Second cocaine epidemic

It is said that those who do not learn from mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In the case of cocaine, this is true. Why of all stimulants, the choice fell again on cocaine? In the early 70s, cocaine was quite difficult to get, and it cost a lot of money. He was known as a drug of movie stars and athletes (the few who could afford to spend such money), and had a reputation as “champagne among stimulants.” At this time, cocaine was mostly smelled in small doses, and rarely encountered problems with intravenous injections. There were, of course, trouble. For example, the former Dallas Cowboys defender, football player

Hollywood Henderson, admitted that he had acquired a habit that costs him $ 1,000 a day, but there were relatively few such victims of cocaine. Cocaine was considered quite a harmless drug. There were books in which it was written that cocaine “is not addictive, as dangerous drugs”, many advocated its legalization.
Nowadays, there is not the slightest doubt that cocaine is a very dangerous drug. Words like the ones above seem terribly naive, because we see how many people died from cocaine overdose, we have names of celebrities trying to recover from cocaine addiction. What has changed? One of the reasons was the appearance of cheap cocaine. Now it began to be consumed by more people and in large doses. Another important factor was the spread of crack. Crack knew in the late 70s, and in 1986 it just broke into the life of American society.

Yet cocaine is usually consumed in a cleaner form. Regular cocaine, which can be bought on the street, is a white powder. A paste is made from coca leaves, into which hydrochloric acid is poured, and cocaine hydrochloride is obtained. Since street cocaine is salt, it is readily soluble in water and can be injected with a syringe into a vein. Cocaine can be sniffed, and in this way it produces a rather strong effect, but since the drug constricts the blood vessels in the nose, it is slowly absorbed. By the way, this narrowing of the blood vessels can cause inflammation and damage to the nasal mucosa. With the introduction of cocaine through the nose, psychosis also occurs, deaths in overdose, etc., but less often than if administered intravenously. Therefore, until the end of the 80s, while the main method of cocaine use was the way through the nose, the danger of this drug was underestimated.

In the process of smoking cocaine, it is absorbed through the lungs completely and very quickly and causes very pleasant and very short sensations, followed by a strong breaking. But at the high temperature required for smoking, cocaine in the composition of the salts is destroyed. In order for cocaine to be smoked, it is necessary to separate the cocaine base from the hydrochloride (get “free cocaine”). One way is to mix the salt of cocaine with the flammable substance ether. Many people who could not handle him were badly burned. However, crack can be obtained in a simpler and safer way – by dissolving the salt of cocaine in an alkaline solution, for example in baking soda. After evaporation, you get a crack. It has a low melting point, and therefore it can be heated and inhaled smoke containing intact cocaine. (The name “crack” comes from the English “crack” – “crackling”, as when the mixture is heated, a crackling sound is produced by soda remaining in the compound.) When smoking crack cocaine quickly gets into the brain, causing such a quick rise and such pleasant sensations, that many addicts prefer it to comparable doses of cocaine, which must be administered intravenously. This euphoria is short-lived, and after 10-20 minutes, the person is eager to introduce another dose. Researchers note that the desire to take the next dose in people who smoke crack is higher than that of intravenous cocaine.

Crack is cheaper and less dangerous in production than other types of “free” cocaine, so drug dealers distribute it. In addition, it is so potent that it can be sold in small portions for 10-20 dollars, which means that it is relatively affordable. Crack is very addictive, and it does so quickly, so in one instant a large market of this drug formed. Crack came to the attention of the media at the end of 1985, and at the beginning of 1986 Time, Newsweek and television spoke of it as a national disaster. In the late 1980s, millions of Americans consumed crack. When two well-known athletes, Len Bias and Don Rogers, were killed in one week from an overdose of cocaine, it became clear again that cocaine must be fought. Cocaine is lethal, especially in the form of crack. At this time, other consequences of overdose, in particular the development of paranoia, became very frequent. In 1990, there were more than 80,000 ambulance calls related to cocaine use (compared to 10,000 in 1985 and almost absent in 1970). With the spread of crack Cain addiction has become a major health problem.

Crack and cocaine still have a strong influence on society. One of the sides of the problem is the incredible increase in the activity of the underworld associated with cocaine. Cocaine sales are controlled by large and well-organized criminal groups, known as cartels. The largest of these, the Cali cartel, is in Colombia. He supplies most of the cocaine to the United States. When the governments of the United States and Colombia declared war on drug smuggling, this resulted in a series of armed clashes. In the first half of 1989, more than two thousand people were killed in Medellín (Colombia). Hundreds of judges and members of the judiciary were the victims of attempts, hundreds of others resigned. Although the head of the Medellín cartel, Pablo Escobar, was killed in a shootout with the police in 1993, the cartels continue to expand, covering Eastern European and Asian countries, and are becoming global. Newsweek wrote in 1993: “The annual income of organized crime is estimated at $ 1 trillion, which is almost equal to the annual federal budget of the United States. The Cali cartel tried to launch its own satellite into space to avoid tapping the CIA’s telephone conversations.”

In the United States itself, cocaine goes hand in hand with crime and violence. The famous Los Angeles gangs “Blades” and “Crips” have absorbed groups from other cities and are fighting with other groups (from Jamaica and other Latin American countries) for control of the crack market. These well-organized groups represent a great danger to citizens and a headache for the police. Unlike the former small drug dealers, gang members have well-armed and sophisticated systems for transporting their goods. Many cases of shootings on the roads and other urban violence are related to crack.

Crack has an exceptional effect on people of its destructiveness. Dependence on him brings people to extreme despair and self-destruction. “Crack houses” – the places where crack is sold and smoked – became in the 90s the den of lawlessness. When a drug addict runs out of money, sexual services of a different kind become a means of paying for crack, and an additional risk factor appears – AIDS. In special studies of the life of “crack houses”, one can find indications of numerous cases of murder, rape, child prostitution, etc., the usual things for these places.

A good idea of ​​them will give the words of one addict:

In the houses of crack I have seen things that I have not seen anywhere else. Worse places can not be imagined. No one cares about anyone, do what you want. What did I not see! I saw a girl that ______ fifty times, until she was already covered in blood and could not even get up, and this is for a small piece of crack. I saw one guy splashed acid on her face, just because she didn’t want to sleep with him anymore. I saw a single shot of an egg shotgun for trying to steal some crack. Hey, man, these are bad places … ”
In recent years, an extensive campaign against crack has been launched, a description of all the dangers cannot be ignored. Why do people still smoke crack?

The following seductive and ominous description belongs to the person who smokes crack:

“Imagine that you are on the island, and about ten meters from the coast there is a sort of orange-pink mist, sparkling and alluring. You enter the cold, dark water and float to this blazing cloud, and here you are near, and you already feel the heat, and you well, but the fog is a little distant. You dive and you are almost in its very center, and it’s so beautiful. But now the fog drifts into the sea faster, and you need to swim faster and faster to catch up with it, and you are further and further from coast. That’s the way it is with crack. After the first puffs you feel good, you draw deep – and you are in the middle e, and you have fun, but then you let go and you need more. Very soon you find yourself the devil knows where, in the cold dark ocean, and you have to quickly swim to this warm, wonderful, sparkling fog, which you can never reach, or turn back and swim for miles in this dark cold water. “

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