What is Cocaine and its Side Effects

Cocaine is an intense, euphoria producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential. Cocaine is usually distributed as a white crystalline powder often diluted with a variety of substances, the most common being sugars and local anesthetics. This is done to stretch the amount of the product and increase profits for dealers. In contrast, cocaine base (crack) looks like small, irregularly shaped chunks of a whitish solid.

Methods of Abuse: Powdered cocaine can be snorted or intravenously injected after dissolving in water. Cocaine base (crack) is smoked, either alone or on marijuana or tobacco. Cocaine is also abused in combination with an opiate, like heroin, a practice commonly referred to as “speedballing.” Although intravenous and intramuscular injections, snorting, and smoking are the common routes of administration, all mucous membranes readily absorb cocaine. Cocaine users typically binge on the drug until either they or their supply is exhausted.

Cocaine Affect on Mind: The intensity of cocaine’s euphoric effects depends on how quickly the drug reaches the brain, which in turn depends on the dose and route of administration. Following smoking or intravenous injection, cocaine reaches the brain in seconds, with a rapid buildup in levels. This results in a rapid-onset, intense euphoric effect known as a “rush.” By contrast, the euphoria evoked by snorting cocaine is less intense and of longer onset due to the slower build-up of the drug in the brain.

Cocaine Side Effects

Tolerance develops rapidly to cocaine’s effects, necessitating users taking higher and higher doses. Other effects include increased alertness and excitation, as well as restlessness, irritability, and anxiety in some users. High doses of cocaine or prolonged use, such as binging, usually cause paranoia. The crash that follows euphoria is characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use cocaine again.

Cocaine Affect on Body: Physiological effects of cocaine include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated pupils, insomnia and loss of appetite. The widespread abuse of street cocaine of high purity has led to many severe adverse health consequences such as cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic heart conditions, sudden cardiac arrest, convulsions, strokes and death. The long-term use of inhaled cocaine has led to a unique respiratory syndrome in some abusers, and the chronic snorting of cocaine has led to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.

Also Read: How Smoking Damages Your Appearance

Drugs Causing Similar Effects: Other stimulants, such as methamphetamine, cause effects similar to cocaine that vary mainly in degree.

Overdose Effects: Overdose effects include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and possible death.

Common Places of Origin: Cocaine is derived from coca leaves grown in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. The cocaine manufacturing process takes place in remote jungle labs where the raw product undergoes a series of chemical transformations. Colombia produces about 90% of the cocaine powder reaching the U.S. According to the 2005 Colombia Threat Assessment, 90% of the cocaine shipped to the U.S. comes from the Central America – Mexico corridor.

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