A thought-provoking article exploring the experiences and challenges faced by individuals with drug addiction. The article sheds light on the complexities of addiction, recovery journeys, and the importance of compassionate support and resources for those seeking to overcome substance abuse

Cocaine Use: Crossing the Line

Cocaine use in Australia has seen its highest level of increase in almost 20 years. In 2019, a staggering 4.2 per cent of Australians had used cocaine in the previous 12 months, rising from 2.5 per cent in 2016. The almost doubling levels of increases were seen across all age groups above 19, but the overall rise was predominantly driven by men. *

Recent media reports have cited that when it comes to cocaine usage in Australia, Sydney claims the dubious crown as Australia’s biggest cocaine market according to wastewater testing. There is now an average of 910mg of cocaine consumed daily by one in every 1,000 Sydneysiders. **

If you are familiar with Sydney, you would be unsurprised to know that most of Sydney’s cocaine-related arrests were made in the city’s wealthier eastern suburbs and the CBD. Interestingly, recently rivalling Sydney for its penchant for excessive cocaine usage would be the glamour coastal destination of Byron Bay, NSW.

With a recent 600 kilo shipment of cocaine seized after being dumped in the ocean off Byron Bay earlier this year and cocaine now vying with cannabis as the region’s drug of choice, there is clearly a pattern emerging. ***

Compared with 2016, cocaine usage in the past 12 months increased the most in the highest socioeconomic areas of Australia (3.3% to 6.9%). Put simply, the higher the socio-economic cohort, the higher the incidence of cocaine use. *

But the typical image of cocaine use can be misleading, certainly for some users. Glamorous parties peopled by the famous, the beautiful and the successful using with impunity is easily conjured. But for some, the picture isn’t quite so alluring, which begs the question; when does cocaine use cross the line?

It is often said in recovery circles that it can be helpful to consider that you have a problem when your drug use is costing you more than money…

Tracey Gamble, a registered clinical psychologist with the Australian Health Professional Registration Association (AHPRA), a full member of the Australian Psychological Society (MAPS) and an approved supervisor with the Psychology Board of Australia is a Clinical Psychologist and an integral member of the Care Team at Raindrum.

Gamble describes witnessing first-hand when people come for cocaine related treatment, “it is often because they find their use has increased to a level that is impacting not just financially, but on their work performance and relationships.”

“They find themselves unable to cut down or control their usage and when they try to stop, they can feel agitated, restless and depressed."

“As usage increases this is often hidden from partners – and this can lead to relationship breakdowns or disconnection.”

In terms of the physical effects of cocaine usage, Gamble describes the effects of cocaine as “intense and short lived”.

“The brain adapts to cocaine use and it doesn’t respond as intensely with subsequent use,” explains Gamble. “Often this results in people taking more cocaine to re-experience a high, leading to tolerance.”

“Tolerance then leads to increasing amounts and frequency of use to achieve the desired effects. A perpetuating cycle of increased use can then be established.”

Gamble explains in her typically compassionate approach that there can be deeper harm done than the financial and physical repercussions of cocaine use.

“We hear accounts of people finding themselves having engaged in reckless or risky behaviours, outside of their values.”

But emotionally, even more devastating, Gamble explains non-judgmentally that, “this can often lead to feelings of shame and guilt.”

As with any form of drug misuse, there are mental and emotional underlying causes – and as with any misuse, there are negative effects. Recognising these factors and breaking away from destructive behaviour is key to rebuilding a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Raindrum’s programs, where clients receive one-on-one bespoke treatment in private and exclusive accommodation allows for clients to focus on learning, growing and healing. This places clients in the best position to move forward with a fresh, well-founded confidence and a prioritisation of health and wellbeing.