We all know celebrities who have come to grief because of their cocaine use. Their inheritance, their professional standing and their personal and social lives are destroyed. They make news. We imagine that we could never be like them because we were not born with a silver spoon up our nose. Nor were we brought up on sink estates or involved in gang culture and warfare. We would be wrong. Cocaine, as with alcohol, is an equal opportunity drug: it can destroy anyone.
How much cost in cocaine addiction – Some people use it recreationally on rare occasions. Others find that they get hooked on it. In severe cases, paranoid psychosis may result from cocaine use and cause fearful clinical and social consequences.
In each case, the user will believe that he or she is not as bad as others. Pointing to other people, however, is no reassurance. ‘Not yet’ is the warning that all should hear when they protest that they are ‘not that bad’.
Snorting cocaine up the nose is the most common way of using cocaine but it can be injected or a vapourised ‘rock’ can also be inhaled in a crack pipe. Individuals can become just as addicted to cocaine that is snorted as to having it injected, sometimes with heroin, or inhaled as crack. There is no protection and no reassurance.
The first essential is abstinence. Some people are lucky and get away with occasional use.
How much cost in cocaine addiction
Many find themselves dragged into the clutches of repeated use and then into addiction. This is the stuff of tragedies.
Personal and psychological support is best provided by people who have themselves previously had addiction problems and are now regular members of Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. These poachers-turned-gamekeepers know what they’re doing and will not give patronising ‘obvious’ suggestions that they themselves know would not work in practice.
Twelve Step treatment centres can be helpful but they tend to be expensive and they are not always necessary. However, simply coming down from one high is insufficient treatment in itself. The fundamental nature of addiction is its recurrence. Getting off cocaine or crack is not insuperably difficult. The challenge comes in staying off it. For that we need the guidance of those who have done it themselves and continue to show positive effects in their current lives.
The Twelve Step programme, first formulated by Alcoholics Anonymous but now widely applied to other addictions, is the essential long-term treatment. It helps to maintain abstinence and peace of mind in spite of unsolved problems. It leads towards happy and mutually fulfilling relationships, creativity, spontaneity and enthusiasm. These are the building blocks of a good life. Trying to achieve those beautiful end results without the discipline of a daily Twelve Step programme would be as shaky as building a house on quicksand or a bog.
Cocaine treatment is no different from treatment for problems with alcohol or any other drugs, eating disorders or any behavioural addiction such as compulsive gambling, shopping and spending or exercising. All these behaviours are part of the addictive spectrum. Getting off one addictive outlet, while leaving others still raging, is no great achievement. It cannot achieve long-term sobriety and positivity. It simply delays the ultimate decline into destitution.
Cocaine addicts tend to die of heart attacks in their forties and fifties. Long-term effects are savage. Photographs of young celebrities who are clearly off their face – whatever face they may have left after destruction of the nasal septum – tell only a small part of the story. The real story is the coffins and the tearful children watching them descend into the grave.