21 Jan What is Cocaine?
Cocaine, commonly known as “coke” or “blow”, is a stimulant drug that is mostly known for its addictive recreational use. It is recognizable as a white powder made from the leaves of the coca plant derived from South America. Illegal street dealers often mix it with other white powders such as cornstarch, flower or baby powder, or even with other drugs, to maximize profits.
The most common way of ingesting this drug is through snorting, although it’s effects can also be achieved through rubbing cocaine into the gums or through dissolving it in water and directly injecting it into the bloodstream. Another common use of cocaine is in the form of “crack”, which is processed in a way so that it can be smoked. Crack is made of hard crystals that upon heating, produces vapors that can be inhaled into the lungs to achieve a high.
Effects of cocaine are usually felt within seconds to minutes of use and include detachment from reality, grandiosity, extreme happiness or agitation. Some physical symptoms include dilated pupils, sweating and increased heart rate. As the high may last anywhere between about 5 and 30 minutes, cocaine is very addictive and the body is able to create a dependence on it.
Cocaine is able to function by increasing concentrations of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, as their reuptakes are prevented. These chemical messengers are responsible for producing responses to potential rewards, thus the high caused by cocaine is produced when quantities of these neurotransmitters build up in the brain.
Although cocaine can be used in a medical setting as a vasoconstrictor to reduce bleeding, it’s risks and health effects from recreational use cannot be ignored. Long term use can produce loss of sense of smell and frequent nosebleeds, as snorting damages the inner nose. If cocaine is injected using a needle, users are at higher risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis or other blood-related diseases. Other general health risks of cocaine use included malnourishment, as cocaine decreases appetite, and mood related disorders.Google+