Cocaine: the new 'get thin quick' drug on AU's campus

Some use cocaine to party. Others seek out the drug to escape from unhappiness. Now some seem to have turned to the stimulant for weight loss, according to Richard Garcia, director of the Student Advocacy Center.

Garcia said he has heard of girls - namely sorority sisters - who use cocaine as a weight loss drug.

A student who works for SAC recalled an encounter she had with three girls wearing Greek letters.

"These girls were talking about getting an office for their sorority," said the student, who asked to remain anonymous. "They got to talking about sorority behavior, and the girls mentioned they knew a sorority whose members used cocaine to lose weight." The student did not recall to which sorority the girls belonged.

Instances of cocaine use for the specific purpose of weight loss are not prevalent on campus, according to Public Safety Captain Dwight Allen. Though two years ago a group of girls with alleged eating disorders was found to be using cocaine, no connection between cocaine and weight loss was made, Allen said.

The Counseling Center has not received a student this year seeking help with a cocaine problem, according to Wanda Collins, coordinator of outreach and consultation. Pan-Hellenic president Lyndon Lyons said she had never heard of cocaine use by any sorority members for the purpose of weight loss.

Though typically associated with the party scene, cocaine does have legitimate weight loss properties. According to a 1995 study by the Oregon Health and Science University's Vollum Institute, cocaine causes symptoms of increased activity and decreased hunger.

Cocaine also has a euphoric effect on users. This could be a more likely reason for students to use cocaine, according to professor Jeffrey Schaler, author of "Addiction is a Choice."

"People use drugs like heroin and cocaine because of the way they interact with their environment, " Schaler said. "Generally, these people are unhappy. It's the same reason people use Prozac or Zolaft. I don't think [weight loss] is the only reason they use cocaine. The bottom line is that unhappiness that needs to be addressed"

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