Concerning Coke at Conn

Rumors regarding the use of cocaine by Conn students have recently been circulating throughout the student body, making students increasingly aware of cocaine’s presence  on campus. Some students have become interested in knowing more about it, how it got here and what it does to users.

Cocaine is extracted from the coca leaf and has been used and abused for millennia. Known by many names in popular culture, including coke, powder, Eric Clapton’s breakfast and blow, cocaine is exceedingly popular and equally addictive. According to rehabs.com, many users become addicted after trying the substance only one time.

Cocaine works as a stimulant, meaning it increases heart rate and causes a rush of dopamine to the user’s brain; it’s platonic instant gratification. However, this euphoria is much like Joss Whedon’s Firefly: sublime, but over way too quickly. Within 15 minutes to an hour, the energy and ecstasy provided from cocaine consumption dissipates, leaving a pleasant but tired sensation that an anonymous Conn user described as leaving one with a floppy and free-form feeling, as if embodying “a boneless chicken tender.”

Even in the short term, however, unpleasant consequences of the drug may manifest themselves. According to the ever-trustworthy drugabuse.gov, cocaine can cause extreme paranoia and terror, as well as irritability and “bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behavior.”

“Death from overdose can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter,” says drugabuse.gov. To make matters worse, many people who use cocaine pair it with alcohol, increasing the risk of overdose. Some of the most frequent and severe long-term health consequences of an overdose include increased susceptibility to seizures and strokes. Long-term users also frequently develop Parkinson’s disease.

So why is it here?

Unlike meth and heroin, or its crystallized cousin crack, cocaine is extremely expensive, generally about $60-$80 a gram. Compare this with a gram of heroin, which The Washington Post recently described as costing “less than a pack of cigarettes,” and the steep price might seem a like deterrent to many, but it has in some cases had the opposite effect. Partially due to the high price and to its frequent and public abuse by celebrities and Wall Street businessmen, cocaine has contracted a reputation for being a glamourous “rich man’s drug.” It is then perhaps less surprising then that there has been such an influx of “snow” here, even during our mild winter, given Conn’s history and reputation as an affluent institution and the considerable wealth possessed by the student body.

But just how prevalent is coke use at Conn? This is where things get tricky.  Algorithms measuring a drug’s availability exist and operate by weighing the number of deaths and drug arrests against the percent of cases unsolved, but this formula isn’t available to us here. While we could estimate coke use in New London, there are no reported deaths on campus, and the school does an excellent job of expunging and concealing charges and records of drug-related incidents. Thus it is nearly impossible to discern how much enters the school, how much is consumed and how those amounts stack up against past years and other schools. People generally tend not to start clubs and organizations publicly celebrating illicit drug use, and thus these details are necessarily opaque. All we really know is that it is on campus and remains intrinsically dangerous.

How can we stop it?

We can’t. All we can do as a school is focus on individual cases of addiction and abuse and try to provide help and support. If you or someone you care about uses cocaine, do not ignore it. Do not let a user suffer alone. Talk to the person about drug use, and if the behavior continues, contact the school or the authorities. Avoid places where the drug frequently appears and people who have access to it as much as possible. Lastly, don’t blame your friend or yourself. Instead, find and create a support network made of friends and family.

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