Just Say No! A Profile Of Cocaine and It\'s Effects On Two Lives


Presented by:
J.T. Stocker
Mr. Kramer/Mrs. Locke
7C
December 13, 1995

Greek mythology tells of a young god, Morpheus, god of dreams. Morpheus
planted a special purple flower called the lotus. Soon the people of the land
smelled the sweet flowers and ate them. They immediately feel into a deep and
troubled sleep. From that day on, they awoke only long enough to gather the
lotus flowers and sleep again. Eventually they lost their strength and
willpower and wanted only to drift in and out of sleep.1 The story of the
lotus-eaters and similar tales from ancient times show us that drug use is not
new. Today this problem threatens all of our society. The worst, most deadly
of drugs, however, is cocaine. This report will talk about what cocaine is,
what it does to the human body, and two fantastic people who gave their lives
because of it.
Today, over 5 million people use cocaine each month. Each day, 3,000
people try cocaine for the first time.2 Cocaine is a white powder made from the
leaves of the cocoa plant. Cocaine is first pressed to form a paste; then, the
paste is mixed with strong chemicals to make a white, powdery mixture. Most
cocaine comes from South America. It is estimated that about 400 tons of
cocaine is smuggled out of South America each year. Half of this cocaine ends
up on the streets of the United States.
Cocaine is a stimulant. That means that when it is used, it speeds up
the way the brain works. It causes the brain to send out too many electrical
signals that then get mixed up. Because the brain tells the heart how fast and
often to beat, using cocaine can make the heart pump so fast that it damages the
muscles or can lead to a heart attack. Since the brain also tells the lungs how
often and how deep to breath, the use of cocaine can cause those signals to get
mixed up leading to a shortness of breath or the complete failure of the lungs
to work causing instant death. The use of cocaine is seriously addicting.
Monkeys will keep giving themselves doses of cocaine until they die; most people
will follow the same trend.3
The world of sports has many sad examples of people who made the poor
choice to use drugs. Perhaps the saddest is that of Lenny Bias. Len Bias was a
star on the basketball court. He was in perfect health. Len played basketball
for the University of Maryland. Some people thought he would be the best
basketball player ever. Then one day his dreams came true. He was drafted no.
1 by the Boston Celtics to play professional basketball. "He could jump through
the roof," said Red Auerbach, president of the Celtics4. Len was so happy that
he went out to celebrate. He snorted cocaine, probably for the first time.
That would be his last time--cocaine stopped his heart and he died instantly.
Dr. Louis Caplan, New England Medical Center Hospitals, says that using cocaine
is like taking a chance on sudden death: "Cocaine\'s a loaded gun."5 Len Bias
choose to be on the wrong end of the gun.
Entertainers seem to live in a world exposed to many drugs. Sometimes
they, too, make poor choices. An example of this is Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain
was a famous rock singer for the group Nirvana. His music influenced millions
of people, and led the world of rock into a completely different direction.
While he didn\'t die of drugs, Kobain\'s use of cocaine and other drugs helped
lead to his death. When he killed himself, the news spread fast, and soon
millions of fans, all around the world, were completely shocked. "As if the
loss of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin hadn\'t crushed the rock-n-
roll world, now it mourned another family member."6
Drugs don\'t just affect the famous--they are a crippling part of our
society. There is no reason to take drugs; they won\'t help anyone\'s performance
at school, or earn friends, or create a better sports player, or help a career--
and dead is never cool.


Bibliography

Books

Hyde, Bruce. Know About Drugs. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1979.

Hyde, Margaret. Mind Drugs. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1986.

Nardo, Don. Drugs and Sports. San Diego, Lucent Books, Inc. 1990.

Shulman, Jeffrey. Focus on Cocaine and Crack. Frederick, Maryland: Twenty-
First Century Books, 1990.

Magazines

People Magazine. April 25, 1994, p. 38(8), v. 41. No Way Out, Steve Doughterty
(pg.