What is Cocaine
Cocaine is a well-known drug that is also a powerfully addictive stimulant. Though it has been around for thousands of years and was once used in medical practices, it is now known as a highly addictive substance that can cause quick and sometimes deadly addiction. Created from the coca leaves in South America, this drug has stimulant effects. Once the purified chemical of cocaine hydrochloride was isolated, it became easier to create the drug people now use recreationally.
There are some medical uses for cocaine, a Schedule II drug, but it is rare. This is most often found as local anesthesia for ear, eye, and throat surgeries. As for street use, it appears as a fine, white, crystalline powder that is sold under slang names like snow, coke, C, blow, or powder. This is often cut with other drugs or every day substances like flour, baking soda, cornstarch, or even talcum powder.
There are two chemical forms for coke and these are water soluble and water insoluble, also known as freebase. Users tend to inject or snort the water soluble version, hydrochloride salt, which is a powder. The base form of cocaine is created through a process in which ammonia or baking soda and water are mixed in and then heated to produce a smokable substance. Crack is the street name given to this freebase version due to the sound it makes when smoked.
Facts about Cocaine
Though the term cocaine is highly recognized and an image of high-end party goers snorting lines becomes associated, there are several facts about cocaine that people may not know or understand. These are:
- The commonality of snorting cocaine
- The harmful effects of cocaine
- Prison is a possibility
- Powder is not pure
- Addictive properties
- Emotion damage can occur
- Death is a possibility from use
Each of these will be explained in detail, but these are all true and scary facts when it comes to cocaine and cocaine use.
There are about 17 million people worldwide that abuse cocaine. Use is most common in North, Central, and South America as well as Western and Central Europe. It is most often snorted and the high will last a half hour or less, depending on the purity levels and how much is taken at once. The short-term effects of energy and euphoria are what people desire the most. However, due to the short time the effects last, people often binge on this drug to maintain it. This can easily lead to addiction. There are unfortunately, negative side effects as well that may include:
- High blood pressure and an increase in heart rate
- Higher than normal body temperature
- Violent or unexplained behavior
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Heart attacks and stroke
Additionally, snorting it can lead to chronic inflammation of the nose, perforation of the septum, and even ulcers in the throat. These are all harmful and some may not be repairable.
For those who prefer to smoke crack as opposed to snorting cocaine there are also harmful effects. Crack, though still cocaine, comes as small rocks and is smoked from a glass pipe. The high is said to be more powerful, but shorter lived. If someone is smoking crack you may notice a few tell-tell signs.
- Coughing with shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Fluid in the lungs
- Bleeding in the lungs
This can be scary and can result in permanent damage to the body. Smoking crack may be more dangerous than snorting coke, but both can be deadly over time.
As with any illegal drug use, prison time is a chance you will take. Possessing crack or cocaine in any amount can result in legal action and consequences. However, possession of crack can result in higher and more frequent sentences than cocaine. Though this is being rectified slowly, the truth is both are dangerous and can have legal ramifications.
Purity is Questionable
Cocaine creates a surge of dopamine that prevents re-uptake to the neuron, disrupting the natural reward mechanism within the brain. This is a problem in and of itself. However, it gets worse when you know that the cocaine bought on the streets is far from pure. This is purely for financial gain for dealers. If it is cut with another substance, they can stretch the supply further. Though the additives can mimic it in the high and looks similar, it is not pure. Some common additions to cocaine include:
- Talcum powder
- Other drugs (stimulants, anesthetics, and even animal medications)
This one is obvious, but cocaine is highly addictive. This is because of the changes to the brain and dopamine levels. With prolonged use the brain’s pathways are altered and an addiction develops.
Long term use of cocaine can even damage the emotions by blunting them, also known as anhedonia. This will leave people unable to feel pleasure as a result of dopamine pathway damage. Once someone stops using it can take awhile for these pathways to be repaired, though some damage may be permanent. This means pleasurable feelings will be harder to attain. This may also limit the ability to feel empathy for others.
Though few people will admit it, death from cocaine use can occur the first time it is tried. There is no safe way to try or use cocaine, even in small or spaced out intervals. This is usually due to cardiac arrest. When it is paired with alcohol or other drugs it can also be toxic to the liver.
If you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine, crack or a mixture of any drugs, then DARA rehab can help. This luxury, resort style in-patient facility has several locations at affordable rates. Through the use of education, therapy, and physical health, the facility will get your loved one back on track to reenter life without the use of drugs. Available to take calls 24/7, DARA rehab is waiting to help your loved one onto the road to recovery.
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