IT’S billed as a glamorous ‘party’ drug, but taking cocaine could actually leave users suffering serious bladder problems.
More than 80 per cent of cocaine is cut with the banned painkiller phenacetin, which can wreck the bladder and make you four times as likely to get bladder cancer.
4 Cocaine users could be putting themselves at risk of serious problems as drug could be cut with bladder-wrecking chemicalCredit: Getty – Contributor
Experts have warned that incontinence is a possible side effect of cocaine, along with gangrene of the bowels, infections and sores.
Some of these are down to how the cocaine is taken – snorting raises the risk of nasal issues, for example – while many are caused by the cutting agents used.
One scientific study found that people who were abusing cocaine were four times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-users.
Signs of the disease include a sudden urge or need to urinate on a more frequent basis, blood in the urine and a burning sensation when using the toilet.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms is advised to contact their doctor, and cocaine users are urged to be extra vigilant when it comes to spotting symptoms.
Have you or your family been affected by cocaine? Tell us your story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This week The Sun launched its End Of The Line campaign to highlight the terrible physical and mental toll cocaine use can take.
Cocaine use in the UK has doubled over the last five years, with 20 per cent of 16 – 24-year-olds taking it in the last year.
End Of The LineCocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
More than one in ten British adults are believed to have tried it, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16 – 24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue which is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.
And it’s not just the effects of cocaine that users need to worry about – but the dangerous substances it is cut with.
Recent analysis of cocaine carried out in a lab revealed it was cut with numerous toxic chemicals, with a quarter of samples laced with horse tranquilliser.
Experts from DrugAbuse.com found that phenacetin was the number one additive – used in 80 per cent of cocaine.
The powerful painkiller was banned in 1983 due to an increased risk of bladder cancer and kidney failure, as well as raising the risk of cardiovascular disease.
But many other horrifying chemicals are used too, such as a cattle dewormer called Levamisole, which has been found to rot human flesh, local anaesthetics benzocaine and lidocaine and vet tranquilliser hydroxyzine.
Another rare, but recognised, side-effect of cocaine abuse is rhabdomyolsis, or the breakdown of muscle tissue that poisons the blood and eventually the kidneys.
A study at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, in 1991 found that 24 per cent of users had the condition.
In one instance, a cocaine user with rhabdomyolysis developed multiple organ failure and died.
Cocaine is also known to be toxic to the kidneys in multiple other ways, affecting how the kidneys are able to filter out toxins to convert to urine.
Worryingly research found that two thirds of cocaine on Britain’s streets is cut with Levamisole, which is fed to cows and horses to treat them for parasitic worms.
It was used to treat arthritis and bowel cancer in the past, but it was banned for humans in 2000, due to the severe side effects. It can cause skin ulcers, and in severe cases, turn skin black and rotting.
Dr Noah Craft, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, described it as “a little bit like having HIV”.
Speaking to ABC News in 2011, he said: “About 10 per cent of those patients will die from severe infections.
“They may be walking around like a time bomb.”
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One of the most common cutting agents found in cocaine is benzocaine – a local anaesthetic which can be bought over-the-counter to treat mouth ulcers.
But it’s been found to cause skin itchiness, irritation and some cases, blood disorders.
Another common cutting agent used in almost half of cocaine tested is lidocaine – another local anaesthetic mostly used in surgery but also used to treat heart disorders.
Hydroxyzine – an antihistamine that has also been used as a tranquilliser in veterinary medicine – was also found in a quarter of substances tested. It’s been known to cause dizziness.
‘I was a police officer and addict who took coke on duty’
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These figures come from samples of cocaine sourced by the American Addictions Center.
But the incidence of cutting agents in the UK is thought to be roughly similar, or even higher.
Government stats show that in 2013, 63 per cent of street level seizures of powder cocaine contained benzocaine.
This shows users will often have no idea what is in the drug they’re taking, meaning they also have no idea of the long-term damage they could be doing to their body.
Am I addicted to cocaine? The signs and symptoms of addictionCocaine is highly addictive and what can start out as a one-off can quickly turn into a habit.
Regular use of the drug changes the way the brain releases dopamine – a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy.
But the high is short-lived so often users will take more to feel the desired effects again.
Over time, the body and brain can become too used to cocaine that it builds up a tolerance, which means you have to take more to feel the same high.
If you recognise any of the following behaviours in yourself, it might mean you’ve developed an addiction to cocaine:
You’re taking more of the drug to feel the effects
When you stop or reduce your dosage, you feel agitated, restless and depressed
You’re struggling to cut down or control how much you take, even if you try to
You spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to get cocaine
You’re disregarding family, friends and work in favour of taking cocaine
You know the damage it’s doing to you, but you can’t stop taking it
Jeremy McConnell: ‘Cocaine is the devil, it destroys lives, I feel sick when I look at the old me’
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