Ms. Gokturk




This article first appeared in The Schreiber Times (1986) and won a 2nd place award from The Daily News for high school journalistic writing.


Is Coke It?


        Cocaine is here.

It’s been labeled everything from the glamorous “in thing to do” to a treacherous evil.

It’s been around and it’s available in Port Washington to Schreiber’s students. Although many associate the drug with the very wealthy or the extremely burned out, the truth of the matter is that middle class kids are trying it, using it, and getting wild highs at parties.

According to a 1984 government survey, an estimated 25 million Americans have tried the drug. Since then, the number has increased at a staggering rate. Cocaine parties seem to be becoming the trendy thing to do, the groups involved ranging from lower to upper classes.

After speaking to about a dozen 16 to 17 year old users around Port, it appears that all these kids have common concerns. Not one person who has tried the drug, of those interviewed, does coke more than 2-3 times a month, mainly, they say, due to the price. The going rate is now $100 per gram. Yet, money is not always an obstacle. One hundred may sound steep for a junior or senior in high school, but as one boy put it, “I get turned on by different people for free all the time.” Therefore, money is not always necessary. Besides that, many kids have part time jobs, making the drug affordable, to a certain extent, for some budgeting students. Shockingly, some teens claimed they had no monetary issues as they could ask their parents for money. One boy asks his mom for $50 whenever he wants, no questions asked.

Of the sample questioned, the average age of having first tried the drug is a mere 14 years old. All participants indicated that they continue to use the drug today because of the feeling that comes with snorting or free-basing, where the drug is smoked. A rush of energy, being very social, happy, creative accompanies the use of the drug. “It’s an excellent drug!” one 16 year old girl said. “The high is amazing but doesn’t last a long time. It kind of depends on how much you do. If you do too much, you feel rotten the next day, but I think that if you keep it to a decent limit, it’s great.”

There is also another form of cocaine, which however not widespread in the suburbs is beginning to creep in from the cities. As covered in a recent issue of Newsweek, “Crack” is becoming the in thing and is cited as being almost instantaneously addicting, unlike the number of years it could take with snorting. Crack is a crystallized version of cocaine, mixed with baking soda and water to create a hard rock that consists of 75% cocaine. One of Schreiber’s students claims to have tried this potent drug as well.

But there are those who have never tried cocaine and never would. One 17 year old Schreiber students said, “Cocaine is becoming an epidemic. It’s like a disease. It scares me to think that such a small amount of powder can become such a powerful need in so short a time.” Another student strongly agreed, “It corrupts the children. They just can’t deal with their everyday lives and they use the drug as an escape. They need to learn to cope with their emotions.” Of the non-users queried, these students were the most strongly against the use of cocaine. For the most part, most non-users appeared disinterested. One student said, “It doesn’t interest me very much.” In fact, some admitted that they hoped to try it someday.

Where are the kids getting it, besides their friends? The drug is purchasable from older connections and their “business associates,” or dealers, some local, some in the city. Coke is available to anyone who wants it. For teens, it is much easier to obtain cocaine (an practically any other drug) than it is to buy alcohol, which is perhaps another contributing factor to the rise in drug use.

And the dangers? Getting hooked or is not a worry in the least. These students feel sure that they are not dependent on cocaine and never will be. In actuality, however, these people are hooked. Place any amount of the drug in front of them, and all admitted that they would not be able to say no. Often, it seems that teens at Schreiber are talking about coke, using slang associated with cocaine, or associating any object with the drug for a laugh. Personalities seem changed. One has to wonder: if the drug is so readily available, and sometimes for free, wouldn’t that make these kids candidates for addiction? One 16 year old emphatically stated, “You can’t draw the line between the physical and mental needs. A person think they just want it, but really, they can’t function without it. I think it’s the worst drug because it affects [the] personality more than any other drug and you can get addicted without realizing it.”  

Should the drug be legalized? One junior vehemently replied, “No way! It’s way too dangerous. I wouldn’t want my kids involved with it.” Ironically, it is the deaf of getting caught by parents that is at the top of students’ concerns. “My mom would freak, and my dad would kill me, said one girl.

The users know that it’s very dangerous, yet they continue to use it. What might happen to these students? Could they become tomorrow’s addicts? One boy questioned began with drugs and alcohol at age 9, and at the time of the writing of this article is in his second rehabilitation home, having been sent there only a few short weeks ago. He could no longer say no to the drug, which started as saying yes at a party.

If the present fad continues, it would seem that cocaine will continue to plague society. Cocaine is not a mild drug and should not be treated as casually as it has been. Who knows? Many may wake tomorrow and find they are dependent on the drug.

Cocaine affects the brain by melting away one’s intelligence and personality. People make poor decisions and their personalities change. All this for the momentary feeling of being high. Users at Schreiber claim that is not an intense drug, but “only a stimulant.” Nervousness, bloody noses, paranoia, and empty wallet are only some of the symptoms of prolonged use of this stimulant.

The ever famous jingle, “Coke is it,” sadly enough, seems to be true. For a while at least.


Follow Up Questions

1.     What is the author’s opinion?

2.     How do you know? Find evidence of the bias in the article.

3.     How does the use of anonymous sources affect this article?

4.     What could have been done differently?

5.     Who else should have been interviewed to make this article complete?

6.     This article was written in 1986. What has changed? Stayed the same?

7.     What research should have been included that would have strengthened this article?

8.     Create an outline for this article. Break down the major areas covered and bullet the subtopics that support them.