Last Updated on July 1, 2018 by Keisha Mclean-Green
Cocaine is a highly addictive and illegal drug. It is sold in the form of a fine, white, crystalline powder. On the street, it goes by many slang terms, including blow, coke, rock, snow, and toot. A stimulant, cocaine directly affects the brain. It grew increasingly popular during the 1980s and 1990s, but it has been chemically produced as far back as the early 1900s. If you happen to be an addict contact a california drug rehab center to help you.
Cocaine comes from coca leaves. Coca leaves have been chewed and ingested for thousands of years, but the drug cocaine was never purified using cocaine hydrochloride until the 1900s. When it first came on the scene, it was the primary active ingredient in most elixirs and tonics, which were developed with the intent of treating a wide range of illnesses.
The Abuse of Cocaine
Two chemical forms of cocaine are abused: The water-insoluble cocaine base and the water-soluble hydrochloride salt. The latter can be injected or snorted.
The base of cocaine is treated using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or ammonia. After processing, it is heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus creating a smokable substance. The street term “crack” refers to the cracking sound heard when the mixture is smoked.
Crack is only different from cocaine in form. It is the crystallized (or freebase) form of the drug. Instead of being injected into the veins in liquid form, it is smoked, usually in a pipe.
The Dangers of Cocaine Use
Why is cocaine dangerous? For starters, it is an addictive stimulant. A stimulant can increase alertness and attention. It can also cause the user to feel an artificial boost in energy. But these seeming benefits come at great risk, and the risks are what make cocaine use so dangerous.
- Cocaine can speed up the heart. It causes your blood vessels to narrow. As a result, cocaine users and abusers run a high risk of heart attacks, stroke, and even running a dangerously high body temperature. The end result is often death.
- Cocaine can cause breathing problems. The increase in bodily functions while taking a stimulant increases strain on major parts of the body. The respiratory system is at risk, and using cocaine – whether injected or smoked, but especially when smoked – can cause major breathing problems. In some cases, the body can stop breathing altogether, leading to death by suffocation.
- Cocaine dramatically impacts the brain. The brain’s reward pathway is stimulated by brain chemicals, one of which is dopamine. When stimulation occurs, the person feels pleasure. Once cocaine reaches the brain, it causes a buildup of dopamine, which can quickly lead to addiction. The more cocaine used, the greater the dopamine buildup. As the brain adjusts, it craves more and more cocaine to achieve higher dopamine levels. While the user might feel pleasure, it is laced with the onset of brain damage. The user can actually lose the ability to feel any kind of pleasure without cocaine.
Can Cocaine Kill?
Believe it or not, cocaine is so dangerous that just one use can kill. According to KidsHealth.org, a single use can cause a massive heart attack or stroke that leads to death. It is so potent a drug that using it just once can also cause an instant addiction.
Cocaine that is injected is a leading cause of HIV and AIDs. The needles used by addicts are sometimes shared or improperly sterilized. As a result, the risk of contracting an incurable disease among cocaine users is huge. Do you really want to run the risk?
Snorting cocaine isn’t much of an alternative. It can damage the septum, which is found between the nostrils. A hole can form in the middle of the nose. The damage can lead to total loss of one’s sense of smell, which directly affects one’s ability to taste. The foods you once loved will be crossed off your list permanently when you can no longer enjoy their smell or taste. Is that really something you want to give up forever?
Cocaine can kill more than just a person. It can kill the senses, one at a time. It can kill your ability to experience pleasure and have fun. It can even kill you slowly by exposure to incurable diseases. Just because the drug itself doesn’t kill a user doesn’t mean something directly related to how the drug is ingested or injected will not.
The Importance of Saying No and Getting Help
Cocaine is illegal. It is one of the most dangerous street drugs out there. It can turn a person into an addict or a corpse in just one use. The importance of saying no to trying it cannot be overemphasized. You have the power to say no, and the people who truly care about you will back you all the way.
But what if you’ve tried cocaine? What if you’ve been around it and now you want some more? Before you satisfy the so-called pleasure your brain is calling for, stop! It’s a trap!
A single use of cocaine reaches the brain and begins to impact dopamine levels. That sense of need you’re feeling is a result of the drug wearing off. Do not be fooled because it is an artificial pleasure or high. The best thing you can do is get help.
There is no shame in having tried a drug. You are human, and curiosity got the best of you. It does not make you weak. It does not make you a failure. It makes you a person who made a mistake, sees danger, and is smart enough to ask for help. But where can you go?
For starters, you can talk to your parents. If that seems a little too intimidating, talk to an adult you can trust, like a teacher or a mentor. You can also reach out to local substance abuse programs, explain your situation, and ask for help. Do it now! Don’t think about it, just get help. Instead of being a statistical death in the war on drugs, be a statistical success as someone who got help and kicked cocaine to the curb.