MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) From "Miami Vice" to Hollywood parties, cocaine was the it drug during the 1980s. But a WMBF News investigation is revealing it's still a big problem in South Carolina.
Even for someone who's able to use cocaine and keep their job and home, chasing that high can still come at a high cost.
"The people that are financially stable and still have drug problems are not quite seen as bad off as people that come through my doors that have lost everything," said Myrtle Beach drug counselor Spencer Josey.
But even those who just use cocaine to "party" may eventually find their family torn apart.
"A father absent from the home, is a father absent from the home," said Josey. "You know, it doesn't matter if he's out doing drugs or if he's at work or if he's running around. A father gone is a father gone."
And that is why Josey tries to find out what the emotional and genetic issues are that cause his Grand Strand patients to snort the powder form of cocaine or smoke from a crack pipe.
Seven percent of drug abusers seeking help in South Carolina are addicted to crack or cocaine, according to 2010 figures from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.
It is the number one hard drug, by far.
Judith Grotenhuis, a drug counselor at the Wilmington Treatment Center of Myrtle Beach, is noticing a dangerous trend, too.
"We are still getting cocaine abusers," she said. "And we're also getting people that are using both cocaine and heroin, which is a thing called speedball. And that in combination is very dangerous. That's the thing that killed Chris Farley and John Belushi because in combination it's really lethal."
For his part, Spencer Josey really does believe cocaine addiction is a disease caused by a problem with the "wiring" in the brain.
He says the addict is chasing the effects of dopamine.
"And a lot of that is naturally released in our bodies [such as when] we have sex or maybe when we fill our bellies with food," he said. "So you can see the power of that at the survival part of our brain."
Cocaine may be the number one hard drug in South Carolina but, according to state figures, 59% of people seeking treatment in 2010 in this state were actually addicted to alcohol.