Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties

August 27, 1982

Report Outline
Middle-Class Popularity
History of Cocaine Use
Hemisphere's Cocaine Traffic
Special Focus

Middle-Class Popularity

Myths and Realities of Cocaine Use

Put the following professional football players on a field, and you have the makings of an all-star team: running backs Chuck Muncie and Charles White, linebackers Thomas (Hollywood) Henderson and Craig Puki, defensive linemen Carl Eller and Don Reese and quarterback John Reaves. You also have a group of current and former players who have undergone treatment for cocaine addiction. The list of pro football players who have acknowledged using cocaine and the number admitted to drug rehabilitation clinics have grown widely this summer. This has come about in the wake of allegations by Reese that cocaine use is rampant in the National Football League.

These developments underscore the rapidly rising popularity of cocaine, not only in professional athletics, but throughout American society. They also point to the serious problems associated with this drug. “Cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs around because it is one of the most—if not the most—reinforcing drugs,” said Dr. William Pollin, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “The drive to obtain cocaine is one of the strongest that any drug demonstrates.“

Despite the dangers of cocaine, there is a prevailing belief among the drug's users that it has no detrimental side effects, is not addictive, and is one of the most pleasurable drugs available. For these reasons cocaine has become the “drug of choice” for millions of Americans. They are primarily in the middle- to upper-income ranges because cocaine is also the most expensive illegal drug.

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