Cocaine hydrochloride is sometimes used as a topical anaesthetic by doctors and dentists because of its chemical makeup. However, it is classified as a highly addictive drug, so most doctors opt for other pain relievers instead. There are several accessible pain relieving options that do the same job with far less risk of addiction, so it is very rare that doctors prescribe cocaine.
The chemical construction of cocaine is C17H21NO4. The rock form of cocaine, which is commonly known as crack and is smoked, is not water soluble, because it has been processed to remove the hydrochloride salt component, which gives it its crystal form. Powdered cocaine, which consists of hydrochloride salt, can be snorted, or mixed with water and injected. Cocaine does have medicinal qualities, as it originates from the coco plants grown most typically in South America. Indigenous people would boil the leaves and drink the tea for its stimulant qualities, much like people drink coffee and tea today. Its potency in this form was nothing like the common forms of present-day cocaine, though.
Historically, cocaine was used medicinally in North and South America. Medical researchers found it had pain relieving qualities, as well as energy stimulant properties. Doctors began using it as a common form an anaesthesia when performing surgeries, and were prescribing it to patients exhibiting symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression. It was even developed into the earliest form of the drink we know as cola.
However, after some time, the negative effects of cocaine use were becoming apparent. While it was still prescribed by doctors for certain treatments, it became significantly less widely available to the general public. As other, more effective and accessible drugs came along, the demand for cocaine subsided.
Now, cocaine is extremely seldom prescribed to patients by doctors. Drugs such as lidocaine are much more commonly used by anaesthesiologists and surgeons. There are, however, many prescription drugs that have similar chemical makeup to cocaine. Several drugs have properties that resemble cocaine in urine and hair testing. Ingested cocaine can stay in the body for long periods of time, meaning that it will appear in a hair test up to three months later. Other drugs, such as amoxicillin, can create false positives for cocaine because of the similar chemical strains they leave behind.
When prescribed by doctors, is it incredibly important that drug allergies be discussed. If the patient has had reactions to any other medications, or even foods, it is imperative that they inform their doctor. Elderly and infant patients should not be prescribed cocaine hydrochloride because of the side-effects it can cause. Pregnant women should also avoid the use of cocaine hydrochloride, even medicinally.
Even in the rare occasions where cocaine is prescribed, doctors do their best to ensure that it is in low doses that are not absorbed too quickly, to prevent any chance of addiction. When used medicinally, cocaine hydrochloride has some helpful qualities, but since the risks usually out-weigh the benefits, and other drugs can do the same job with less harmful potential, doctors tend to avoid prescribing cocaine.