Steve Coogan has opened up about his addiction to cocaine, admitting that the drug eventually caused him to have debilitating panic attacks.
The British comedian says he first became hooked on the drug in the early 1990s, claiming it was so readily available to him that he didn’t even need to buy it.
In new excerpts from his book ‘Easily Distracted’, which have been published in The Guardian, he recalls the first cocaine-induced panic attack he suffered, which he feared at the time could kill him.
He writes: “I’d been up all night doing drugs, and when I sat down to have breakfast I started to feel dizzy. My blood sugar level had dropped dramatically and I was on the verge of blacking out. I could feel pins and needles in my left arm, and my heart was thundering. I thought I was having a heart attack.
“Patrick put me in a car and drove through red lights to get me to hospital. I cried all the way. I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘I’m going to die. This is it. My headstone will say: Stephen Coogan, born in Middleton in 1965, died in Edinburgh in 1992, aged 26 years’. What a waste!”
He goes on to say that after leaving hospital he had repeated panic attacks in the ensuing days, and “quickly became depressed”.
Steve explains: “The next day I had another panic attack. And another. They wouldn’t go away. I started to think I was going mad. I’d be having dinner in a restaurant, surrounded by people I did and didn’t know – or anywhere I felt I couldn’t easily escape – and I couldn’t breathe.
“When I came back from Edinburgh, I saw a therapist. He asked if I had a feeling of impending catastrophe. That was the perfect word: catastrophe. He then described a panic attack and I was immediately calmer – I wasn’t going mad. This was a condition, and as soon as I could label it, I felt better.”
Steve, best known for his comedy character Alan Partridge, says that therapy helped him conquer his panic attacks, and eventually went to rehab to try and deal with his addiction.
He insists: “Wanting and then needing some sort of constant stimulus becomes debilitating. I don’t take drugs or drink any more, but I am in no denial about my past: I will always be a recovering addict.”
Steve Coogan’s memoir, ‘Easily Distracted’, is released on 8 October.