Cocaine

Cocaine use, even a single experiment, can cost a person their life. It can cause sudden heart irregularities, convulsions, and heart attacks in otherwise young people. This addicting drug originated in the slopes of the Andes from a plant called the coca plant. Cocaine delivers a feeling of power and control better than any drug.

Cocaine comes from a plant called the coca plant. It is grown now in Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia where it is refined and sent to the US 1300 years ago the leaves were being chewed by South American Indians. Indians routinely chewed quids of coca leaves to stave off hunger, help them endure cold, and enable them to work longer and harder with little food or rest(Stone 7). Several coca leaves are stuffed into the side of the mouth against the cheek and chewed until a moist liquid forms. This method is still used amongst the population of Peru for the long-lasting effects. Mood elevation, mild stimulation, reduced appetite, and increased physical endurance, are some effects that are experienced by chewing the leaves. In the mid-1800s, physicians became interested in the drugs medicinal potential.

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Albert Nieman, a Viennese physician, was given credit for finally isolating the active substance from the leaves. The material that he named and produced was the same white, crystalline, odorless powder, cocaine hydrochloride, as that in use today. Doctors in the US and Europe began experimenting with the new drug by dissolving it in water and taken by the teaspoon. Since there was no FDA in those days, and as long as the drug appeared to be safe, doctors freely prescribed it to patients. Sigmund Freud began his famous experiment in early 1884, using himself and several close physician associates as subjects. He published a paper lauding the drugs exhilarating and euphoric effect, and recommended it for medicinal use to alleviate depression, fatigue, and nausea (Youcha and Seixas 18). Cocaine was then suggested by Sigmund Freud to be useful as a local anesthetic because it numbered the tissues to which it was applied (Youcha and Seixas 19). Cocaine then began to be useful in eye surgery, dentistry and other kings of surgery. Physicians that prescribed this drug to treat headaches, nausea, a common cold, noticed the patients often rapidly developed a dependency on it. By the end of the 1880s Freud and the others he worked with withdrew their support of it and in return increasing reports of dependency and abuse. In 1970, cocaine was classified under Schedule II, s a drug with a legitimate medical use, but also with high potential for abuse and a strong tendency to lead to physical or psychological dependence (Nahas 87). Most of the cocaine sold and consumed in the United States today is cocaine hydrochloride.

The cocaine bought and sold outside the medical channels is rarely close to pure. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of raw cocaine paste may sell to a Colombian processor for $350, and after it is refined and smuggled in the United States, the same kilo is $10,000. That kilo for $10,000 could then be spilt into two kilos, stretched with additives and sell each for $30,000. The most common substances used to stretch cocaine are lactose, bonita, caffeine, procaine or lidocaine. The cocaine high offers a short, sweet taste of how we think it must feel to succeed at the American dream in which so many of us believe (Nahas 23). The drug interrupts the normal action of chemicals called neurotransmitters, also known as brain messengers.

Its action on the brain results in a marked increase in heart rate, measurable elevation in blood pressure, and constriction of blood vessels (Stone 26). Cocaine also increases the rate of breathing and raises the temperature. Cocaine delivers its high by disturbing the most potentially significant chemical cycles in the brain-those that control our basic state of being. The intoxication of the cocaine high is variable, depending on the general psychological and emotional condition the person using the drug. The emotional texture, the sense of fulfillment, gratification, or happiness, the value of the high is determined by the experience of the user. The enjoyable part of a cocaine high generally lasts from ten minutes to half an hour, depending on the dosage and how the drug is ingested. When the drug begins to wear off, the crash occurs. The crash is relates to feelings of pessimism, irritability, impatience, and depression. Generally, the higher the dose and the faster it gets into the bloodstream, the greater the crash (Stone 28). People try to alleviate the discomfort of the crash by drinking alcohol, or taking tranquilizers. There are three ways of getting cocaine into the bloodstream and the brain, and each of them has its own sets of dangers.

Snorting is the most common technique for injesting cocaine. Users pour the powered cocaine on a mirror, glass, or anything hard, and with a razor blade, or credit card arrange it into thin lines. A rolled bill or straw is used to snort two lines, one in each nostril. The high from snorting comes on in seconds and usually lasts from ten to thirty minutes (Stone 209). Snorting can lead to irritation of the nasal membranes. It can also cause sinus-related headaches. Excessive snorting can lead to painful nasal sores and nosebleeds. If snorting is continued over any length of time, a hole from the septum to the nostril can appear. Cocaine is often rubbed on the lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, and gums. The insides of the eyelids is another place cocaine can be injested. One of the most dangerous ways to take cocaine is by delivering it into the rectum via an enema. This results in an extremely rapid absorption of the drug and a very fast manifestation of its effects (Nahas 79). Some female users place cocaine inside their vaginas. This is often done before of during sex, when the vaginal tissues are filled with blood and the absorption of the drug is especially fast. This is dangerous also.
Freebasing involves processing the common white cocaine hydrochloride to rid it of impurities and to release or free the more potent cocaine sulfide base from its hydrochloride bonding (Stone 113). Freebasing involves the drug being cooked in a mixture of sodium hydroxide. The freebase is then smoked in a glass pipe. The freebase melts and vaporizes and the purified cocaine vapors are sucked into the lungs. Since the lungs are the most blood-enriched organs in the body, the absorption is instant. The freebaser is then hit with an intense rush of cocaine effects. The rush is gone within two minutes, and the user feels a residual glow for the next ten or twenty minutes (Nahas 23). The crash from freebasing is more severe than it is from snorting. Freebasing has its own side effects. The heated, purified cocaine vapors irritate the tongue, mouth, throat, and the lungs. Over using can result in sore throat and mouth and a swollen tongue. Breathing problems and coughing up black blood can also result if it is smoked.

Shooting cocaine is the most direct way to get cocaine into the bloodstream. Injecting is the least common method and very dangerous. Most people do not like to shoot cocaine because of the needles. People shoot cocaine for the rush, the nearly heart-stopping, stunning, orgasmic punch (Nahas 115). The rush lasts from one to three minutes. Skin abscesses, hepatitis, strep infections, blood poisoning, can result. These are all painful, serious, life-threatening illnesses.

Cocaine on the streets today is neither pure or sterile; it can contain bacteria or be cut with contaminated or dangerous chemicals. Cocaine is being experienced by 5000 new people a day. Many people love to feel happy, in control and powerful, no one want to feel depressed and unwanted. Those who feel unhappy do chose the wrong way out.

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