Again, cocaine use on the rise among college students

A college student uses a $100 bill to snort a line of cocaine, which was crushed up with a credit card. Cocaine use has been on the rise in college the college environment for the past years, according to Jackie Werboff, a substance abuse counselor at St. Augustine’s EPIC Behavioral Healthcare.

By Adriana Cabezas |

With a euphoric rush and feelings of extreme pleasure, cocaine is the party drug college students are turning to during the late nights out.

Cocaine use has been on the rise, becoming the second most popular illegal drug among college students, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In an environment where cocaine is accessible at all times, it is essential to educate students about the substances they put in their bodies.

Cocaine has become even more popular in college party settings because of the euphoric and hyperactive effects it has on the human body.

Even though cocaine seems to be on a rise at the moment, it hasn’t always been so popular.

“Cocaine is one of those drugs that comes and goes in fads,” said Jackie Werboff, a substance abuse counselor at St. Augustine’s EPIC Behavioral Healthcare. “Right now it’s back, I’m not sure what dictates when it’s popular and not popular, but it seems like it’s definitely on the upswing again.”

Werboff, a Flagler College alumna, linked the use of cocaine during college as a result of vulnerability, freedom, the easy accessibility of the drug and the party mentality that surrounds the college experience.

“I think a lot of people who have no interest in trying cocaine at all find themselves in front of it, at a party or at a friend’s house, and try it because it’s literally right there and everyone else is doing it and having fun,” she said.

An anonymous 20-year-old Flagler College student admits she tried cocaine for the first time her freshman year of college because one of her close friends offered it to her at a party. She started off as a frequent user of cocaine, but soon realized the danger she would be putting herself in if she kept doing it too often.

“I 100 percent regret trying it,” she said. “I’ve always told everyone who hasn’t done it that if I had one piece of advice for them it’s to never try it because you will like it and you will want to do it again and again and again and again. I definitely highly recommend never touching cocaine. Ever.”

The use of cocaine in party settings specifically can be very dangerous—mainly because while being out and about, it’s common to mix different types of substances throughout the night.

Often people are also drinking alcohol while they’re using cocaine—even taking pills as well. Cocaine is a stimulant and those other substances are depressants for the body. They lower the body’s blood pressure and pulse, which is the opposite of what stimulants do, Werboff said.

“You’re loading your body up and your brain up with two opposite things; one thing is hyping everything up and the other thing is bringing it down. A lot of times that can really over stress the heart and the whole respiratory system, which can result in an overdose,” she said.

Just like its effects on the heart and respiratory system, it also has long-lasting effects on the brain.

“Depression is the most common mental illness that would result from abusing cocaine simply because the comedown of cocaine is extremely awful—it’s one of the most intense comedowns,” she said. “The person is really left with an unnatural brain chemistry for some time once they stop using.”

The use of a substance can develop into abuse and being involved and getting caught with illegal drugs can put future plans and dreams at risk.

“Cocaine is always a felony. It can impact your life in your social setting. Future employers can look at that and question if you are still using or if you have a habit,” said Charles Mulligan, commander-in-chief for the St. Johns County Sherriff’s Office.

This is not only an issue at Flagler College or in St. Johns County though, it’s an issue across our country, Mulligan said.

In 2016, 33 percent of teens and young adults from the ages 18 to 28 around the United States have used cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine, as a very addictive substance, can affect people differently. Mulligan said caution needs to be taken with any use of any type of drug.

“It may not happen to everyone,” Mulligan said. “Some people may experiment and walk away from it, but no one ever goes into some sort of social drug usage thinking that they are going to become an addict.”

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