Cocaine: "We see people from all levels of society using it..."
When you hear about cocaine, what do you think of? Celebrities? Wealthy city workers? Rock and roll?
Times have changed. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) announced recently that cocaine is now used by all levels of society. A rise in the availability of cheaper, low-purity, powdered cocaine means that many of us now have access to the drug without breaking the bank.
What’s surprising though, is that older people up to the age of 54 are now using cocaine, something which hasn’t been seen before with other drugs.
The facts about cocaine addiction and use
- The percentage of 45-54 year olds taking drugs has doubled in a decade
- In 2013-14, 1.8% of people aged 34-44 took cocaine, up from 1.3% a decade earlier
- A line of low purity powdered cocaine can now be bought for just £2
- Just over 810,000 men and women aged 16-59 in England and Wales used the drug at least once last year. This is 2.4% of the population and is the highest rate in Europe
Professor Les Iversen, chair of the ACMD, an independent body which advises the Government, said: "consumption of powdered cocaine in the United Kingdom has changed radically over the last two decades.
"Given the clear health risks associated with even infrequent cocaine use, and associated issues such as dependency and crime, this development has posed a huge challenge to health professionals, law enforcement, educators and academics."
He added: "I believe the drug is firmly embedded in UK society."
Why are more people turning to cocaine?
Dr Niall Campbell, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton explains why cocaine is being used much more widely.
“People want an instant antidepressant, and they think cocaine is it, but it absolutely isn’t. We see lives totally wrecked by it. Increased use is partly linked to the stresses of modern day living. People either have two jobs or no job, so people become exhausted and get depressed. That’s when they use cocaine. They want to keep using it because of the highs, and then they need to keep using it because of the downers, and so cocaine leads to serious addictions leading people to come to places like Priory where they can get help.
“We see people from all levels of society destroyed by cocaine addiction. It has become so prevalent that while some people go and buy it, some get it delivered. We’ve seen all ages taking cocaine. People start taking it socially and then doing it on their own and it just spirals; their life turns into a car crash.”