Pakistan pace great Wasim Akram has revealed he developed a cocaine addiction after his retirement from the game but quit following the death of his first wife in 2009.
The 56-year-old has opened up about his dependency on cocaine in his upcoming autobiography ‘Sultan: A Memoir.’ Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker in both Test and ODI cricket said he started to crave ”a substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition” when he was travelling away from his first wife Huma.
”The culture of fame in south Asia is all consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to 10 parties a night, and some do. And it took its toll on me,” Akram told the Times.
”It made me volatile. It made me deceptive. Huma, I know, was often lonely in this time… she would talk of her desire to move to Karachi, to be nearer her parents and siblings.
”I was reluctant. Why? Partly because I liked going to Karachi on my own, pretending it was work when it was actually about partying, often for days at a time.” Widely regarded as one of the best bowlers of all times, Akram made his international debut in 1985, playing 104 Tests and 356 ODIs for Pakistan. He picked 414 Test wickets and 502 ODI wickets.
”Huma eventually found me out, discovering a packet of cocaine in my wallet… ‘You need help.’ I agreed. It was getting out of hand. I couldn’t control it. One line would become two, two would become four; four would become a gram, a gram would become two. I could not sleep. I could not eat.
”I grew inattentive to my diabetes, which caused me headaches and mood swings. Like a lot of addicts, part of me welcomed discovery: the secrecy had been exhausting.” Akram went to rehab but his experience with the doctor was all but pleasant, resulting in a relapse.
”The doctor was a complete con man, who worked primarily on manipulating families rather than treating patients, on separating relatives from money rather than users from drugs,” he said.
”Try as I might, part of me was still smouldering inside about the indignity of what I’d been put through. My pride was hurt, and the lure of my lifestyle remained.
”I briefly contemplated divorce. I settled for heading to the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy where, out from under Huma’s daily scrutiny, I started using again.”
However, the legendary pacer, who continues to take up commentary and coaching assignments around the world, said he eventually stopped after Huma’s sudden death from a rare fungal infection in 2009.
”Huma’s last selfless, unconscious act was curing me of my drug problem. That way of life was over, and I have never looked back,” he added.