WHEN DID OBAMA STOP GETTING HIGH ON COCAINE, ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA?
Posted by PrestoPundit on 08/13/2008
We know that Obama used and abused marijuana, cocaine and alcohol, and at one time saw himself as on the way to having a serious drug and alcohol problem — he tells us so in his memoir. In an interview Obama has said, “When I was a kid I inhaled frequently.” Obama came of age at the very point in time when pot, cocaine, and alcohol usage by teens hit is peak in America (the late 70s and early 80s), so his own usage is not that surprising. Obama tells us he smoked pot, drank too much, and used cocaine now and then during his high school years in Hawaii and during his freshman and sophomore years at Occidental in Los Angeles.
But everything seems to have changed when Obama transfered to Columbia via an Occidental exchange program. Obama’s cocaine-using Pakistani roommate from that time seems to confirm Obama’s own story that Obama’s abuse of drugs and alcohol came to an end when he took up studies in New York. In fact, Obama seems to have gone through some sort of fundamental transformation, going cold turkey on the use of drugs (the standard technique former drug and alcohol abusers), and radically changing his diet, becoming a vegetarian and fasting every Sunday. Obama describes himself as turning into a “hermit” at this time. Obama’s roommate, Sohale Siddiqi, bears witness to Obama’s transformation:
When Obama arrived in New York, he already knew [Sohale] Siddiqi – a friend
of Chandoo’s and Hamid’s from Karachi who had visited Los Angeles.
Looking back, Siddiqi acknowledges that he and Obama were an odd
couple. Siddiqi would mock Obama’s idealism – he just wanted to make a
lot of money and buy things, while Obama wanted to help the poor.
“At that age, I thought he was a saint and a square, and he took
himself too seriously,” Siddiqi said. “I would ask him why he was so
serious. He was genuinely concerned with the plight of the poor. He’d
give me lectures, which I found very boring. He must have found me very
Siddiqi offered the most expansive account of Obama as a young man.
“We were both very lost. We were both alienated, although he might
not put it that way. He arrived disheveled and without a place to
stay,” said Siddiqi, who at the time worked as a waiter and as a
salesman at a boutique.
The Obama campaign declined to discuss Obama’s time at Columbia and
his friendships in general. It won’t, for example, release his
transcript or name his friends. It did, however, list five locations
where Obama lived during his four years here: three on Manhattan’s
Upper West Side and two in Brooklyn – one in Park Slope, the other in
Brooklyn Heights. His memoir mentions two others on Manhattan’s Upper
In about 1982, Siddiqi and Obama got an apartment at a sixth-floor
walkup on East 94th Street. Siddiqi managed to get the apartment thanks
“We didn’t have a chance in hell of getting this apartment unless we fabricated the lease application,” Siddiqi said.
Siddiqi fudged his credentials, saying he had a high-paying job at a
catering company, but Obama “wanted no part of it. He put down the
The apartment was “a slum of a place” in a drug-ridden neighborhood
filled with gunshots, he said. “It wasn’t a comfortable existence. We
were slumming it.” What little furniture they had was found on the
street, and guests would have to hold their dinner plates in their laps.
While Obama has acknowledged using marijuana and cocaine during high
school in Hawaii, he writes in the memoir that he stopped using soon
after his arrival in New York. His roommate had no such scruples.
But Siddiqi says that during their time together here, Obama always refused his offers of drugs.
In his memoir and in interviews, Obama has said he got serious and
buckled down in New York. “I didn’t socialize that much. I was like a
monk,” he said in a 2005 Columbia alumni magazine interview. He told
biographer David Mendell: “For about two years there, I was just
painfully alone and really not focused on anything, except maybe
thinking a lot.”
In his memoir, Obama recalls fasting on Sunday; Siddiqi says Obama
was a follower of comedian-activist Dick Gregory’s vegetarian diet. “I
think self-deprivation was his schtick, denying himself pleasure, good
food and all of that.”
But it wasn’t exactly an ascetic life. There was plenty of time for
reading (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, V.S. Naipaul) and listening to music
(Van Morrison, the Ohio Players, Bob Dylan). The two, along with
others, went out for nights on the town. “He wasn’t entirely a hermit,”
Siddiqi said his female friends thought Obama was “a hunk.”
“We were always competing,” he said. “You know how it is. You go to
a bar and you try hitting on the girls. He had a lot more success. I
wouldn’t out-compete him in picking up girls, that’s for sure.”
So Obama still went to bars, but his interest at this time had shifted from drugs and alcohol to women and books. And he was on the Dick Gregory diet. One of the things that Dick Gregory did after he started fasting as a method of war protest, is that he stopped drinking alcohol. My own guess is that Obama stopped drinking alcohol also at this time. And we have little reason to believe that Obama continued using marijuana and cocaine after leaving Los Angeles. Unless some really credible evidence surfaces indicating otherwise, I think we can put a fork in the idea that Obama continued using drugs and abusing alcohol after his freshman and sophomore years at Occidental.