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Cocaine: Uses And Effects Essay, Research Paper


Cocaine is a drug taken from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and

one of the most addictive drugs. Cocaine is sold on the street in two main forms: cocaine hydrochloride is

a white crystal powder that can be snorted or dissolved in water heated and injected and “crack” is

cocaine hydrochloride that has been processed with ammonia or (baking soda) and water into a freebase

cocaine. These chips, chunks, or rocks can be smoked. Cocaine may be used occasionally, daily, or in

compulsive, repeated-use “binges”.Regardless of how it is used, cocaine is highly addictive. Crack

cocaine and injected cocaine reach the brain quickly and bring an intense and immediate high. Snorted

cocaine produces a high more slowly.

Cocaine can produce a surge in energy, leavinf the user with a feeling feeling of intense pleasure, and

increased confidence. The effects of powder cocaine last about 20 minutes, while the effects of “crack”

last about 12 minutes. Heavy use of cocaine may produce hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, insomnia,

and depression. Cocaine’s effects are short, and once the drug leaves the brain, the user experiences a

“coke crash” that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.

Many people ask is cocaine addictive?

Yes. Cocaine can take over your life and cause you to lose interest in everything else. Studies in

monkeys have shown that animals will work very hard (press a bar over 10,000 times) for a single

injection of cocaine, choose cocaine over food and water, and take cocaine even when this behavior is

punished. People addicted to cocaine behave similarly. They will go to great lengths to get cocaine and

continue to take it even when it hurts their school or job performance and their relationships with loved


Do users develop a tolerance to crack or cocaine?

Yes. Users may find they need more and more of the drug to get high.

What are the effects of cocaine use?

Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system. It acts on the “pleasure centers” of the brain, producing

heightened pleasure and increased confidence. Other immediate effects include dilated pupils and

higher blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature. The pleasurable effects of

powder cocaine last about 20 minutes. Occasional use can cause a stuffy or runny nose, and chronic use

can ulcerate the mucous membrane of the nose. Injecting cocaine with contaminated equipment can

cause AIDS, hepatitis, and other diseases. Preparation of freebase cocaine, which involves the use of

volatile solvents, can result in death or injury from fire or explosion. Effects include constricted peripheral

blood vessels, higher temperature, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Some cocaine users

have said they have feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Prolonged cocaine use and smoking

crack cocaine can also trigger paranoid behavior. Cocaine may also harm the health and development of

infants born to women who use cocaine while they are pregnant. When addicted individuals stop using

cocaine, they often suffer from depression and anxiety, and the inability to experience pleasure from

normally pleasurable activities. This makes it extremely difficult to try to quit using cocaine and makes it

very hard for the recovering addict to stay clean. Cocaine in its freebase form is extremely addictive, and

its effects are felt within 10 seconds. The physical effects include dilated pupils, increased pulse rate,

elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, tactile hallucinations, paranoia, and seizure. The use

of cocaine can cause death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

Cocaine sold on the street is in the form of a white powdery substance. it resembles snowflakes, crystal

or lactose. This accounts for two of its nicknames: “crystal” and “snow”. It is “cut” for street sale, much like

heroin.( This means the drug is diluted with some other substance.) In the street cocaine purity ranges

anywhere from 15% – 50% with an average purity of 25% cocaine. Cocaine is cut with mannitol, lactose,

insitold, etc

Under the influence of cocaine means that there is physical signs of cocaine present in the body such as

dilated pupils, hyperactive nervous system, muscle relaxation, and cocaine found in blood or urine. Since

cocaine’s activity level in the body is 3-6 hours following use the term “under the influence” is restricted to

users who show physical evidence of cocaine during the 3-6 hours.

Persons using cocaine can show the


Rapidity of speech (low dose)

Agitated or hyper stimulated appearance (low


Slowing or slurred speech (high dose)

Sedated or sleepy (high dose)

High pulse and respiration rate

Pupil size will be dilated

Needle marks

Presence of cocaine in nasal passage

Hallucinations or delusions

The number of regular cocaine users has went down by 75% since 1986. In 1995, according to the

National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 1.45 million Americans were current cocaine

users; that is, they had used cocaine at least once in the past month. Of that number, an estimated one-

half million were current crack users. As in the past, the rate of current cocaine use was highest among

young adults. In 1995, approximately 54% of current cocaine users were aged between 18 and 34

1.Pollack MH, Brotman AW, Rosenbaum JF.

“Cocaine abuse and treatment.” Comprehensive

Psychiatry 1989 Jan- Feb;30(1):31-44.

2.Vandette JM, Cornish LA. “Medical

complications of illicit cocaine use.” Clin Pharm

1989 Jun;8:401-11.

3. Encarta Encyclopedia


2000 ver.

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