Everything you need to know about cocaine
As a recreational drug, cocaine is known as powder, snow, ski, soft, blow, slopes, coca, marching powder, benzoylmethylecgonine, and nose candy.
It is normally found as a white, crystalline powder or as an off-white, chunky substance.
In powder form, it usually consists of cocaine hydrochloride diluted with other substances, such as lidocaine, a local anesthetic, sugars (lactose), inositol, and mannitol.
Diluting the cocaine enables the seller to make more profit by “stretching” the amount of pure cocaine they have to sell.
Cocaine can be taken by:
- Snorting or inhaling through the nose. It enters the bloodstream via the nasal tissues
- Injecting, which releases it directly into the bloodstream
- Smoking or inhaled into the lungs, where it rapidly enters the bloodstream
What is crack?
Crack is the street name for a type of cocaine that has had the hydrochloride removed, making it possible to smoke.
When the mixture is heated, it makes a crackling sound, hence the name. Crack producers make crack with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or ammonia and water, and it is heated to remove the hydrochloride.
The crack smoker receives large doses of cocaine. The effect is intense and virtually immediate, as with injected cocaine, but the “high” lasts only around 5 minutes.
Cocaine has a very powerful stimulating effect on the nervous system. It raises levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, movement, and the brain’s reward circuit.
Normally, neurons release dopamine in response to a pleasurable stimulus, such as the smell of good food. Once the dopamine has passed on its message, it returns inside the neuron, and the signal stops.
Cocaine and crack cocaine are illegal drugs. This is because they involve health risks.
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug.
Long-term use can gradually change the brain’s reward system, increasing the risk of addiction.
In occasional cocaine users, social or physical problems are rare, but scientists insist there is no safe amount of cocaine.
People who are addicted may eventually prefer taking cocaine to any other activity. Their lifestyles may alter completely as the addiction takes hold.
The person may lose their job, home, family, and become bankrupt. The consequences can be fatal.