Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a strong central nervous system stimulant drug that is predominantly used for recreational purposes. The drug is highly addictive, and is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, in the same category as methamphetamine and oxycodone (OxyContin).
This drug is often sold as a white powder. In crystal form the substance is referred to as crack cocaine and can be white, pale pink or yellow. The drug is commonly snorted through the nostrils, but can also be injected directly into the veins. It can also be eaten, rubbed into the gums, inhaled by smoking it or vaporizing it.
Cocaine sold on the street is often combined with other compounds, which can include cornstarch, talcum powder, sugar, quinine, or other toxins, all of which increase the risk of toxicity. It is powerfully addictive, as it works as a stimulant to directly affect the central nervous system, which also affects the brain’s reward pathways. Dependence and addiction on cocaine can develop even after short-term use, creating an uncontrollable psychological compulsion to continue taking more cocaine.
The drug is commonly called blow, toot, flake, snow, coke, yayo or nose candy. “Crack cocaine” is a freebase derivative mixed with a base of baking soda or ammonium carbonate. Crack is commonly known as crack, rocks, gravel, or candy.
In its pure form, the drug sold on the street is a white powder derived from coca leaves. The cocaine that is used in medicine (cocaine hydrochloride) is in liquid form.
Cocaine is a stimulant that acts by inhibiting the re-uptake of chemicals that produce pleasurable feelings. In medicine, it is primarily used as a topical anesthetic for those who are allergic to most other types.
Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug, though it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and addiction. It is in Schedule II due to having a legitimate medical use, even though that use is limited.
This drug is most commonly snorted by illicit users, as this brings on the quickest and most intense high. The freebase form of it is smoked. It can also be inhaled or injected, those these routes of administration are less common.
This illegal narcotic is abused for the brief, but intense high that it produces. Users feel an extreme sense of euphoria and sociability.
Any administration of the drug can cause hallucinations, paranoia and anxiety. An accelerated heart rate and a feeling of overall itchiness are also common with use. Abuse also presents a risk of death from overdose due to hyperthermia or heart attack. During the “crash” period, users are often very restless and irritable and may experience tremors or convulsions if the dose was high enough.
Long-term sleep disturbances and development of depression are not uncommon with chronic abuse. It also puts the user at an elevated risk for a wide range of diseases such as kidney disease, vasculitis, lupus and Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Users who snort the drug over long periods will damage the inner tissue of their nostrils, sometimes to the point of wearing away the cartilage that separates them. Those who smoke freebase cocaine often develop a variety of lung and throat conditions.
Aside from health complications and overdose, the biggest danger is addiction. Physical dependency can develop extremely quickly due to the potent nature of this drug. While cocaine is very addictive in its own right, crack cocaine is one of the most addictive street drugs.
The form of the drug sold on the street is also very likely cut with other substances. The DEA reports commonly seizing forms of the drug that contain boric acid, laundry detergent powder, laxatives and levasimole, an anti-worm medication used for cattle. Cocaine can be as little as 20% pure.
Cocaine users often simultaneously use alcohol. This enhances the high, but also puts increased strain on the cardiovascular system. Cannabis is also often used to take the edge off when coming down from the high.
Coke is sometimes mixed with heroin in a concoction known as a “speedball.” This is an extremely dangerous combination that has led to many deaths, including high-profile celebrities like Chris Farley and John Belushi.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that there are about two million cocaine users each month, with about 400,000 of these being users of crack cocaine. The Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that this drug is responsible for about 480,000 emergency room visits each year, or roughly 1/4 of all visits related to abuse of drugs.
Someone who is high on cocaine will usually be extremely energetic and talkative, and may sniff or rub their nose frequently if they are administering it by snorting. It also suppresses appetite. Due to the short duration of the high (usually less than an hour), an addict may disappear frequently or go to the bathroom continually in order to get high again.
Cocaine is one of the more potent drugs and is a difficult addiction to overcome. Users in rehab generally start out with a detox period of up to a week to get the drug out of their system and have medical supervision while going through withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings. A follow-up inpatient treatment period of 30 to 90 days is also usually recommended to ensure all aspects of recovery are properly put in place. Visit Cocaine Rehab for information about treating a cocaine dependency.
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