A few months ago Viceland.com had a column called "Bollocks to the Hippocratic Oath" written for us by a lovely young doctor working under the pseudonym of Dr Mona Moore. She specialised in answering the queries everyone have: What's the wrong way to extend an erection? Is there a heaven? Why do demented old people have so much sex in hospital? She wrote for us every week for nearly a year, until one day another doctor mentioned the blog to her and she got freaked out that she was going to get sacked. That was a sad day. Anyway, back in June she answered another important question: How much cocaine can I get away with taking?
A dentist friend treated a woman who had done so much cocaine it had rotted a hole between her nose and mouth, as well as perforating her septum. That shits on Daniella Westbrook. This woman had a 3cm by 1.5cm wide black rancid pit on the roof of her mouth through which her rotting nose would drip. Her mouth was her brain’s own colostomy bag.
She was in her forties and had been using cocaine everyday for 18 months, which doesn’t actually seem like that long to have hollowed her skull. They repaired it using a chunk of her tongue, which they flapped over and sewed to her palette. She also had damage to her lateral nasal walls, which will lead to what is called saddle nose deformity. In other words, her nose will fall in on her face, that is unless she stays off the marching powder.
If this has made you delete the number of your dealer and stick your fingers up your nose to test the integrity of that delicate divider, then don’t worry, you’ll get a few warning shots before you wake up with the better part of your nasal cavity in a bloody lump on the pillow. First your nose will feel itchy, then you’ll start getting great crusty goliaths of scabs up there irresistible to pick, then recurrent nose bleeds – particularly in the morning, maybe some facial pain caused by blocked sinuses and eventually some bits begin to fall out, long before which you should have just stopped taking the shit.
Most people in London seem to take cocaine and so I guess many of you do too, and everyone asks the same question. How much do I have to take before the 30-minute rave in my heart will actually kill me?
There isn’t an answer unfortunately. You could piss ten grammes for breakfast and have a rolled note permanently up one nostril, or be a class A virgin and choke on your debut line. There is about 50mg in an average line. People have been known to die after snorting 25mg. Other people can have supposedly fatal levels in their blood (above 2mgs per litre) and only just break a sweat. It depends on medical history, tolerance, purity of cocaine and luck. Each line of coke could theoretically cut off the blood supply to your heart, but usually it doesn’t.
Heart attacks aren’t fun. Patients describe it like having an elephant sit on you, or someone tightening an iron belt around your chest until the pain is excruciating. Except if you’re on coke, you might not feel anything except a bit of chest pain. Many serious coke users have scars in their heart from previous heart muscle damage and they never felt a thing.
I had a 26-year-old medical student come into A&E with chest pain after injecting cocaine with needles he took from hospital. He was shitting himself sufficiently to confess his coke use, which would land him in whole worlds of trouble. But if you don’t tell the doctor, the drugs to treat a normal heart attack could make you worse or kill you.
Now if you’re looking for reassurance this probably won’t make you feel any better. Of the 800,000 coke users in England, about 800 a year need treatment. About 200 of those die. One in four isn’t a great success rate, I admit, but when your heart fails you’re pretty fucked.
So, how much coke is too much? Sorry, there’s only one way you’ll find that out. But in the same way that drinking until you bleed from the arse is like an atomic bomb to your innards, so is snorting too much coke. Even if it doesn’t kill you, with enough dedication you’ll get a uni-nostril and a useless dick. But, whoever actually stops using racket? Annually? It tends to be just that unlucky 200, I’m afraid.
Dr Mona Moore
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