Cocaine Can Kill: Len Bias
It is often portrayed in movies, television shows, and the party culture in general that cocaine is a recreational drug that is virtually harmless—but in real life that has been continuously proven wrong. Cocaine constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure— and these symptoms, in a tragic case like that of Leonard Bias, can be deadly.
Leonard Bias was an extremely talented All-American basketball player from the University of Maryland who tragically died after a cocaine overdose. Bias was drafted #2 overall in the 1986 NBA draft at the age of 22 by the Boston Celtics, but just two days after he was drafted he died. Two nights after the draft, Bias was on campus at the University of Maryland with friends celebrating his draft outcome and extremely bright future. Bias at the time was a nationally recognized talent that many people in basketball looking back compare to Michael Jordan. It wasn’t known if Bias was a consistent drug user, but it was clear that he did cocaine at his dorm that night. The cocaine that he ingested interrupted normal electrical control of his heartbeat, which resulted in sudden onset of seizures and cardiac arrest. No other drugs or alcohol was traced in his system—only cocaine. His death shocked local and national communities given the bizarre and unexpected nature of the event.
Bias was an extremely healthy young man with no previous heart conditions or circulatory problems. Not only was he healthy but he was in top physical shape—a very muscular 6 foot 8 inches, 210 pounds. His death came both as a shock and a lesson that cocaine is a dangerous drug. Regardless of how or how frequently cocaine is used, a user can experience acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizure followed by respiratory arrest, as was in the case of Len Bias. Cocaine is a drug that can be abused and it’s a drug that one can easily become addicted to. Behavioral interventions—particularly, cognitive-behavioral therapy—have been shown to be effective for decreasing cocaine use and preventing relapse. Treatment must be tailored to the individual patient’s needs in order to optimize outcomes—this often involves a combination of treatment, social supports, and other services. Seabrook House, an internationally recognized drug rehab and alcoholism detox treatment center, offers these unique and individually structured services to get cocaine addicts on the road to recovery. Seabrook House has treatment centers located in New Jersey (NJ) and Pennsylvania (PA), and an outpatient office in New York (NY). Contact Seabrook House today with any questions concerning cocaine abuse and treatment programs.