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Cocaine

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug obtained from the leaves of coca plant (Erythroxylum Coca). Pure cocaine has a chemical formula C17H21NO4. Cocaine can be smoked, consumed orally, inhaled or administered using suppositories.

Cocaine appears in several forms, but pure cocaine is a white and pearly powder. Cocaine can also exist as crack cocaine, a freebase form of cocaine containing baking soda and other impurities. Cocaine also appears in a liquid form as cocaine hydrochloride for medical use. The amount of cocaine found in any form varies largely by dealer.

Cocaine is also known by names such as Barbs, Blow, Coke, Dream, Foo-foo dust, Her, King’s habit, Peruvian lady and Snow. Crack cocaine is also known in the streets as Crack, Rock, Iron, Cavvy, Beam, Bopper, Candy, CDs, Electric kool-aid, Girl, Mighty white, Pop, Real tops, Rock, SevenUp, Space, Twinkie and Yam.

How is cocaine made?

To make cocaine, coca leaves are processed by soaking them in water with lime to release the alkaloids. Then, a solvent such as kerosene or diesel is added to the mixture to recover alkaloids and then dried to make a paste. Chemicals like ether and sulfuric acid are then added into the paste to increase purity and create cocaine hydrochloride. It takes 100 to 150 kilos of dry coca leaves to make a kilo of cocaine paste, and it’s a bit amazing that this process is still used by clandestine labs to make several tons a day.

Cocaine effects

Cocaine is a stimulant – the most powerful stimulant found in nature. In general, cocaine has an uncontrolled stimulating effect in the body. The effects of cocaine soon after administration are called a “high”. Snorting or injecting cocaine can produce a high sooner than other routes of administration. Common effects of cocaine include:

  • raised blood pressure
  • raised heart rate
  • spikes in brain activity

Cocaine’s mechanism of action

Cocaine easily crosses the blood-brain barrier (one of the few drugs able to do so) and enters the brain where it immediately interacts by stimulating the neurotransmitter dopamine. In fact, cocaine works by overstimulation of the receptors on the postsynaptic neuron of a brain nerve, either by increasing the amount of dopamine in the synapse through excessive presynaptic release or by inhibiting dopamine’s pattern of reuptake or chemical breakdown. Because the receptors are stimulated for an extended period of time, the user experiences elevated mood, less fatigue, more energy and strength and restlessness.

Cocaine overdose

The main problem with cocaine is that it causes unpredictable constriction of blood vessels in the body, causing reduced or loss of supply of blood to vital organs like the kidneys, liver, brain and heart. Cocaine overdose can lead to organ damage or stroke. In addition, high amounts of cocaine can exert intense stimulation to brain cells that cause abnormally high spikes of electrical activity and result to life-threatening seizures.

Anyone who uses cocaine can experience overdose because the purity of street-brought drug can fluctuate wildly. Here are signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose:

  • breathing difficulties; gasping breath, or irregular breathing
  • coldness of the hands, feet and body core (hypothermia)
  • heart beat irregularities; heart rate too fast, weak or out of rhythm
  • high blood pressure, heart failure and heart attack
  • incontinence
  • loss of consciousness and passing out
  • seizures

Cocaine naive users can experience overdose even from a small amount of high-purity cocaine. The threat of cocaine overdose is multiplied when other drugs like methamphetamine and alcohol are used concurrently. Cocaine overdose can easily proceed to life-threatening situation, so immediate medical help is necessary. A person overdosed with cocaine can die from heart attack, shock or organ failure.

If you happen to find a person with signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose, call 911 or contact poison control center immediately. Do not give any water, coffee or any liquid to the victim. Try to keep him or her awake. Do not leave the victim, and follow instructions of the medical professional on the end of the line. If the victim is unconscious and has no breathing or heartbeat, you or others may need to perform emergency CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until paramedics arrive. In case the victim has seizures, do not try to hold him or put a towel in his mouth. Just clear the area to avoid the victim from hurting himself, and put him in the recovery position to reduce risk of choking in case he vomits.

For more information on cocaine, see:

Cocaine

What is cocaine used for?

What is cocaine used for?

June 3rd, 2014

Cocaine and its derivatives can be used as local anesthetics, but cocaine is scheduled as a Class II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. More on past and present cocaine uses, as well as its effects here.

74 How long does cocaine last?

How long does cocaine last?

April 3rd, 2014

Cocaine levels peak anywhere from 5-45 minutes after dosing (depending on mode of administration), but metabolites can last for days in your system. Personal tolerance, use, and exposure patterns also determine how long cocaine lasts. We examine more here.

2 Can you get high on cocaine?

Can you get high on cocaine?

March 7th, 2014

Yes. Cocaine makes you high, whether you ingest it by snorting, smoking, or injection. Howver, local application as an anesthetic may not include euphoric effect. More here.

12 How to help a cocaine addict

How to help a cocaine addict

February 25th, 2014

You can help a cocaine addict by addressing the problem head on. Here, we review how to identify and encourage treatment of cocaine addiction for a loved one. Then, we invite your questions at the end.

97 Cocaine overdose: How much amount of cocaine to overdose?

Cocaine overdose: How much amount of cocaine to overdose?

February 2nd, 2014

How can you tell that someone is OD-ing on cocaine? We review unintential cocaine overdose here.

756 How long does cocaine stay in blood, hair, or urine?

How long does cocaine stay in blood, hair, or urine?

December 26th, 2013

Cocaine generally stays in your system and can be detected in urine for 2-4 days afer use. However, heavy or chronic cocaine users may have an extended detection window of up to a week or 10 days. More here on cocaine in the system.

2 Physical addiction to cocaine

Physical addiction to cocaine

November 15th, 2013

Do you suspect you are physically addicted to cocaine? Are you experiencing any strange symptoms? Strong cravings for the drug indicate both physical and psychological addiction. More on the distinction here.

1 How do stimulants work?

How do stimulants work?

November 13th, 2013

Stimulants work in the body by affecting the central nervous system. More on how long it takes for stimulants to start acting and how stimulants work in the body and brain here.

115 How long does cocaine withdrawal last?

How long does cocaine withdrawal last?

August 30th, 2013

Cocaine withdrawal can last for up to a week, or two. But psychological cravings can persist. A timeline for cocaine withdrawal here.

6 Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

August 21st, 2013

Signs of cocaine addiction include hiding cocaine use, spending a great deal of time seeking cocaine, and cravings for cocaine, which can be debilitating. More on what to look for in a cocaine addict here.

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7 Responses to “Cocaine
Luis
3:23 pm May 28th, 2017

Question why after cocain my pupils don’t dialate till way after I took the cocain should it be instantly?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:53 pm May 30th, 2017

Hi Luis. No. Pupils dilate when cocaine kicks in, which takes anywhere from 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Wayne
4:35 pm August 14th, 2017

How long till my blood is clear for a cocaine blood test

2:26 pm August 15th, 2017

Hi Wayne. Small part of a cocaine dose may stay in the system and be detected in blood for 48 hours after use. Many users may develop cocaine tolerance, and the changes in cocaine concentrations in storage are also crucial for blood testing. Unlike other drugs, cocaine has a large overlap between toxic, lethal and therapeutic concentrations. There are cases when no cocaine presence in the blood was measured, even after prolonged use.

Kristen
7:43 am September 6th, 2017

IT seems like Cocaine have very adverse effects on ones behavior. Everyone should be aware of it and try to help others as well.

Leigh
7:14 am October 11th, 2017

So about a month 1/2 ago I did some lines of coke at a party. It wasn’t my first time and unfortunately I don’t know how many times I have ever done it. People always say it takes absolutely a lot to actually cause damage, and I was no where near “a lot” compared to what my friends were doing! Although, this time I feel like it was different. The next morning I woke up with a normal head cold. Symptoms were running nose, stuffy nose, congestion, and it was all in my head. It wasn’t strep or anything just a cold. Well, two weeks go by and my head cold was gone but I just had congestion in my lungs and a cough, also it’s during this whole season change. Now, a month and a half later, I still can’t smell anything or taste anything…. I’m really scared but people just keep saying It’s probably just from the cold.. but I genuinely don’t know! I want to be able to smell, and taste things… Could it be from the coke or the season change? Should I go to the doctor?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:23 pm October 20th, 2017

Hi Leigh. It seem to me that you have experienced cocaine withdrawal. Download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide To Withdrawal’ to learn more: http://addictionblog.org/ebooks/the-definitive-guide-to-drug-withdrawal/

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