Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the coca plant that is native to South America. It is an illegal drug though at one time it was used for valid medical purposes. As a common street drug cocaine is a fine, crystal, white powder. Dealers often mix it with things like talcum powder, cornstarch, or even flour to bulk up the drug and turn more of a profit. Additionally, cocaine is sometimes mixed with other drugs like amphetamines.
Cocaine is known by many names. A few of the most common are crack, rock, snow, coke, and blow. Cocaine is typically snorted as powder through the nose or rubbed on the gums. However, some people dissolve it into water and inject it or shoot up. This gets the coke into the bloodstream and a high is almost immediate. The mixing of cocaine and heroin to inject is known as a Speedball. Another method of using cocaine is to smoke it. Cocaine that has been processed to make rock crystal is heated and the vapors inhaled. The crackling sound of the heated rocks is why this is known as crack. Cocaine is the type of drug that is often taken in binges with increasing doses needed to maintain the same or a better high. The binges can easily lead to overdose, especially when the cocaine is mixed with another drug.
Cocaine is often a drug of choice because it effects the chemistry of the brain by increasing dopamine which makes the body believe it is experiencing pleasure and movement. Typically, dopamine is released when the body senses a potential reward, like good food or someone you love. The dopamine is released then recycled to shut off the signal. With cocaine use the recycling is stopped and the flood of dopamine creates a high.
There are health effects from cocaine use that include extreme happiness, energy, mental alertness, irritability, paranoia, and hypersensitivity. This means that some people may experience extreme focus to a task, while others may have completely unpredictable behavior. The same person may react differently with each use. Additional signs of cocaine use are constricted blood vessels, nausea, dilated pupils, raised blood pressure and body temperature, rapid heartbeat, tremors, and restlessness. When using cocaine the high is almost immediate and lasts from a few minutes to an hour with a single use. Method of use does effect the high as injecting coke will cause a faster high that is shorter lived, but snorting may last longer and take longer to kick in with each use.
Long term or continual use of cocaine can vary based on how the cocaine is used. Snorting can lead to a loss of sense of smell, runny nose, problems with swallowing and nosebleeds. Shooting up puts the user at higher risk for HIV and Hep C due to shared needles, though all users are at risk of sexually transmitted disease as cocaine use impairs judgment in selecting partners. Consuming cocaine by mouth can cause bowel decay and decrease blood flow. Since cocaine decreases appetite, users may become malnourished and create movement disorders such as Parkinson’s. No matter how cocaine is used it can create a number of problems. If you or someone you know is using, seek help immediately.
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