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cocaine  Cocaine
 

  Street Names:- ‘coke’, ‘snow’, ‘flake’, ‘blow’, 'C', 'marching powder', 'the devil's dandruff', 'nose candy' 'crack' (see below)

 What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the 'Erythroxylon coca' bush; indigenous to the highlands of the Andeas in South America.

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered, hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. ‘Crack’ is cocaine that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. This form of cocaine comes in a rock crystal that can be heated and its vapours smoked. The term ‘crack’ refers to the crackling sound heard when it is heated.

Adults 18 to 25 years old have the highest rate of current cocaine use, compared to other age groups.

The duration of cocaine’s immediate euphoric effects, which include hyper-stimulation, reduced fatigue and mental clarity depends on the route of administration.

The faster the absorption, the more intense the high. On the other hand, the faster the absorption, the shorter the high. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Some users will increase the dose to make the euphoric effects (high) stronger & for a longer time.

 

 

 Cocaine's effects on the body

Common health effects include heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes and seizures. Large amounts can cause bizarre and violent behaviour. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine.

 

Physical effects of cocaine use include ‘constricted blood vessels’, ‘dilated pupils’ & ‘increased temperature’, ‘heart rate’ & ‘blood pressure’.

 

Cocaine has been linked to many types of heart disease. It triggers chaotic heart rhythms called ventricular fibrillation, increased heart beat and breathing & increased temperature & blood pressure. The user may also experience muscle spasms, convulsions & coma. 

 

Some of the most frequent complications of use are: 

           Cardiovascular effects – disturbances in heart rhythm & heart attacks 

           Respiratory effects – chest pain & respiratory failure 

           Neurological effects – strokes, seizures & headaches, blurred vision 

           Gastrointestinal effects – abdominal pain & nausea

 

 

The route of cocaine use has with it unique & dramatic consequences: 

  • Snorting – loss of smell, nosebleeds, trouble swallowing, hoarseness and an overall irritation of the septum (the cartilage between each nasal passage). The latter can lead to chronic inflamed & runny nose.   

   Orally taken cocaine – severe bowel gangrene due to reduced blood flow 

 

   Injected – allergic reactions to either the drug or the ‘street additive’; the result is often death.

 How Cocaine affects the Brain

Cocaine blocks the ‘reuptake’ of Dopamine, leaving the neurotransmitters in the synapse for longer periods of time. This has the effect of perpetuating the transmission along the nerve pathway. The effect is ‘euphoria’  or the perception of ‘happiness’. Unfortunately continued use of Cocaine will lead to the body removing some of the receptors from the ‘post-synaptic’ neuron because the neurotransmitters have stayed in the synapse ‘too long’. After the effects of the drug have worn off, the individual is likely to feel depressed and unhappy, dull & unable to utilize cognitive (thinking) functioning as they should. Because excessive amounts of ‘Dopamine’ build up in the synapses through Cocaine use & abuse, the initial enhancement or amplification of the ‘pleasure signal’ results changes that require higher & more frequent ‘hits’ to achieve the initial ‘high’.  Eventually a tolerance can develop where repeated use does little for the user except for the negative & damaging effects.


Mental Health effects

Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability and anxiety. A tolerance to the ‘high’ may develop; many users report they look for, but fail to get, as much pleasure as they did from their first use.

 

Use of cocaine in a binge, during which the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, may lead to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness and paranoia. This can result in a period of ‘full-blown’ psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations (hears voices).

 

Large doses of cocaine intensify the user’s high, but may also lead to bizarre erratic and violent  behaviour.  These users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or with repeated doses, a toxic reaction closely resembling ampthetamine poisoning.

 

Additional information & Summary

  • Cocaine users tend to have higher rates of antisocial personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and polysubstance abuse than the general population. 
  • The combination of Cocaine & Alcohol creates a substance known as 'Cocaethylene'; through metabolization in the liver & can result in 'sudden death' 
  • Between 30% & 60% of Cocaine users partake in Alcohol at the same time 
  • Approximately 1/3 of deaths from Cocaine are due to its 'direct' pharmacological effects 
  • The majority of Cocaine-related deaths occur as a result of impaired judgement & the 'mind altering' effects; resulting in motor vehicle accidents, suicide & homicide 
  • Cocaine is 2nd only to Marijuana as the most popularly used illicit substance 
  • It is reported that Cocaine causes three (3) times more deaths than any other illicit substance 


 

Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you see someone who might help. 



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