In The UK, Cocaine as Dangerous and Deadly as Ever

Guy hallucinating

Cocaine has long been a drug favoured by the affluent, partly due to the expense and partly because the intense stimulating effects of the drug go hand in hand with a high pressure lifestyle. In London, Hong Kong and other large money markets, those in financial circles just seem to be drawn to this drug. As a stimulant, it enables a person to work long hours and seemingly stay above the stress of always competing for clients and success. But this drug has not stopped being damaging and even deadly for its users.

In England and Wales, cocaine is the single biggest factor in drug-related deaths. In 2016, more than 2,500 individuals died from cocaine-related causes. That means cocaine was involved in 69% of the total number of drug-related deaths.

Heart attack

Why does cocaine kill? Coke speeds up the heart and constricts the major blood vessels. The constriction of the blood vessels means that the increased blood flow resulting from a faster heartbeat has nowhere to go. This restricted flow applies an intense level of pressure back on the heart which can lead to heart attack or cardiac arrest. It can also lead to aortic dissection—which means that the aorta, the largest artery leading out of the heart, simply shreds under the pressure. This condition is usually fatal.

Not only is cocaine still claiming victims, the number of users is on the rise. As these numbers increase, the loss of more lives is likely.

Young Professionals on Their Way Up May Struggle with Cocaine Use

Among young financial analysts and bankers in competition for promotions, cocaine use may become the norm as their promotions roll in and their incomes go up. If one of these individuals fails to compete, cocaine may salve the sting—until the money runs out. If one does succeed in landing the big accounts and promotions, cocaine may be the drug of choice for celebration.

In 2010, cocaine made headlines after a prominent banker jumped to his death from a London apartment after returning from a stint in Hong Kong. He had been seen snorting cocaine and then took a nap, jumping from a balcony shortly after he woke up. In 2015, cocaine and alcohol use were connected to a fatal leap from 24th floor apartment in New York. In that case, a young investment banker lost his life. His father reported that he been working long hours, seven days a week, for months.

Desperate man

When an entire group of professionals relies on alcohol or cocaine to deal with overtime and stress, it’s desperately hard for a single person to exclude himself from this behaviour considered so acceptable by his peers. But drug use and a high-pressure life have been the cause of crash-and-burn for many in the past—and even death, as these examples show.

A family watching a loved one head toward that crash would be wise to pull out every stop to get that person help. That might be the only way to save that person’s life.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.