Cocaine use has reached epidemic proportions. Millions worldwide are catching...
A GREAT human tragedy is in the making! For the second time within a century, cocaine — the white powder crystallized from coca leaves — has exploded into a major social and public health crisis in human affairs. Untold millions, especially young people, will be affected between now and the peak of this drug disaster expected in two or three years.
Early Drug Experiments
The first popularizing of the drug began in the 1880s. The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud experimented with cocaine. He praised it for the euphoric feelings of vigor, sense of power and confidence it gave him. Other prominent physicians and popular personalities promoted it. (Later, Freud publicly admitted cocaine injections produced rapid physical and mental deterioration, paranoia and hallucinations.) By the turn of the century, cocaine's aura of innocence was gone. What was the effect on the many who had indulged? In 1924, Dr. Louis Lewin wrote: "I have seen among men of science frightful symptoms due to the craving for cocaine. Those who believe they can enter the temple of happiness through this gate of pleasure purchase their momentary delights at the cost of body and soul. They speedily pass through the gate of unhappiness into the night of the abyss" (Cocaine Papers — Sigmund Freud, by R. Byck, 1974). Early in this century, after numerous cocaine tragedies, the drug was prohibited by law in many nations, except for medical use. Various other addicting opiate drugs were also prohibited. But humanity, inundated by the do-your-own-thing philosophy and drug culture of the post — World War II era, failed to remember the tragic drug errors of the past, or even recent human experience. Again in the last few decades, cocaine use — as also marijuana — has followed the pattern of the earlier introduction. Cocaine has been widely proclaimed to be a relatively safe recreational drug in moderate use, even by some medical and scientific personnel. Cocaine* (in street terms also called coke, snow, flake or toot) is most commonly snorted through the nostrils to achieve a euphoric high, but it can also be eaten, smoked or injected. Until recent months, cocaine advocates told us (and some still do) that coke is a relatively risk-free drug. "A snort in each nostril and you're up and away for 30 minutes or so. No hang-over. No physical addiction. No lung cancer. No holes in the arm or burned out cells in the brain," they said. Instead users were guaranteed drive, sparkle, energy. But the truth is far different! Only in recent months have many health officials and scores of thousands of users been forced to face up to the true deceptive and enslaving nature of cocaine. This is a drug that causes a craving dependency and addiction more severe than heroin and other addicting drugs.
Grave New Addiction
Cocaine is now regarded by many drug experts as the most subtle and dangerous drug ever to enslave and destroy human lives! "It [cocaine] probably produces the most tenacious dependency of all the chemicals on this planet that you can give the human brain," says Ron Siegel, a University of California at Los Angeles psychopharmacologist and one of the nation's leading cocaine researchers. Cocaine is now considered by Dr. Siegel and many other drug experts as the most addictive of drugs in terms of its psychological and, in many advanced cases, physical grip on hooked users. Dr. Mark S. Gold, medical director of the National Cocaine Hotline; strongly refutes the common erroneous belief that cocaine is nonaddicting and nonthreatening to life and health. Says Dr. Gold, "The popular view today is that cocaine is a chic, safe drug, unlike heroin, that can be used without fear of addiction. But callers to our help line tell us they' cannot stop even though they recognize that it is destroying their lives." Contrary to popular belief among many users; cocaine is a killer, says Dr. Gold. Death can occur rapidly from convulsions, lung failure, stroke and even drowning in one's own internal secretions. "What's so devastating... is that we have found that there is a huge chunk of high functioning people who are getting into something they don't understand," says Dr. Gold. "They have acquired through repeated use a lifelong, debilitating, chronic illness for which there is treatment through remission and abstinence, but no known cure." What has deceived many cocaine users is that in early stages of repeated use when one is deprived of the drug it does not cause the classic withdrawal symptoms of many addictive drugs-cramps, nausea or convulsions. However, as the cocaine habit grows, the psychological addiction becomes so strong, the user's ability becomes so minimal, that the resulting damaging addictive cravings are equal to or worse than those caused by heroin or other addictive drugs. In long-term heavy users, classic physical withdrawal symptoms do occur. Cocaine is now known to cause fatal convulsions, respiratory failure and cardiac collapse, even at moderate doses, in new or seasoned users. At high levels of use, or dependency levels, cocaine can induce psychosis and paranoia and suicidal desperation. Addiction and death can come from any method of use, but the danger is greatest with smoking (free-basing) or injection.
New Army of Addicts
In recent years cocaine first became the popular drug-of-choice in upper and more affluent middleclass society — among doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, entertainers, athletes and others with comfortable incomes. Until recently, high cost (formerly more than $100 a gram) was a factor in limiting its use. It was a status drug only the near — rich and successful could afford. It was called the champagne of drugs because it was believed to be physically nonaddictive and harmless to health in moderate use. Cocaine appealed to active and progressive middle — and upper — class moods and values. In sporadic use it didn't have the depressant or sedating effects of marijuana, the popular drug of the turned-off, dropped-out generation of rebellious youths. Nor the characteristics of heroin or hallucinogens, the opiates of social losers. Cocaine was a stimulant that brought almost instant euphoria from a simple snort or two through the nose, an intense feeling of energy, power and control. It seemed to magically create euphoric feelings of creativity, confidence, invincibility and also in some users give heightened erotic excitement. Cocaine seemed the ideal drug to tune you into what is supposed to make success and happiness in modern affluent society. It seemed as if highly esteemed qualities of stamina, emotion and character could be achieved through the use of a harmless white powder used moderately. Cocaine's effects lasted only from five to 30 minutes, sometimes a little longer, rather than hours like many other street or medical drugs. The initial short-term euphoria seemed something one could control. Many therefore reasoned, if for five minutes why not forever? Snorters started out using cocaine recreationally at parties, celebrations, or privately for its quick euphoric "rush." Others started to use it occupationally — to keep up alertness, energy levels and "creativeness" in their jobs. They felt they had to have something extra to give them an edge in competition with others in demanding or high-pressure jobs. But the short-term euphoric lift from a few brief snorts, the feeling of being confident and on the top of things, is quickly over. This high is often followed by a letdown and depression that can only be relieved by more snorts of cocaine. The stronger the stimulation the more pronounced the crash. Once succumbing to the desire for continued euphoric high feelings, users wanted them more and more. Said one initiate, "After one hit of cocaine I feel like a new man. The only problem is, the first thing the new man wants is another hit." Many cocaine users believe as long as they use coke they will have superlative sexual experiences. The facts are, repeated cocaine use eventually causes sexual dysfunction and impotence and other serious health problems.
Growing Female Addiction
In many Western nations, women are the largest users of licit drugs for personal and health reasons. Middle-class women haven't been, for the most part, attracted to illicit street drugs. But many women, aware of dangers with such drugs and also popular tranquilizers, have been captivated by the status appeal and false propaganda about cocaine. Middle-class women are now estimated to be around half of all cocaine addicts. One professional woman with a successful career tearfully revealed how she had a loving husband, a beautiful daughter and a marvelous home. But she found her work and life filled with pressure. She was told by a friend that coke would help her face the world, so why not take advantage of it. "Within four years, cocaine cost me my job, my husband, my self-respect, even my daughter," she confessed. "When my habit grew so I could no longer get enough from friends, I found a part-time dealer where I worked.... One day I just exploded and walked away from everything." Another woman said after her first use of coke, "I was filled with the most incredible feeling I have ever known. It was absolute euphoria. I felt beautiful, sexy, important, totally in control and at the top of my world. What I didn't realize is that I had become addicted in those 30 seconds. From that moment on, my entire life was focused on cocaine." A TV producer said, "I needed something to increase my physical endurance. But once you're hooked, you find all sorts of reasons for using it. You need coke to be more creative. Soon, you begin to develop this hip superiority. Everything you do is terrific." But is the work really terrific? Medical authorities now confirm through controlled tests that cocaine is a destroyer of talent — not an enhancer. "Coke just gives users the perception of being more creative," says one famous Hollywood star. "The users think they are doing their best work, but they are literally giving you gibberish." So widespread is cocaine use among TV and movie producers and actors that insiders say it is one reason for so many poor quality programs. Coming down from a cocaine high commonly causes such deep gloom in many regular users that they feel impelled to use more cocaine as a remedy. Bigger doses often follow, and soon the urge becomes a total obsession. Medical personnel now report increasing numbers of cocaine addicts are turning to free-basing (smoking a purified form of cocaine) or intravenous injection in attempts to recapture some former euphoric high. Cocaine addiction can happen quickly or take some time. Many users believe they can handle the drug if they use it sparingly and infrequently. But the catch is there is no way to know for sure who will become quickly addicted. Differences in individual constitutional chemistry can cause one person to become more rapidly addicted and crave the drug (or any drug) than another person using it similarly. And individual mind-set at time of use is very, very critical. These persons often lack a background of proper adult example or training in control of emotions and alcohol or drugs. They automatically grab for and abuse any chemical substance that temporarily gives them a high and relieves them of their problems. Others lose control by using drugs or alcohol a little more and more. Male cocaine addicts often turn to embezzlement and women addicts to prostitution. One woman says she would have done anything for cocaine — even killed for it.
Road to Financial Disaster
Accounts of financial ruination among successful people hooked on cocaine are numerous. Many middle-class and millionaire addicts have been reduced to ruin. One middle-class woman secretly drew out thousands of dollars from the children's college educational fund to support her craving for cocaine, nearly ruining the children's educational opportunities. An upper-middle-class businessman spent $1,200 a week on cocaine, but lost his business after five months. "I started having a lot of problems with people, yelling at customers.... I was taking my profits, selling my merchandise, selling my equipment, selling everything to buy coke. I've literally blown a fortune." One rock star squandered millions of dollars on cocaine. It was "all smoked up," said a friend. A movie starlet spent a million dollars on cocaine before breaking her habit. By the time she sought help her body was wasted to less" than a hundred pounds. Another hooked female co-star of a popular TV situation comedy couldn't remember her lines or stand throughout a simple scene. She became like a cadaver and had to be fired.
Soaring Treatment Demand
So rapid has the cocaine catastrophe exploded on the modern scene in the United States that a 24-hour National Cocaine Hotline service has been set up to provide information, advice and treatment referrals for what is described as an out-of-control drug problem. The toll free number is 800-COCAINE (or 800-262-2463). Since its inception a year and a half ago, the National Cocaine Hotline has received between 500 and 1,000 calls for help a day. Public and private treatment agencies are also being deluged with desperate requests for information and help with cocaine problems.
Adulterants and Disease
Virtually all street cocaine is not pure. It is cut and adulterated many times over as it passes from dealer to dealer in order to increase profits. A user cannot possibly know what he or she is taking without elaborate tests. Dealer — users on the street often themselves cut their supplies (with who knows what) in order to finance their own drug habit. Frequently used to cut cocaine concentration is the simple sugar lactose. Also commonly used as cheaper adulterants are lidocaine, procaine, caffeine, amphetamines (pep pills) and other drugs that give sensations similar to cocaine, but which can cause their own specific damages to human tissues and organs. "Injecting street cocaine is absolutely crazy," wrote one cocaine connoisseur. The chronic cocaine sniffer is easy prey for bacterial infections in the nose and throat. This is because the cilia, the tiny hairlike filaments of the nose and respiratory organs, are paralyzed, inhibiting the proper flow of protective mucus to membranes. Many coke users seem to have perpetual colds, nagging infections or respiratory problems. Cocaine also constricts the blood vessels that supply oxygen to living tissues. This constriction commonly causes an ulcer that wears through the cartilage between" the nostrils, causing a large hole. Without cartilage the nose becomes misshapen. Sometimes the nose bridge of a coke addict becomes so weakened it collapses under pressure and has to be restored surgically. Cocaine increases the heart and blood pressure. Persons with heart problems or high blood pressure, especially those who don't realize they have such conditions, could kill themselves by using cocaine. Coke races the metabolism. It rapidly burns energy and depletes critical vitamin and mineral reserves. Heavy cocaine users risk cardiac arrest or convulsions, the latter a form of internal suffocation, because the victim cannot breathe fast enough to replace the oxygen being used up by the body. Cocaine addicts often desperately try to reduce the comedown crash after use of the drug. Some combine it with sedating drugs like heroin (called speed-balling). This roller-coaster effect was the ride that killed John Belushi, the well-known American actor. Others try to escape the grip of cocaine by using alcohol or other drugs, but instead become hooked on them. Mixing cocaine with alcohol is particularly dangerous. Police report some heavy drinkers use cocaine to keep awake while they drive home. Unfortunately the coke often wears off midway home, causing the high alcohol content of the blood to suddenly produce a blackout and an accident.
Don't Make Others' Mistake
There is a reason why drug tragedy after drug tragedy hits our modern world! We live in a drug — inundated world. We have been bombarded by modern advertising, taught by social, perhaps even parental and peer examples to look to drugs to solve our mental and personal distresses. We have been led to believe that somewhere there is a magical pill or powder that will relieve us of all our pain and discomfort and make us happy again. Drug after drug — illicit but also frequently licit — is ballyhooed as an effective way to cope with life — only to turn out after a period of use to be something that injures, afflicts with undesirable or tragic side effects, or even kills. There is a time in our world when certain medical drugs save lives. But we all need to be educated to a professionally known maxim about all drugs: There is no such thing as an absolutely safe drug. All drugs carry with them undesirable risks and dangers as well as desirable features. Even the most skillfully trained medical practitioner knows he must balance desired reactions noted for any drug against potential adverse side effects of the drug. Because of differences and changes in human metabolism, the best medical drug treatment is as much experimentation and guesswork as a science. Imagine, then, the horrible consequences when millions carelessly assume they can pop, inject or inhale any chemical or drug into their bodies just because others are doing it, and it is the popular thing to do. Almost all drug abusers or addicts started out reasoning, "I can handle it. I'm more clever than the others." But once they get hooked, they commonly lament, "It got heavier and heavier and I didn't know I was hooked until it was too late!" Cocaine use will not make anyone truly or lastingly successful. It will only make drug dealers and smugglers temporarily rich as it deceives, maims, kills and destroys thousands of users' lives. Teenagers are not the only ones pressured to join the drug — taking scene by peers. With a flood of drugs of so many different kinds available, everyone, including the most successful social or business person, has to be well informed to avoid the pit of careless drug experimentation. Anyone who has carefully researched the true effects of any drug discovers the tragic consequences that befall many experimental drug takers. Isn't it time to make sure you're not becoming careless about any drug? Don't unwittingly become a tragic statistic in the cocaine catastrophe or any other drug catastrophe!
*Cocaine comes from the coca plant, not to be confused with cocoa from the cocoa bean.
From Trickle to Torrent
It's greed," said a senior U.S. government drug enforcement agent. "Cocaine is ... polluting all levels of society, from the lower classes to the very affluent." It is also lust. Lust in the user — greed in the drug merchants and producers. Even though nonmedical cocaine production is illegal in the South American nations where it grows best, such production is estimated by some authorities to account for large segments of the monetary value of these nations' exports. The value of Bolivia's illicit cocaine is estimated to surpass the value of the country's largest legal industry, tin. Colombia's cocaine exports are worth half the sale of its coffee crop. Peru's cocaine trade is thought to be worth more than any of the country's legitimate exports. The government of Colombia renewed war on the nation's major drug producers. But many feel that drug production is so lucrative and weaved into the fabric of the nation's economy that the effort will eventually fail. Today's hopelessly incurable drug crisis is just one more reason this world desperately needs the prophesied restoration of the government of God with the full authority of Jesus Christ — to achieve what human governments at times try but fail to do — to put down deeply entrenched wrong ways of living and replace them with right and beneficial ways of living!