Cocaine Facts

  • The negative side effects of habitual cocaine use that was responsible for coining the phrase, "dope fiend".
  • Rates of cocaine use by college students over the previous 5 years has varied between 2.0% of all students in 1994 to 4.8% in 2000.
  • In Texas, 200-300 cocaine overdose deaths are reported each year
  • There are no clear connections between cocaine use and education, occupation, or socioeconomic status.

Student Cocaine Use Rising

They used to make do with cheap beer, roll-up cigarettes and the odd joint. Now students are finding a new way to ease the strains of academic life: cocaine.
A study has found a five-fold increase in the use of the drug, previously the preserve of the rich and famous, among those in higher education. It is second only to cannabis. Professor Howard Parker, of Manchester University, who will publish the latest findings from his ongoing study into Britain's young people later this year, said: 'I have no doubt that cocaine is becoming the drug of choice after cannabis.

'Among our group, who are now 22, we have seen a 400 per cent rise in those who have tried cocaine. We went back expecting to see them beginning to settle down but what we found was a normalisation of cocaine use.'

The price of cocaine has decreased steadily from �200 a gram in the early 1980s to less than �40, making it an affordable option for students, who will split a gram between two or three. Experts fear an explosion in the use of crack - the highly addictive derivative of cocaine - may be close behind. 'We definitely have a move towards stimulant drug use in this country and I suspect that in around 18 months' time we will really start to see the casualties of that,' said Parker.

Drug group Crew 2000 conducted a survey with Edinburgh University which found cocaine use on campus had 'increased substantially among young people, more than any other drug'.

A spokesman for the Scottish Drugs Forum said: 'Worryingly, the fact that cocaine is so available and not as expensive as it used to be gives students a greater excuse for trying it.'

Alex, a 21-year-old student at Sussex University, said: 'At first I couldn't believe how many people had coke and I would only take it when someone offered me some.

'But the most normal, straight people now will sell you some and it is cheap enough to do every weekend. It is far safer than drinking too much or taking ecstasy. And it is cleaner because you feel fine the next day and can get on with work.'

Taking cocaine causes blood pressure to surge. But it constricts the blood vessels, increasing the risk of a heart attack or a brain haemorrhage. It can cause paranoia, anxiety and other mental health problems. 'We certainly are not geared up for this in our health services,' said Parker. 'We have a whole can of worms about to open.'

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