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Substance Abuse - Cocaine

Commonly Known As: Blow, coke, snow, powder, nose candy, dust, toot, white lady.

Access to Drug: Cocaine is bought through dealers on the street, nightclubs, parties, and individually. It is fairly easy to find and is usually bought in gram form. It is illegal in the United States and some countries around the world, particularly because of its highly addictive nature. Arrests can be made for possession, sales, and transporting.

Scientific Name: Benzoylmethyl ecogine (C17H21N04). It is a white, odorless, crystal-like substance that is a stimulant with numbing effects. Cocaine is plant derived and made into powder through a five step process.

Interesting Facts: Cocaine has been around for thousands of years and is derived from the cocoa plant found primarily in South America. Its use by the South Americans by chewing was for religious and social occasions; with the spread of civilization and cultivation, cocaine quickly became a profitable as well as recreational drug. Sigmund Freud is believed to have used cocaine in powder form, it was an additive in Coca Cola at the turn of the century for its “uplifting” results, and the Cocaine trade has been romanticized and dramatized in the media for years. There have been many myths around Cocaine use, including its properties as an aphrodisiac, and the denial of its addictive qualities. Although Cocaine has been used for medicinal purposes, its recreational use was banned in 1914.

Methods of Use: Powder cocaine is commonly snorted, injected, rubbed on gums, genitals, and less commonly through freebasing. Cocaine is often used in combination with alcohol, marijuana, heroin and barbiturates.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Hyperactivity, sexual arousal, increased body temperature and heart rate, decreased appetite, and a false sense of invincibility. Heavy use can induce paranoia, agitation, impotence, nausea/vomiting, violent behavior, seizures, stroke, or heart attack. Users will also tend to experience runny nose, and constant sniffing.

Duration of Intoxication: The onset of intoxication is rapid and usually lasts 20 to 40 minutes. Injected cocaine is felt immediately while snorting cocaine produces effects with a few minutes. With Cocaine, as rapidly as the high appears, the crash is equally is fast with a lingering depression that can be felt for hours, days, or even weeks.

Withdrawal: Withdrawal effects can last days, months, or even years, depending on the amount of cocaine abused, frequency, length of use and any pre-existing mental problems. Commonly, withdrawal includes anhedonia ( lack of ability to feel pleasure), a lack of energy, loss of motivation or initiative, depression and cravings for more of the drug.

Effects of Long Term Use: Cocaine is highly addictive and frequent or heavy users require long term treatment in order to stop. Seizures, heavy depression between binges, and damage to heart muscles are common. Heart seizures and death will occasionally occur the morning after heavy use. Cocaine addicts tend to binge for several days, sleep during the crash, swear off the drug, and then repeat the cycle within a ten day period. Cocaine psychosis can also occur among heavy users and someone with a genetic potential for schizophrenia may trigger a psychotic break. Dental erosions are also common among heavy users from rubbing cocaine on the gums, poor dental hygiene and malnutrition. Heavy long term users can also end up with deviated septums in their nose from snorting.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: Because of the euphoric feelings associated with cocaine use, first time users can quickly become addicted and escalate use with a few days. The addiction is psychological in nature and fueled by the depression following a crash from the high. Treatment for users addicted to cocaine can be effective, however, cravings are more intense for the cocaine addict and stay with the addict for years to come.

Associated Risks: Powder cocaine tends to adulterated or “stepped on” by dealers and can be mixed with additives such as baby laxatives, lactose, aspirin, sugar, flour or even talcum powder. IV users are more susceptible to hepatitis B and C, blood and heart infections and AIDS from dirty needles. Other sexually transmitted diseases are common among cocaine abusers, and overdoses from using other drugs to bring down the high can lead to death or cross addiction.