Cocaine’s reputation as being one of the hardest drugs to quit is probably well-deserved. The narcotic is derived from the coca plant found in South America. Over the centuries, some South Americans have chewed coca leaves for its euphoric effects and used the plant as anesthesia. In 1800s, cocaine was isolated from coca leaves, courtesy of German chemist Albert Niemann.
Without fully understanding its addictive properties, the medical field widely used cocaine as an anesthetic. Later, the number of people developing a cocaine addiction—including Thomas Edison and Sigmund Freud—led to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914. Another form of cocaine, crack cocaine, flooded the United States beginning in the 1980s.
Other federal legislation, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), classifies cocaine as a schedule II drug, which means that it may have a high potential for abuse and produce severe psychological and physical effects. The drug has several nicknames, such as coke, snow, blow, flake, white, powder, dust, pearl, and nose candy, among others.
Cocaine Effects and Abuse
Cocaine restricts sodium channels on neurons (nerve cells). Such restriction prevents neurons from carrying nerve impulses and provides an anesthetic effect. The anesthetic properties work even if you apply cocaine to an isolated (local) area. Dopamine production is triggered when cocaine enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain.
Since dopamine is a feel-good chemical, this is why cocaine users will experience feelings of euphoria, abnormal self-confidence, and high levels of energy. The intense feeling of euphoria and cocaine’s pain-numbing quantities are reasons why cocaine has a high potential for abuse.
Addiction to Cocaine
Chronic and prolonged cocaine use may have debilitating effects on your heart. The links between cocaine use and cardiomyopathy, a condition where the cells on the heart muscles weaken or die, and cocaine use and endocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart tissues, have been well-established.
Cocaine will typically stay in your body for three to six hours after you last used the drug. The duration depends on several variables, such as the tolerance level of users, the severity of the addiction, and the amount of drugs used.
The period of the euphoric high is relatively short. It depends on how people consume cocaine. For instance, when you inject the drug, expect the effects to last from five minutes to fewer than thirty minutes. When you snort the drug, the effects typically last from thirty to forty-five minutes. If you smoke cocaine, the effects will last from forty-five minutes to about an hour.
Stopping cocaine use suddenly may lead to cocaine withdrawal, which may quickly spiral out of control without medical supervision. Cardiac arrest, ruptures of the aorta, cardiotoxicity (heart muscle damage), and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) are just some of the life-threatening consequences of cocaine addiction.