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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February 2005, 15:30 GMT
Canapés and cocaine
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

As new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair pledges to crack down on "middle-class" drug takers, one such user says cocaine with the canapés is part of day-to-day life for her and many others.

On his first day as the new head of the Met, Sir Ian Blair waged war on the "middle-class" drug users in London who think it is "socially acceptable" to snort cocaine.

The price of their indulgence "is misery on the streets of London's estates and blood on the roads to Colombia and Afghanistan", he says.

Tales of professionals following a high-pressured day at the office with a high-octane night of cocaine and cocktails are nothing new, but how much is it part of their day-to-day lives?

Kate - not her real name - lives in London and is a married, 36-year-old mother-of-two. She works as a marketing executive and takes cocaine regularly. Here she details how drugs played a part in her life in the past month.

NEW YEAR'S EVE

Celebrate with a meal round a friend's house. The kids are tucked up in bed upstairs and we sit down to cocktails and great food, followed by cocaine. We don't do it at the table, as not everyone is participating, but leave lines racked up in the bedroom for those who are indulging to snort when they want.

I have done cocaine with almost everyone in my life - family, friends, colleagues - even my bosses. I took it at my own wedding and I have even snorted it off the desk of a Harley Street doctor - he wasn't there at the time.

It is just part of my life and my checklist when I leave the house to meet friends is more often than not money, phone, keys and cocaine.

6 JANUARY: MEAL WITH FRIENDS

A meal at a restaurant with two girlfriends. Almost as soon as we meet talk turns to cocaine: "Has anyone got some? Do we want some? Where shall we get it?" I'm soon in a taxi going to meet my dealer in Soho. I keep the meter running, jump out, collect the stuff and am back at the restaurant in time for dessert.

We go back to my house, join my husband watching television on the sofa and start snorting a few lines. My husband declines and goes to bed.

There are certain people I nearly always end up taking cocaine with. Even if it isn't mentioned when we arrange to meet, as soon as we do the subject is brought up and I find it extremely difficult to say no. This lack of willpower does depress me.

13 JANUARY: LEAVING DO AT WORK

A leaving party for a colleague and I know coke will be part of the evening so I arrange to get some. Colleagues end up back at my house and we stay up into the early hours. I regret staying up for so long in the morning as I have to look after the kids. Also, because I stay up longer when I take coke I drink more, which makes me feel worse the next day.

I do beat myself up about taking cocaine, but I don't think I have a problem. Compared to others I know I am a lightweight. Using them as my yardstick is probably silly as they are the real extreme, but it makes me feel better. I know compared to the average person I take a lot, but my life is different to most people.

28 JANUARY: FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY DRINKS

I know some coke will be available and it is. When I was pregnant and in the early months after my kids were born I never took drugs. Each time I wondered if I would again, but I did and I can't really see a time when I won't have the odd line of coke socially.

When I started taking coke in my 20s it wasn't so readily available. It was a treat. Now I almost always have some on me, available to me or just a phone call away. It is the accepted - and often expected - thing in my crowd. I know doctors, barristers and teachers who do it.

29 JANUARY: AT HOME WITH HUSBAND

I have some coke left over from the previous night so I finish it at home with my husband. Wine, a DVD and a few lines. Where I take cocaine has changed over the years. I only used to have it when going out, now I'm more likely to take it at a friend's house or mine. I've been to parties at friend's homes where trays have been brought round with lines already racked up for you.

The desire for coke when I get it into my head can be strong. Probably the furthest I have gone to get some is at a family member's wedding when I drove for over an hour to a hotel to pick some up. What with the journey back again I missed most of the reception, but for me it was worth it.

I don't really think about where the cocaine comes from or the cost to other people down the supply chain. The drug industry is much bigger than just us "middle-class" users. The problems would not go away if we all stopped using. I think it's a waste of police time tackling us.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

I think that anyone who says that they don't have a problem but who 'has' to make a 2 hour round trip at a family member's wedding is deluding themself. From my perspective, "middle-class" users should be punished the hardest. I can understand people with nothing turning to drugs but when you have a family around and what appears to be a good life, there's no excuse. Plus what if her children found some cocaine around the house? I'm sure that she's very careful but we all know that children are 'very' inquisitive. Is that really as aspect of her life that they should risk being exposed to?
Dan, Carlisle

What I have to say to a mother of two who indulges in 'recreational' drug use I cannot write down here, as it would break the BBC's broadcasting rules. Needless to say, they would not be kind words. I don't know whether you understand this, but driving two hours to get some coke just to take it at a family wedding is a clear sign of addiction. You shouldn't need the drug, and yet you do, strongly enough to let it affect your everyday life. Imagine if your kids found your stash - they could easily overdose on even a small amount, and you will have killed your own children because of your selfish desires. I'm deeply disturbed by your blase attitude to such a serious problem.
Thomas, Sheffield, UK

Illegal drugs kill, if not the user then some poor person up the supply chain. This is exactly the type of person the police should target and use the full power of the law to punish them, they appear to believe that our laws are only meant for the masses and not them.
David, Stoke

Dont get me wrong, I'm no prude. In my late teens/early 20s, I took a lot of coke, but like skateboards and punk rock, it's faded with time. I'm interested to know what makes "Kates" life so different to others? I now run my own business, and still go surfing and biking, and although the odd joint is passed around, pills and powder have gone. To sit and watch the tv with a loved one,while the kids are asleep or miss a family members wedding reception, seems to point to only one of two things, you either have a very grave problem, or you are very selfish!!!
Ross, Studley England

Perhaps this individual should admit that she has a problem. A serious one at that. Raising a family is not cheap, so I'm concerned about what her kids are going without so the parents can support their habit. Get help before you end up in jail or die of a heartattack.
Chris, Karlsruhe, Germany

The lifestyle described here sounds pretty much like my own about 20 years ago. But eventually the need to do charlie just like the need to smoke dope and drink vast quantities of alcohol seemed to get less and less until now in my 50s I rarely drink, never smoke and do a line of the devils dandruff once or twice a year just to remind myself of how tedious it all is. The only difference between my own usage and the person in the article is that I never worried about my drug use at all. I worked overseas for weeks on end without using anything, including alcohol. Because I was restricting my debauchery to my periods of home leave from the industry (oil exploration) I did not consider it to be problematic at all. The fact that it was unlawful was even less of a reason to care as well. Even the threat of random drug testing did nothing to dull my use I stopped simply because I was no longer enjoying it.
Howie, Glasgow

I wonder where she'll be a in few years?
D Griffin

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