A Tricky Problem-Cocaine

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You’re having a pretty chill evening. You‘re sprawled in the recliner rocker in your living room having a snack and working on some homework. Your parents have the nightly news on TV and you aren’t paying much attention to it until a news story about the quarterback for your favorite football team comes on.

A football player runs on a field with a football“Joe Sandicheck, quarterback for the Boston Chargers, checked into a drug rehab program today as part of the conditions of his sentencing on drug possession. Sandicheck, MVP of the last 3 Superbowls, led the Chargers to their 37-24 win over the Austin Rebels last January only to be arrested that same night on possession of cocaine. It was the
third conviction on drug charges for Sandicheck. He was also charged with resisting arrest, impeding a police investigation, assaulting a police officer, and destruction of public property.

In exchange for reduced jail time, Sandicheck agreed to enter into a comprehensive rehab program and to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Friends are hoping that Sandicheck can turn his life around. Several friends, who wish to remain anonymous, describe his steady downfall due to cocaine use. His addiction came to light after Sandicheck became increasingly anxious, restless, and sometimes paranoid.  Relationships in his life suffered as he and his wife were divorced last fall. She has custody of their 3 children.

Health issues led to Sandicheck missing 4 games last season as rumors of a drug problem surfaced.”

A young male sits on a benchAs you listen to the report, you realize that Joe Sandicheck’s problems—minus the arrest and the divorce—sound an awful lot like what is happening to a friend of yours. You have already talked with a few of your friends about Jason and they had noticed the same things.

Jason just isn’t the same as he used to be. He’s either exhausted or hyper. If he’s tired, he says he didn’t sleep well, and if he’s hyper, he just had too much coffee. You never see him drink coffee at lunch—he doesn’t even eat his lunch.

He backs out of plans or just doesn’t show up without telling anyone. He picks fights and starts arguments and his girlfriend just dumped him because she couldn’t stand arguing all the time.  He kept accusing her of cheating on him and she could never convince him that she wasn’t.  She said her parents hassled her because he looks like such a bum all the time.

person sits by a street in the darkHe always seems sick now—he just says that he has a cold.  Who has a cold all the time? And who loses all that weight from having a cold?

Then, there was that science class when Jason said his cold was so bad that his nose wouldn’t stop running—stuff just poured constantly from his nose. He kept asking to get up and get more of those brown scratchy lab paper towels.  Half-way through the period his nose was red and raw from that scratchy paper—he actually winced every time he had to wipe his nose. The teacher started giving him suspicious looks and we all started wondering what was going on.

The news report continued and you really started to worry. Friends of Joe Sandicheck said they knew about the drug problem but didn’t want to say anything about it that would get him in trouble.

Charger quarterback, Robert Handison commented, “The whole team supports
Joe 100%. It’s just a shame that it has come to this. We hope he can
return to the team when he gets out of jail, but we still don’t know that yet.”

You wonder how they can support someone 100%, but do nothing to help. Maybe you should look into Jason’s symptoms and talk to him. If he really is using some drug, he must be using it often. You know you have to be ready with information or Jason will just get ticked off and deny everything. You need a plan to talk to Jason that will help him.

You go to friends for help on this. Together, you and your friends work on the problem.

Your Tasks—Part I. Cocaine Abuse Effects

  • Decide on a plan that you would use to talk to someone you suspect of having a problem with drug abuse. Be specific with your ideas.
  • Make a presentation for your class that will provide information about the effects of cocaine abuse on the body.
  • To be able to explain the health issues that surround this drug abuse as well as the social and emotional consequences to an addict’s life.
  • Research this drug abuse to prepare for your presentation. You can use any kind of presentation aid available to you, including PowerPoint. (Your teacher may have other requirements.)
  • Be prepared to answer the questions presented in this module.
  • Be prepared to answer the questions from your classmates or teacher as they play the roles of other students or teachers at the school who will be interested in finding out about drug abuse and how to cope with it.
  • Be prepared with statistics to back up your presentation. Epidemiologists track trends, use, increases and decreases, locations, persons, age, and many other factors as they study the incidence of drug abuse. These statistics may be a powerful tool to help students and adults understand the scope of the problem.
  • Based on the results of your classroom presentation, evaluate how effective your plan was in helping students understand the challenges of helping someone who abuses this drug. What could you have done differently? What else could you do that may help?

Guiding Questions

  1. What are the effects of cocaine abuse? Explain the effects of cocaine on the various body systems. Be sure to list short-term and long-term effects.


  1. List the physical, behavioral, and social symptoms of the drug’s use that Jason was displaying.


  1. What kinds of treatment are available to help someone overcome addiction to this drug?

  2. How are you going to approach Jason about his drug use?

What are you going to say to him? What can Jason expect if he continues this drug use? Draft all the points of the talk you and your friends will have with him and be ready to present how you will approach him to the class. Be specific.

Other students may have questions or comments about your presentation.  Be prepared to talk about why you think your approach will work and back up your conclusions with specific examples.

  1. Is Jason a drug addict? Defend your opinion.


Part II—Genetics vs the Environment  

A model of DNA's double helix structure
A model of DNA’s double helix structure

When you talked to one of your friends about Jason she commented that Jason probably wasn’t going to take the conversation well, considering the mood he’s been in lately. She also worries that Jason is in real trouble. She tells you that Jason’s brother smokes and drinks a lot and he’s wasted every weekend!

You start to wonder if this has anything to do with Jason’s problem.  You just heard about a study being done to find out if addiction is inherited or if it is more of an environmental issue—if something in your environment leads to a greater risk of addictive behaviors. If you knew more about this, you might be able to help Jason even more.  You think it might be a family issue since none of Jason’s friends do drugs.  He doesn’t hang out with drug users, so how else did he get into this?


  1. Investigate the genetic and environmental links to addiction. What conclusions do you draw from your research?

  2.  In this case, do you think Jason’s drug use is inherited or has it been influenced by his environment? Why do you think that?


Part III—Risky behaviors

“Did you hear about Jason?” asked Shandra when she called later that week.   “He had a heart attack last night!  He was driving home from the game when it happened!  He’s in intensive care at the Yorktown Med Center. They’re not sure he’ll make it! We were going to talk to him today after school! And we just found out that cardiac arrest can happen with cocaine abuse. What are we going to do?”

Guiding Questions:

  1. Drug use is also tied to a lot of other risky behaviors and consequences. Cite some of these behaviors and consequences and explain how other risks are associated with drug use.


  1. Aside from the expected symptoms, what other issues surround using this drug?


  1. What will be the some of the consequences of Jason’s cocaine abuse? If he survives the heart attack, list the consequences to all aspects of his life now and in his future.