Rob Ford is again making headlines for a laundry list of puzzling behavior, none of which is actually puzzling when the effects of crack on the brain are examined. Below is a list of Ford’s antics, and a possible explanation corresponding to the known impacts of crack cocaine on the human cerebrum.
1) Smoking Crack. Rumors of Ford’s drug use began circulating last May when a cell phone video of him smoking with drug dealers was purportedly dangled in front of reporters for six figures. Ford and his family denied allegations, but an incriminating photo of the mayor with two shooting victims in an area known to be inundated with drugs suggests claims could be true. It is not until the fall that police get ahold of the video, and Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine.
Why did the mayor choose to smoke crack in the first place? Crack cocaine is known to be incredibly addicting. The drug causes the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine in large amounts, resulting in feelings of euphoria. Usually, the brain can re-absorb extra dopamine neurons in the synapse, but crack-cocaine blocks the re-absorption.
This adds to the feelings of pleasure, but also causes the mood to plummet once the drug wears off, creating an intense desire for more of the substance. Additionally, since less dopamine is available in the brain after using crack, it takes more crack to produce a feeling of the same intensity during subsequent uses.
A new book by one of the Star reporters who originally saw the cell phone video of Ford, Robyn Doolitle, claims that Ford’s drug use started shortly after his father died in 2006. In Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, Doolitle says that Ford’s wife revealed that her husband commented that he would not give up cocaine despite holding office. Renata Ford later denied that she had indulged anyone in such confidential details of her husband’s personal life.
2) Remaining in Office Without Powers. Only after police found the video in November did Ford actually admit to smoking crack, then he apologized. The Toronto city council voted to strip him of his mayoral powers. In response, Ford declared war on the council and said he would remain in office and run for re-election.
What is the point of staying in office without power? Who would choose to run for re-election after being caught smoking crack? Crack cocaine, as well as being incredibly addictive, is known to alter personality, mostly due to low dopamine levels.
Among other side effects, crack cocaine can cause paranoia, delusion, and aggression. Heightened aggression may explain the declaration of war against the council. Delusions often manifest in grandiose ideas of self-importance, and may explain choosing to stay in office and running for re-election.
3) Body Slamming a Council Woman. That dopamine slump is really bringing out the aggressive tendencies. The body slam was an accident, and Ford was seen holding ice to the woman’s lip later, but running through the council room in the first place is unusual. Crack cocaine can also cause people to feel restless. Perhaps bouncing the knee just wasn’t doing it for the mayor that day.
4) Jaywalking Ticket. Last week, Ford was given a ticket for jaywalking in Toronto. He publicly declared that the police had singled him out of a group of 15 people, and said that police never arrest people for jaywalking.
Whether or not Rob Ford was targeted is unclear, but the fact that he immediately claimed to be profiled hints at other tendencies explained by using crack. Paranoia, or irrational beliefs rooted in fear and anxiety, is another common side effect of smoking crack and could explain Ford’s quick conclusion that he was a target.
5) Public profanity. Ford is now the star of multiple YouTube videos where he appears drunk in public, slurs his words, and unleashes a deluge of expletives.
Crack can cause irritability in the aftermath of the short high. It can take a significant amount of time for dopamine levels to be restored, if they ever reach their initial levels at all. Smoking crack once can therefore result in an extended period of moodiness, and multiple uses may result in irreversible irritability.
6) Skipping World Pride Day. The Toronto mayor decided not to attend World Pride Day because he prefers his routine of not attending such events. Ford said he did not attend the event last year, and he cannot change who he is, so he won’t attend this year.
Crack can cause excess anxiety, and routine is one way to quell nervous feelings. Crack is cocaine mixed with another compound that turns it into a solid, allowing it to be smoked instead of snorted. Smoking crack allows it to reach the brain faster than snorting cocaine, because the imposing substance easily penetrates the thin walls of the lungs. The result is a faster high.
Thus, all of Rob Ford’s erratic behavior can be explained by his crack use. Even if the Toronto mayor stops using, his brain and personality may be permanently altered.
Editorial By Julia Waterhous