Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from “coca” and the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic. Biologically, cocaine acts as a serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor, also known as a triple reuptake inhibitor (TRI). It is addictive because of its effect on the mesolimbic reward pathway.

Effects – Cocaine is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 15–30 minutes to an hour, depending on dosage and the route of administration.

Cocaine increases alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, energy and motor activity, feelings of competence and sexuality. Athletic performance may be enhanced in sports where sustained attention and endurance is required. Anxiety, paranoia and restlessness can also occur, especially during the comedown. With excessive dosage, tremors, convulsions and increased body temperature are observed.

Occasional cocaine use does not typically lead to severe or even minor physical or social problems.

Street Names – coke, blow, powerd, crack, rock, white, powder, flake, Peruvian, pink, yayo, nose candy

Withdrawal Symptoms – Cocaine withdrawal is not fatal. Primary symptoms may include: agitation and restless behavior, depressed mood, fatigue, generalized malaise, increased appetite, vivid and unpleasant dreams.

The obsession and depression can last for months following cessation of long-term heavy use (particularly daily). Withdrawal symptoms may also be associated with suicidal thoughts in some people.

During withdrawal, there can be powerful, intense cravings for cocaine. However, the “high” associated with ongoing use becomes less and less pleasant, and can produce fear and extreme suspicion rather than joy (euphoria). Just the same, the cravings may remain powerful.

Long-term use – Chronic cocaine intake causes brain cells to adapt functionally to strong imbalances of transmitter levels in order to compensate extremes. The experience of insatiable hunger, aches, insomnia/oversleeping, lethargy, and persistent runny nose can occur. Depression with suicidal ideation may develop in very heavy users. Finally, a loss of vesicular monoamine transporters, neurofilament proteins, and other morphological changes appear to indicate a long term damage of dopamine neurons. All these effects contribute a rise in tolerance thus requiring a larger dosage to achieve the desired effect.

The lack of normal amounts of serotonin and dopamine in the brain is the cause of the dysphoria and depression felt after the initial high. Physical withdrawal is not dangerous, and is in fact restorative. Physiological changes caused by cocaine withdrawal include vivid and unpleasant dreams, insomnia or hypersomnia, increased appetite and psychomotor retardation or agitation.

Physical side effects from chronic smoking of cocaine include hemoptysis, bronchospasm, pruritus, fever, diffuse alveolar infiltrates without effusions, pulmonary and systemic eosinophilia, chest pain, lung trauma, sore throat, asthma, hoarse voice, dyspnea (shortness of breath), and an aching, flu-like syndrome. Cocaine constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea.

Chronic intranasal usage can degrade the cartilage separating the nostrils (the septum nasi), leading eventually to its complete disappearance. Due to the absorption of the cocaine from cocaine hydrochloride, the remaining hydrochloride forms a dilute hydrochloric acid.

Statistics

The highest rate of cocaine use happens with young adults, age 18-25.

1 in 10 employees knows a person who uses cocaine while working.

25% of American adults age 26-34 have tried cocaine at least once during their lifetime.

90% of people who have used cocaine started with alcohol or marijuana before trying cocaine.

In 2002, Delaware and New York had the highest concentration of admissions to hospitals and rehab centers for cocaine addiction treatment.

In 2006, cocaine use by college students reached its highest point in over a decade, with 5% of college students reporting they had used cocaine while in school.

Behind Marijuana, Cocaine is the 2nd most common illegal drug used by people in the U.S. Around 15% (34,000,000 million) of all Americans 12 and older have used cocaine at least once in their life.

Cocaine is the 3rd most common drug found in high schools and colleges across the U.S. The most common is Marijuana followed by Methamphetamine.

Columbia exports more cocaine then coffee world wide, making cocaine Columbia’s top export. Cocaine is a 35 billion dollar per year industry for Columbia.

5,000 people every day try cocaine for the first time.

75% of all people who try cocaine become addicted to the drug. Without help from cocaine addiction treatment or rehab, only 1 in 4 people quite cocaine on their own.

Eight percent of all highschool seniors reported using cocaine at least one during highschool. This statistic is from 2006 and has remained consistent over 30 years when this information started being tracked.

The United States is the largest importer of Cocaine in the world. 1.5 million Americans reportedly use cocaine at least once every month.

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