January 15, 1999

Although we don't hear as much about drug abuse as we used to, it's still a problem. Take cocaine for example. More than 22 million Americans have used cocaine, and there are about 5 million regular users with the number increasing daily. Every day some 5,000 neophytes sniff a line of coke for the first time.

About one in five 12th graders has tried cocaine, and 30% of all college students have tried cocaine by their fourth year. No wonder there have already been hundreds of cocaine-related deaths.

Cocaine is a drug designed for energetic people. Unlike most other drugs, cocaine is a stimulant and an ego builder. Along with increased energy comes a feeling of personal supremacy: the illusion of being smarter, sexier, more competent than anyone else. And while the cocaine confidence makes you feel indestructible, the crash from coke leaves you depressed, paranoid, and searching for more.

Until recently, people speaking of cocaine dependence would never call it an addiction. Cocaine's withdrawal symptoms are not physically wrenching like those of heroin and alcohol. Yet cocaine involves compulsion, loss of control and continued use in spite of the consequences.

Cocaine has been accorded symbolic status that makes it all the more dangerous. It's perceived as chic, cozy, and clean. Friends snort coke with other friends and rationalize it by asking, "Who's it hurting?" But the cocaine trade is anything but cozy and clean: it's dirty and dangerous. Cocaine users implicitly acquiesce in hundreds of cocaine-related murders and gang-land killings each year.

Drugs are still a problem in America, and cocaine is one of the worst. Sometimes it makes you wonder if we are even trying to fight a drug war or whether we have just decided to surrender.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International