'My devices turned into vices. Worst of all, I developed a dependence on cocaine.'
Former Pakistan skipper and fast bowling legend Wasim Akram has opened up on his struggle with a cocaine addiction after his cricket career ended, in his upcoming autobiography Sultan: A Memoir.
After an 18-year international career, Akram, Pakistan's top wicket-taker in both Test and ODI cricket, retired in 2003, but continued to travel the globe for teaching and commentary gigs.
According to ESPNcricinfo.com, he claims that his cocaine addiction started after he retired because he began to want "a substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition” and ended in 2009 when his first wife, Huma, passed away.
"I liked to indulge myself; I liked to party. The culture of fame in south Asia is all-consuming, seductive and corrupting. You can go to ten parties a night, and some do. And it took its toll on me. My devices turned into vices. Worst of all, I developed a dependence on cocaine. It started innocuously enough when I was offered a line at a party in England; my use grew steadily more serious, to the point that I felt I needed it to function," Akram wrote in his autobiography, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
"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 working when it was actually about partying, often for days at a time," he added.
"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."
Following his wife Huma's death in October 2009 from the uncommon fungus mucormycosis, the cocaine use stopped, according to Akram.
"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.”