Destruction of the nasal septum, cardiac problems or neurological, sexual impotence, necrosis… cocaine generates diseases and the side effects unknown and shamefully concealed. Of ex-addicts and drug addicts encountered in Colombia, the largest producer of the narcotic, bear witness to this.
The output of the containment, imposed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, is likely to lead to an increase in overdose with a recovery of consumption after months of withdrawal, fear experts.
“The people, who have reduced their consumption during the quarantine can’t take what they were taking before because it could cause an overdose,” warns Julian Quintero, director of the Institute of technical activities, social (ATS), in Bogota, the colombian capital confined since the 20 march.
Some 500 000 drug users die each year in the world and 35 million of them suffer from “a disorder” resulting from their addiction, according to a report by the united Nations Office on drugs and crime (UNODC), published in may.
“People are going to be difficult to the doctor for an addiction to cocaine and they don’t think that it causes other diseases,” explains Efren Martinez, scientific director of the rehabilitation centre of the foundation Colectivo Aqui y Ahora, underlining the difficulty of treating these side-effects, patients speak with reluctance.
Here are three testimonies, collected by the AFP, the plight of these narco-diseases arising from the inhalation of cocaine.
Nasal septum perforated
The bleeding did not prevent Nicolas Merizalde sniffer of the “perico”, the popular name of the cocaine in Colombia.
“With a handkerchief, with anything, I cleaned the blood, I was waiting for it to dry a bit, then I cleaned it again and again until you bleed,” says this 47-year-old.
No visible trace of surgery, although his nasal septum was replaced by the platinum.
The damage to the septum of the nose are generated by unbridled consumerism of long standing – in his case, since his 14 years.
“The acid that contains cocaine, have the power to devour bones, literally,” said Mr. Martinez. And “the most serious of these are micro cerebral infarcts” when the nasal septum is perforated, the powder goes up to the brain.
Alcohol and marijuana, Nicolas Merizalde is gone very quickly to the “snow” and “more obsessive” as his friends : “They sniffaient a line, me two”.
His life is a party in a spin. He flew up, hit his girlfriend, the past of the drug in Peru, is left groping by a dealer in exchange for his dose.
At the end of the roll, he locked himself in a motel to complete a drug overdose. But he failed and ended up in the hospital. Since 1995, he is “clean” and runs for ten years, a rehabilitation centre.
Alberto* assigns the break with his wife to his erectile dysfunction. “The lovers” of the cocaine, he had no idea that she would betray him to the bed.
“This is what can happen worse… this is what has triggered our separation because my body, my life, everything depended on drugs,” said the forty-something woman in a corridor of the university hospital San José, Bogota. He was operated on for a cerebral ischemia, caused by the white powder.
Its erection difficulties have been ongoing for more than twenty years. He had 22, including eight with drugs on a daily basis.
He married, had two children, without giving up the “coke”. His wife has tolerated, until it draws in the family budget.
And their intimate relationship has faded. “When you (…) es depending on the drug, it cancels often the sexual pleasure”, he said.
Cocaine form clots of fat in the blood vessels, disrupting blood flow to the penis, so the erection, ” says the toxicologist Miguel Tolosa, who has been monitoring Alberto.
But impotence was a minor problem in the face of other disorders : brain infarct, liver problems, heart disease, and kidney problems.
“The drug has been the worst decision of my life, she ruined everything”, admitted Alberto, before quitting to go to medical checks and that the hospital would lose its trace.
Jorge Rodriguez* shows his chest, his back, his arms. Her skin is testimony to the”hell” of the skin necrosis due to cocaine adulterated : it is dotted with scars the size of lenses.
“The itching wouldn’t let me do anything, neither read, nor write, nor love (…) It poisons the life”, remembers this 50 year old man, at home in the centre of Bogota.
“The bed stained with blood, the shirts… It is a disease to be ashamed”.
At the end of the years 2010, his body was covered in buttons, turned into lesions.
“To go to a meeting, I had to spend calming on the skin,” he explains. “I had to stop to have a professional life in public service (as a researcher and consultant), and work recluse”.
Consumer of cocaine for a quarter of a century, it has begun to suffer after you have changed dealer. Five friends were then presented with the same symptoms.
Doctors have referred to scabies or mites. The salaries do not used to relieve that a few days, until the institute of technical activities, social (ATS) analysis the cocaine. For more profit, the drug was mixed with Levamisol, an anti-parasitic veterinary.
This product may cause necrosis of the skin in case of chronic use, according to the director of the ATS Julian Quintero, citing scientific studies.
In 2014, Jorge has changed his dealer, the disease has disappeared. He has also reduced his dose and sniffe of the white, without additives.
But Mr. Quintero warns that the pure cocaine generates more dependence and risk of overdose.
* Names changed at the request of the sources