What is cocaine?
Cocaine Hydrochloride ("coke," "blow") is a white powder derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which grows mainly in South America. Cocaine can be snorted, injected or smoked in the form of "crack cocaine”, made by chemically altering cocaine powder into crystals or "rocks".
What are the effects of cocaine?
Cocaine blocks the re-absorption of the brain chemical dopamine into nerve cells in the brain. This blockage results in an abnormally high and continuous stimulation of the dopamine receptors which causes feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and higher mental alertness. People also feel a greater sensitivity to the senses of sight, sound and touch. Cocaine can also be distilled through chemical alteration into a pure crystal form, or "rock," that is euphemistically referred to as crack. When coke is smoked in this form the high comes on almost immediately, and the effects are much more intense.
Is cocaine addictive?
The effects of cocaine don't last very long, meaning that you have to take more in order to keep the high going. Over time, you can build up a tolerance so that you have to take more coke more often in order to feel the effects. This can lead to physical and psychological addiction to the drug.
What are the risks of cocaine?
Short-term effects of cocaine are increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Side effects of cocaine can include depression, anxiety, irritability, isolation, tremors, lethargy, fatigue, nightmares, headache, sweating, and muscle and stomach cramps. Continued use can be much more damaging. It can lead to incredibly dangerous medical complications, such as chest pains, respiratory failure, strokes, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and heart disease. Frequent users of cocaine have even been known to suffer from seizures and heart attacks. Cocaine should never be used with any other drugs. The most common drug used with cocaine is alcohol. This is also the most frequent combination associated with drug-related deaths.
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