(Charlie, Coke, Snow, White Lady, Nose Candy, Blow)
What exactly is cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Although health care providers can use it for valid medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, cocaine is an illegal drug.
As a street drug, cocaine looks like a fine, white, crystal powder. Street dealers often mix it with things like cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits. They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine.
Cocaine is an alkaloid, found in the leaves of the coca plant. In the process of making cocaine, solvents like kerosene, petrol, sulphuric acid, strong alkali lime and potassium permanganate is added to eventually create cocaine crystals.
Are there different forms of cocaine?
Cocaine is cocaine is cocaine, it’s a single chemical compound so it doesn’t come in different ‘sorts’, as far the actual cocaine molecule goes. It comes in different forms, e.g. cocaine hydrochloride (ordinary powder coke) or freebase (crack), but the cocaine molecule itself is the same in either case.
How do people use cocaine?
People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder in water and inject it into the bloodstream. Some people inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball.
Another popular method of use is to smoke cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine”). The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. This form of cocaine is called Crack, which refers to the crackling sound of the rock as it’s heated.
People who use cocaine often take it in binges—taking the drug repeatedly within a short time, at increasingly higher doses—to maintain their high.
What happens if you use cocaine?
Smoking or injecting cocaine results in nearly instantaneous effects. Rapid absorption through nasal tissues makes snorting cocaine nearly as fast-acting. Whatever the method of taking it in, cocaine quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Deep in the brain, cocaine interferes with the chemical messengers — neurotransmitters — that nerves use to communicate with each other. Cocaine blocks norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed. The resulting chemical build up between nerves causes euphoria or feeling “high.”
What are the side effects of cocaine addiction?
Short-term effects also include paranoia, raised blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels leading to the heart, increase in body temperature, dilated pupils, stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, convulsions, and death. Severe depression and reduced energy often accompany withdrawal.
Both short- and long term use of cocaine has been associated with damage to the heart, brain, lungs, kidney and destruction of the nose septum.
When a person stops using cocaine, he will go through a period of excessive sleeping, followed by depression. There is a risk that the person could die of respiratory failure. When cocaine use is stopped or when a binge ends, a crash follows almost immediately. This crash is accompanied by a strong craving for more cocaine.
Treatment of cocaine addiction
The majority of individuals who seek treatment for cocaine abuse smoke crack and are likely to be poly-drug abusers, or users of more than one substance.
No medications currently are available specifically to treat cocaine addiction.
Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual’s life, treatment is not simple. Effective treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences. Addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives.
Twelve-step programs offer support by helping cocaine abusers accept their problems by learning from, and helping other recovering addicts to realize that there is life after cocaine. These programs include:
• Cocaine Anonymous
• Narcotics Anonymous
• Alcoholics Anonymous
Twelve-step programs emphasize taking responsibility for behavior, making amends to others and self-forgiveness. The first step of Cocaine Anonymous states that, “We are powerless over cocaine and our lives have become unmanageable.” Successful recovery programs strongly urge daily attendance at 12-step meetings for the first 90 days of sobriety.
Individuals who successfully abstain from cocaine attend a lot of 12-step meetings for support and accountability. They often report that a part of them still looks for a good reason to use cocaine. Twelve-step meetings are daily reminders of their powerlessness over drugs.
If you have more questions about cocaine, you can chat to an online facilitator on LIVE CHAT. It is a free service and you may stay anonymous.
You can also do a self-test quiz on addiction – Substance abuse quiz.
You can book counselling sessions for help with Addiction with the following therapists:
Terminology and Information on Drugs, Revised Edition, United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, New York, 1999.
Merck Index, 13th Edition, Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, 2001.