Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan great, has confessed that he acquired a cocaine addiction after retiring from the game but quit after the death of his first wife in 2009.
Former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram has revealed in his autobiography, Sultan: A Memoir, that he was addicted to cocaine after retiring from the game. Akram also wrote that he started to take cocaine as he wanted “a substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition” of playing cricket.
After Pakistan’s poor showing in the 50-over World Cup, the famous cricketer, who took 916 wickets in international cricket, hung up his boots in May 2003. He went on to teach and commentate after retiring from the game.
“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,” as per extracts from his autobiography, published in an interview by The Times.
Akram’s first wife, Huma, eventually discovered his addiction and reacted by saying, ‘you need help.’
The former Pakistani cricketer also discussed how drugs affected him as a person and caused him to ignore his diabetic problem. “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.
“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 then went to rehab, but it was a nasty experience for him, and he began using the chemical again during the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy. “Movies conjure up an image of rehab as a caring, nurturing environment. This facility was brutal: a bare building with five cells, a meeting room, and a kitchen. 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.
“Try as I might, part of me was still smoldering 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 were, out from under Huma’s daily scrutiny, I started using again,” he added.
After Huma died in October 2009 from a rare fungal condition called mucormycosis, Akram noticed that his addiction had disappeared. “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.”