Middle-class women in grip of cocaine as addiction to ‘glamour’ drug soars

Middle-class women are in the grip of an alarming epidemic in cocaine use.
The number seeking NHS help for addiction to the Class A drug has leapt by 50 per cent in two years.   Last year, some 2,923 women and girls sought help, according to the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System – the equivalent of eight every day.
Meanwhile, statistics released by the Ministry of Justice show that, since 2002, there has been an almost five-fold increase in the number of women cautioned by police for possession of cocaine.   Outside of London, the affluent home counties of the Thames Valley, Hertfordshire and Sussex are the places where officers issue the most cautions for cocaine possession to women.   
It will fuel fears the drug, in combination with alcohol, is taking a firm hold on the social lives of professional women who see it as ‘glamorous’.
DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes said: ‘Cocaine was traditionally seen as a glamorous drug, usually associated with a wealthy or jet-set lifestyle. ‘While the drug has become cheaper and more available in the last decade, it has unfortunately kept some of this so-called glamorous image. ‘Cocaine is far from a safe or risk-free drug. Users can experience anxiety, insomnia and heart problems and the risks increase when the drug is combined with alcohol.’
Drug treatment experts said those seeking help for addiction to cocaine were professionals with well-paid jobs.  Critics claim use of the drug has been promoted by high-profile celebrities who confess to taking it but avoid prosecution.
Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd have been exposed as users, while classical singer Katherine Jenkins and Amy Winehouse have confessed to taking the drug.
Adrian Rides, a drug addiction recovery expert for New Choices, said: ‘It is only in the last five years that cocaine has become as popular as it is and people are starting to get into trouble with it. Most of the people I work with are entrepreneurs, bankers, musicians – basically successful and dynamic people. ‘The people who get into trouble with cocaine are often successful small business managers and the drug taps into that drive.’
Figures obtained by the Mail under Freedom of Information laws show the number of women needing treatment for all drug addiction has risen from 50,462 in 2005/06 to almost 57,000 in 2007/08.   This included 3,282 who were addicted to crack. The number of cautions given to women for cocaine offences has surged from 153 in 2002, to 542 in 2006, and 740 in 2007.
Among men the problems associated with cocaine are similarly bad. The number of NHS addicts needing treatment has soared from 6,371 in 2005/06 to 9,690 in 2007/08, an increase of 52 per cent.
Men being cautioned for possession of cocaine has also leapt – from 2,104 in 2004 to 6,634 in 2007. Cocaine was also the most commonly seized class A drug in 2006/07, with 16,079 seizures, up 35 per cent since 2005. It is the first year since records began in 1973 where cocaine seizures have totalled more than those of heroin.
Almost two in every three of the cocaine seizures were for amounts under one gram – indicating they were for use by the individual who had been caught rather than a dealer.    Last year, it was estimated that 750,000 in the country had snorted cocaine in the previous 12 months. A report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said young people in the UK were more likely to take cocaine than those in any other country on the continent.
One in 20 children of 15 and 16 have used the drug, it said.
The rise in use comes in the wake of evidence of increased binge-drinking among women, allied with a surge in their involvement in violent attacks.
Source:  Mail Online 26th Jan. 2009

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