Cocaine Addiction Information
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cocaine ukThe United Kingdom has achieved a dubious honor: it has a higher cocaine abuse rate than the other European countries and the United States! But this should not make the rest of the world breathe easier, nor should it be cause to single out the UK for embarrassment. Cocaine is a worldwide problem.

Water Contamination 

On the other hand, cocaine use is now so widespread in the United Kingdom that it has contaminated the water supply. It is thought that 700,000 people aged between 16 and 59 take cocaine every year in Britain. A study has shown that cocaine is so widely used that traces of the drug have made their way through intense purification treatments. Researchers from the Drinking Water Inspectorate found drinking water contained benzoylecgonine, the form of the drug that it appears as, once it has passed through the body.

How does this happen? Basically, our body wastes that go down the drain carry traces of the drugs and medicines that we put through the body. Waste water is cleaned and treated before it is released back into the environment, into lakes, rivers, and the ocean. But, these drug chemicals do not decompose in the environment as food residue does. 

You may not like to think about this, but where the waste water goes, that is often where drinking water comes from! It is treated, of course, but these treatments were not created to take drug chemicals out. Dumping old drugs down the drain is also not recommended, and “Drug Take-Back Day s” gives a safe way to dispose of old or expired drugs. It is probably doubtful that an addict flushes drugs down the drain, unless the police are at the door.

Where does cocaine come from? Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, found in South America. The leaves are mashed, much like grapes are for making wine, then are treated with sulfuric acid. During this process, the active drug is released, as a paste is formed. The paste is then further refined and the end result is cocaine hydrochloride, a fine, white powder, that looks like corn starch. Cocaine became popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Cocaine may get less attention now days with the invention of newer drugs such as meth and ecstasy. 

Public Health Effect

With increased cocaine use in the UK comes an increase in the effect on public health. More money must be spent to help the addicts and abusers, as well as their families. More money must be wasted in the fight against drug dealers and producers that could be used to help society in other ways. Crime also increases, as users and abusers of cocaine find illegal ways to increase their income to pay for their habit. 

On the individual level, there has been an increase in the use of two “cutting agents” to dilute, and thus increase the market value of cocaine. The European drug experts are particularly worried about the health effects of levamisole, which is usually used to treat worms in cattle, and phenacetin, a painkiller that could cause kidney disease.

The drug addict or abuser never really knows what they are getting in the illegal drugs they are purchasing. The drug dealer is always looking to increase their profit margin, and adding fillers to cocaine brings down their cost. Anyone who thinks that the dealer is looking out for the abuser’s best interests is crazy. Your local neighborhood drug dealer is not the person you turn to in times of need! 

References:

New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/cocaine-contaminating-british-water-report-article-1.1788078

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/nov/10/uk-tops-cocaine-abuse-league-table