04 September 2009


Cocaine is a naturally derived CNS (central nervous system) stimulant extracted and refined from the coca plant.

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The chemical name for cocaine is benzoylmethyl ecgonine (C17H21NO4). It is a bitter, white, odourless, crystalline drug.

Coca leaf chewing has been practiced for thousands of years. Cocaine was first isolated from the Erythroxylon coca plant around 1850. Medicinal use of cocaine increased through the late 19th century and recreational use started to become a known problem in the early 20th century. Recreational use was banned in the United States in 1914.

The Substance: Cocaine: Coke; Snow; Nose Candy; Dust; White Lady; Toot; Llello.
Freebase Cocaine: Crack; Rock.
The Experience: Coked up.

As with many substances, the effects of cocaine depend greatly on the person and the dose. Possible effects include feelings of well-being, decreased appetite, stimulation, sexual arousal, and increased focus. Negative effects can include increased body temperature and heart rate, agitation and anxiety, paranoia, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, violent behaviour, kidney failure, seizure, stroke, and heart attack.

Onset varies depending on method of ingestion. Snorting cocaine will produce effects within a minute. Smoking freebase cocaine produces effects almost immediately - often before exhaling. Injected cocaine also produces effects within a few seconds.

The effects of snorted cocaine are quite short with the primary high lasting only 20-40 minutes. This is one of the reasons leading to problems with addiction. As the effects wear off, more is often snorted. This pattern of repeated use can quickly move in the direction of addiction. A hit of smoked crack (freebase cocaine) will typically produce effects lasting five to 15 minutes.

Street cocaine is quite often impure. The more direct the route of administration, the more dangerous this can be. Injecting impure cocaine can be deadly. Repeated snorting can cause severe damage to the nose. Smoking of freebase cocaine can cause breathing difficulties.

Research shows that cocaine use during pregnancy may increase chances of miscarriage, premature labour, and stillbirth. Cocaine is likely to be passed to a child during breastfeeding, resulting in irritability and lack of appetite in the baby.

Addiction potential
One of the most problematic aspects of cocaine is its addictive qualities. While cocaine is not believed to be physically addictive, it is, without a doubt, psychologically addictive. Those who use cocaine heavily or regularly frequently encounter great difficulty ceasing use. Last modified April 2009.

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