cocaine

Modified: 3rd Jun 2019

Last updated on June 3rd, 2019 at 12:41 pm

You may have heard of the drug cocaine, especially as it’s depicted in popular films. But what is it, and what kind of effects can it have on people?

Read further to find out more about this drug.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug and it’s one of the more widely-used illegal drugs. It’s considered to be a dangerous drug because of the high potential for overdose or addiction.

Definition

Cocaine is made using the leaves of the coca plant. This plant grows in South America in countries like Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia.

Cocaine is fairly expensive compared to other recreational drugs, so there’s a lot of money to be made selling it. Often, cocaine purchased on the street is not very pure. It’s often cut with other adulterants, which allows dealers to make much more of a profit.

How Is It Taken?

The most common way of taking cocaine is by snorting it. Some users will also inject it, but this is less common.

By using baking soda, it can be transformed into crack cocaine. The effect of crack cocaine is a stronger high, but the effects don’t last as long. When users snort cocaine, they’ll often roll up a banknote into a cylinder.

Tolerance to cocaine builds up quickly over time. Short-term tolerance means users will often start to do bigger and bigger doses in a single session.

The typical dose of cocaine can vary. A little “bump” might be somewhere in the region of 35 mg of cocaine. A bigger “rail” might be somewhere around 100mg.

This, of course, can vary depending on the purity of the drug.

Who Takes It?

Younger people tend to do cocaine as it’s an “upper.” But due to the cost of the drug, the demographic tends to be young adults with access to a good amount of money.

A study on high school seniors showed the use of cocaine among young people is dwindling.

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A Brief History of Cocaine

As mentioned, cocaine derives from coca leaves. Thousands of years ago, ancient Incas in the Andes chewed coca leaves to counteract the effects of the thin mountain air.

Originally, the coca leaf was considered sacred. It was only used during religious ceremonies.

However, this rule was broken after the Spanish invaded in 1532. Forced laborers in Spanish silver mines were given coca leaves because it made them more productive and easier to exploit.

It wasn’t until 1859 that cocaine was extracted from coca leaves. This was first achieved by German chemist Albert Niemann. But it wasn’t until the 1880s that the drug was popularized amongst the medical community.

Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud infamously promoted cocaine to combat a range of ailments. For example, he believed cocaine could cure depression. Freud recommended the drug to all of his friends, one of whom suffered from paranoid hallucinations and experienced white snakes crawling all over his skin.

Freud believed there was no lethal dose of cocaine. However, this has proved to be very incorrect. In comparison to other substances, the threshold for cocaine overdose is fairly low.

By the 1850s to the early 1900s, tonics and wines containing cocaine became extremely popular. Many people advocated the miraculous effects of the drug. The original Coca-Cola recipe even used coca leaves.

As time went on, the negative effects became more apparent. Public opinion turned against cocaine and Coca-Cola removed the drug from all of their products.

By the year 1922, cocaine was officially a controlled substance in the United States.

Consequences of Cocaine Use

Contrary to what people initially believed, cocaine has a number of undesirable effects on the body.

While cocaine provides an intense high, it’s short-lived. Typically, you can expect the effects of it to subside within a couple of hours. At this point, the user will feel depressed and lethargic, as well as have cravings for more cocaine.

Effects on the Mind and Body

Cocaine is very popular because of its ability to make users feel an intense sense of euphoria.

Unlike other stimulant drugs, such as MDMA, which can create feelings of ego death, cocaine often makes users feel very egotistical. They might feel an intense sense of self-importance. People on cocaine often like to talk about themselves extensively.

In some cases, cocaine can result in violent and erratic behavior. It can also result in a loss of appetite and disrupted sleeping patterns. Cocaine is sometimes popular with models because of its ability to suppress your appetite.

This drug is also useful for engaging in excessive drinking sessions. If you use cocaine alongside alcohol, you can drink for a lot longer without becoming incoherent.

Since cocaine provides such a level of euphoria, the potential for addiction is quite high. It’s possible to become both physically and mentally dependent on it.

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Short-Term Health Effects

  • Dilated pupils
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations, hyper-excitability, irritability
  • Intense euphoria
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Loss of appetite

Long-Term Health Effects

  • Destruction of tissues in nose if snorted
  • Severe depression
  • Tolerance and addiction
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage

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Using Cocaine With Other Drugs

People frequently use cocaine in combination with alcohol. It allows drinkers to keep going for much longer than they ever could without cocaine.

Many people fall into cocaine use while attempting to keep up with the drinking of their friends. Combining alcohol with cocaine is dangerous, as it puts excessive strain on the liver.

What Drugs Are Commonly Used With Cocaine?

Cocaine also makes smoking cigarettes more pleasurable. Many users who don’t normally smoke will smoke cigarettes while they’re on cocaine.

Furthermore, cocaine users often rely on other drugs to help them deal with the comedown. This might include drugs like cannabis or benzodiazepines. Some cocaine users might also use opiates such as heroin to come down from cocaine.

Treating Cocaine Addiction

Unlike other drugs, such as alcohol, it’s very difficult to use cocaine responsibly. Most users will experience intense physical cravings after using the drug. Just using cocaine a few times can quickly develop into a full-blown addiction.

If you think you might have a problem, you probably do. It’s highly recommended you attend a rehab program to help cure your addiction.

Need more addiction resources? Read our blog for more information on addiction and getting help.