Cocaine: The experience of using and quitting

41lk1WqLs4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_What does scientific research tell us about people overcoming substance use problems? I have previously described the study with US veterans who stopped using heroin after they returned from Vietnam, showing that the common belief that heroin is highly addictive cannot be generalised to all situations.

A variety of other scientific studies have been conducted with people who have recovered from addiction to other substances and we look at another of these studies in this chapter.   

Dan Waldorf and colleagues conducted the most comprehensive ethnographic study of heavy cocaine users in the mid-1980s in northern California. 

They interviewed 267 current and former heavy users of cocaine, a sample that did not include people in treatment programmes or in prison. Most of the respondents were “solidly working- or middle-class, fairly well-educated, and steadily employed.”

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Crack in America

reagan-wife-1Yesterday, I ran a blog written by Bill White showing the questionable ‘science’ that surrounded the so-called issue of crack babies. There was tremendous media hype about crack and crack babies at the time. Why?

I wrote on this issue in the educational series I wrote for Drink and Drugs News nearly a decade ago. Here’s what I wrote in a longer article entitled ‘Regulation and control of drugs: Part 2’.

‘In their book Crack in America, Craig Reinarman and Harry Levine point out the politics that surrounded crack in the US during the 1980s and 90s. Crack first appeared in late 1984 and 1985, primarily in impoverished African-American and Latino inner city neighbourhoods in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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‘Moral panics, the limits of science & personal responsibility’ by Bill White

Time-Crack kidsFrom the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, new patterns of crack cocaine use dominated cultural headlines in sensationalized media frenzies that sociologists refer to as moral panics. 

Other than cocaine-related violence, no aspect of this alarm garnered greater attention than the images of premature, cocaine-exposed infants trembling within incubators of neonatal intensive care units.  Those infants and children became widely caricatured as “crack babies” and “crack kids” and their images were exploited to forge new laws and policies that in turn fueled dramatic expansions of the U.S. criminal justice and child welfare systems. 

Those most dramatically affected by the expansions were poor communities of color who witnessed unprecedented numbers of their young men imprisoned and their young women and children placed under the control of state child protection authorities.

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Addiction Recovery: Getting Clean At 22

IMG_2353I found this powerful Recovery Story on the Huffington Post website. It’s nice to see such a story of hope amongst the addiction-focused ‘stories’ that predominate in the popular media. There is also a short video interview to watch.

‘On March 4th, 2012, I was having trouble breathing. “Am I going to be okay?” I asked the nurse who was monitoring my heart rate. “I don’t know,” she said. “If you are, I hope you stop destroying your life.”

It was not the first time substance abuse had landed me in the emergency room. But, though I didn’t know it then, it would be the last.

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