Woke About Coke? Investigating College Students’ Expectancies of Experimenting with Cocaine, in the Midst of the Fentanyl Epidemic
Rates of overdoses induced by fentanyl-laced cocaine are skyrocketing today. In 2017, the primary users of cocaine is the U.S. were individuals aged 18 to 25, and cocaine was the fourth most prevalent substance used on college campuses. Favorable depictions of cocaine use in the media contribute to these trends: the entertainment industry still advertises cocaine as a drug of privilege, partying, and performance. Cocaine’s comeback on college campuses may also be related to the spread of prescription stimulants in recent years, which are often compared to recreational cocaine. This project tests the hypothesis that college students hold a very salient and positive image of what experimenting with cocaine looks like. I also hypothesize that students are unaware of the risks associated with experimenting with cocaine today. I use an online survey adapted from the ‘‘Prototype-willingness model” (PWM), in order to measure college students’ expectancies regarding the outcomes of experimenting with cocaine. Expecting positive outcomes from experimenting with cocaine indicates the favorability of cocaine’s social image, which is positively correlated with willingness to engage in it. The study results suggest that the social image of cocaine is favorable on college campuses today and that students aren’t aware of the risks associated with experimenting with the substance.
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