Pakistan cricket legend Wasim Akram has opened up on a cocaine addiction that gripped him following the end of his playing career.
Pakistan’s leading Test and one-day international wicket-taker gives a raw account of his battle with the addiction in his autobiography Sultan: A Memoir, set to be released on November 10.
Akram played international cricket for the final time in 2003, and moved into commentary and coaching.
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Extracts from his book, published with an interview in The Times, reveal his addiction resulted from craving “a substitute for the adrenaline rush of competition”, and ended after the death of his first wife, Huma, in 2009.
“I liked to indulge myself; I liked to party,” Akram’s autobiography reads.
“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.
“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 explained that he underwent rehabilitation but found the experience upsetting, detailing a con man’s interest in money rather than aiding recovery.
“Try as I might, part of me was still smouldering inside about the indignity of what I’d been put through,” Akram’s autobiography reads.
“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.”
Huma’s death in October 2009, caused by a rare fungal infection, led to Akram quitting.
“That way of life was over, and I have never looked back,” he wrote.
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