The Observer has launched a campaign to highlight the devastating toll that cocaine is taking on our communities.
We have joined forces with coroner Michael Singleton to launch our Killer Cocaine: Stop the Deaths campaign after he warned that deaths caused by this evil drug have reached epidemic levels.
In the last nine months alone the number of people officially recorded as having lost their lives in the Hyndburn area as a result of using cocaine has risen to 17.
The youngest was 16, the oldest just 33.
These are just the cases to have reached the coroner and it is thought that the actual number could be much higher.
Mr Singleton is at a loss to explain why this epidemic is occurring here and now in Accrington, but it is thought increased availability or a drop in price could be to blame.
We are calling on all sections of the Hyndburn community to pull together to take this evil drug off our streets.
So please watch out for signs of cocaine use, make sure your loved ones are aware of the dangers and give the police the information they need to bring down the dealers profiting from this deadly powder.
l Educate yourself and others – National organisations such as Frank offer detailed explanations of what the short-term and long-term effects of drug use are and the risks.
l Talk openly about it – Speak to friends and family and create an honest dialogue about drug use.
l Spot signs of use – Cocaine can change people’s personality. In the short term cocaine can make a user feel confident and wide awake. But repeated use can cause agitated behaviour, mood swings, severe addiction and heart attacks.
l Offer support – If you are concerned someone you know is taking cocaine, offer support or encourage them to get help.
l Seek help and advice – Confidential 24-hour chatlines and local services are open for anyone with concerns.
l Alert police – if you suspect someone might be dealing drugs, tell police on 101 or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.