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Captured at www.cocaine.org/coke.html

When Is It Best to Take Crack Cocaine?

As a rule of thumb, it is profoundly unwise to take crack cocaine. The brain has evolved a truly vicious set of negative feedback mechanisms. Their functional effect is to stop us from being significantly happy for any length of time. The initial short-lived euphoria of a reinforcer as powerful as crack will be followed by a "crash." This involves anxiety, depression, irritability, extreme fatigue and possibly paranoia. An intense craving for more cocaine develops. In heavy users, stereotyped compulsive and repetitive patterns of behaviour may occur. So may tactile hallucinations of insects crawling underneath the skin ("formication"). Severe depressive conditions may follow; agitated delirium; and also a syndrome sometimes known as toxic paranoid psychosis.

The social consequences of heavy cocaine use can be equally unpleasant. Non-recreational users are likely to alienate family and friends. They tend to become isolated and suspicious. Most of their money and time are spent thinking about how to get more of the drug. The compulsion may become utterly obsessive. The illusion of free will is likely to disappear. During a "mission," essentially a 3-4 day crack binge, users may consume up to 50 rocks a day. Simplistically, cocaine tends to be a "selfish" drug.

There is perhaps a single predictable time of life when taking crack cocaine is sensible, harmless and both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. Indeed, for such an occasion it may be commended. Certain estimable doctors in England were once in the habit of administering to terminally-ill cancer patients an elixir known as the "Brompton cocktail." This was a judiciously-blended mixture of cocaine, heroin and alcohol. The results were gratifying not just to the recipient. Relatives of the stricken patient were pleased, too, at the newfound look of spiritual peace and happiness suffusing the features of a loved one as (s)he prepared to meet his or her Maker.

Drawing life to a close with a transcendentally orgasmic bang, and not a pathetic and god-forsaken whimper, can turn dying into the culmination of one's existence rather than its present messy and protracted anti-climax.

There is another good reason to finish life on a high note. In a predominantly secular society, adopting a hedonistic death-style is much more responsible from an ethical utilitarian perspective. For it promises to spare friends and relations the miseries of vicarious suffering and distress they are liable to undergo at present as they witness one's decline.

A few generations hence, the elimination of primitive evolutionary holdovers such as the aging process and aversive experience will make the social institutionalisation of the hedonistic death advocated here redundant. In the meanwhile, one is conceived in pleasure and may reasonably hope to die in it.

Caught in the Net welcomes interesting flotsam culled by its readers. Send E-mail to netfishing@chicagoreader.com. There's a T-shirt in it for you if we print it.

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