Social Coke Use Can Cause Heart Problems, New Study Finds

You’re not a coke addict. But you like the high that an occasional line of coke gives you when you’re out on the weekend with friends. So what’s the problem?

CocaineWell, the first ever study of the effects of social use of cocaine has found that it can cause higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and heavier hearts — all associated with long term heart problems.

The study, conducted by researchers at Australia’s University of Sydney, was published by PLOS ONE, the Public Library of Science’s peer-reviewed journal. Results are available online.

Previous studies of the effects of cocaine have focused on heavy users or addicts recruited from drug rehab centers. This study recruited 20 subjects ages 20 to 39 who said they used cocaine at least monthly during the past year and 20 non-users. Anyone who said he had heart disease was excluded.

The study used cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR), a way of examining the heart and blood vessels without surgery, to determine the impact of cocaine use.

Various studies have shown that use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are dramatically higher among gay men than in society at large. A 2010 study by researchers at the Institute for Scientific Analysis in Alameda reported that gay and bisexual Asian-American men, on whom the study focused, believed coke was less risky than meth, “enhanced sociability and was acceptable for use in most social situations.”

Arrests for use and sale of cocaine, heroin and GHB According to figures from the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Narcotics Bureau, 30 people were arrested for possession of marijuana in the last half of 2013, down 27 percent from the year before. There were three arrests for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, down from seven in the last half of 2012.

The Narcotics Bureau at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station reported that arrests for possession of cocaine, heroin and GHB increased 29 percent in the last six months of 2013, with a total of 36 arrests. Arrests for intent to sell those drugs went up from three in the last half of 2012 to eight in the last half of 2013. GHB is a recreational drug that also has been described as a “date rape” drug for its use by rapists to render victims unconscious. It also is used by gay men to intensify sexual feelings.