Warning Signs of Cocaine Abuse
- Dilated Pupils
- Loss of Appetite
Cocaine is a drug that most commonly appears as a fine, white crystalline powder. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug — which means that while it is highly addictive and susceptible to being abused, it can be administered by doctors for professional medical use.
Purified cocaine was once the main active ingredient in many healing elixirs and tonics, and prior to synthetic local anesthetic it was used to block pain by surgeons. However, research now shows that cocaine can permanently alter brain structure and functions if used repeatedly.
Dealers often mix or “cut” cocaine to dilute it, adding in other powders such as cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, or baking soda.This allows for a higher profit margin, as less pure cocaine is used in the powder mix.
While cocaine is most often sniffed or snorted (the drug is then absorbed through the nasal tissue), users also inject and/or smoke it. Cocaine can also be ingested or rubbed into the gum, where it also absorbs into the bloodstream. Injecting cocaine speeds up the drug’s absorption, and simultaneously increases the danger and risk of overdose. To smoke cocaine, users process the drug with ammonia or baking soda and water, then heat it to remove the hydrochloride so that it becomes a smokeable substance. The smokeable cocaine substance (also known as freebase or water-insoluble cocaine base) is often referred to as “crack,” which refers to the crackling sound that’s produced when the base is smoked.
Effects of Cocaine Use
Cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs in existence. Its highly addictive qualities create an almost immediate craving in the body and brain of the user for more. Once a user begins using cocaine a higher dose is needed to recreate the sense of pleasure achieved, a sense of pleasure that never lasts long enough.
Cocaine can lead to major health (mental and physical) issues, including but not limited to respiratory failure, heart attack, brain hemorrhage, stroke, and the children of mothers using cocaine suffer from addiction to the drug and other birth defects. The effects the drug has on the day-to-day life of the user is detrimental — leading to massive mood swings (characterized by short-lived highs followed by intense depression or “come downs”), as well as drastic changes in behavior and daily interests. The short-term and long-term effects are varied and erratic, as the addiction creates desperation in the user to constantly use more.
What was once a natural cocoa plant, a seemingly harmless and originally chewed on by the ancient Incas to speed up their hearts and breathing to counteract the high mountain climates, today is one of the most dangerous drugs known to man.