Youth Health – using cocaine
Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body (Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018). It comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), which is native to South America (Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018). The leaf extract is processed to produce 3 different forms of cocaine:
• Cocaine hydrochloride: a white, crystalline powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lactose and glucose, to dilute it before being sold.
• Freebase: a white powder that is purer with less impurity than cocaine hydrochloride.
• Crack: crystals ranging in colour from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue, it may contain impurities. (Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2018).
Some of the immediate effects that taking low doses of cocaine brings include feelings of invincibility, increased talkativeness, increased confidence, anxiety, increased breathing rate, increased blood pressure and heart rate, etc (MyDr, 2013). Long term effects include anxiety, sleep disorders, paranoia, seizures, nausea and vomiting, etc (MyDr, 2013).
Figure 1 shows a graph of the wholesale prices of cocaine. Oceania is among some of the fastest growing markets (Anthony Sharwood, 2015). Our market is such an advantage for producers and sellers that even “El Chapo”, a kingpin the US state department called “the most powerful drug trafficker in the world” helped set up a cocaine importation business in Sydney in 2010. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed that in 2016 the age group buying and dealing with drugs in Australia was as young as 14, meaning as new generations come through, youth are getting involved in cocaine business such as the importation in Sydney (UNODC, n.d).
Matt Noffs, CEO of drug rehab and counselling organisation The Noff Foundation states that the reason Australia loves the drug so much is all to do with image. “I think a lot of it is about social marketing,” “People see these sports stars using cocaine and they think ‘hey, if they can get away with it, I should be able to get away scot free too’.” Particularly young Australians that see this happening. (Noffs, 2015).
Therefore, the community is suffering as we are burning up our salary in buying cocaine when it could be used for good cause such as charity, especially since cocaine in Australia costs $311 a gram according to the Global Drug Survey, where as Americans pay $88 and Colombians only $8.60 (Mannix, 2018)
People keep thinking they can get away with it after seeing famous people all over the news using cocaine, so they think it is okay. Recently in the news, an AFL player Shane Mumford, was caught sniffing cocaine after a video was leaked. His consequences have just been announced which consists of a $25,000 fine (which is no problem for him as some AFL players earn over $1m) and only a two-game suspension. A healthy community needs to know that it is not okay to be involved with cocaine, and the example of famous people getting away with it must stop. This could be done in many ways including harsher consequences, e.g. instead of giving Shane Mumford a $25,000 fine and a two-match suspension, he shouldn’t be allowed to play AFL again at all. These are the examples that should be set, that would show the youth of our country how using the drug would have massive consequences and affect the rest of your life. Society must dispel it’s unacceptance and intolerance of the drug in order for stigma to be introduced.
Government and Organisations
The government addresses the issue of cocaine through advertisements on television, funded organisations and internet browsers on computers and mobile phones. The positives of the way the government are addressing the issue are that they have a few different ways of doing it and aren’t just focusing on one. But the disadvantages are that to address it to our youth, they need more effective ways as now days, youth don’t watch TV nearly as much as they used to, but instead are playing games and using programmes such as Netflix to watch movies and shows. This would be a good way that the government could get through to youth to raise awareness about cocaine and other drugs, by advertising on Netflix, gaming consoles and other similar platforms. As stated earlier, the government should also be changing laws to create harsher consequences as currently if in possession of cocaine, some Australian states are only punishing with maximum sentences of 1-2 years and small fines, depending on the amount of the substance (Weiss, n.d).
Reach Out is an example of a good organisation that covers all drugs including cocaine. Their website covers many things such as all the different types of drugs, how to stay safe at parties and how to organise and tips for going to a festival.
If you click on the “How to party (and get home in one piece)” section, then you will see that Reach Out have many tips and tricks of how to party safely but still have fun. Some of the things that they suggest include planning ahead by keeping some money aside for a taxi to get home, plan with some friends to keep an eye on each other and to take protection with you no matter what (Reach Out, 2018). Reach Out give options about taking drugs and explain that if you are going to take drugs, know what you are taking and tell someone what you are taking. This has positives and negatives when fixing the issue of cocaine. Firstly, the positive is that they aren’t just telling youth “don’t take drugs”, but instead giving them safer options when taking drugs. Youth may listen to these tips because they know they can still do what they want but more safely. Although, this approach does not prevent future usage. The accessibility of this website is also a problem as I did not know about it until I studied health. Therefore, they need to advertise this site in able to attract an audience, otherwise the good information and helpful tips are for nothing. An example of a way they may do this is to visit schools and give brochures that hold information and the website link.
The roles and responsibilities that individuals have are to make smart decisions when partying and when around drugs. As Reach Out states, if you do end up getting involved with taking drugs, then you must tell someone what you are taking and know what you are taking yourself. The community must support each other by spreading awareness about the issue and putting an end to it. Currently, there are movies and tv shows that glamorise cocaine such as smuggling the drug across countries for money etc. The government should take in to action about if such films should be allowed to be shown, as if they were not, they cant influence youth to think that it is okay and they would get away with it. Finally, the government should be changing laws to create a harsher consequence to make people think twice about taking the drug.