David Carr’s Take on Drug Addiction

February 13, 2015 Updated: February 13, 2015

To say the least, David Carr, the longtime New York Times columnist, had an interesting life.

An outlier in his field, he publicly spoke about his previous life of being hardcore drug addict and alcoholic.

In his 2008 memoir, “Me and My Girls – The Night of the Gun,” Carr asked: “Where does a junkie’s time go?”

“In retrospection, I’ve always thought of my career, both as a journalist and an addict, as a series of rapid ascents and declines,” Carr wrote the book, via Minnesota Public Radio. “But after a year of investigating my past, it became clear that I had been chugging along pretty nicely until 1986, and then dropped off the face of the earth in 1987 when I started smoking cocaine.”

In the 1980s, Carr’s life was mostly characterized by drugs and fast living.

“By 1985, I tried freebasing coke and its more prosaic sibling, crack,” he wrote. “‘Crackhead; is an embarrassing line item to have on a résumé. If meth tweakers had not come along and made a grab for the crown — meth makes you crazy and toothless — crackheads would be at the bottom of the junkie org chart,” he noted.

“In the beginning, smokable cocaine fills you with childlike wonder, a feeling that the carnival had come to town and chosen your cranium as the venue for its next show. There is only one thing that appeals after a hit of crack, and it is not a brisk walk around the block to clear one’s head. Most people who sample it get a sense of its lurid ambush and walk away.”

“I can think of this time in the ’80s when Carr was with the Twin Cities Reader and he was interviewing a crack addict,” his longtime friend, actor Tom Arnold, told the Washington Post. “Then all of sudden we were smoking crack with this crack addict. Here was a reporter, smoking crack with a crack addict” for a story.

Carr said he had to incrementally put his life back together after he turned to alcoholism.

“Somewhere in the late nineties and into 2000, I stopped identifying myself as an alcoholic and an addict and began thinking of myself as someone who just didn’t drink or do drugs,” he wrote, per the Post.

But he had a sense of humor about it.

During his his commencement address at the UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, he said that “my name is David Carr, and I’m an alcoholic.”