BRITAIN’S soaring cocaine use is creating a mental health crisis, destroying families and even leaving people with devastating physical deformities – in short, it wrecks lives.
That’s why The Sun this month launched its End Of The Line campaign, determined to bust the myth that cocaine is a party drug with no consequences.
We have heard heart-breaking stories from people whose lives have been torn apart by the drug, such as mum Nicola Abraham, whose son Jacob killed himself after taking coke on a night out.
More than 1.6million have read our cocaine stories, as celebrities like Jeremy McConnell and Danniella Westbrook opened up about the horrific toll their drug use has taken on their lives.
For both, the initial euphoria quickly descended into a life of anxiety and paranoia, two of the biggest side effects of cocaine.
Many readers got in touch to tell how their lives have also been blighted by a drug that people mistakenly think is harmless – telling horror stories of marriage breakdowns, family estrangement and even suicide.
We’ve been thanked for “highlighting the massive problem” by one reader, with several saying the campaign is “really important” and one admitting Nick Conn’s story of abusing cocaine while working as a policeman “moved” them as it hit home so hard.
The campaign has also been backed by organisations including charities SANE and DrugFAM, as well as doctors across the country.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: “We congratulate The Sun for its hard-hitting campaign, which has shone a light on cocaine use and its impact of on people’s mental and physical health.
“We remain deeply concerned about the prevalence of this drug, and in particular its detrimental effects on young people, their families and communities.
“We hope the campaign has helped to raise awareness and encourages people to support efforts by the government and local communities to mitigate the harm this drug causes.”
Elizabeth Burton-Phillips MBE, founder of DrugFAM, said: “The charity DrugFAM strongly supports The Sun’s Campaign End of the Line.
“As a charity we support all those who are affected by a loved one using, abusing or even addicted to cocaine.”
End Of The Line
Cocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
Use has doubled in the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16-to-24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue that is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.
After Elizabeth spoke about her experience running DrugFAM for the campaign, the charity saw a large increase in callers to its helpline and emails from people asking for support.
The Sun launched this campaign following a report which branded the UK the cocaine capital of Europe.
Use among British adults has doubled over the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse – 20 per cent of 16 – 24-year-olds admit taking coke over the last 12 months.
This, as doctors warn a flood of cheap and potent cocaine has caused a threefold rise in hospital admissions for mental health problems caused by the drug over the last decade.
Cocaine use is reaching epidemic proportions in the UK, with many seeing it as a drug without consequences.
But as our End Of The Line coverage shows, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Cocaine use affects all levels of society, with labourers and cabbies as likely to be users as celebs.
We have shown the dangers of even casual use, through our piece on the horror effect cocaine can have on the roof of your mouth to the worrying rise of users needing ‘coke nose’ treatment from plastic surgeons.
Many were shocked to read of the toxic chemicals coke is often cut with – especially given the stomach-churning effect it can have on skin and genitals.
Hearing about the brutal Albanian gangs flooding UK streets with coke also caused a stir, as did one undercover cop’s harrowing tale of gangs who met out brutal rapes to those who run up drug debts.
We’ve been backed by Police Force leader David Lloyd, who warned cocaine users have a “blind spot” around the drug and must be aware it’s not a victimless crime. Rather it contributes to a raft of problems including brutal county lines dealing.
Where to go for help
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Mental health support line: 0300 304 7000
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Help for families affected by drugs and alcohol
The deaths of Love Island’s Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, who both had cocaine and alcohol in their systems when they killed themselves, highlighted how damaging this drug can be.
And yet still young women admit turning to it in a desperate bid to stay skinny.
With doctors warning cocaine can cause depression, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts, we hope our campaign has raised awareness of the very real mental health timebomb threatening young people who use the drug.
MORE FROM END OF THE LINE
Dr Sarah Jarvis GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info says: “It’s important people are aware of the harms that cocaine can have on your health.
“I worry hugely how many people see cocaine as a ‘party drug’ and assume that it’s basically harmless.
“Nothing could be further from the truth.”
This topic has resonated with readers all over Britain who also think it’s time for The End Of The Line.
Am I addicted to cocaine? The signs and symptoms of addiction
Cocaine is highly addictive and what can start out as a one-off can quickly turn into a habit.
Regular use of the drug changes the way the brain releases dopamine – a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy.
But the high is short-lived so often users will take more to feel the desired effects again.
Over time, the body and brain can become too used to cocaine that it builds up a tolerance, which means you have to take more to feel the same high.
If you recognise any of the following behaviours in yourself, it might mean you’ve developed an addiction to cocaine:
- You’re taking more of the drug to feel the effects
- When you stop or reduce your dosage, you feel agitated, restless and depressed
- You’re struggling to cut down or control how much you take, even if you try to
- You spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to get cocaine
- You’re disregarding family, friends and work in favour of taking cocaine
- You know the damage it’s doing to you, but you can’t stop taking it