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Between the Lines
Chapter 5    Typology (part 2)
5.4    The situational type
Twenty-three respondents form the basis for the description of the situational type. Six of the twenty-three are female. Age varies from 20 to 40 years with an average age of 28 years. This type is distinguished not so much by a specific lifestyle or predominant functional aspect which typifies use. The drug is only of fringe importance. A typical feature is the incidental use of cocaine, mostly linked to special occasions. Such occasions are Christmas, New Year, birthday parties and other parties. Consumption is limited, either consciously or unconsciously. This can range from a more 'calvinistic' attitude to a more 'hedonistic' attitude. In the first case, various situations are regularly avoided if it is known beforehand that drugs will be used. In the second case, situations in which drugs are used are sought after or sometimes even created. Cocaine use does, however, remain linked to the special occasions.
5.4.1    Socio-economic background and status
The backgrounds of the respondents range from working class to upper middle class. In most cases the fathers worked and mothers were responsible for bringing up the children. "Manager of a distribution department. Also Deputy Manager of all sorts of departments, I don't know which ones." [097] "My father was safety inspector at the refinery. My mother didn't work." [095] Upbringing was mostly flexible. Most respondents get on well with their parents and speak appreciatively of their upbringing. A few of them had a more problematic youth. "I needed a certain measure of guidance but my parents couldn't give it to me. They were much too busy with each other. Since I lacked guidance I didn't do very well at school." [095] After a while, certainly once the respondents lived away from the parental home, the relationship improved. As far as education and training are concerned, the situational group is diverse. The level of education ranges from high school dropout to university graduate. "First junior polytechnic, that was 3 years, then a degree at the senior poly in the same building. I just stayed on and passed into the senior department. Also part-time. I had a part-time job for the first two years of junior college." [013] "Then I did a hairdresser training. I became a hairdresser and started work as a hairdresser." [039] The diversity of education and training is reflected in the jobs of the respondents. Salesperson, teacher, electrician, social worker, musician, nurse and barmaid were just a few of the jobs mentioned. Six respondents were unemployed at the time of the interview, two respondents were students. Linked to the differences in jobs are the range in financial situations. This varied from a basic student grant of 600 guilders ($ 300) to a net income of 4,000 guilders ($ 2,000) a month. "I earn around 4,000 net a month." [031] "I have unemployment benefit. Just over 1,100 guilders ($ 550) a month." [039]
In the case of the younger respondents an evening out plays a significant role. "And then going out, of course, parties. Everything which is fun and where you enjoy yourself. If I have any money over for going out, I just go. You can always sit around at home later." [015] It is particularly in the case of the older respondents that an evening out has become less important. They see this as normal as certain other activities becoming more relevant. They have a partner, sometimes there are children, they have a job which demands a lot of time, etc. "I used to go out in the past more than now. Now I'm older and I've had rather enough of it." [083] "Now less, in the past more. You carry more responsibility for your work etc. now." [068]
5.4.2    Drug carreer
Pre-cocaine period
Alcohol and hash are the drugs these respondents used before beginning on cocaine. These have always been taken in moderation. "Soft drugs and I've always drunk alcohol, but never really big quantities." [097] "In my case blowing was the first thing. I couldn't stand the taste of beer. I taught myself to like it, I kept drinking till I got to like it. Yes, that blowing (...) My father is dealing in hash and my brothers were both blowing." [015] Speed, XTC and mushrooms are drugs known to most of them. The use of these drugs is limited however and has never given problems. There are no indications of an extensive drug career.
The first contact with cocaine took place in a familiar setting with friends. Sometimes at parties, sometimes at a sports club or in a music band. The age at which they began was around 20 years. Two exceptions were around 15 years and two over 25. "We used to go away for a training weekend. There were already a couple of users and then it just gets put on the table and you think: 'Now I'll join in for once'." [076] "The first time I used hard drugs was when I was 26, it was cocaine. I'd never used hard drugs before that." [013] Curiosity and excitement are the reasons given when the respondents are asked why they began. "You are curious and you want to have a go. It nearly always begins at New Year parties, that is really the day that everyone kicks over the traces." [015] "On an evening, all mates together and everyone could sniff. Later we go out. It wasn't a case of someone carrying grams in his pocket and all the time running to the toilet and all that nervous fuss. This was social sniffing in those days." [039] Knowledge about what they are taking is very limited when they have their first go. "I knew something about it, I wasn't born yesterday, but really I knew only a little." [097] "I knew something about it, but not very much. I knew only that it was white stuff and that you could snort it. (...) I had read a booklet. It ranged from coffee to heroin. I don't remember though if I read it before or after I began. I did know it could be addictive." [095]
After a first acquaintance, use of cocaine is kept to a low level. It is taken once a month or less. A clear borderline is drawn. "I have always said to myself: 'This is now the limit and no more!' At most once a month and not that you are sitting every week with your nose over the table." [076] "Sometimes once a month and sometimes twice a month. It's not really that my body craves it or anything like that. It even happens that my mates are taking it and I say that I don't feel like it. That's why I say I've never become a notorious user. It isn't a fixed pattern, it varies." [091] "And I use it only once a month. For me it just a normal pleasure." [056] Due to circumstances, the frequency can increase, during a short period, but it goes down again quite quickly. "The end of the year at Christmas and New Year, that's when you take more. That's when there are all the feast days and you have more opportunity when you meet up with friends who are also users and have holidays and you certainly notice it. There's a big rush on New Year's Eve. But I can't really tell, no, it always varies a lot." [032] People often abstain from cocaine for a long period. These are usually times in which there are no opportunities linked to use. "It varies, a period of not taking it and then I start again. An average of once a month, one small line." [097] "There was a time that it happened once or twice a month but there were also periods in which I didn't see it for a year. It depended on whether I came across it, or mixed with people who were using it." [095] The amounts consumed remained less than one gram a month. "Every two months a gram. That cost 200 guilders ($ 100). I used it when it was convenient and when I had the money. I took a line at home and then went out on the town. Then there was a period that I didn't take anything since I didn't have the money." [060]
The main circuits in which cocaine is used are close friends, evenings out and hobby circles (music groups). It is taken in small groups of old friends and close acquaintances and often at home. These are the places where they congregate on special occasions like Christmas and New Year's Eve. "That was at someone's house. The first time I did it alone with by brother and a couple of times with my friend. Apart from that, never with other people, only with the two of us. When we go out for an evening." [013] "I do use it if I go to a party, but I have to know the people otherwise I find it a bit scary. You feel quite different and then you think other people are looking at you as if you are odd, that's something I want to avoid. But in a normal home situation and at a party and sometimes when I'm at home alone and get the feeling 'Gosh, I could do with a snort'. Then I just go and get it." [032] "I use it at rehearsals or performances or at someone's home when we're having a cosy evening together." [095] Cocaine is taken when people go to a pub or discotheque but there is a shift to home use. "Now at the moment when I go to a pub or disco I take something. I don't like to stand in the toilet to do it so when I go out I just take some." [076] "If I use it I do it at someone's home, not in the disco where you have to go the toilet to push your nose into it." [091] Cocaine is usually taken in the company of other people. It has a social aspect. "It's a bit scary, I prefer not to do it alone. But with people around me, people I know quite well, that's what I like. Usually with D. I have done it alone but usually with others." [097] "I've never taken coke on my own. It's a social happening. I've sometimes finished a leftover, but that's all." [060]
Hash, speed and XTC are the drugs which are, or were, used in addition to cocaine. This, too, was on a very limited scale and is comparable to the way in which cocaine is taken. "Later on I also used speed. But I used it in a much more careful way. I realised full well that it was rubbish. Only on special occasions do I still take speed. The way I think at the moment I never need to take it again, but I find it difficult to say 'never'. I would use it in very extreme situations, for example at a performance when I can't stand on my feet any longer." [095] "Coke and XTC. Yes, I began a short while ago. We had taken a couple of pills. A couple of them weren't good, due to the speed. XTC is a bit like LSD. I took it twice and had a real XTC feeling. It's just as if you have eaten a hash cake. You feel warm. You feel completely free. I really enjoyed those things. If I had good XTC I'd do it again in the same way. The quality of XTC varies." [060] Four respondents had stopped taking cocaine at the time of the interview. The reasons for doing so were diverse but did not, in general, have to do with problems. "I can remember that there were some bizarre nights, that is also the reason I stopped. I just said 'no' at that point." [079]
The way in which cocaine is used is confined to sniffing and smoking. Injecting, basing or chasing the dragon does not occur. "Snorting, yes. Sometimes smoking, but I find that a bit of a pity since it costs a lot. It's nice to have it in a blow, then you make a joint and that's good. But usually I just sniff." [032]
The effects the respondents mention, such as feeling good, being able to keep going longer, feeling less inhibited and being able to talk easily, are predominantly positive. They fit into the context in which cocaine is taken. "It has a good feel, nice and relaxed. You can keep going longer, you don't get tired so quickly. You feel happy longer. The next morning no symptoms, not real ones, I don't have withdrawal symptoms." [091] "I find that the conversation I'm having then is more intense and, yes, I have a bit of a holiday feeling. Like, you are free and it's nice weather and even if it rains, it doesn't matter. It's cosy, you have your friends around you and a pleasant feeling, no worries or obligations, just as if an extra sense has been added. It's very difficult to explain it. If you are drunk you are always dreamy, absent as it were, with coke it's not like that. It's really very social compared to drink. With coke you are extremely open." [013] "For creating a cosy atmosphere and for lively conversation. You get to like each other very much, slap each other on the shoulder and so on. I hardly ever have rows if I take coke." [060] A number of respondents state that the effects are not really so spectacular as is often claimed. This is attributed to their limited use. "Now, it's really just a little different, you know. It's often exaggerated, all those things you hear. Of course, if you take it you get a pleasurable feeling. But I have never had it that I felt absolutely tops the whole evening. But perhaps I didn't take enough to get to that stage. That's very possible." [076] "I do feel it, but don't get a real kick from it. I take too little to achieve that. The more often you take it the more kicks you recognise, I think." [097] Sometimes the effects turn out to be less positive. This is attributed to the poor quality of the cocaine. "There were a number of times that I found the effects less positive. Apparently the coke wasn't good. Once I had a headache and runny nose apparently because the stuff wasn't good." [042]
The respondents obtain cocaine through friends, acquaintances or a dealer they know. "I have acquaintances who buy it through someone else. I can also get it through my brother." [076] "If I buy it I trust the people who sell it. I know where it comes from. He's someone I know well. I would never buy it on the street." [095] A number of respondents admit that they in fact never buy it themselves but only use what they are given. "Through the band I play in. I don't really know where it comes from or who brought it with them. A singer joined the band and she was also dealing. You didn't need to buy that stuff." [095] "I've never bought it myself. I've always had it offered by a friend or a partner. I've never bought it myself since I find it a waste of my money. I thought then that I wouldn't bother with sniffing and then I felt also fine. I've never had the feeling that I had to have it." [039] The market in which cocaine is obtained is, as far as the respondents know, separate from the heroin market. The dealers sell only hash and XTC in addition to cocaine.
5.4.3    Significance and function of cocaine
Cocaine use plays a subordinate role and does not influence the lifestyle. Admitting cocaine to their lives does not change anything. "Absolutely not, I stay myself. The odd occasion that I take it, it's possible that my programme for the next day gets messed up. You stay awake, keep going longer. I'm not addicted to it. I don't spend any money on it." [097]
Use is linked to special occasions and has various functions. You feel good, can keep going longer at an enjoyable party, an 'extra' to spoil yourself, and the social aspect are the main functions. "I've never had a kick from cocaine. Then I'd miss my blow more. The contact with people is, of course, the most important aspect." [039] "I am therefore using XTC and coke in order to have something extra on a special occasion or an evening which is enjoyable." [013] "Precisely at the moment that all is going well, that I'm feeling good, because I want to be even more in the party mood, so that I have something to make the party complete." [031] Cocaine is not taken in problem situations. You have to be in the mood for it and preferably in a familiar setting. "I have to be just in the mood. If I think of it now at this moment, I think 'I'd rather not'. I don't really have such a great need for it." [095] "I wouldn't take it just like that at a party where others are taking it. You do see that at parties, then the mirror is put on the table, but at that moment I don't want to be part of it. A sort of 'go on, do it in public'. I don't like it in that way. I find it something personal. We've had occasions when people came with friends of ours and they found it simply awful, or distance themselves from it, and then it simply didn't appear. You mustn't shock others with it, or anything like that and that's something you take into account at that moment." [032] Cocaine use may not conflict with other priorities in life, such as work. It is kept strictly apart and if a conflict arises it is cocaine that is the loser. "It's not a case that I've my nose after it the whole time, or feel I have to have it. That goes too far for me." [076] "If I'm working I keep away from the circuit, then I don't take it, or ordinary working days, no. That's sacred for me, I feel such responsibility for my work that I can't combine it. Never, no, never. I wouldn't consider it, not even have a pack in my pocket. No, at work I am clean, never take anything." [032] The limited interest appears also from the cost aspect which weighs heavily for many respondents. The advantages are weighed and with their limited interest in cocaine, the respondents prefer to spend their money on other things. They are not prepared to run up debts for the sake of cocaine. "I don't like to spend money on it myself. I find it far too expensive." [097] "To tell the truth, I don't feel at all like spending money on it. I don't have the cash for that. I used in the past to find it worthwhile (..) If I wanted to buy it I could afford it but then I would not buy a big amount." [095] Another aim in life takes priority over taking cocaine. "You see it go wrong with other people. And as I said already I've a certain aim in life, I've something which motivates me." [056]
5.4.4    Problem aspects
Use of cocaine presents no problems for this type. They have suffered few negative physical effects. "No problem with it. I think I'd be more likely to get problems with drink, you could say, than with cocaine. Nor do I know anyone who has problems with it. You are in control of the situation." [076] "I've had no negative experiences with it." [087] Due to their occasional consumption, long periods of not using cocaine, and stopping when they have no money for it, the respondents consider that they are not addicted. "If I don't take it, I don't miss it at all. I have never believed that it is addictive, cocaine. I believe that this has not been scientifically proven. It is, according to me, very strongly habit forming but to say that I get the shakes if I haven't seen it for three months, no. It could be that I don't take enough for that, I don't know." [076] "I know that if you get addicted it is more a psychic than a physical addiction. But this doesn't play any role with me." [087] Stopping, even for a longer period, does not present any problems. Craving is an unknown symptom to these respondents. "I've had periods of a year or two when I didn't take it. I didn't long for it. I used to feel something like 'I don't need it'. It continues to be dangerous. It is a sort of self-protection. I've never used it for longer periods, one after the other." [095] "I don't miss it if I don't use it." [097]
Nevertheless, the respondents are aware of the dangers which are linked to using cocaine. The negative aspects they talk of are not based on their own experience but on experiences of others in their environment. This is one of the reasons for them not taking too much, or not taking it too often. "As far as I myself am concerned not negative. When people take more they do get harder. Of course I don't notice it myself if I get harder but I don't think it is the case with me. Coke changes your life style, you get harder not only because you are taking it, but also because you sleep less and live on a different level. It costs a lot of money. Your rhythm changes, you eat less. That is not healthy. Coke is a strange addiction. You can keep yourself going very well, you can have ambitions, can carry on the life you are following. It does cost you a lot of money but on the other hand not so much that you've nothing over, or anything like that, that can happen, but you can get through a month without cocaine, but then you are really addicted." [097] "I've seen people change. They seem to be busy with other things but they are always trying to pick up a snort somewhere. These people get paranoid and aggressive (...) That's why I've put on the brakes. Taking coke has to keep being fun." [095] The respondents are aware of the physical toll that cocaine can take of their bodies, particularly if they take alcohol at the same time. "Alcohol has less effect on you then. I find that, in itself, the dangerous thing, you know. I then try to make my alcohol consumption be somewhat less on such an evening. I manage that better on the one evening than on the other. It depends, in part, on your mood. I think that as far as that goes you ought really to know what you are doing. That you shouldn't be getting your perks from two conflicting sources, so to speak." [076]
Despite the fact that they do not always have large financial resources, money does not present a problem for cocaine consumption. In the first place these respondents use very small amounts and secondly they do not take cocaine if they have no money. In fact, as can be seen from the above, they often have no money to spare for purchasing cocaine. Apart from some work on the side, a little shoplifting and small scale dealing in hash, these respondents are not involved in criminal acts. This is not linked to cocaine use. "I don't want to be like that, what you do in fact see with those where we get it. They have no work, are dependent on social security, they have to do all sorts of dreadful things, which I want no part of, to get their coke. I don't want to be that sort of coke user. A bit of luxury and, yes, I can pay for that and that's the basis on which I sniff." [032] None of the respondents has contact with the (drugs) assistance agencies.
5.5    The distinctive type
Six respondents form the basis for the description of the distinctive type. Five respondents are male. The average age is approximately 33 years. With this type, cocaine plays a particular role in the lifestyle. Use of cocaine is embedded in a subculture to which the respondent (temporarily) belongs. An important feature of the group is that the members are different to other people and distance themselves from the accepted norms of society. Drug consumption, including taking cocaine, provides an opportunity for them to oppose the more traditional values and norms of society which condemn drug use. It is also a means of acquiring a certain identity. The respondents belong to a 'select' group of users. Many aspects of cocaine consumption (initiation, progress, and any abstinence) are also largely determined by the group. Cocaine has played this role for some time in certain artist, squatter, and punk scenes. With the current widespread use of cocaine at all levels of society, it would appear that this role no longer exists and this type of cocaine user is gradually disappearing.
5.5.1    Socio-economic background and status
The respondents are from middle class and skilled working class backgrounds. Their fathers range from house-painter to professional soldier. "My father was a shipping agent and my mother a social worker." [103] "He was, in principle, an ordinary shipbuilder in Z. A real working class environment, you can certainly say that." [051] Upbringing did not always go smoothly and was characterised by a number of problems. Due to the urge to live independently and choose their own way of life, the respondents came into in conflict with their parents. Depending on the circumstances they then left home, sooner or later. "My mother supported the idea of me going to art college. I don't know about my father. Later on he often said: 'I wish you'd become an ordinary secretary.' In the end I got nitpicking with my father and he with me and then it was high time for me to leave the nest." [005] "I was born in the Netherlands. My mother is Dutch and my father Moluccan(3). Therefore there were two cultures with all the problems that creates. An identity crisis, for example, of 'what are you really and what are you not?'. Yes, it was a bit like hopping on two legs, so to say. My parents were not very stable." [047] Due to such problems, the school career was periodically interrupted. It was also a period which coincided with the use of drugs. "I then went to technical college. I sat there for a year but didn't have much interest in it. I was busy with seeking more space for myself." [078] "The beginning of my career was brilliant, I went immediately to grammar school. Then I entered puberty, that was something of a problem. When I got to the third form, I dropped a couple of levels. I was about 14 at the time. I changed to the lower stream. I got my MAVO (CSE) easily. Then O levels in '83 when I was 16. Finally, in the university entrance exam class, I started taking drugs and I failed to get my diploma." [047] In the end they all started studying again and completed their studies. Two respondents are still doing a university (evening) degree course. "I did really want something different, but couldn't get into university with my CSEs. I needed a year of higher studies, so I did Social Work College." [103] "Then I did Social Work College. I got a Junior Diploma, I did complete that. They just talk, a bit of a softy training. I got it in '89, two years ago now." [047]
In so far as a working career exists, it has a capricious nature with many different jobs, usually of short duration. Only one respondent had a regular job at the time of the interview. Social security is the main source of income for the other respondents. The financial situation of the respondents cannot be described as luxurious. Through a number of subordinate activities, sometimes in the form of moonlighting, there is a certain amount of supplementary income. "I am studying with a social security benefit since I am an evening student. This is an unemployment benefit of 1,045 guilders ($ 522) a month. In addition, I earn a bit extra. In the summer I have more money to spend." [103] "I have also worked in a disco. That was in '89 in Y. Picking up the glasses, it was certainly an awful job, but I needed the money at that time." [051]
Most respondents live alone, one of them is married. Going out for an evening has played an important role in the past. This has now become far less significant. "In principle, I'm a real out-and-about type. That is still there from the past, I think, avoiding things always at home. At a certain moment it was too crazy, four, five days a week. From Wednesday through Sunday. That was simply crazy. But since I now know that girl, it is the first time in my life that I can sit at home without getting a mood." [051]
5.5.2    Drug carreer
Pre-cocaine period
The respondents have had a lot of experience with items such as alcohol, cannabis, LSD, speed, mushrooms and pills. "Always drunk alcohol. We blowed too. I used LSD once in my youth, I've also taken speed and marihuana, also once mushrooms." [005] "I got the first stuff from my brother. First 'sitrol' and later a 'Turkish'. We were the tough guys of the school. We were in any case the first at school who rebelled. At school we had a students' common room, that was where we blowed. At a certain moment we were doing it daily, in the breaks. LSD was at school, through a hippy there. We were curious. It was somewhat too strong for my taste. The whole punk scene was into speed, in the beginning we used those dexies. I sniffed those. You could just go on. We blowed and drank at the same time. Later we took pep too." [103] Among the drugs used before cocaine, speed plays an important role. "Speed you got from someone, usually in the pub." [005] "I hadn't realised that you then can't sleep for the rest of the night. It is a sort of chemical coke. Your brain keeps going round and round, but you are really tired. I then started using that a lot, like every week. One or more nights awake. I missed out a night, I couldn't do anything else then, but then I had at the same time a couple of days rest." [051] It depended on the group in which they mixed whether they came into contact with heroin. Sometimes this preceded cocaine use, sometimes it came after trying cocaine. "Nobody took heroin in our group, we were all a very clean lot." [005] "At first in the group in which I took drugs there were no hard drugs used. Mostly drink and hash etc. And at a certain moment, one by one not long after each other, nearly the whole group landed in the hard drugs scene. Around ten of us, fringe figures that is. That happened in the space of two months. First speed, later that was coke and, still later, heroin." [051] For the majority of the respondents, heroin is beyond their borderline. It has a negative connotation.
Initiation is through a group to which the respondent has belonged for some time and in which other drugs are also used. "I think it was in 1979, I was then around 24 years old. Or earlier, sometime then. We always went to an artist, Mr X I'll call him since I don't name names. We knew each other from a pub. I used to go there often. One time he had cocaine and the pub was very full. It was a small attic, a sort of smokers nest. There was always booze and a whole cupboard with records. People were always coming along and then coke appeared on the table and we sat there having a good go. That really attracted people." [005] "After the speed boom, people got rather confused from this or were crazy from it. I know two people from that time who fell off their perch in connection with speed. I myself had contact difficulties from blowing. I then stopped it. A large part of the scene then switched to smack. There were hard knocks there too. That lasted around two years. After that I began with coke." [103] At the time that the respondents began to take cocaine they did not know much about it. Only a few of them bothered to find out what cocaine really was. "I didn't know too much about coke. Only that it was rather chic. Yes, I did know that you couldn't get addicted to it. At least, that's what we thought about it." [005] "I knew that it existed and vaguely what you feel from it. I saw it as not being hard dope. First use it myself and then see what it was like." [103]
The duration of use varies from six months to 13 years. After they had first become acquainted with cocaine, there was an increased rate of consumption in most cases. The frequency is then usually weekly and the amounts between 1 and 2.5 grams. "I was quite a fan of coke. Sometime I snorted a lot when I was at home for an evening. Then you snort two lines at 10 o'clock and before you leave another three lines. In the pub another couple of sniffs. By that time you've had seven lines. That wasn't every day but it was certainly twice a week." [005] "It begins with you saying: 'I take coke once a month' but then its the next weekend and you think 'it's so long ago, now it's allowed again'. Then you just go and get it. Then it's at least once a week, but soon it's twice a week to three times a week. (...) I started using greater amounts, that was then the trend." [051] At the time of the interview, two of the six respondents had stopped taking cocaine. The remaining respondents were taking it only occasionally.
The circuits in which it is used are limited strictly to a specific group of a few people who are usually close friends. In one case this is mainly a group of artists. In another it is people in the squatter or punk world, or a group from the rock and roll circuit. "With friends and fellow artists. If there were a lot of people, there were ten of us, but sometimes I was alone and sometimes there were seven or four. It was so that you always dropped in, in the hope that Mr X would present his plate and that a couple of lines would appear on it. That was much nicer. It was for me also a reason to go there." [005] "It took place at the homes of mates. Some of them already had their own home. They were more like disguised youth clubs. That didn't matter so much as long as you could take drugs with you. In that way everybody benefitted. They simply made their homes available." [051] As soon as they had experience of cocaine, the consumption of speed was drastically reduced. "I cut back on speed because I liked cocaine better. You are not so bonkers and worked up from it. People weren't finished off with coke. It was a good alternative to speed and you could keep going longer. I liked coke. I had seen the blows which smack and speed and mushrooms dished out. Coke was an alternative for all those things." [103] Alcohol and hash continued to play an important role. Heroin plays a very limited role. The few who do take it stop after a while. "We started drinking more whisky instead of beer. It tasted much better with it. With coke I could also drink more, you don't get drunk at all."
The main way of taking cocaine is sniffing. Occasionally it is smoked. Chasing the dragon and injecting were disapproved of. "What I've experienced most is snorting at home and that is of course very open. (...) We snorted the whole evening, all very exciting. And if we were out somewhere and had to tank up then one of the fellows had an apparatus. First he would have cut it up fine at home and then he could just take it out. We then managed to stand on our pins longer, you felt nice and awake then." [005] "The scene I was in went only in for snorting." [103]
When the respondents talk about the effects of cocaine, they emphasise the special feeling of group belonging and the feeling of prestige. "You felt very special with the coke, you felt like a sort of king. If we'd taken coke and then we went also to a pub and then you felt you were really the three kings coming in, know what I mean. That's what's nice about coke, but a certain moment then you feel very stupid and then you want to be yourself again." [005] "You felt just fit, the tops. You can take the world on. You carry on smooth chat with the girls. You had the feeling that you had a certain prestige." [051] The respondents admit that after a while there are also negative effects. "The coke was certainly a support and you felt good from it. Only at a certain moment the working was reversed. As soon as you haven't taken it you get a bit paranoid and completely unsure of yourself." [051] "Afterwards you often felt rotten," [005] Physically, too, it had a less positive effect over time. "Physically, it is of course destructive, especially your brains. They get so damaged. In my case the damage stayed limited. You waste away, no appetite any more. (...) Yes and your heart. The cells which are in it get damaged. Then when you are thirty you can get a heart attack. And your nose, of course, that sniffing. I, luckily, don't have a hole, but I was on my way to getting one, of course. Always a snotty nose for the rest of the day. I always cleaned it properly, mark you. With water and salt." [047]
The cocaine is often purchased by the group. Sometimes one of the group members is responsible for buying it. "It was a tacky sort of place, a shabby living room etc. Always a boy on the sofa who had already taken a lot of cocaine. A real 'outsider' type. There was another boy with harder stuff, a heavier type. On the wrong track. They didn't deal in heroin. At that time it was certainly separate. (...) We never bought in pubs, since there you have the risk that you get poorer quality stuff. Sometimes they even actually tested the coke. That was really a hobby. That boy, who I always went along with, he knew something about it." [005] Purchasing was usually from private addresses. If the group progressed to taking heroin, addresses were sought which sold both drugs. The others confined themselves to the sector of the market which dealt exclusively in cocaine.
5.5.3    The significance and function of cocaine
For a while, cocaine plays a relatively important role in the life style of this type. It is related to the group to which they belong at a given moment. The consumption of the different drugs such as hash, speed and, in some cases, heroin fits into the context of these respondents wishing to distance themselves from other groups in society. Cocaine fits into this subculture framework and at the same time forms a suitable replacement for speed, which most respondents have tried and found a negative experience. The group plays an important role in such things as initiation. "It was just the time that certain people began with it. These were, in particular, artists, as I recall. (...) Then in that period, around '79, all of our group were taking it. If there was a good party, or when we felt like it. When we went out we made something of it. It went with us to make everything more fun, exciting, to get extra enjoyment. No heavy use. It was only our little group. We were the only ones who went to the pub, who listened to new wave. We were a sort of pioneer group. There were at that time many more artists, but they didn't go to the pub." [005] "That was when I was at art college. You were naturally not completely free of the art world, it was used all the time there. But also on a normal, relaxed, basis. At a party with all the graduate teachers, then someone had coke. There, it was all done very secretly. They belonged also to a select group who were allowed to use it. It was of course illegal and part of the excitement was simply that it was illegal." [078]
Group consumption has the function of example and at the same time provides legitimization for taking cocaine. "Look, if lots of your friends start taking coke and they feel okay, then there's nothing fishy about it. Yes, look, if it had been heroin..." [005] It provides the opportunity to derive their identity from the group. "I took it more because I find it great, you felt yourself so special. You feel you are one of the elect, very strong. And you were part of a certain group. That was really special." [005] "At the time it was sung about a lot. I still like rock music and in one way or other the impression has arisen that it belongs to that world, more than the other drugs. For me it was something tough-like, of 'Gosh, I play the guitar', and I felt something like 'now it's me playing too'. I was nineteen at the time." [047] The group in which people are taking cocaine provides the opportunity for them to rebel. A lot of significance is attached to this. "I think that I am in fact addicted to naughty (deviant) modes of belief and I don't want to adhere to the morals of society." [096]
After some time, the consumption of cocaine loses its distinctive function. This is partly influenced by external factors such as the more widespread use of cocaine. "When everyone started using it, it wasn't fun any more and, what's more, it got far too expensive. The atmosphere became more sleazy and the quality went down. It was then another type of person that started taking coke, who made a lot of noise about it. I didn't see it that way. I didn't think much of that. Crazy. I think it is sliding more towards heroin users and such like." [005] There were also internal factors which played a role. People began to look at cocaine in a different light and/or the group to which they belonged decided to drop it. "I began to see it in another way. After I had not used it for a while, I found that I had to stand on my own feet. I found it then artificial. I had been able to feel from the coke how can you feel yourself superior, better or stronger. Therefore I knew that I could be like that." [005] "I stopped from one day to the next. With drinking coffee, smoking hash, drinking, sniffing coke, the whole lot. It needed getting used to but I began directly with jogging, took up contact again with my brothers and sisters. I consciously cut myself off, also from the whole environment, from the subculture. I also expressly avoided them. I didn't want anything more to do with them." [051] The same applied to other members of the group, to a greater or lesser degree. "For the rest, I mix with people of my own age, they have of course tried everything. They are going back to alcohol. A lot of them went on a long while with blowing. Perhaps you change when you get older. I never hear anyone talk about coke these days. It's no longer chic, it's not special any more." [005] "Three of the group have become real addicts, they are still taking it. The others have stopped in one way or another." [051] The gradual build-up of negative effects linked to use may also form a motivation to stop, or drastically reduce, cocaine consumption.
5.5.4    Problem aspects
None of the respondents sees himself as addicted to cocaine. "I myself have never had the feeling that I have become addicted." [005] "Not every day, I wasn't really addicted." [051] Even though they did not consider themselves addicts, the use of cocaine did present various types of problems. The physical problems which the respondents describe concern feeling rotten the next morning or a nosebleed after an intensive night of consumption. Furthermore, with the limited income of the respondents and rising price of cocaine it became increasingly difficult to afford it. "At a certain moment I was taking an average of half a gram. That was expensive enough for me. Around seventy-five to a hundred guilders ($ 32 - 50) an evening. In addition, I was taking other things as well. You also wanted to drink something. And I was not exactly rich." [051] Financial problems were usually solved by legal means. This often meant that the respondent limited his intake. "I adjusted the amount I took to the money available." [[103] Only one or two respondents opted for an illegal solution. "Once in while you do a little pilfering, but I didn't really like doing it as such. I never went for homes, only firms and the like. Stupid of course. There were only two that I really trusted and you did a deal, the usual equal shares. And they set up the job. Then you had some money again. I also just sold off all I had." [051] Other lawbreaking activities have preceded the cocaine period or are linked to the person distancing himself from society. "Vandalism in the punk period. I targeted members of the establishment. It had a political background." [103] As soon as consumption stopped or decreased, the above problem aspects disappear. Only one of the respondents has had contact with the (drugs) assistance agencies.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1    Introduction
Chapter 2    Methodology
Chapter 3    General impressions
Chapter 4    The main characteristics
Chapter 5    Typology
Chapter 6    Spread, dispersion and extent
Chapter 7    Conclusions and discussion
Appendix A    Glossary
Appendix B    Occupation classification
Appendix C    Patterns of use
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