Crashing on Cocaine

Burnt-out cases proliferate, as drug-traffic cops wage a no-win war

Phil and Rita's life shimmered like an advertisement. Indeed, to an outsider it seemed less a life than a perfect lifestyle: tree-lined California suburban street, tasteful $150.000 home (with piano), two sunny youngsters. Phil, 37, was a $30,000-a-year microchip sales engineer in Silicon Valley; Rita. 34, was a $20,000-a-year bookkeeper. Like their smart, attractive Northern California friends. Phil and Rita played tennis and ate interesting foods and knew about wine and, starting four years ago, sniffed coke.

And more coke. And then more. That is why several times last year Phil stood quivering and feverish in the living room, his...

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