The dark side of the white stuff

 

What’s so attractive about cocaine? One user and two former users tell how they started and why

DAVID IS IN HIS MID-30S AND WORKS IN THE RETAIL SECTOR

I GAVE UP in June. I just don’t like the person I turn into and I don’t like the comedowns. Even if you just take one or two lines . . . it’s not worth it. It made me really aggressive. Because you feel so confident, you’re right and everyone else is wrong.

I remember on one night out, a friend came over and said something to me while I was chatting to a mutual friend. I said to her, “What the f**k are you doing interrupting me again?”

She reached into my pocket, took the bag of coke and said, “Well, no more coke for you!”. She knew it wasn’t me.

The last time I did it, I had maybe three or four lines over the course of a night but I remember thinking, “God, I just want to do it again”. So my friend and I kept going to the toilet, chopping it out and doing a line.

The next day, all down the back of my throat felt a bit raw. It’s like you’re getting a cough. In the fashion industry, they call it the “fashion flu”. It used to be so rife, everyone was the same the next day, sniffing like they were getting colds.

Your body feels like all the life is drained out of it. It’s not like a hangover, where you can have a cup of tea, a slice of toast, a little lie-down and you’ll feel better. It doesn’t feel like that. It’s just, “Oh my God, will it ever go away?”

When you are doing cocaine, everything’s amazing. This music is the best music I’ve heard in a long time. This vodka is amazing.

It lasts half an hour – up to an hour if it’s really good coke – then you start losing it, so you have another line. But the second is never as good as the first. You spend the whole night chasing the first buzz.

Before June, I was taking it every second week, sometimes more. There was one week I took loads, maybe every night. I probably went through three or four grams that week.

I was at a birthday party, then went to drinks after work. I remember thinking, “I’m knackered, I have to go home” and someone said, “Do you want some?” And you don’t want to go home, so you take it. You know it will keep you awake.

When I lived in Dublin I used to take loads, especially if I was out at the weekends. But then it was a whole cocktail of drugs: I’d take a pill and, coming down off it, I’d do a line of coke, then another pill. Then I’d go back to a party and I wouldn’t really want to be taking pills. If you had to work the next day, you could take coke and still function.

It’s expensive, but most people would go halves on a gram. About €40 each would last most of the night. But I remember going through four or five grams between two, so it depends.

The side effects didn’t worry me for ages, but then I put on a load of weight when I was leaving college.

One night I felt a kind of palpitation and I remember thinking, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this”. I asked my friends about it, and they agreed it was probably palpitations.

They were really dismissive. But it’s a bit like drinking in that you know it’s not good for you, but you think you may as well have a go.

The immediate side effects, totally superficially, are that your skin is f***ed.

You don’t sleep properly. You end up with these bags under your eyes. You lose your appetite, so you look really gaunt. And there’s a coke pallor – your skin has this kind of grey colour.

Most people I know would have taken drugs in their 20s, but things slow down, you don’t go out so much. I know people in their late 30s who are married and have kids, and they do it as a treat.

They go out maybe once a month and do coke, because it doesn’t last as long as other drugs. They do some coke, have their drinks, go out dancing the way they used to. The next day, they get up and take their kids to football.

AOIFE IS IN HER EARLY 30S AND WORKS IN MEDIA

I FIRST TRIED it about four years ago. It wouldn’t be something I do every weekend, for two reasons. The first is cost – at about €100 a pop, it’s quite expensive – but also, I tend to see it as a little treat. It is something to add a bit of an extra something to a night. It would be for things like a birthday or a celebration, where I might feel like splashing out.

I would probably take it three or four times a year. I don’t want to be one of those people with a massive habit who falls down the stairs after having a heart attack at 35.

In terms of risk, I’m careful. I don’t ever get mine directly from a dealer – I wouldn’t know a dealer if I fell over one in the street. I have friends who arrange it for me, and they only go to people they have used for a while or who have come recommended by other people. There’s an impression of minimising risk. Whether you are or aren’t, I don’t know.

It’s a confidence booster. You gain a little self-confidence or become a little bit less . . . inhibited. You feel more self-assured, a little more relaxed and upbeat. I tend to get really chatty. It just takes away those insecurities about how you are dressed, what you look like, what’s going on.

It works in short bursts, so it wears off relatively quickly. It doesn’t last hours and hours, so you can do three or four lines in a night. It’s just a very subtle lift in your mood.

The worst experience I’ve had is when I’ve done too much, too quickly. You can feel a bit anxious, rather than feeling good. Your heart is beating that little bit too fast, like adrenaline has kicked in when it doesn’t need to.

I don’t know that many people who do it. I have a very specific section of friends who do it. I could count them on one hand. There are one or two who would do it regularly, and then friends who are a bit like me and maybe dabble once or twice a year for a bit of a change, if nothing else.

LISA IS IN HER MID-20S AND WORKS IN MARKETING

I FIRST TOOK it on a night out with a friend of mine, who is a nurse, just after I had done my degree and before I started my post-grad course. It was weird because there was a part of me that thought it was safe, because I was doing it with her.

I just did a line at first, barely any in fact. Then after around an hour, I did another. It was more for confidence than anything else. It makes you feel so much more confident. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and it seemed to help.

After that, I’d do it a lot with that friend, maybe three nights a week. We were working together and would go out a lot. We would do it every night when went out. I wouldn’t drink as much when I was doing coke, so it didn’t seem that expensive.

Then I found out other friends of mine were doing it. When I started my post-grad, it felt like everyone on the course was doing it. There wasn’t a group I’d go out with where people weren’t doing it.

I would always get it through friends. I never had direct contact with a dealer, because in my head that would have been really seedy. My friend used to get it through her boyfriend, who was an investment banker. He always seemed to have some.

Taking it doesn’t feel like anything. It’s the equivalent of taking a shot. You might feel a bit of a burning sensation down the back of your throat, but it’s not uncomfortable at all.

When you are taking it, you’re the funniest person around. Every joke you make is the best joke ever. You are the best looking person there. It’s just a huge confidence boost. You don’t notice, but you’re probably coming across as really obnoxious.

It sounds really pathetic, but I stopped taking it after the model Katy French died. It really freaked me out. It was such a big shock. When you see someone in the public eye . . . it was just frightening.

I think, as well, you kind of mature out of it. You feel like you just don’t need it any more.

Now, if someone offered it to me, I would be tempted – because you think you are going to have the best night of your life – but I wouldn’t take it again. It was just a year when I was taking it, and it was like everyone was doing it.

There was no one I knew who wasn’t. Now the girl I was doing it with has a baby and things are totally different. I would just never think of it.