bunch of energy drinks at the beginning of the night and are able to party to the wee hours of the morning--perhaps it's that innocent. ("innocent" being a relative term, of course)

The real question is do you feel at all uncomfortable with the behavior of your roommate? Is he a danger, or simply untrustworthy? I've had my experimentations with *cough* things of that nature, but I'm more or less not a psycho. knock on wood!
posted by zardoz at 4:15 AM on May 14, 2007

This made me think speed, but he apparently admitted to being a crack ‘addict’ to one of the other guys (who moved out a while back).

Don't know about UK drug lingo, but in the use some people still refer to crystal meth as crank. Is it possible there was a misunderstanding?

Was the roommate possibly just shooting off his mouth and saying "crack" to sound tough, when really he just snorts cocaine like most folks who drink all night and stumble in at 10 am?
posted by desuetude at 6:26 AM on May 14, 2007

some people in the US, I mean. Not in the use.
posted by desuetude at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2007

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