“I went to rehab. My friends embraced me when I got out. You relapse, it’s not like that. ‘Get away from me’ — that’s what it’s like.”
—Leo McGarry, “Bartlet for America,” The West Wing
Hello, my name is Greg, and I’m a Docoholic.
I’ve been hooked on Doc since 1984. It started when I was in college. I’d heard and read so much about Doc that I just had to see for myself what it was all about. My first time was in St. Petersburg.
Doc was everything they said it would be. It was exhilarating just to be around Doc. It was a rush. Everything just sped up. Things would rise. Things would break. It was a high like no other.
Before I knew it, I had to have Doc every fifth day.
I graduated from college in 1985 and went back to New York just so I could get as much Doc as I could. I wasn’t the only one, either. We were all addicted to Doc in those days. Every exposure to Doc made you want more. Doc was everywhere in ’85. Doc was all that mattered back then. I should have been out getting a job, starting a career, but all I wanted to do was sit in my room with my Doc paraphernalia and think about how amazing Doc was.
My Doc addiction — and yes, it was an addiction — was unstoppable, impenetrable. I would have taken Doc every fourth day if I could have. I didn’t think there could be any side effects. Doc was too awesome for that.
Thing is, you get hooked on Doc, you can’t believe anything can ever go wrong. It’s always gonna be a high, right? Always the rising, always the breaking, always these visions of letters, one after another, like you’ve really seen the light or something. Doc took you to places you never imagined really existed.
Then you find out they didn’t exist, not permanently. But you can’t help yourself from thinking it does. You think Doc is the answer to everything. I did, anyway. I kept up my Doc addiction in ’86. It didn’t feel quite the same, but I told myself that maybe it was just a bad batch. I took Doc as long as I could that year, a whole month longer than I did in ’85. But it wasn’t as good as ’85. Not bad, just not great.
Had to be a mistake, I figured. Doc’s good stuff, right? Doc won’t let me down. Next chance I had, I was ready for more. But then…oh man. I couldn’t get my hands on any Doc in ’87, not for a long while anyway. It was my first withdrawal and it was painful. That should have been a sign, y’know?
But I didn’t take it that way, and when the Doc supply became plentiful again, I was right there, ready to partake all over again like it was never missing.
You can’t fathom the lengths of self-deception you’ll go to when it comes to Doc. I mean all you want is that high again, that indescribable state of dizziness and euphoria. All the while, a little voice is telling you it’s not as potent as it once was, but you shut out the little voice. The little voice gets louder. Then your friends chime in: “Hey, maybe Doc’s not so great after all. Maybe it’s time we stop depending on Doc to get us high.”
So you break it off with your friends because how can they be your friends if they’re not into Doc the way you are? The addiction is so powerful that you refuse to acknowledge any evidence that Doc’s not as effective as it used to be. You can’t accept that Doc’s just not that great anymore.
How could Doc not be? Doc made you feel like the world was yours. Every fifth day nobody could lay a finger on you, man. You were the greatest because Doc was the greatest. How can you give up on that? How?
Time goes by and it’s getting clearer and clearer that not only is Doc not what you were sure it was, but that it’s actually kind of dangerous. It clouds your judgment. You’re so hooked, though, all you want to do is defend Doc, to keep Doc around, to take as much Doc as there is. “It’s still good,” you say to yourself. “It’s perfectly safe, too.”
The little voice telling you otherwise gets louder. All you want to do is drown it out. Doc was the best thing that ever happened to you. How could it not be all right?
Then one day you wake up and find out Doc’s not around anymore. They got rid of it as if it never existed…’94, I guess. Just like that, they cleaned it up. Everybody acted like it was a no-brainer, like you had to do this for the good of all concerned. It was so cold — left me positively shaking. I couldn’t stand the idea of being without Doc, even the diluted Doc, even the dangerous Doc. You’ve been on Doc for a decade. You thought you’d always have Doc to get you through those fifth days.
Cold turkey is tough. I tried, sort of. I’d still find myself watching my old Doc videos late at night, staring at my old Doc magazines. That was how I tried to put Doc in the past. I told myself it was working. I mean, what was the harm of looking at images of Doc, right? Then, suddenly, I hear Doc’s back. Yeah, they said, you can get some Doc for yourself — all you gotta do is go to a really bad part of town and they’ll fix you up good.
I did it. I’m ashamed of myself, but I did it. Real seedy characters, not the kind of place you’d be caught dead. Maybe I was dead, in my soul anyway. Maybe I was just a Doc junkie. All that Doc had done something to me. Still, there was a night in ’96, beautiful night, and I couldn’t believe how much I wanted Doc. I just let myself go. Fell in with a very bad crowd for that one night, but I swear I thought it was worth it.
That should have been a wakeup call. For a little while maybe it was. I tried not to think about Doc even though it was right over there on that other side of town. I got involved in other things and I stayed clean for a while, I really did. Sure, now and then I’d think about Doc, but fleetingly, like nostalgia for when I was young and gullible. It was harmless. I’d moved on.
Truth is you never move on from Doc, not when you’re an addict the way I am. The years went by and I never got the taste out of my mouth or out of my veins. If they’d just bring Doc back, just a little. I understood perfectly the Doc you were gonna get these days wasn’t the Doc I remembered, but I just wanted, I dunno…I wanted it to feel like it was. I wanted to see Doc, to hear Doc, y’know? I wanted to know Doc was with me, not just in my memory.
They didn’t bring Doc back, though. I always thought they would, but something always prevented it. What would have been the harm? At this point it would just be recreational, for fun. That’s all, just a little reminder of the good times. I didn’t have to have the full dose I used to have. Just a taste, I swear. Didn’t happen. Instead, I kept hearing about how bad Doc had gone, how nobody should want anything to do with it anymore.
Intellectually, I understood Doc was probably bad news. But I couldn’t get Doc out of my head. Bring Doc back, I said, and everything will be all right. Just bring Doc back. Please. I gotta have Doc.
Then it happened, it really did. They brought Doc back. Brought it back to that place where you used to be able to get it all the time. It was right before they closed it. I couldn’t believe they were doing it. This was 2008. Fourteen years I’d waited for a taste.
It was so, so good. I don’t know if it was flashbacks I was having, but I swear for a minute or two it was like 1985 all over again. Things were rising. Things were breaking. It was like I was up on my feet clapping and cheering and crying and losing my mind, as if nobody had ever found anything wrong with Doc in the first place.
Oh I wanted it so badly to keep going. They were building this new place next door to the old place and I heard rumors they were gonna have Doc there, like it had gone mainstream again. I knew it could never be like it was, but somehow just to have some permanent reminder of Doc…that was gonna be enough. That was gonna make me feel it again.
One day in January they did it. They said Doc was OK. Doc was a part of everything. It was my dream come true. Doc had been my reason for living 25 years ago and now they were gonna enshrine Doc. They were gonna have a day for Doc. Imagine that, a whole day devoted to Doc! All that talk about how bad Doc was for us couldn’t be true if they were doing that, right?
But the little voice returned. I tried to shut it out, but it kept whispering to me. It said, “When’s the day for Doc? They oughta have it as soon as possible because ya never know. There might not be any Doc by the time they say they’re gonna have it.”
That little voice, man…that little voice is scary for what it knows.
I guess you heard the same things I heard yesterday about Doc, that it looks like Doc is way more dangerous than they said, that Doc is potentially lethal, that Doc, given the circumstances, could kill you.
I’ve always thought that sort of thing was overblown, that you could handle Doc. I’ve always thought that no matter what they said, that I could handle Doc. Doc gave me the best moments of my life. I didn’t want to quit Doc. But now, it’s finally dawned on me there really isn’t any more Doc, not the way I idealized it.
UPDATE: The agent for Dwight Gooden tells the Record of North Jersey it was Ambien that caused the car accident in question. Docoholics everywhere who are powerless over their addiction to Doc hope it’s true…’cause that’s what Docoholics do.