With the widespread proliferation of heroin and prescription opioid abuse dominating the national addiction treatment conversation, cocaine abuse has been able to fly under the radar and continue to comparatively little enforcement of intervention. In the mean time, the drug, in all of its forms, continues to cripple urban communities, driving down property values and significantly impairing residents’ quality of life. The latest example of this toxic correlation made headlines this past week when one man allegedly fatally gunned down another in Highbridge Park. The alleged gunman also shot another in the shoulder, but he survived. Police have said the altercation began when the victims couldn’t give the shooter more cocaine during what they say was an all-night binge.
Though the shooting occurred just last week, the relationship between cocaine and crime is hardly a new story. Between random incidents like the aforementioned shooting and organized crime groups using it as currency to spread their operations and reach, cocaine has been a major driver of violent crime for decades. Although the availability of cocaine has decline significantly in the past ten years, according to the DEA, its ghosts still continue to haunt many of the communities in which was once king. While the disproportionate sentencing guidelines for crack users have been well documented, the lasting impact of both crack and powder cocaine on communities cannot be ignored.
Addiction is not a linear or straightforward concept, nor is the devastation it causes to those directly affected by it. Although experts have reported a “normalization” in cocaine use across the United States, there’s nothing normal about what the drug often compels users to do in pursuit of their next fix once their substance abuse morphs into full-blown addiction. Just a few months ago, Long Island police officers seized more than 200 grams of the drug in an ongoing raid that has put front and center cocaine-related gangland activity in the area. In other words, this problem is far from over.