Middle Class Mums Using Cocaine – But in Addiction, Class is Irrelevant
In Britain, there are increasing numbers of people using cocaine. Around 875,000 people used cocaine in 2017-18, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. Stronger cocaine, cheaper prices, wider availability and aggressive dealer tactics have all contributed to this upsurge in cocaine use.
Middle-class use, including amongst mums, has been increasingly under scrutiny. Some senior public figures say middle-class cocaine users are fuelling a rise in drug-related gang violence. Would education about cocaine production and supply chains make wealthier users think twice?
Victoria Derbyshire Reports on Mums Using Cocaine
Reporting on the story in May 2019, Victoria Derbyshire said: “There’s been a dramatic rise in the number of cocaine addicts, according to the UK’s leading provider of private addiction clinics. UK Addiction Treatment have told us exclusively that since 2015 they’ve seen a 128% increase in the numbers. Last year, they treated 504 cocaine addicts, up from 221 four years ago.”
Three mums – Claire, Jane and Suzie – told the Victoria Derbyshire programme why they used cocaine, how they became addicted and how they recovered from cocaine addiction. Do they think Government action to target middle-class cocaine users will make a difference?
Why Are Mums Using Cocaine and Getting Addicted?
Cocaine dealers targeting mums
Claire told the Victoria Derbyshire programme that drug dealers were always around at school pick up time. “We’d meet after school and we’d do play dates with the kids – and then people would be like, ‘shall we get one in?’”
Suzie was offered cocaine while she was pregnant. “I met up with my friend the evening before my 20-week scan and she was with a guy at the time who was a dealer. He held my hand out and he put a rock of cocaine in my hand and I was absolutely powerless to not do it. I can remember the next day when I was getting my 20-week scan – and this baby is going absolutely nuts in my belly – just thinking to myself, ‘I’ve done that to you’”.
Mums using cocaine with other mothers
The influence of peer groups, including other mothers, can play a role in when and how mums are using cocaine.
“I would go around to friends’ houses who were single mums,” Suzie said. “I’d have my baby in the carrier on the floor and I’d be sneaking up to the toilet to do lines. Or we’d be doing it on the kitchen side.”
The progressive nature of cocaine addiction
Jane described how small amounts of cocaine progressed to strong cravings to use. “I tried a tiny bit and I didn’t think much of it, if I’m honest. What happened was, over the course of eight years, every time we went out I started to want it.”
Jane described how using cocaine regularly turned into an unstoppable addiction. “Before I know it, I’m bringing men home, using in the bedroom and sneaking them out, with my son asleep next door. Then six o’clock in the morning would come and I would be like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve done it again’. And having that alarm going off, having to get my son to school.”
Motherhood, loneliness and using cocaine
Suzie told Victoria Derbyshire programme that having children is the hardest thing she’s ever done. “I met the man who is now my husband. I fell pregnant and suddenly I had this small child to look after and it was terrifying. I felt completely out of my depth. I felt lonely. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Post-natal depression and cocaine use
Suzie described how post-natal depression led to her seeking out more cocaine, even when she started having counselling. “I’d find whatever had been brought up in my counselling session, I couldn’t cope or deal with – so I would pick up [cocaine] and use on the way home.”
How Mums Recover from Addiction to Using Cocaine
Cocaine addiction interventions
Claire described the vital role her friends played in bringing her cocaine addiction to an end. “Two of my best friends climbed on the bin to get to my bedroom window, banged on the window. Four of five people marched in my house. [They said], ‘that’s it, it’s got to stop.’
“And that was the start of my recovery – to the point where eventually I was able to hold my head up high and say, yeah I did have a cocaine problem, I am a recovering addict and I will do my best to educate people and warn them of the dangers.”
Subsequently, Claire was professionally assessed for drug addiction and was admitted within days to a residential treatment facility.
Residential addiction treatment for cocaine addiction
The solution to cocaine addiction for Suzie was a residential addiction programme in a rehab near to her home. “I found somewhere quite local where I could see the kids at weekends. I came out of treatment and I just threw myself into recovery – and slowly, slowly, life got better.”
Community addiction support for mums
Jane found support from peers in addiction recovery meetings. “I just had enough of feeling guilt, shame, remorse. I went to one of those meetings and I listened. […] They all had bright, smiling faces and there were mums talking about how they were present for their kids – and I was like, I want that.”
Will Educating Middle-Class Cocaine Users Make a Difference?
Senior police and politicians have highlighted middle-class cocaine use as fuelling the drugs trade. How do middle-class cocaine addicts respond to these claims?
In July 2018, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, criticised middle-class cocaine users. “There are a whole group of middle-class [people who]…happily think about global warming and fair trade, and environmental protection and organic food, but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine. Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.”
In a speech in April 2019, Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said middle-class drug users are part of the problem. “They may never set foot in a deprived area. They may never see an act of serious violence but their illicit habits are adding fuel to the fire that is engulfing our communities.”
Speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, recovering cocaine addict, Suzie, said that education would have mixed results. “I’m very aware that drug cartels and black markets and child exploitation…go in to producing this drug. For people who are recreationally using, a bit of education about where this stuff actually comes from might make them think twice – but for real drug addicts, it’s not going to make the slightest bit of difference.”
Claire said that addiction should be viewed as classless, as it spans all sections of society. “I don’t agree with these different labels of the class of people. There are some really vulnerable people out there. It doesn’t matter what class you are or where you come from…some of us get caught up in addiction.”
At UKAT, we always treat cocaine addiction as a health issue. Whatever background you come from, we believe that addiction needs specialist and timely treatment to give you the best chance of recovery. We don’t judge how much cocaine you have used or what you have done in your addiction. Our purpose is to help you achieve long-lasting recovery. Our advisors are here, day and night, to take your call – please get in touch to find out about our CQC-rated addiction treatment centres.