Cocaine use during lockdown

How does the lockdown influence the consumption of cocaine?

On the 1st of July Fair Trade Coke launched the survey ‘Cocaine use during Covid-19’. The objective of this study, is to obtain a clearer image of cocaine use during the COVID-19 lockdown. With this survey we aim to research if the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, that took place between the 16th of March and the 1st of June, have any effect on the consumption of cocaine. How does lockdown measures influence an increase or a decrease of consumption and if so, what are the motivations for changes in use? Questions related to changes in quality and purchases, are also included in the survey.

Respondents

55 people in the age between 18 and 55 years old filled in the survey. Out of the 55 respondents 47 (85%) have consumed cocaine at least once in their lifetime. 38 respondents (69%) have used cocaine during the past 12 months. Between 25 and 35 years occurred the highest prevalence of use. To be able to analyze changes in drug use, in the further course of the study the survey focused on these 38 respondents.

Identity

Of the 38 respondents, 32% identify as female and 68% identify as male. 11 out of 28 respondents live in Amsterdam, 3 live in Utrecht, and the other respondents dominantly live in other places in de Randstad and the southern part of the Netherlands. The dominant amount of our respondents is not registered as a student (71%). 29% of our respondents are registered as a student, at mbo (3 respondents), at hbo (5 respondents) and at university (3 respondents).

Work situation during lockdown

Out of 38 respondents, 42% were employed during lockdown and worked from home and 26% respondents were employed during lockdown but worked on location. About 24% experienced less hours of work due to the lockdown: 13% respondents were employed during lockdown but worked less hours and 11% respondents have their own business/freelancer but had hardly any work during lockdown. 5% were not employed before and during lockdown and 3% (one respondent) got fired during lockdown.

Cocaine use during lockdown

During lockdown, 24% (9 respondents) used cocaine on a daily basis, one respondent used cocaine more than once a week, but not daily. 26% used cocaine on an average of once a week during lockdown, 11% used cocaine multiple times a month (but less than once a week) and 13% (5 respondents) used cocaine once a month. 24% (9 respondents) did not use cocaine during lockdown.

Changes of cocaine use due to lockdown

Out of 27 respondents, 11 respondents said their use of cocaine increased during lockdown and 12 respondents said their use was the same as it was during 9 months before lockdown. 4 respondents said their use of cocaine decreased during lockdown.

Motivations for increase of cocaine use during lockdown

For this question multiple motivations were given. The dominant motivation for the increase of cocaine consumption, was ‘more free time’ (7 out of 11 respondents). 2 respondents mentioned ‘cocaine enhances a spiritual effect’ as a motivation for their increase; 2 respondents said ‘to be more productive’ and 2 respondents said ‘cocaine reduces anxiety, stress and depression’ as a motivation for their increase during lockdown.

Motivations for less use of cocaine during lockdown

Why did your cocaine use decreased? Three out of four respondents mentioned they had less free time during the lockdown. Three out of four mentioned that they did not have any good reason to use cocaine and three out of four mentioned that before the lockdown they were already planning to use less cocaine.

Change of time or location of cocaine consumption during lockdown

Did you notice any other changes regarding your cocaine consumption during lockdown? Out of 13 respondents: regarding location, 7 mentioned they changed location of cocaine use during  lockdown (like at home for example), 5 respondents mentioned that they used cocaine on different days than the months before; 4 mentioned they used cocaine on different times of the day than before; 4 mentioned they used cocaine in a different social setting (like alone, instead with friends) and 3 (23,1%) mentioned they used cocaine for different purposes than before lockdown.

What influenced the changes in your consumption of cocaine during lockdown? Open answers:

10 respondents filled in the question. Out of 10 respondents 4 mentioned their consumption changed because of boredom (‘boredom’, ‘more free time’, ‘no satisfaction with work responsibilities’ and ‘less external stimulation’). 3 respondents mentioned they couldn’t party (‘clubs are closed’, ‘use at home instead’ and ‘no possibility to party’).

Others mentioned:

  • “Less social control and due to thesis deadline, there’s a high pressure to be productive.”
  • “During lockdown we used cocaine during the midweek. Normally we only used cocaine in the weekends. My boyfriend is a teacher, so IF we use cocaine during midweek, we do it when my boyfriend has a holiday.”
  • “During lockdown I hang out a lot with somebody who used a lot. I could ‘ve avoid it if there was no lockdown”

The purchase and quality of cocaine

The price of cocaine during lockdown

Out of 19 respondents, the dominant amount of respondents (14 respondents) said they paid the same price as before the lockdown. Regarding the price of one gram of cocaine, 19 respondents said to pay:

57,9% (11 respondents) 50 euos

21,1% (4 respondents) 60 euros

21.1% under 50 euros: (1 respondent 35 euros, 1 respondent 38 euros, 1 respondent 40 euros and 1 respondent 45 euros)

The way of purchasing

In what way did you buy your cocaine? Out of 19 respondents 36,8% said through a distributor that visits their house after communicating per mobile phone. 31,6% said they’d meet outside of their house with a distributor after communicating per mobile. 15,8% said through a distributor who is their friend and 10,5% said through a friend who is not a dealer. One respondent purchased cocaine through a distributor who transported it through a delivery service (Deliveroo, Uber). 70% mentioned the purchase of cocaine was equally easy as it was before the lockdown and 18,8% said it was easier during lockdown than before the lockdown.

Quality of cocaine

Out of 29 respondents, 75,9% mentioned they never test their drugs and 13,8% said that most of the times they don’t test their cocaine. 41,4% (12 respondents) said the quality was equally good as it was before lockdown and 27,6% (8 respondents) said they are not able to define the quality of cocaine by their experience. 17,2% (5 respondents) said their cocaine they bought during lockdown was of less quality than before, while 13,8% (4 respondents) said their cocaine they boughts during lockdown was of better quality.

Post-lockdown purchases

Did you buy any cocaine after the lockdown (after first of June)? Out of 37 respondents…

67,6% (25 respondents) said yes

32,4% (12 respondents) said no

Conclusion

A survey with 55 respondents is not representative enough to make clear conclusions. However, the qualitative data out of this study is interesting. Out of eleven respondents that noticed an increase of their use of cocaine, seven mentioned that free time and boredom enhanced their use of cocaine. “Less external stimulation” and “less satisfaction out of work” were similar motivations. Another aspect in how the lockdown influences the consumption of cocaine is the change of setting, mainly because all clubs are closed. The people who otherwise would socialize in clubs or outside of their house, were ought to stay inside at their own house or at a friend’s house. For these calmer settings, a ‘milder’ stimulant was more suitable. Because of the change of setting, from the vibrant, densely club to a calm house gathering with a small amount of people, a different kind of drug was preferred. Three respondents mentioned that as clubs are closed, cocaine replaced drugs they would otherwise consume in clubs. As the setting changed to gatherings at a friend’s house, cocaine was consumed, instead of mdma or speed. One respondent explained that normally in clubs she would use speed in order to enhance energy and dance. As social gatherings at someone’s house are calmer, a milder stimulant (“een milder uppertje”) like cocaine suited better in this social setting. On the other hand, two respondents mentioned that because clubs are closed, the use of cocaine decreased: “normally I would go to a club after going out for diner, during lockdown there’s no other option than going home”.

Whether there is an increase or a decrease in use of cocaine, we are not able to define on the basis of our findings. In a qualitative way, we can conclude that during the lockdown there is a change of use regarding cocaine. Increased feelings of ‘more free time’ and ‘boredom’, ‘less external stimulation’ and ‘less satisfaction from work’ dominated the motivations for using more cocaine. Changed social settings also affected the consumption of cocaine, as clubs were closed and social gatherings took place at home. It increased the consumption of cocaine, as cocaine is perceived as more suitable in smaller and calmer social settings and stimulants like mdma and speed are perceived as more suitable for clubs. The fact that clubs are closed was also a reason to use less cocaine.

Our data therefore reveals that motivations for drug use are very personal. However, a lockdown influences individual experiences (like feelings of boredom) and it creates alternative forms of social gatherings (different location, different social setting). For some, these personal and external changes (social setting and location) have an effect on their use of cocaine.

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