Anorak | One in ten are cocaine fiends

One in ten are cocaine fiends

by | 22nd, March 2018

That’s not quite the result from the latest research into fun and tooting habits, that 1 in 10 of us are cocaine fiends. What is actually shown is that enough of us are into Bolivian marching powder that the entire environment is infested with traces of the stuff. Enough that fingerprint testing shows that 1 in 10 of us could be, if we’re not careful, adjudged to be users ourselves. That’s about 10 times what we think is the real level of usage in the country:

Cocaine is now so prevalent in society that one in 10 people who have never used the drug have traces on their hands, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University Surrey tested the fingerprints of 50 drug free volunteers and 15 drug users who had taken cocaine or heroin in the past 24 hours.

Around 13 per cent of fingerprints of those who had never used the drugs were found to contain cocaine, while one per cent contained a metabolite of heroin.

There’re some technical bits here- it’s not just traces of the drugs, but also of what the human body turns drugs into when they’re used. As with just about everything else anyone ingests some parts of those “metabolites” end up in the sweat. That’s what’s being tested with these fingerprints and also how it all gets out into the environment.

The reason it’s all so prevalent is cash. OK, sure, we’ve that mental image of someone using a bank note (a £50 to show off) to snort coke but that’s not really it. There’re some 700,000 people who are thought to use cocaine and they’re not infesting enough bank notes for us all to be infected. And that certainly doesn’t explain the heroin – no one using heroin ever has any money, the drug’s quite famous for that.

What’s actually happening is that some small portion of notes are getting contaminated. In the normal course of things they get spent and sent off to the banks. Where they use money counting machines then stick the notes back in ATMs. And it’s the rollers on the counting machines and the ATMs which end up with traces of cocaine on them, spreading those traces over every note that passes through. This isn’t, therefore, really a story about how we’re all drug fiends. Rather, it’s one about how much better science has got. We can now check for such minute traces of things that we find them everywhere.

Presumably the whole story will go away at some point when we’re all using contactless payment cards. For at that point only the people actually using drugs will have them on their fingertips.

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink