What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the brain by stimulating high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The effects are often short-lived, causing users to use frequently.
Cocaine is highly addictive, and addiction requires hospitalised treatment through residential addiction treatment.
But what is cocaine, and how is it made?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug, derived from the leaves of the native South American Coca Bush.
There is no telling how long natural cocaine has been in use for a variety of medical and semi-recreational purposes in its native land; however, Cocaine Hydrochloride, the purified chemical version of the active ingredient of the coca leaf, was first isolated in the early 1900s.
Cocaine Hydrochloride used to be a medical staple because of its numbing properties; it was in frequent use in order to block pain during surgical procedures. However, cocaine also made its way into everyday use – albeit in lower dosages – in the forms of cough syrups, cold remedies and even as an ingredient of early incarnations of Coca-Cola.
Since then, however, research has shown that regular and frequent cocaine use can have devastating consequences, including irreversible damage to our brain structure and brain function. As a result, cocaine has long since been declared a Schedule II Drug or illegal stimulant drug, meaning that possession, sale, procurement and consumption carry fines and/or jail sentences depending on the amount and individual circumstances.
There are currently three main types of cocaine in circulation:
- Cocaine Hydrochloride – a fine white powder that can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums or dissolved in liquid for injection. Street cocaine is often ‘cut’ with visually similar substances, such as baking powder, sugar or talcum powder, adding an element of undeterminable risk for the user.
- Freebase – a white powder that tends to present fewer impurities than cocaine hydrochloride; however, it is also more potent and more likely to result in overdose.
- Crack Cocaine – this crystalline form of cocaine is usually smoked and comes in a variety of colours ranging from pure white to pink and blue hues. It is the most addictive form of cocaine and its devastating effects on the user are well-documented.
Cocaine is known by many names, including:
- Nose Candy
- White dust
- White Lady
Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid for injection or, in the case of Crack Cocaine and Freebase, be smoked in a glass pipe. No matter the method, the high usually comes on fast and lasts between five and fifteen minutes. Once the immediate effects of cocaine wear off, the user often experiences a jarring ‘crash’ which can lead to repeated use within a relatively short time span.
Cocaine is considered an addictive and harmful substance, and there are no known safe levels of use.
Read more about cocaine addiction here.
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