Cocaine and Drug Abuse

LaFayette JSHS: Moya F.
View Transcript
Hide Transcript
Did you know you can die the first time you try cocaine? The central nervous system [indecipherable] with your mind, body, and appearance in a really bad way. It gives you paranoia and you will often have aches in your stomach and head. Why would you want to ruin your life for something that isn’t legal and is terrible for your health? And do you want to die?
Drug abuse—what is it? A drug is any chemical that is used as a medicine or in making medicine. Drug abuse is the overuse or improper use of drugs for nonmedical purposes. Drug abuse is thought by many to be the single biggest problem in society worldwide today. The World Drug Report, issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, points out that globally, between 155 and 250 million people, or 3.5 to 5.7 percent of the world’s population, use illegal drugs each year. Of this number, about 10 to 15 percent of the people are “problem drug users.”

Supplying illegal drugs means big bucks for those who sell the drugs and enormous costs for everyone else. In the most recent year for which data exists the actual dollar amount of illicit drug sales worldwide was about 320 billion U.S. dollars. To put that estimate in perspective, compare it to the earnings of four American companies that do business throughout the world, as reported by the investment advisory service Hoovers. McDonald’s Corporation earned $21.6 billion, and Coca-Cola earned $24.1 billion in 2006. The Gap, Inc., had sales totaling $15.9 billion in 2006, while Nike, Inc., sold $21.6 billion in shoes and other products that year. These companies’ earnings, even if combined, are minimal in comparison to the amount of money made by drug cartels that supply illegal drugs.

Cocaine goes by many street names, including coke, snow, flake, powder, and nose candy. It is derived from the coca plant and is credited with starting and perpetuating drug abuse in the United States. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health noted that 23.9 million Americans (9.2 percent of the population) used illicit drugs in 2012 (the last year for which data is available). Of those, 1.6 million used cocaine. The 2013 National Drug Threat Assessment Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, reported lower availability of cocaine in the United States. The decline is most likely due to increased efforts to prevent drug trafficking and reduction in cocaine production rates in Colombia.

Cocaine remains the drug of choice for many drug abusers. It is frequently mixed with alcohol or other drugs for maximum effect, and it is highly addictive. Cocaine is the focus of many federal and state laws, several of which are presently being reviewed and revised. Cocaine is also being studied extensively by scientists seeking ways to curb cocaine addiction. Almost 150 years after it was first extracted from coca, cocaine remains a scourge on society.