Also known as: Coke, C, Snow, Blow, Flake, Powder
Cocaine (C17H21NO4) is an appetite suppressant and a powerful and highly addictive stimulant. It is sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder. Street dealers generally cut (dilute) cocaine with other substances such as talcum powder, baking soda, lactose sugar, benzocaine or lidocaine. This method of cutting increases their profits by increasing the weight of the cocaine.
Cocaine was a very popular street drug in the 1970s, 80s and 90s era. Cocaine is one of the oldest known psychoactive substances ever used by mankind. For thousands of years the indigenous people of South America believe that chewing and ingesting coca leaves would elevate their mood, help with the digestion of their food, and suppress their appetites.
How Cocaine Is Made
There are two types of cocaine processing labs: pozo pit labs that use acidic solutions, and the more common lab that uses metal drums and gasoline. These small labs are scattered throughout the coca growing areas of South America. The handpicked coca leaves are soaked in gasoline and other chemicals to extract the coca base from the leaves in industrial-sized drums. Then the base is poured into brick molds. The water is pressed out, leaving a hard, easy-to-handle brick containing about 50 percent cocaine. The bricks are sent to collection points where they are shipped to markets in the U.S. and other countries.
Methods of Use
In powdered form (hydrochloride salt) cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Cocaine can also be made more potent by removing the hydrochloride salt. When cocaine is processed with ammonia it is called “freebase.” When it is processed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) it is called “crack.” Freebase and crack is not water-soluble; it is made into a rock crystal that is heated and its vapors smoked. Some users combine cocaine with heroin. This combination is referred to on the street as “a speedball.”
Snorting is the most popular method of use. When cocaine is snorted, it is usually laid out on a mirror or a plate, separated into “lines” and snorted up the nose through a straw or a rolled-up dollar bill. It is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. When snorting cocaine, the high lasts from 15 to 30 minutes.
Other methods of using cocaine include injecting, or “running” it into the bloodstream intravenously with a syringe, and smoking. When cocaine is smoked it must first be converted into crack by a process known on the street as “cooking” The high achieved by running, or smoking cocaine is more rapid and the effect of the high is more intense, but it only lasts 5 to 10 minutes.
Cocaine produces euphoria and gives the user a sense of increased energy and a heightened state of mental alertness. Cocaine causes a loss of appetite, and causes some users to be talkative, irritable and nervous. Cocaine affects the way our brain releases and stores dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical (neurotransmitter) that enables a person to experience pleasure.
Animal studies show that levels of a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) known as dopamine are increased in this area during rewards. Normally, dopamine is released and recycled in response to these rewards. The use of cocaine can interfere with this process, allowing dopamine to accumulate and send an amplified ‘reward’ signal to the brain, resulting in the euphoria described by users.
Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and nervousness. A tolerance to the high may develop — many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Some users will increase their doses to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects. While tolerance to the high can occur, users can also become more sensitive to cocaine’s anesthetic and convulsant effects without increasing the dose taken. This increased sensitivity may explain some deaths occurring after apparently low doses of cocaine.
Use of cocaine in a binge, during which the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, may lead to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This can result in a period of paranoid psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations.
The immediate physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Health complications associated with cocaine use include disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks, chest pain and respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and headaches, and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea.
The various means of using cocaine can produce different adverse reactions. Snorting cocaine can lead to loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and a chronically runny nose. Ingesting cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene due to reduced blood flow. People who inject cocaine can experience severe allergic reactions and, as with all injecting drug users, are at increased risk for contracting HIV, viral hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
Cocaine users have reported unknown interactions between cocaine and alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance known as cocaethylene. This chemical substance somehow intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects, but it may also increase the risk of sudden death.
In the U.S. cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a physician for legitimate medical uses. By prescription, it is available in the U.S. as a solution for local mucosal anesthesia, but is infrequently used due to safer alternatives, such as lidocaine or benzocaine.
Effects of Cocaine On the Body
Although the high is produced by cocaine’s effect on the brain, as cocaine travels through the bloodstream it affects the entire body. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs and in some cases cocaine has caused sudden death. Cocaine affects these areas as it travels through the blood.
- Brain – Cocaine can cause strokes by constricting blood vessels in the brain. Cocaine causes seizures and in some people violent and bizarre behavior has been observed.
- Respiratory system and the lungs – When it is snorted, cocaine causes damage to the nose and sinuses, causing nose bleeds and nasal perforation. Smoking crack cocaine can cause lung irritation and permanent lung damage.
- Heart – Cocaine constricts the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This action greatly increases heart rate and blood pressure. The result can be a heart attack. Cocaine has also been known to trigger an abnormal heart rhythm call arrhythmia which can be deadly.
- Kidneys – Cocaine has been known to cause sudden complete kidney failure. Regular cocaine use by people with high blood pressure can accelerate the long-term damage caused by high blood pressure.
- Sexual function – Cocaine has been rumored to be an aphrodisiac, but studies have shown that cocaine may make you less active sexually in the long run. Continued use of cocaine can impair sexual function in both men and women. Cocaine causes delayed or impaired ejaculation in men.
- Gastrointestinal tract – Cocaine constricts even the blood vessels in the intestines and stomach, causing ulcers and even perforation of the stomach and intestines.
Just because someone exhibits some or all of the above signs and symptoms does not necessarily warrant that the individual is using, or addicted to Cocaine. Certain medical conditions may also produce the above signs and/or symptoms.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this Website is gathered from visitors to this site, government documents, books, Websites and other resources. This information is solely for educational purposes only, and should not be considered by the reader as medical advice of any kind. Detoxification of drugs should only be done under strict medical and professional supervision. Do not attempt to detox from drugs without proper medical supervision, as it can be life threatening. At the very first signs of drug withdrawal symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. If this is a medical emergency dial 911 immediately.