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By Lauren Gillespie
ocaine has been a top talking point recently in the press, as the amount of people using the drug in the UK is increasing rapidly. It has been found that 1 in 15 people are now using cocaine on a regular basis, while 1 in 10 admit to taking the drug at some point in their lifetime. We all know Cocaine is bad for us, but do we really know the true risks to our lives. Being an anti- drug person, I don’t understand why people use this (or any) drug. We are constantly being told how drugs can ruin lives; causing addiction, money problems and health risks. And yet, people still decide to use this drug, and I just don’t understand why. With people ignoring the serious health warnings that are being shown to us about cocaine, they are putting both themselves and others at risk. And so, it is important that people know the true facts and risks about cocaine. used cocaine at some point in their life. Considering the risks, this is a very drastic amount of people using this drug, and so the worry is if they actually know what they are doing to theirselves!
With more people than ever using cocaine in Britain, we look into the consequences of taking this addictive class A drug, and find out why so many more people are using it.
The drug, which originates from the cocoa plant in south America; is a white powder with powerful, although short- lived, effects. Freebase and crack are also forms of cocaine. They are stimulants, which cause the processes of your mind and body to speed up temporarily. Cocaine can be injected, smoked, sniffed, or snorted. ‘Freebase’ and ‘crack’ cocaine can be smoked, and so they reach the brain quickly in a high dosage. The most common method of using cocaine is powder snorted through the nose. This is absorbed more slowly, and so takes longer to feel the effects. In 2009, 12,354 people were treated for cocaine addiction in England. The number of 18 to 24-year-olds being treated also doubled from 1,586 to 3,005 between 2005 and 2009. These figures show how more common it is for younger people to use cocaine. Another statistic shows how 1 in 10 adults in England and Wales admit to having
More than 30% of teenagers say they’ve used cocaine
It has been found that many people who use cocaine, use it whilst on a night out. It is said to give the user an invincible, carefree feeling. It also makes the user alert and euphoric, giving them a lot of energy. But where there’s a high- there’s a low; the good feelings are usually followed by worrying side effects. There is the danger of experiencing a cardiac arrest, as well as seizures and respiratory failure which can occur in both short and long term abuse of cocaine. The side effects of using cocaine includes: insomnia, loss of appetite, vomiting, irritability, blurred vision, high anxiety, nose bleeds, sweating, violent behaviour, dilated pupils, twitching, constricted blood vessels, nasal infections, rapid breathing, hallucinations, chest pain, agitation, anxiety, depression and paranoia. Users feel these effects which can last up to
two hours. The use of cocaine can also bring previous mental health problems to the surface. Having a close relative who has had serious mental health problems can also make it a possible and increased risk, for the cocaine user to adopt. As it is very common nowadays for people to use cocaine on a night out, it is probably going to be mixed with alcohol too. Doing so increases the risks dramatically, as mixing these two substances together creates a third chemical called cocaethylene, which builds up in the liver. This gives an increased high, while also causing major health consequences.This chemical is blamed for heart attacks in the under-40s, and for the rise in social problems.
Man taking a line of cocaine
As well as being very harmful to the body, cocaine is also very powerfully addictive, and once a person has had their first tester of the drug, they cannot control the extent of use again. The long-term effects of using cocaine can include depression, extreme agitation and violent mood swings. The prolonged use of snorting cocaine will cause problems with the nasal passage, including ulcerations in the mucous membrane of the nose and holes, and can cause the barrier sepertating the nostrils to brake down. After snorting cocaine for many years, Eastenders actress Daniella Westbrook- who plays Sam in the soap had to ahve her nose rebuilt after the inside of her nose deteriated, and was left with a huge hole between her nostrils. Looking at the photograph (shown below) is enough to put anyone off cocaine, but that’s not even the worst of it. Using cocaine can also result in a loss of appetite, extreme insomnia and sexual problems. Among these problems is heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and gastrointestinal problems. All these problems are not uncommon among long-term users of cocaine and crack, and are risks that people take each time they decide to use the drug. The other type of cocaine is cracka highly addictive and powerful stimulant that is derived from the powdered cocaine. Crack is nearly always smoked, with this method delivering a large quantity of the drug to the lungs. This produces an immediate and intense- euphoric effect. The health risks and problems that are associated with using crack are the same as those listed for cocaine. Crack cocaine has a higher risk however, due to the intensity of the drug. Another problem is the fact that it is becoming widely available, and due to its intense effects, is becoming a popular drug.
Cocaine is very addictive, and leaves the users with a desperate craving for the drug. Addiction to crack develops very quickly, and can occur after the first few times of smoking it. Cocaine is often used in the modelling industry. As we found a couple of years back, Kate Moss is no stranger to a line of coke, and was caught doing so by the tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror. This gave the wrong message to the younger generation, with girls who look up to Kate Moss thinking it’s cool to do it. With girls becoming more and more obsessed with their appearance and weight, seeing a supermodel taking cocaine on the front of a newspaper was bound to have some effect. It has been found that many supermodels use cocaine, as it is an appetite suppressing drug, and therefore keeps the models thin. Many use drugs the same as what we drink coffee, and so it’s becoming a normal everyday habit for the fashion models of today. It is also the pressure to stay thin by the fashion industry that is persuading the models to use cocaine, and so is partly to blame for the increase in cocaine used by them.
Caught out: Kate Moss captured taking cocaine by the Daily Mirror newspaper
The average purity level of cocaine is just 15%
‘Coke’ is very addictive, and can be very difficult to resist the cravings and the strong psychological dependence that the drug brings to the user. There is also recent evidence which suggests a possible long-term change to the nervous system. Although the psychological dependence is more of a problem than the physical withdrawal symptoms, the side effects which include low moods and feeling very rough occur soon after stopping. This can then tempt the person to take more coke to get rid of these feelings. Both cocaine and crack are Class A drugs, and so it is illegal to possess, give away or sell them. Possession of the drug/s can result in a sentence of up to seven years in jail, while supplying it to someone else can result in a life sentence in jail and an unlimited fine. Another reason not to take cocaine is due to the uncertain purity level that it has. Cocaine powder can be cut with other substances such as sugar or crushed paracetamol. After recent police seizures, it was found that the average purity level of cocaine was only 15%. The purity of crack cocaine depends on the purity of the cocaine used originally to produce it, but the police
seizures found the average purity level of 23%. Although a risk to any user, cocaine is especially risky to those with high blood pressure or with a heart condition. Perfectly fit, healthy young people can have a fit or heart attack after taking too much cocaine. Some people don’t even know that they have a pre- existing heart condition. People who often use the drug find that they begin to crave it more, and because of the short lived effects, they find themselves having a very expensive habit to keep up with. Using coke on a regular basis makes the user feel depressed and run down. They often develop serious problems with anxiety and paranoia, and is a known cause of panic attacks. Regular use of coke usually decreases sexual desire dramatically too. There is a substancial increase of risk to users who take other drugs with cocaine, as well as with alcohol. Taking cocaine while drinking alcohol can be quite dangerous, as the substances interact with each other producing a toxic chemical in the body. The risks are further increased if other drugs are taken as well. Another risk of using cocaine is of course- if you are pregnant. This can damage the baby, and can also cause miscarriage. Premature labour and low birth weight babies are also common when the mother is a cocaine user. And so, knowing all about the side effects and information about cocaine, would you still consider using it? People still do use it even when they know what harm it does to both the body and mind. So is it actually worth the risks? Personally, I think you would have to be mad to know the life threatening risks that this drug causes, and still use the drug! For help with cocaine, you can talk to frank: www.talktofrank.com/ tel: 0800 776600
Actress Daniella Westbrooks nose after years of cocaine abuse
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