Cocaine is a highly addictive, powerful stimulant that is sold as a bitter, white crystalline powder. It is the most abused major stimulant in America and the leading cause of illicit drug related problems in North America and Western Europe. Cocaine is one of the most expensive drugs in Australia, with prices ranging between A$250-400 (US$255-409) per gram. The cost, varied potency and availability of the drug in the past has meant that the drug use has been relatively low within Australia. However, a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that cocaine use in New South Wales increased by 55 percent between 2008 and 2010. More people are using more of the drug more often and demand is increasing.
Cocaine has been the drug of choice for many who live the high life. The typical image of a cocaine user was a model, a businessman, an entrepreneur or a cocktail-sipping privileged type who lived in the wealthy suburbs surrounding the CBD. The cocaine user went to important parties with important people and had the money to splash on this expensive and exclusive drug. But that image is now in the past, with the drug being found to be popular amongst students, blue collar workers, young professionals, tradesmen and business owners.
Cocaine is a drug favored by some for the powerful affect that the drug has on confidence, self esteem and energy levels. The drug makes people feel strong, important and euphoric and combines well with alcohol. Many people believe that the drug is the best drug available – its effects at low doses can be mildly stimulating, and encourages a person to be sociable and talkative. The drug increases the levels of dopamine in the brain which gives users pleasant, euphoric feelings. However, the danger of cocaine use is that the effects wears off quickly, prompting users to take more, more regularly and at higher doses, which causes a person to develop a tolerance. Additionally, some users who take the drug to combat social anxieties find that there is a serious psychological addiction associated with the drug that is incredibly hard to break.
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that is associated with a significant number of serious health risks. A person who uses the drug frequently may experience depression, fatigue, increased heart rate, chest pain, seizures, headaches, weight-loss and respiratory problems. Binging on the drug causes nerve cells to fatigue, enter a state of depression or adhedonia, and a user may suffer from tremors, nausea, vomiting, heart pain and hallucinations. A binge may also induce a state of psychosis or cardiac arrest.
The report in the Sydney Morning Herald stated that 57 percent of surveyed drug users in NSW reported to have taken cocaine recently. In comparison, only 14 percent of surveyed drug users in the second most populous state of Victoria reported to have taken the drug recently. Sydney-siders are also taking more of the drug with consumption levels four times higher than in Melbourne. Sydney users take cocaine more often and at higher doses, and there is evidence to suggest that there are more intravenous cocaine addicts in the city.
The report showed that cocaine use in Sydney is becoming more common and as a result more socially acceptable. There is a lesser stigma associated with having a line of cocaine than there is with drinking a bottle of wine. Society likes the fact that the drug doesn’t make a person swagger and sway or embarrass themselves by becoming very intoxicated. A person on cocaine believes they are in control. They can hold themselves in good regard, and the effects wear off quickly enough. But binging on cocaine is regular, and many users report having benders that last up to 48 hours or more.
One of the most important aspects of any drug is the manufacturing and distribution of the drug. However, this is often the least considered aspect that a user will think about when purchasing a drug. The Sydney Morning Herald report outlines the increase in drugs being shipped to Australia that are linked to the Mexican drug cartels that are known for extreme violence and major organized crime networks. The influx of drugs from this region may pose a significant change to the Australian drug environment, with new dealers, new networks and new drugs being distributed.
Organized crime and drugs are often linked to an increase in violence within communities. Mexican drug cartels are particularly notorious and known for their extreme violence towards others. Law enforcement officials in Australia are concerned about the influx of cocaine from these groups which is expected to also increase the presence of cartel members in the country and associated problems. It has been estimated that approximately 35,000 people have been killed in association with Mexican drug groups and those numbers include gang members, dealers, innocent members of the community and police and customs officer.
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