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Cocain and Crack

May 6th, 2007 · No Comments

Pure cocaine was first used in the 1880s in eye, nose, and throat surgeries as an anesthetic and for its ability to constrict blood vessels and limit bleeding. However, many of its therapeutic applications are now obsolete because of the development of safer drugs.

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, which is indigenous to the Andean highlands of South America. Much of the cocaine available in the United States is transported from South American nations, particularly Colombia, through the Mexico-Central America Corridor.

Cocaine was first Federally-regulated in December 1914 with the passage of the Harrison Act. This Act banned non-medical use of cocaine; prohibited its importation; imposed the same criminal penalties for cocaine users as for opium, morphine, and heroin users; and required a strict accounting of medical prescriptions for it. As a result of the Harrison Act and the emergence of cheaper, legal substances such as amphetamines, cocaine became less used in the U.S. However, use began to rise again in the 1960s, prompting Congress to classify it as a Schedule II substance in 1970.

Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States with severe restrictions, and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Cocaine can currently be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as a local anesthetic for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.

There are basically two chemical forms of cocaine: the hydrochloride salt and the freebase. The hydrochloride salt, or powdered form of cocaine, dissolves in water and, when abused, can be taken intravenously (by vein) or intranasally (in the nose). Freebase refers to a compound that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. The freebase form of cocaine is smokable.

Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder, known as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. It has been reported that it is common for dealers to dilute the powder with chalk, laundry detergent, baby powder and rat poison! Can you imagine anyone trying street drugs with this possibility?

Crack

Crack is the street name given to a freebase form of cocaine that has been processed from the powdered cocaine hydrochloride form to a smokable substance. The term “crack” comes from the crackling sound made when it is heated.

Smoking crack delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense, but do not last long. For example, the high from snorting cocaine may last 15-30 minutes, while the high from smoking it may last 5-10 minutes. A tolerance to the cocaine high may be developed and many addicts report that they fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first cocaine exposure and therefore crave more and more of it.

Drug Health Effects

Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocain usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep. Some users find that the drug helps them perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly, while others experience the opposite effect.

Common physiological effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts (several hundred milligrams or more) intensify the users high, but may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. It also may result in a full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations. These users also may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or, with repeated doses, a toxic reaction closely resembling amphetamine poisoning. Smokers also suffer from acute respiratory problems including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding.

Drug Treatment

There are no medications currently available to treat cocaine addiction specifically. Patients should seek out addiction treatment under the guidance of a doctor that has a “holistic” approach that is designed to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of the substance abuse.

See: alternative drug abuse treatment

Tags: Street Drugs

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