General Question

artificialard's avatar

Can you just enjoy coke occasionally?

Asked by artificialard (2268 points ) December 22nd, 2008

So I have a few friends that occasionally partake in cocaine while partying but I’ve never tried it, yet am curious. For those that have, I’m wondering if it’s possible do it for occasionally and not be constantly thinking about it the rest of the time.

I know I’ve read about heroin and every experience says that from the first good hit you’re basically yearning for the next one.

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43 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie….

Actually heroin makes a lot of people sick the first time(s) they try it….

arnbev959's avatar

It’s a gamble. Probably not a good idea.

PupnTaco's avatar

I wouldn’t consider it for a second.

JacobHoHo's avatar

Think about it this way, would you risk pain, suffering and self-loathing, not to mention an extremely traumatizing lifestyle that affects not only you, but all of your friends and family, just for one high, that you MAYBE wont get addicted too?

Don’t try it, no high is worth what might happen.

asmonet's avatar

Yes, some people are not instantly addicted to drugs. It’s personal. But come the fuck on, dude.

Not a good fucking choice to roll that particular pair of devil dice.

nikipedia's avatar

Yes, you can, but it is a big risk relative to other ways you can spend your time that are also enjoyable. I think the single biggest risk factor is: why are you doing it?

If you are a person who is unhappy in general, and you find a substance that will instantly and automatically make you feel better, it is really hard to stop.

If you’re curious, cautious, and respectful of the danger it poses, I think it can be a legitimately positive and rewarding experience.

I am not sure what proportion of users fall into camp 1 versus camp 2; I have a feeling most people are somewhere in between. At the risk of getting too mechanistic about the whole thing, I would very carefully weigh the possible risks and rewards before hitting the slopes.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I have done many a drugs, but i will never ever touch cocaine.

peedub's avatar

I think Nikipedia summed it up well. It depends on the person but ultimately, I don’t think it does anyone any real good, whereas other substances might have that potential. Something else to consider are the countless atrocities that take place in the process of making the drug available in urban areas, etc.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Hallucinogens are where its at :P

peedub's avatar

no DOUBT

I mean, so I hear…

madcapper's avatar

I have been around a lot of my friends doing cocaine, when I was in high-school, and I have seen shit that made me happy of my choice to never touch the shit. I watched one of my best friends crying because my other friends dropped him off and wouldn’t give him one more bump… it was fucking sad and disgusting all at the same time. Not to mention when you are around people who do cocaine you are stepping very close to the edge of a lot of ugly people you don;t want to hang around with… dangerous people, people who care only for themselves, people who will do anything for money, etc. people you don’t want to hang out with…
I’m with peedub and uber if you want to try a drug go trip on shrooms… it’s decently safe as long as you stay in one place… or at least stick to foot traffic haha.

augustlan's avatar

I was lucky enough to be exposed to the harsh realities of cocaine use at a young age. I had a friend and 2 boyfriends who were addicted when we were all teenagers. One of the boyfriends and his sister were evicted for not paying rent, but they always had plenty of cocaine. He ended up living in his car. The girl was addicted within weeks of her first experience, lost all her friends and became skeletal. It was scary enough that I decided then and there to never, ever try it.

asmonet's avatar

@madcapper: And if the shrooms have been dried properly, otherwise you’re looking at a one-way ticket to organ failure.

madcapper's avatar

@ asmonet I did say it was “decently” safe, gotta watch out for mold… but shrooms… ehh… their not for everyone… :)

El_Cadejo's avatar

@asmonet stick to LSD then :) besides any amount of bad fungus growing on mushrooms from improper drying would become very evident to the user at first glance.

madcapper's avatar

@ uber I am pretty sure LSD is worse than shrooms… especially considering it is not pure anymore and is some homemade concoction… that is not to say it isn’t fun.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@madcapper the active doseage for LSD is so low you really dont have to worry about a large dose of anything detrimental in there. Its also far cheaper than shrooms. Not saying i dont love shrooms or anything.avatar lol But LSD is definitely better and safer imo. To me shrooms can get pretty dark at times. LSD is like welcome to sunshine land lol.

adri027's avatar

I’ve met the devil. That stuff isn’t good I’ve done it (and many other things)and I got dragged into a deep abyss. One of my old friends is so on it that he has COMPLETELY lost his mind this guy was a good friend of mine then he started hating me he started lying, he thought he was Thor hottest shit out there and forgot who his real friends were and now nobody talks to him and he’s going crazier poor kid…

buster's avatar

Ive done cocaine. The first line is good. After that all you think about is doing another and another. Its a gnawing hunger thats similar to being really really hungry. Its so fiendy its not even fun at all in my opinion. Not to mention it will make your heart beat hella fast and crazy. I would get terrible anxiety thinking I would have a heart attack. You feel all hollow and empty especially when its gone. You don’t want to get into coke there is nothing there for you.

damien's avatar

I only ever do coke occasionally. Special treats like xmas and new years. Because I’ve never even allowed myself to consider having it outside of an occasional special treat, I’ve never been tempted. So, in my opinion, yes, you can just have it occasionally, depending on your personality, of course.

asmonet's avatar

@uber: Not if they’re new, we’re saying start with shrooms for a new experience…but if you’re uneducated, or inexperienced, that’s not a good bit of advice.

girlofscience's avatar

I agree with nikipedia’s response, but I will also offer my own experience.

I enjoyed coke occasionally for about two years, no problem. (You know, when it was around, when there was a big night out, no more than once a month.)

Then I hit a rough spot in my life (big break up), and my whole life changed. As part of this life change, I also had constant access. I became an extreme coke addict for about 8 months.

Then I had another life change, and I switched back to doing it only occasionally. Even though I was previously an addict, I was able to stop getting it myself and was able to enjoy it occasionally, when the occasion called for it (big night out or something). After those nights, I no longer felt a need to get it for myself (even though I could) to run to the bathroom all day long to do it.

If you’re going to do it, make sure you realize in advance there is a gigantic difference between doing coke out with friends on a party night and having your own stash and satisfying yourself in your office bathroom. You know you have a problem when you start mentally making excuses for yourself (“Well, I’m really tired today; I just happen to have some left over, but I’ll just use it up today, and then that will be that.”) There are 5,000 excuses like that in the book (I should know; I used them all up mentally), so the very first time you catch yourself doing that, realize in advance it’s time to stop.

As it stands now, I haven’t happened to do coke in over a year, but if I was out and it was around, I’d be able to do a few lines and leave it at that.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@asmonet i did LSD a good 6 months before i tried shrooms so unno. But education is definitely important. Erowid to the rescue!

madcapper's avatar

@ uber ok I will have to agree with you as I have never had a bad trip on LSD but one time Shrooms did make me freak out…

PupnTaco's avatar

@adri: he thought he was Thor? Like hammer of the gods and all that shit?

Zuma's avatar

Millions of people do enjoy cocaine occasionally. The trouble is, its illegal and expensive—which is to say, if it were legal and affordable, like cigarettes, it would hardly be a problem at all. Chemically and pharmacologically cocaine is a very close cousin of Ritalin,which we hand out to children by the bushel basket. There are also very close similarities between methamphetamine and tricyclic antidepressants, and between drugs like Vicodin and Heroin.

There is little rational foundation for the drugs we demonize and which we place on the side of the angels. Nicotine is one of the most carcinogenic and addictive substances known, causing over 435,000 deaths a year, while pot has yet to cause even one. The history of our drug laws is one of political opportunism, and the engineering of what sociologists call “moral panics.” Basically, its a form of witch hunting in which politicians and other “moral entrepreneurs” blame the ills of society on a presumed “moral decline” caused by a tiny minority of drug addicts. Drug addicts are then viewed as agents of moral corruption and contagion, and less than human.

Thus, catching and casting out the drug addict thus becomes an important social ritual in which the society symbolically purges its moral anxieties by laying them off on a sacrificial scapegoat. The fact is that tens of millions of people are thoroughly addicted to caffeine and tobacco, and yet they are by no means morally compromised. Nonetheless, we have turned our demonization of drugs into a $50 billion drug enforcement industry, not counting the propagandists and the psychologists who make their living off of generating and then treating people’s fears and anxieties over their addictions.

When you use an illegal drug like cocaine, you are likely to do so only on “special” occasions, at which time, you are likely to binge in an attempt pack as much pleasure as you can into the limited time available. This tends to define your relationship to the drug, so that if it should become more available later, or if you should develop some life problem where you begin using the drug daily, these binging habits tend to follow you. Its not the drug but how you use it that matters. During Prohibition people were no longer able to use beer and wine in moderate daily social use; they had to shift to hard liquor, consumed in furtive circumstances, where people drank to get drunk. Consequently, alcoholism soared during Prohibition and leveled off when Prohibition was repealed.

One of the reasons people do not become all strung out on Ritalin or Wellbutrin is that they tend to take moderate doses as directed; which is to say, in a form where the drug comes on very gradually. Cocaine and methamphetamine go directly to the pleasure centers of the brain, which by itself isn’t a problem. Tens of millions of people drank Coke when it contained cocaine without becoming addicted. Millions of women took amphetamines for weight control in the 1960s and 70s, while tens of millions of men on both sides took it during WW II, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. Very few became addicted because their dosages were low and low-impact, and their usage was situation-specific.

Coke and meth only tend to become problematic when you jackhammer your brain’s pleasure centers with high dosages, or a high-impact mode of delivery, such as snorting, smoking or mainlining. Slamming your brain’s pleasure centers inevitably begins to compete with other sources of pleasure until it subtly and inexorably begins to reorder your life’s priorities. So, if you don’t have much going for you in life, there is a very real danger of it displacing important relationships, work and hobbies. . . if you let it. The horror stories you hear about these two drugs consist almost entirely of binge users going on an extended binges and forgetting to eat, or going psychotic from lack of sleep.

The thing to remember is that you can quit any time you want. The problem is, you may not want to quit, especially if you haven’t got anything better to do. (Prison and other forms of “tough love” are not a “better thing” to do. And neither is compulsory rehab, which is one of the reasons why our drug policy is such an abject failure.) It isn’t difficult to always have something better to do—provided you use your drug of choice in moderation, don’t try to maximize your high every time you binge, and don’t make it the central focus of your day or week. When going through a “rough patch,” like a divorce or losing one’s job, the temptation will be to replace these lost pleasures—or cope with the grief and betrayal—with drugs. Whether you get these drugs from your doctor or on the street is largely a matter of convenience and taste. The thing to keep in mind is that, no matter how bad things get, you can always quit or cut back.

Drug addiction tends to exploit your character defects, but it is not itself a character defect or a moral failing. If you are a procrastinator or a problem-avoider by nature, these will tend to become a part of your drug-taking habits. Don’t’ blame it on the dope. You don’t have to become demoralized and “hit bottom”; you don’t have to totally abstain forever; you don’t have to admit that you are powerless over your addiction; and you don’t have to replace your addiction with a cult like AA or NA. In fact, it is better if you avoid such groups and consider your drug use a lifestyle choice, rather than an illness, a character defect, or a demoralizing condition over which you have no control.

Keep in mind that what most people—especially “reformed” addicts—bandy about as the received wisdom about drug addiction is self-serving, scientifically untested, moralistic bullshit. Addictions are easy to overcome; the hard part is getting to a place where you want to overcome them. This is not to say that there won’t be physical or psychological discomfort while one readjusts, but these are tolerable and doable. Millions of people quit cigarettes every year, and that is more difficult than kicking heroin; so if you can quit smoking, you can quit anything.

One of the best, most ethical, most realistic programs I know of is a “do it yourself” program called Rational Recovery. You might want to take a peek at this in any case, since Rational Recovery offers an eye-opening critique of the moralistic mythology that passes for addiction expertise.

nikipedia's avatar

@MontyZuma:

The trouble is, its illegal and expensive—which is to say, if it were legal and affordable, like cigarettes, it would hardly be a problem at all.

How exactly are you making the logical leap there from point A to point B….? Are cigarettes “hardly a problem”....?

El_Cadejo's avatar

^ what she said

Zuma's avatar

@nikipedia,

Nobody has to lie, cheat or steal in order to be able to afford smoking tobacco; nobody has to mix with a criminal element in order to buy cigarettes; you don’t have to hide your smoking from anyone; and while people may regard smoking a bad habit, nobody thinks of you as a moral reprobate because you are addicted to nicotine; the government doesn’t wreck your life by throwing you into prison in order to keep you from smoking; and nobody thinks its “money well spent” attempting to do so. That’s what I mean by “hardly a problem.”

tiffyandthewall's avatar

it depends on the way you’re made, i’m pretty sure. some people have this thing (i’m good with words today [;) that makes the more susceptible to addiction than others. i personally wouldn’t chance it with something like coke though…

El_Cadejo's avatar

i revert my stance, good show monty zuma :)

buster's avatar

Cocaine is not good for your soul. Snorting coke makes your sinuses hurt. It give you headaches. Every one that smokes crack or slams coke started out snorting coke. If you think because you snort powder it is safer or more acceptable than smoking crack or shooting coke your wrong. Its all about getting cocaine in your bloodstream. Most people I have known that do coke like it and get crazy with it and move on to smoking and slamming. Why tempt fate? Coke is good. It will temporarily make you feel like god. You will want to do it again? Do you need another monkey on your back? Cocaine ruins million of peoples lives. None of those millions thought it would happen to them.

nikipedia's avatar

@MontyZuma: Then don’t call the #3 leading killer in America “hardly a problem.” It’s completely obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that cocaine and cigarettes present different sets of problems. Thanks for helping point that out!

Oh, and while I’m at it, great job completely misunderstanding and misrepresenting addiction as something that people “don’t want” to stop doing. That’s truly awesome, well-informed, and compassionate. Great work, there.

adri027's avatar

@pupntaco: haha no but something like that I guess you could say . I meant to write the

Zuma's avatar

@nikipedia,

Actually, tobacco is the #1 leading cause of preventable death in the United States because nicotine is so toxic. Cocaine and meth are not toxic at all in reasonable dosages. In fact, meth was once regarded as a wonder drug, and indeed, is still sold legally under an FDA approval as a “safe and effective” drug. All drugs together rank 71st out of 79 causes of death; so the part of that statistic directly attributable to cocaine or meth would be at the bottom of the chart if it were counted by itself.

Cocaine is simply not a danger to anyone’s physical health, and if it were legal—as cigarettes are—it would therefore hardly be a problem at all. By making it legal, you could, at one stroke, take the profit out of the black markets that deliver it to every door, remove the incentive to binge, and deal with it the same way that public health officials deal with nicotine addiction; namely, by public education and gentle persuasion.

Your snarky, sarcastic invective notwithstanding, my representation of addiction as a lifestyle choice is actually quite well informed, both by my own personal and professional experience, and by people who actually study why drugs become a “problem” in the first place, and who quits and why. I would refer you once again to Rational Recovery, to Thomas Szasz’ brilliant book, Ceremonial Chemistry, and Mike Gray’s Drug Crazy.

I know its quite the fashion to view addiction as an illness over which the person has no control. It seems to help the argument that people shouldn’t be punished for behaviors over which they have no control. Unfortunately, the logic of this argument is self-defeating, since if an addict can not control himself from within, he can not use drugs responsibly, and must therefore be controlled from without. It certainly doesn’t help a person to tell him that he is powerless over his addiction, or to convince him that he is “damaged goods,” which is the implicit message of 12-step programs.

Besides, this demoralizing propaganda is easily debunked by anyone with eyes in his head. Most people use alcohol responsibly, and it doesn’t ruin their lives. In countries like France and Italy, even people who drink constantly seem to do so without any problem, as do ganja smokers in Jamaica, coca leaf chewers in Bolivia, and tobacco smokers in North America. Its only where drugs are illegal that people begin using them in highly concentrated form in binging situations—as our own experience with Prohibition shows.

Cocaine does not ruin millions of lives. That’s just more demonizing propaganda from the people who brought you “reefer madness.” What ruins millions of people’s lives is the government throwing people in prison for private lifestyle choices that should be nobody’s business but their own. If you look at history of recreational drugs in America, there was a time when these drugs were legal and largely unproblematic. People did become addicted to heroin and cocaine, but this was no more serious than people’s addictions to caffeine today. In fact, there was a British study in 1909 that found that heroin was actually less of a problem than alcohol addiction.

After the contents of patent remedies were listed, people were able to quit quickly and easily, because their addictions were relatively mild, and because they had the support of family, friends and doctors. I strongly urge you to read Mike Gray’s book, since it documents the self-serving agendas, the legislative subterfuge, the moralistic and racist lies that were used to demonize various drugs in order to make them illegal. There is now a $50+ billion punishment industry that has sprung up around the prosecution of the Drug War, and it fights for its self-preservation even though it systematically destroys more lives and more communities than drugs ever have.

nikipedia's avatar

Feel free to get your opinions about addiction from journalists like Mike Gray and and fringe lunatics like Szasz. I’ll stick to things like, say, data and science. And you might want to brush up on the meaning of that word you keep throwing around.

Zuma's avatar

Really? You have actual data and science on addiction and recovery? That’s remarkable, because there is shockingly little empirical evidence in a field in which so many claim to know so much. To my knowledge there is no empirical support for the disease model of addiction, or the efficacy of 12-step programs based on it.

The Rational Recovery folks are by no means “fringe lunatics,” not that it would necessarily invalidate what they would have to say. Frankly, I am shocked at your intellectually flabby dismissal of Szasz, whom I’ll wager, you haven’t even read. And likewise for your dismissal of Mike Gray’s well-received and well-reviewed book, simply because he is a journalist. Since when are journalists become unable to write popular books summarizing history and/or scientific research? Surely you can do better than mere _ad hominem.

As for Drug War propaganda, I refer you to, Robinson & Scherlen’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics, David Musto’s Drugs in America, David Courtwright’s Forces of Habit, or Richard Miller’s Drug Warriors & Their Prey Eric Schlosser’s Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, Barry Glassner’s Culture of Fear, Dan Baum’s Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure. And if you happen to be under the illusion that psychologists have any special expertise in this or any other area, I suggest you read, Robyn Dawes’ House of Cards, or Margaret Hagen’s Whores of the Court, or the APA’s own damning study, by Howard Garb, Studying the Clinician.

artificialard's avatar

This recent chart is a pretty rational comparison of various recreational drugs by plotting them on the basis of harm vs dependence. It’s been published in a reputable peer-reviewed medical journal.

While I’m clearly not an authority on the subject I’m still certain that there are more harmful drugs like heroin vs. alcohol. There’s a physiological basis for the addiction of drugs like cocaine and heroin that after a certain point a person is powerless to stop.

El_Cadejo's avatar

i dont agree with that chart in certain instances. IE GHB is more toxic than MDMA. LSD is also far less toxic than any of those other drugs listed on there.

i would also like to know how the decided the “pleasure” scale for all these drugs. According to them tobacco is as pleasurable as alcohol. Both of which are more pleasurable then LSD which is greater pleasure than marijuana (only instance i agree) and marijuana is greater pleasure than Ecstasy?! A drug named after the extreme pleasure it gives the user?

artificialard's avatar

@uberbatman The methodology and ranking used is based on a variety of factors, all with quantitative data culled from reputable sources. The report that the chart accompanies is here (PDF). I’d say based on the report that it’s fairly accurate.

Keep in mind that the each plot is intentionally larger to allow for qualitative factors and margins of error.

Zuma's avatar

@artificalard,

I see a number of problems with the Lancet study. One is that it is difficult to interpret what the metrics mean. For example, it appears that the risk of physical harm for heroin is 1.75 times higher risk of marijuana—but is that high or low? Looking at the chart gives you the impression that heroin is an extreme case and therefore commensurately dangerous. But if you read the chart numerically, 1.75 times marijuana’s very low level of risk, is still very, very low in the final analysis.

The harm scale runs from 0–3, but there is no external referent to anchor these risks or put them in perspective. How, for example, would the risk of harm from a dose of heroin compare to being zapped with 50,000 volts from a taser? Or, for that matter, the health risks of getting pregnant?

Another difficulty is that these assessments of the drug’s pleasure versus the drug’s risk are based on the opinions of a panel of doctors—i.e., people who do not typically use drugs themselves, but who tend to treat people who experience bad drug outcomes. In other words, they only see the drug use failures, not the people who use it without incident. So, from the outset, the study sample is fraught with selection bias.

There is also what epidemiologists call a “denominator” problem, which is that the survey participants have no way of knowing how large the pool of users is that generates the problematic cases they observe. Marijuana, for example, is widely used without incident by large numbers of people. GHB, by comparison, is used by a very small group of people, but it is very problem-prone because of it’s steeply non-linear dose-response curve (i.e., every time you double the dose, you multiply the drug’s effect). Even if a doctor were able to identify a small sample of GHB users within his practice, this would be a meaningful sample size. Moreover, he would have no way of computing any rates of harmful or problematic outcomes, because he has no way to tell how many people use it in the general population, or even within his own practice.

So, basically, the study is just a statistical pooling of a bunch of doctor’s opinions about how “pleasurable” and “risky” various drugs are. And this information is going to be drawn from their their book knowledge, since it is very difficult for an individual practitioner to accumulate accurate statistics even if he were disposed to do so.

The study would be much more convincing if it sampled actual drug users and their rates of mishap. But that would have it’s own problems, since people tend to develop a drug of choice and stick to it. Respondents would not be able to rate the whole matrix because their knowledge is limited to a handful of drugs.

nocountry2's avatar

…why, have you got some?? :8)

artificialard's avatar

@MontyZuma The chart is as an attempt to make determination on drugs by harm and effect in relation to each other. It’s not supposed to be used as a tool to teach people ‘what drugs to take’ but as an academic exercise for policy analysis. First-hand qualitative experiences or literal scales aren’t used because that’s not what the purpose of this study and the methodology used was called for.

In any case I wanted to thank everyone for their insightful and rational opinions, I’ve been debating it on-and-off due to subtle peer pressure influences but I’m definitely closing the door on this one. I’d think that when you get to be adult-y you don’t have to listen to those stupid PSA’s anymore. Watching my friends talk about coke and how they always want more is a little unsettling and my tendency towards an addictive personality probably wouldn’t bode well for cocaine.

I just quit pot after a long while of doing it too with icky withdrawal effects so I’m trying to do the whole body=temple thing.

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