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The specter of cocaine in the city

Andrew Leach

Drug use has been synonymous with certain professions for many years and substance misuse can be exacerbated by high stress jobs. City workers regularly point to work pressures as a reason for their drug usage. Andrew Leach, Counsellor and Clinical Lead – The Cabin Chiang Mai.

To reach the top of a highly competitive corporate ladder or high-profile position and then remain there for years is no easy task, especially when you are an addict. Cocaine use is widespread throughout the UK and is the number 2 substance addiction treated among UK clients at The Cabin Chiang Mai, a leading addiction treatment facility in Thailand, alcohol is the first most treated and heroin the third.

At The Cabin Chiang Mai, 73 percent of Brits treated for cocaine addiction are male; 27 percent female. Nearly 60 percent of those treated for cocaine addiction have a professional career or work in a white-collar occupation.

“Some people with the disease of addiction are drawn to highly competitive and reward-based environments where acquiring status, power and money are regarded as the norm and are encouraged behaviours. Such environments are common in workplaces in The City, and they attract people whose neurological reward system requires greater activation than others. These individuals are likely to experience boredom more acutely and require greater stimulation, greater reward and greater pleasure than the average person. This can lead into dependency and addiction,” says Andrew Leach, Counsellor and Clinical Lead at The Cabin Chiang Mai.

Cocaine Explored
Cocaine is a powerful and extremely addictive stimulant. A cocaine “high” lasts a relatively short time, so frequent use is common to prolong the effects and ward off the crash. It can be snorted, dissolved and injected. Tolerance to cocaine develops quickly and people with a cocaine addiction will need to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effects.

What is a High Functioning Addict (HFA)?
The high functioning addict may be a CEO, a lawyer or a banker – an achiever who is driven by a need to excel, who works long hours balancing multiple responsibilities. Due to the dysfunction in brain circuitry, the rewards of their work environment seem to diminish. Therefore, they have to work harder to reach the highs that they crave. The workplace inevitably fails to deliver this so they turn to substances to supplement and enhance the temporary illusion of reward and control.

Typical Indicators of an HFA:

  • Considers their substance abuse a reward – after a day of high-level negotiations
  • Uses substances as a coping tool – to get through the day, such as the use of a stimulant to enhance focus before working on a demanding project
  • Obsessing about their next drink or high
  • Hides or sneaks alcohol or drugs
  • Leads a compartmentalised life – hanging out with other heavy users whilst keeping up the appearance of professional and family man/woman
  • Inability to control the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed
  • Denies the consequences of their substance abuse

High functioning addicts start using for the same reason any addict does, to self-medicate an imbalanced brain chemistry and calm the symptoms of depression, anxiety and restlessness. However, using addictive drugs or alcohol over a long time eventually causes impairment to the brain circuitry, and addicts are left with issues that leave them no option but to seek treatment and not rely on addictive processes.

Signs of cocaine addiction:

  • Cocaine addiction causes specific changes in behaviour that may worsen over time
  • Cocaine users will initially experience euphoria, which will cause happiness and an increased sense of confidence and superiority
  • Cocaine causes increased energy – people using it may be extremely talkative and restless
  • Over time cocaine users can exhibit paranoia, irritation and panic as a result of taking the drug. Cocaine addiction can cause violent, reckless or erratic behaviour
  • The “crash” following cocaine use can lead to severe depression, agitation and fatigue. A pattern of high energy followed by lethargy and depression could signal cocaine abuse

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