Cocaine? In this economy? Strange how things recycle. The era best known for white lines was the 1980s, the decade of Reagan, Armani and new wealth, but also a horrible early '80s recession and a late 1980s housing bust.

With Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton both admitting to apparent cocaine violations recently (Lohan tested positive for drugs; Hilton pleaded guilty to possession), we asked a high-profile expert on addiction, L.A.'s Dr. Drew Pinsky (Sober House, Celebrity Rehab, Loveline), why coke is still it:

Credit: globovision via Flickr

Credit: globovision via Flickr

LA Weekly: Why does cocaine appear to be so popular these days?

Dr. Drew: It definitely went through an ebb and flow, with a certain resurgence in recent years. It's a function of price and distribution. There's a couple of subtle issues at work, one being that people think, crack bad, cocaine not-so-bad.

It's a common addition for people who are marijuana addicted. To some extent it corrects some of the cannabis induced depression we've seen. Stimulants with pot is really the combination that we're seeing out here.

Is there a correlation between the resurgence in cocaine and the rise of a medical marijuana retail culture in L.A?

All my drug-addicted patients have a cannabis prescription.

Credit: pressroom via Flickr

Credit: pressroom via Flickr

What we have a hard time understanding is why cocaine is hot in this economy. It's so well-associated with the go-go '80s.

It's cheap now. It's real inexpensive. It's young people using it, too. They don't remember the '80s. They don't remember the days when cocaine 'was not addictive.'

Now there's not that kind of reckless use. And, even though it's inexpensive, it's used by young people with money.

Any advice for Lohan and Hilton?

It's hard to be young and get the message they need to change. They feel entitled and invincible. Plus, it [the drug] works for them. They don't see what they're doing to themselves until things really unravel.

In 2006 Paris and Lindsay and Britney were just party girls on the town. Now you're seeing where that goes — jail, health problems, psych hospitals: Insanity, jail or death — like the [Alcoholics Anonymous] big book says. I hope they get the help they need. This is serious stuff.

It's grist for TV and gossip, but it's no foolin.' I wish them well. They really need our well wishes.

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