Brits Complain About Snorting Cocaine With New Bills

By Kelly Burch 05/16/17

The new £5 notes are made of polymer, which the government says is cleaner, recyclable and better for the environment.

winston churchill bank note
Photo via Flickr/Bank of England

New £5 notes, or bills, in the United Kingdom are presenting an unexpected challenge for drug users, who are complaining that their noses are being cut when they try to sniff cocaine with the new notes.

Drug users refer to the cuts as “getting Winstoned,” since famous Brit Winston Churchill’s image appears on the notes, which are plastic rather than paper.

“I thought I was the only person to have had my nose cut by the new fiver,” one cocaine user from Birmingham told The Metro newspaper. “But when I told my friend how I was in agony he said I had been ‘Winstoned’ and it was happening to everyone.”

The new development was an unfortunate turn for drug users, who initially thought that the new bills would be even better for sniffing cocaine.

“Everyone thought the new fivers were God’s gift to sniffing at the start because they roll up perfectly and if you are sharing the note it is not too bad if someone walks off with it,” the user continued. “Now I suppose now people are realizing if something seems too good to be true then it usually is.”

Public health officials are concerned that the cuts may lead to an uptick in infection. The West Berkshire Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service posted a warning on its website.

“If you are sharing straws or notes the blood from the previous person can be absorbed through the nose lining along with the drug,” the warning read. “If this blood is infected with Hep C or HIV there is a risk of spreading the infection. The risk increases with greater damage on the inside of the nose and the more you use.”

The new £5 notes are made of polymer, which the government says is cleaner, recyclable and better for the environment. The notes also contain security features that make them harder to counterfeit. The notes were launched in September, and as of May 5th the old paper money notes for £5 are no longer accepted as legal tender, according to the Bank of England.

While British cocaine users struggle with the new notes, users in Canada and Australia—both of which also use polymer bank notes—say that the Brits will soon get used to them.

“Polymer notes are brilliant, always have been,” one Canadian cocaine users told The Metro. “The Brits are always scared of change, and now they cannot even seem to sniff a line without injuring themselves.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.