What is Cocaine

Cocaine is a drug derived from the leaf of the Erytroxylon cocoa bush, which grows primarily in Peru and Bolivia. Cocaine also known as coke, C, snow, flake, nose candy, blow, or crack is generally sold on the street as a hydrochloride salt( a water-soluble salt). Cocaine is a fine, white crystalline powder often diluted with similar-looking substances such as talcum powder, sugar, or amphetamines. The powder can be snorted into the nostrils, also may be rubbed onto the mucous linings of the mouth, rectum, or vagina. To experience cocaine’s effects quickly, and to heighten their intensity, users sometimes dissolve it in water and injects into a vein. The drug may be smoked in a purified form through a water pipe (freebasing) or in a concentrated form (crack) shaped into pellets or rocks and placed in special smoking gear. Despite today’s abuse of the highly addictive drug, cocaine was intended for medical purposes. Pure cocaine was first extracted and identified by the German chemist Albert Niemann in the mid-19thcentury, and was introduced as a tonic/elixir in patent medicines to treat a variety of real or imagined illnesses. Later, it was used as a local anesthetic for eye, ear, and throat surgery and continues today to have limited use in surgery. Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that heightens alertness and provides intense feelings of pleasure. Because of it’s potent euphoric and energizing effects, many people
in the late 19th century took cocaine, even though some physicians recognized that users quickly became dependent. In the 1880s, the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud created a sensation with a series of papers praising cocaine=s potential to cure depression, alcoholism, and morphine addiction. Skepticism soon replaced this excitement, however, when documented reports of fatal cocaine poisoning, alarming mental disturbances, and cocaine addiction began to circulate. In 1902, ninety two percent of all cocaine sold in major cities in the United States was in the form of an ingredient in tonics and potions available from local pharmacies. In 1911, the Canadian government legally restricted cocaine use, and its popularity decreased. The 1920s and 1930s saw a decline in its use, especially after amphetamines became easily available. Cocaine=s popular return beginning in the late 1960s, coincided with the decreased use of amphetamines.
Along with the feelings of pleasure comes negative effects. The effects of any drug depend on the amounts taken at one time, the user=s past drug experience, the manner in which the drug is taken, and the circumstances under which the drug is taken. Cocaine=s short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and last about twenty minutes, while the effects of crack last about twelve minutes. Taken in small amounts, cocaine usually makes the user feel confident, talkative, and mentally alert – especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarily dispel the need for food and sleep. Surprisingly, it can make some people feel contemplative, anxious, or even panic-stricken. Some people find that the drug helps them perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly; others experience just the opposite effect. Physical symptoms
include accelerated heartbeat and breathing, higher blood pressure and body temperature, and dilated pupils. Large amounts intensify users high, but may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. These users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, and hallucinations. Chest pain, nausea, blurred vision, fever, muscle spasms, convulsions, and coma are some of the physical symptoms. Death from a cocaine overdose can occur from convulsions, heart failure, or the depression of vital brain centers controlling respiration. With repeated use over time, users experience the drug=s long-term effects. Euphoria is gradually replaced with restlessness, extreme excitability, insomnia, suspiciousness, weight loss, constipation, impotence, and difficulty in urinating. Chronic cocaine snorting often causes stuffiness, runny nose, eczema(skin disease), around the nostrils, and a perforated nasal septum. Users who inject the drug risk not only overdosing but also infections from unsterile needles and hepatitis or AIDS(acquired immune deficiency syndrome) from needles shared with others.
Tolerance to any drug exists when higher doses are necessary to achieve the same effects once reached with lower doses. Psychological dependence exists when a drug is so central to a person=s thoughts, emotions, and activities that it becomes a craving. Cocaine can produce very powerful psychological dependence involving extremely compulsive patterns of use. Among heavy cocaine users, an intense psychological dependence can occur; they suffer severe depression if the drug is unavailable, which lifts only when they take it again. Physical dependence may also develop. When regular heavy users stop taking the drug, however,
they experience what they call a coke crash shortly afterwards. Overall, during withdrawal, many users complain of sleep and eating disorders, depression, and anxiety, and the craving for cocaine often compels them to take it again. Treatment of the dependent cocaine user is therefore difficult, and the relapse rate is high. Not only is cocaine a dangerous addiction, but also an expensive one. Along with a cocaine addict, you could also become a thief, murderer, or homeless. Most addicts would do anything for some cocaine fix. Nevertheless, some heavy users have been able to quit on their own. The battle with cocaine is not a hopeless fight. There are plenty of programs that help cocaine addicts rehabilitate. Group therapy is a program there to get help from people who are fighting the same battle. Along with group therapy there is interpersonal therapy which was developed for the treatment of depression. Furthermore, there are Cocaine Anonymous groups, National Cocaine Hotlines,and rehabilitation centers like Addiction Canada www.addictioncanada.ca that all work to reduce the number of potential and current cocaine addicts.
Despite, the knowledge of the drug, cocaine is still popular in society. One-tenth of the population – over twenty two million people have tried cocaine. Each day five thousand more people will experiment with it. Studies indicate that crack users cut across all racial, social, and economic boundaries. Part of the drug=s mystique was its association with celebrities in the music, sports, and show business world=s. Young single people are the most frequent users, with male users outnumbering female users two to one. The large percentage of crack users are males between twenty and thirty years old. Nine out of ten cocaine users started as teenagers. Surprisingly, the average age of starting cocaine users is fourteen years old. Although adolescents do not represent the majority of crack users, the problem is increasing among these individuals.
Cocaine may not always affect today=s youth directly, but indirectly. Similar to alcohol, cocaine and pregnancy can be a fatal combination. Cocaine use during pregnancy affects the unborn baby as well as the carrier of the child. The unborn child has no choice but to be dependent on cocaine due the mothers mistakes. Some mothers are unaware, that their unborn child suffers the affects of cocaine during pregnancy. Exposed to the drug in the womb and born addicted to crack cocaine, this child experiences severe withdrawal symptoms. When a pregnant woman takes a hit of crack cocaine, the fetus loses sufficient blood and air and suffocates briefly. For the mother, the drugs euphoric effect lasts only about twenty minutes. For the growing fetus, the cocaine stays in its system for more than two weeks. In the womb, the child is often re-exposed because the cocaine does not pass through the placenta to the mother but remains in the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. Crack use by pregnant mother has been associated with:
1. Spontaneous miscarriages
2. Reduced fetal head circumference
3. A higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Conservative estimates suggests that at least eleven percent of all newborns in the United States today were exposed in the womb to one or more illicit drugs. The number is even higher in urban areas. Birth and hospitalization of a normal newborn cost approximately two thousand dollars. Birth and hospital care of a crack exposed equipment and social service evaluations, costs eleven thousand dollars. Cocaine use during pregnancies not only affects unborn children and their mothers but the American tax payers are also involved.
One of the main reason, cocaine addicts exists is the drug dealers who sell it to them. These dealers have no remorse for selling cocaine on the streets. Contrary to media reports the majority of crack is not sold on the streets and purchases are often made in known though highly temporary sites, delivered to the users home or through a friend. As yet pushing crack is still relatively rare as the market for it is sufficiently large that the supplier does not have to use these risky strategies to sell. Crack is merchandised by drug dealers as the cheap, easy and accessible way to use cocaine. Crack’s growing availability and convenience of use makes it one of the most marketable drugs sold on the street today. Crack is sold both at known drug copping areas and at locations where there was previously little or no drug activity. Base or Crack houses(locations set up to sell or smoke crack) have sprung up in many areas. Crack is sold in small plastic vials and is in the form of small white, gray, or beige rough chunks that can be smoked in a glass pipe. Two doses of crack can be purchased for about five to ten dollars. Users prefer crack because of the lower cost. Users can spend fifty dollars to one hundred dollars for one gram of cocaine powder. When it is sold on the streets dealers usually avoid being arrested by carrying very small amounts in their mouths. The police cannot search orifices and the dealer can swallow the drug easily. In dealing there is a hierarchical structure, with the people at the low end having to carry on them the larger amounts and engage in the riskier activities. For these reasons it is usually the small time, low end dealers who get arrested, not the
individuals who are earning a great deal of money from this trade. The community is a small part of the whole that is affected by cocaine use and sales. The cocaine industry is a thirty five billion dollars illicit industry now exceeding Columbia=s number one coffee export.
Even though, the cocaine industry is wealthy, but is also a illegal operation. Cocaine is governed by the Narcotic Control Act. Unlawful possession is a criminal offense. Upon summary conviction for a first offense penalty is a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or one year; for subsequent offenses two thousand dollars and/or one year; upon conviction by indictment, penalty is up to seven years imprisonment. Trafficking and possession for the purposes of trafficking are indictable offenses, punishable by up to life, but no less than seven years. No matter how you look at the effects of cocaine there is nothing positive about them. JUST SAY NO TO DRUGS.

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