How accepted was the practice of openly using cocaine in the 80s?

I’ve been watching some movies set around that time period, and I was just wondering. Among the affluent especially, was there a period of years where the quasi-discretion of sneaking off to the restroom wasn’t required in public? Could someone openly snort coke in a fine dining establishment as seen in the beginning of The Wolf of Wall Street?

In my non-affluent experience, openly sniffing just wasn’t done. Folks would always go to another room, bathroom stall, or a car/van and keep it on the down-low. You never knew who was who (and some of the baggage with cocaine use is paranoia - especially with regards to cops) and, kinda like bringing cookies to your 4th grade class - if you don’t have enough for everyone… :slight_smile:


I worked in the technical production end of the entertainment industry in the mid-80’s…setting up extravagant corporate events and private parties, mostly in nightclubs.

For a period of 2 or 3 years I was using cocaine several times a week.

In my experience, yeah, you usually went somewhere a little non-public when using drugs you had purchased for yourself… a bathroom stall, or even a quiet corner but that wasn’t because you felt you had to hide the illicit behavior – it was simply because you didn’t want to share, except with a few close friends.

But that was usually, not always. I attended a LOT of meetings at work where cocaine was openly passed around the table ( my boss usually had a plentiful supply ).Needless to say, we had a more positive attitude towards repetitive, useless meeting than most workers. I remember prepping our workplace ( at a different company) for a big Christmas party, attended by clients and workers alike. Part of the prep was setting up a counter in a back room with mirrors, razor blades and small straws.

I once attended a private party at a downtown loft where every guest was given a gram in a personal spoon top vial tied with a ribbon as a party favor – and yes, a lot of us left and came back in in order to score an extra vial. Other drugs - such as marijuana cigarettes and mushrooms - were amply placed around the party space in candy dishes.

And there was also an open bar, IIRC :slight_smile:

Can you expand on this, and tell us some funny and shocking stories?

I was a representative of a Wall Street firm working with institutional investors in the 80’s. Anyone suspected of using illegal drugs would have been fired immediately. It was a competitive environment; gossip would have outed most people sharing any substances in any location. Openly snorting at a fine restaurant sounds like creative fiction, in my humble opinion.

It was a bit more open in the 70s, to tell the truth, back when it was more “indie”. In Hollywood, stories abounded of tips to waitresses in the form of cocaine, producers wearing coke spoons as jewelry, etc.

In the 80s, I usually snorted up in private.
But that may be because I did not want to share with anyone.

For many years, my brother has worked in IT and over the years has worked with a lot of people from India. This is one of the things many of them ask about when they get here, as in, “Is it really true that people do that in the United States?” Ditto having sex in public, and that everyone openly carries guns.

I’ve handled cocaine many, many times, but always as a pharmacist. Never seen the illicit stuff (that I know of) and definitely had NO desire to try it. I’ve had friends who had done it, and dated a man who had a problem with it at one time, and they all said that recreational cocaine is BAD NEWS and to be avoided at all costs. So ironic that it’s this way, because it’s truly a miracle drug when used properly.

Cocaine use in the seventies was roughly equivalent to marijuana use currently. It was technically illegal but there were many areas were enforcement was virtually non-existent. Cocaine was widely considered a harmless recreational drug and and there was no major social stigma to its use.

There began to be more legal crackdowns in the eighties. Stories began to circulate about the criminal organizations that were supplying cocaine and there was more evidence of how addictive cocaine could become. Of course, there was a backlash against this backlash - many people felt the negative stories were just propaganda being used to justify expanded law enforcement.

“Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money.” – Robin Williams

One of the administrative assistants in our New York office was a dealer. As in, selling from her desk, in the office.

Incredibly, she wasn’t fired for it.

I never did see what all the fuss was about. The couple of times I tried coke back then, it seemed to have no effect whatsoever, and it was stuff that people I knew and trusted thought was really good shit.

As someone who’s never done coke, I find this fascinating. Why do you suppose that people doing coke don’t want to share, while people with weed and mushrooms and LSD are always looking for buddies to do it with? Is it merely a cost thing? Mushroom and LSD are really hard to find, and pretty expensive (but I have no idea what coke costs). Or is it due to the different effects of the drugs, do you think?

That’s easy, with psychotropics, you want somebody who is on your same wavelength to talk to. It’s very hard to connect with others who aren’t tripping while you are. (Even the ones who are cool with it.)

Coke is an entirely different high. Conversation with others is great regardless if the person you are talking to is high or not.

Ha, that happened to me. I was casually dating a guy who liked coke, and I mentioned that I had been at a party and given some coke but I just didn’t understand why he liked it because it didn’t do anything to me - no feeling of power, no alertness, nothing. So he told me that the stuff at the party was crap and he gave me some he claimed was excellent almost medical grade coke. I snorted it, and nothing happened so he gave me more, I snorted it and all that happened was my front teeth got numb.

I told him that if I were going to spend $185 on something, it would be dental work because my front teeth would still be numb but I could get a filling out of the deal.

<shrug> I will admit I am a pretty nonaddictive person - I stopped morphine when in hospital weeks before the doctors were going to wean me off it - my pain level had decreased to where it was controllable with ibuprofin. I don’t feel the need to drink [and don’t because of all the damned pain meds I am on currently] though I drank like a fish earlier in my life - I was in a band and partied fairly hard with booze. While I loved weed in high school, I stopped because it was the beginning of piss testing and I needed to be clean for my job security. I really miss chocolate and simply don’t eat it - mainly because the diabetic stuff has maltitol or whatever, or the company has taken all the good coco fat out and put in that waxy crap, and if I am going to eat chocolate, I want it to be the good stuff. I am very lucky that I am less likely to be addicted to any given substance given my health issues!

Whenever people share negative experiences with cocaine, I always think of the guy I worked with when I was in college who had tried it ONCE. He didn’t like it - to him, he felt like he’d drunk about 3 pots of coffee - and he was very relieved when that feeling wore off after 20 or 30 minutes.


he had this overwhelming urge to do it again. That he had such a powerful craving to repeat an unpleasant experience was a big red flag to him that at least for him, this was POISON and something to be avoided at all costs.

Yeah, I think it hits certain people differently.

In the early 2000s I tried coke a few times, on four day weekends or on leave from the Army. Because it was around, and because I was told it would leave your system in 2-3 days, unlike pot which would make you fail a drug test a month or so later.*

It totally affected me in ways it didn’t affect others. The high only lasted 30 minutes, but only the first 15 were fun, because the next 15 you were trying like crazy to get some more. I emptied my bank account making 4 or 5 trips to my cousin’s supplier one night. Coming down was the saddest thing ever, like being at the funeral of everyone you ever loved.

And yet my friend could have a little bump, and forget about it the rest of the night. For me, if I started, I couldn’t stop. So after a few tries, I gave it up, and refuse to do it again. I recognize, however, that most people’s experience isn’t like mine. I’ll stick to pot and the infrequent mushroom trip from now on, thanks.

*(See what problems urinalysis causes? Indeed, I tried a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise in the Army. Ether, cough syrup, salvia, nutmeg. All to avoid failing a piss test when I’d rather be smoking pot.)

“With cocaine there’s no reason not to have a fascinating conversation just because you’re the only person in the room.” PJ O’Rourke

There’s this, but also the fact that blow was, and I think still is, very expensive in terms of bang for the buck. It’s more expensive than weed, and doesn’t last as long. With weed you reach a point where you’re good and don’t want any more. With coke you will always want more. You could spend hundreds in a single night giving it away to anybody. So you were really selective about who you did it with:

A) People you might have a chance at having sex with.
B) People with their own coke, who would contribute.
C) Very very close friends you really like to talk to.
(Note, groups not mutually exclusive.)

This is exactly why I’ve never done cocaine. It sounds dreadful. I’m much more of an oxytocin junkie!

But thank you for the answers. Sounds like it’s both - expense and effects.