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Is There Such a Thing as Casual Cocaine Use?

"What is especially deadly about cocaine is that there is no correlation between how many times you’ve used cocaine or how much...

Amy C Written by Amy C · 1 min read >

There are many people who do not think twice to doubt what is regarded as “socially normal.” One of these normalizations I’d like to discuss is the glamorization of cocaine.

There are many who will claim that they are only casual users of the drug, therefore it is not dangerous. Let’s clarify one thing – there is no such thing as a safe amount/frequency of doing coke. There is a myth that you need to snort a copious amount of the stuff for it to be dangerous – this is not true.

Research shows that even a small amount of cocaine can be fatal. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, most fatalities associated with cocaine use are caused by cardiovascular (heart attack) or cerebrovascular accidents (stroke).

“Cocaine causes your heart to speed up, and in some cases go so fast that it actually stops,” according to Toronto-based addiction specialist Dr. Steven M. Melemis. “What is especially deadly about cocaine is that there is no correlation between how many times you’ve used cocaine or how much you used, and when you will suffer a cardiac arrest. Some people die after their first use.”

In experiments carried out at McLean Hospital in Belmont, researches observed that blood vessels narrowed as volunteers took different amounts of the drug. Doctor Marc Kaufman notes that only a small amount of cocaine constricted blood vessels in the brains of young, healthy men who are occasional users of the drug.

Most people who try coke or “casually” use, do not intend or think they will form an addictive habit. Every drug user starts out as an occasional user, seeking voluntarily to just “try it”. But what they don’t realize is, doing the drug just a few times can physically change your brain, creating new circuits.

These circuits can be easily triggered by particular cues (a stressful day, a certain environment, etc). The cue triggers an automated routine (seeking and snorting cocaine) to kick in. It can come to a point where it is no longer about will power or discipline your brain has changed.

In their book The Chemistry Between Us, authors Dr. Larry Young and Brian Alexander note our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it.

Because drugs stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way. Consider George Carlin’s subtly intuitive summation. When asked by a reporter “What does cocaine make you feel like?” he responded simply “It makes you feel like more cocaine.”

Whether it’s cocaine or another drug, there is a fundamental root issue when people feel the need to take a dangerous substance to chase a high.

Recovering from drug addiction is a challenging path and this article is not to pass a moral judgment on those who use. It is, however, to give perspective to the usage of a drug that is way too often glamourized in society, which minimizes the real, life-damaging effects it can have.

Photo credit: Mikko Nieminen

Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

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2 Replies to “Is There Such a Thing as Casual Cocaine Use?”

  1. Addiction is a very serious illness. Psychological and physical. Even a single use can lead to dependence, which is very difficult to overcome! But still, there are chances. You need to take a very serious approach to solving this problem, and choose a rehabilitation program that is right for you!
    It matters a lot because most times addiction causes are at the root. And roots are factors like trauma, unique situations make all the difference. So treatment programs designed like this from the bottom up help you recover faster. What’s more, it minimized relapses. Link to source: https://canadiancentreforaddictions.org/on/ontario-drug-rehab/

    I also wanted to point out that the Canadian government supports rehabilitation programs, and if you need help, you can get it by contacting special ministries. Link to source: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-concerns/drug-prevention-treatment.html

  2. Sex increases your chances on a heart attack x5…
    That doesn’t mean there isn’t a safe way of having sex.

    People that get heart attacks from using it once or every couple of weeks preexisting heart diseases.

    Following these principles might lead people to live slightly longer on average, but avoiding everything that might have a 0.0001% of you dying will lead you to be a miserable compulsive person.

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