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Driving: a common reason some mix coke, booze

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



Researchers out of the University of Victoria are examining the reasons why cocaine and alcohol are such popular combinations in both the party and the street drug scenes.

Done out of the Centre for Addictions Research B.C., Dr. Scott Macdonald’s study sought to figure out why just about everyone who uses cocaine will mix the two — and the findings suggest that often, it’s so those already intoxicated can get into a car and drive.

“If they’re feeling drunk in a party situation and they want to drive, sometimes they’ll take coke to make them more alert,” he said.

“It’s not a drug in itself if you have a reasonable quantity of it, you’re not going to drive significantly worse. There’s been experimental studies where people were administered cocaine and their performance is better in endurance-style tasks.

“But the problem with cocaine is that it’s a power-inducing drug ... and when your confidence is increased when you’re drunk, that’s not a good combination.”

The study, which surveyed drug and alcohol users in rehab, found driving a car was the third-most likely reason people used cocaine after drinking. The other, more common reasons, were to experience a “longer high,” and to experience a more “intense high.”

Dr. Tim Stockwell, director of CARBC, said users claimed mixing the drug helps in “maintaining homeostasis, so you’re not getting too high or too low.”

“It’s related to, I guess, the common view that if you’re feeling sleepy and a bit impaired after drinking, people drink strong coffee, they smoke cigarettes, cocaine — it’s a powerful stimulant, energy drinks. For centuries people have been doing this, maybe not for driving, but for chariot racing,” he mused.

“You’d still be bad at it if you take a whole load of cocaine, maybe you’d be more awake ... alcohol gives us the courage and something like cocaine gives us the energy to act on it.”