What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful psychoactive and stimulant drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, commonly in the form of a white crystalline powder. Crack Cocaine is a derivative of cocaine that has been heated and formed into crystal rocks. Crack is named for it’s crackling sound produced when heated. Cocaine is usually injected, swallowed, snorted, or smoked (especially for crack cocaine). Crack cocaine is the most potent form of cocaine due to it’s high percentage of purity, it is also the most risky and dangerous to use.
What Does Cocaine Do to the Brain?
The high from cocaine is intense and short lived, lasting 15 minutes on average and the effects lasts 2 hours on average. The high from the effects of cocaine causes feelings of extreme false euphoria and stimulation within certain areas of the brain causing heightened energy and alertness. Cocaine especially stimulates the “reward circuit system” of the brain, this stimulation makes users “feel good.” The “feel good” effect of cocaine use is one of the main factors which makes cocaine addiction hard to break. Ironically, although crack is more pure and potent, it is of lower cost than cocaine. Subsequently, crack can initially be purchased by users of all ages, unlike cocaine which is deemed “the rich man’s drug.”
Short Term Effects of Cocaine
Crack cocaine is one of the most powerful illicit drugs due to it’s power to produce a strong psychological dependence, causing an addiction to quickly onset. Some of the shorter term effects of using cocaine include extreme drug craving, hallucinations, and hyperstimulation. The long term effects of cocaine are especially detrimental to the brain and the heart. Cocaine use causes malfunctions in certain areas of the brain, especially the areas controlling memory, attention span and ability to learn. Users can experience sudden death from a high dosage even if it’s their first experience with cocaine.
Cocaine users usually experience a “crash” due to cocaine withdrawal varies in intensity and generally lasts for hours or days. Withdrawal in cocaine users will usually subside within 24 hours, unless the user experiences Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) which can last weeks or months. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms vary based upon the user and their usage, some common withdrawal symptoms include: cravings, mood changes; feelings of depression, anxiety, and/or irritability, fatigue, insomnia/hypersomnia, increased appetite, and psychomotor retardation; physical slowing down or physical agitation.
Cocaine and Psychological Dependence
Next to methamphetamine, cocaine creates the biggest psychological dependence of all drugs. Cocaine stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers which causes heightened euphoria. A tolerance for cocaine can onset quickly causing users to require more amounts of the drug at more frequent intervals to achieve the initial effects. Cocaine users also commonly take the drug in combination with other drugs such as amphetamines, marijuana, and heroin. These combinations can be significantly dangerous and increase one’s likelihood for developing a dual-drug habit. This can be avoided by paying attention to the symptoms of cocaine addiction early on.
In today’s society cocaine is a worldwide, multimillion-dollar enterprise which has users of all ages, backgrounds, occupations and economic levels. Cocaine users have been found to be as young as 8 years old. Children of cocaine-addicted mothers are highly susceptible for being born with an addiction. However, in spite of its dangerous effects, cocaine is still a popular drug and use of the drug continues to increase.
Common Slang Names for Cocaine
- Nose candy