Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, which grows in Peru, Bolivia, and other South American countries. Like the amphetamines, it is a central nervous system stimulant and is a mind-altering drug that produces an intense adrenaline rush of energy. Cocaine appears in several different forms. Cocaine hydrochloride is the most available form of the drug and is used medically as a local anesthetic. It is usually a fine white crystal-like powder, although at times it comes in larger pieces, which on the “street” are called “rocks.” Cocaine is usually sniffed or snorted into the nose. Some users inject it or smoke forms of the drug called freebase and “crack.”
Is cocaine really the drug of choice?
Yes. It is very dangerous, dependence-producing drug. People use cocaine repeatedly, because they crave its effect and center their lives on seeking and using the drug. Sometimes people who have been using the drug over period of time continue to use it in order to avoid the depression and fatigue they would feel if they stopped. Those working in the upper class have found it to be their drug of choice. Actors, accountants, musicians, pro-athletes, and the wealthy are susceptible to use, as well as kids, pre-teens, students, factory workers, and even grandparents. Cocaine has attracted just about every economic and social group in the Untied States. Those who cannot afford the addiction, resort to crimes to obtain the powdery substance.
What about psychological effects?
These may include profound personality changes, particularly in those who use cocaine or crack daily, or those who subject themselves to periods of uncontrollable use or “binges.” These users describe themselves as being “coked out.” Their thinking is generally impaired, and they are confused, anxious, or depressed. Tempers are often short, panic attacks common, and suspiciousness frequently characterizes relationships with friends, loved ones, and co-workers. The more crack and cocaine they take, the more likely these users are to develop psychosis. Continued use of cocaine and crack can bring on a partial or total break with reality.
Is cocaine or crack used in combination with other drugs?
Yes. Many cocaine and crack users turn to other drugs to alleviate the severe depression that occurs as the drug wears off. By combining substances, users may be placing their health or their lives in increased jeopardy.
· Alcohol, the drug most commonly used with cocaine, produces a deadly compound called cocaethylene. Produced in the liver, cocaethylene scrambles regulating signals from the brain to the heart and is reported to be 30% more lethal than cocaine alone.
· Marijuana, barbiturates, and tranquilizers used with or after cocaine are also dangerous.
· When cocaine is combined with heroin the mixture is called a “speedball” and is usually injected.
· Speedball is now associated with the mixture of crack and heroin that can be smoked in a pipe. Because of the fear of AIDS from injecting, many drug users are turning to smoke-able forms of drugs. Heroin, which is a depressant, is used to lengthen the crack high and lessen the severe depression that follows. As the user’s first intense “high” from the crack wears off, the heroin “high” begins and provides the user with an extended, but drowsy “high.”
· Recent reports indicate that users may be increasingly combining cocaine or crack with the hallucinogenic drug phencyclidine (PCP), forming a preparation called “space base.”
· National Drug & Safety League (A non-profit charitable organization).