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Cocaine: The Super Drug Essay, Research Paper
This paper will be describing the history, celebrity use, effects, and research of the drug, Cocaine. The scientific name of the street drug is cocaine hydrochloride, because there is a salt molecule bound to the cocaine alkaline molecule. Most cocaine that is purchased on the street is hardly pure, and can vary as much as 15% to 90% actual cocaine. Those who sell these illegal drugs use the practice of cutting the pure substance with sugars and even powdered milk. Everyday 5000 Americans try cocaine for their 1st time every day. Also known as White Gold, cocaine is five times more valuable than normal gold. The process to leach out the cocaine alkaloid from the coca leaves is long and drawn out. With a solution of sulfuric acid, kerosene, ammonia, and various other solvents, the leaves are soaked till they give up the drug. To get this potent drug across the border of the United States, it is concealed in shoes, dolls, flashlight batteries, against records, and pressed into clay bowls that are 75% or more of cocaine.
There are few drugs of abuse that have received as much public attention as cocaine. But cocaine is by no means a new drug. Cocaine has been used in the New World since before the Spanish Conquest; indeed, it has been in use for an estimated 3000 years. Originating from Peru, the Inca Indians have been using the leaves of the coca bush as a stimulant for working in the high altitude of the Andes Mountains. In both Bolivia and Peru, these leaves are still chewed.
In 1862, a German scientist by the name of Albert Neimann located the active ingredient in the coca leaves. The Latin name for the coca plant is Erythoxylum coca. He found that the substance produced an anesthetic effect, by putting some on his tongue, and consequently, having it go numb.
Although cocaine was highly regarded in the 1880 s and the 1890 s, by the turn of the century its potential for abuse was beginning to be realized. Sigmund Freud, who was Viennese, used cocaine to treat for morphine addictions. In 1884 he researched it and rote the paper, Uber Coca. He theorized that cocaine was a stimulant like caffeine, not one like most narcotics, and opium. One of the most tragic examples involved a close friend of Freud s, Ernst Von Fleischl Marxow, who was addicted to morphine. When Freud treated his condition with cocaine, Fleischl Marxow quickly became heavily involved with the drug and began to use it excessively. Within a year he was taking so much cocaine that he suffered toxic psychosis and later died. One scientist at the time pronounced that cocaine was the third scourge of humanity.” (After alcohol and opium.)
Seemingly, Sigmund Freud single-handedly popularized the use of cocaine.
In the 1880 s, a Corsican chemist named Angelo Mariani used this coca extract in a wine called Vin Mariani. It became an immensely popular medicine for fatigue, nervousness, and a variety of other ills. Mariani sent free samples to celebrities and solicited their endorsements. Among the public figures that sang the praises of Vin Mariani were Pope Leo XIII, the inventor Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, and the U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant. The Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired by cocaine while writing his famous novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, portrayed Holmes as an occasional heavy user of cocaine. Although aware that the drug was bad for him, the detective injected it because cocaine as transcendentally stimulating and clarifying to the mind.
Vin Mariani had competition from the American, John Styth Pemberton and his Brain Cola. Its popularity spread because of its use in soda fountains. Called Coca Cola, it also faced competition from tonics with names such as Koca Nola, Celery Cola, Wiseola, and even Dope Cola. But the Pure Food and Drug act led to regulations that forced the companies to remove cocaine from their sodas. Although caffeine is now the main stimulant in Coca Cola, the company still uses de cocainized cocaine leaves as a flavoring agent.
From the books and articles and efforts of Dr. Wiley, the Pure Food and Drug Act, known as the Wiley law, went into effect in 1906. Ironically, the very legislation that regulated one drug often caused some Americans to turn to another. No longer could companies simply peddle secret formulas containing habit forming drugs. Many mothers, who once happily bought soothing syrups for teething infants, recoiled from such products when their morphine or opium bases appeared on package labels. Reformers and newspapers charged that a lack of federal regulation spawned a large population of addicts. According to historian David Musto suggests that addiction rates peaked in 1900 at two to four hundred thousand people. What actually increased was the fear directed at addiction by officials and the public.
From the 1930 s to the late 1960 s except among such individuals as entertainers and jazz musicians, the abuse of cocaine was largely non-existent. In the 1970 s and early 1980 s, cocaine was the glamour drug of the professionals- doctors, business executives, attorneys, star-athletes, and entertainers who could afford its high cost. (A cocaine habit could cost as much as several thousand dollars weekly.)
In January 1983 Tom Kenny founded Cocaine Anonymous (CA), based on the principles of Alcoholics anonymous, including regular meetings for cocaine users and former users. Within three years after Kenny founded CA in North Hollywood, the program encompassed more than 100meetings in Los Angeles alone, as well as meetings in 30 states and England. Kenny claims that as of 1986 the problem was worse than ever. Kenny reasoned it was because of the appearance of crack. This particularly addictive form of cocaine appealed to some people in the entertainment industry who worked long hours, sometimes 15 to 17 hours a day, during which there were often long periods of boredom. Their answer to boredom as crack, and their response to crack was addiction.
Between 1992 and 1996 numerous musicians in popular bands all died from drug overdoses. They include Jonathan Melvoin of the Smashing Pumpkins, Kristen Pfaff of Hole, Bradley Nowell of Sublime, Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy, and Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. Many members of bands have been arrested for possession of drugs, including the Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland. Such deaths as these started many groups like the Musicians Assistance Program (MAP). MAP was formed in 1992 and has seen that numerous musicians have received drug treatment.
In 1986 a campaign called Rock Against Drugs used former drug abusing Rock celebrities in a series of video spots to run on the cable Television channels MTV and VH 1 and Nickelodeon. Funds to support the campaign came from MTV Networks Entertainment, owner of those channels, as well as the California Attorney General Office and the Pepsi Cola Company. Former drug abusers volunteered their time, and one such was Steve Jones, former lead guitarist with the Sex Pistols. That really is the whole thing, if you can save one mind, you ve done something. He also explained his commitment to the project by saying that he had stopped using drugs a short time before, he now wanted to help prevent young people from becoming involved with drugs.
Another great actor, who died of an overdose, was John Belushi. Robin Williams, who had visited Belushis bungalow the previous night, heard the news when he was on the set of his television show, Mork and Mindy. He knew Belushi had been heavily involved with drugs; he had even shared a little cocaine with Belushi the night before.
Saturday Night Live, a television program, had its own share of problems. In October 1975 the cast found the guest host, comedian George Carlin, distant and difficult to work with. Carlin later admitted he was on cocaine at the time.
When taking cocaine, some of the effects are; an increase of heart rate, elevation of blood pressure, and dilation of the pupils. Chronic users can lead to skin abscesses, weight loss, and damage to the nervous system. Death from even a small dose can occur, and is usually caused by seizures or heart attacks. There are many ways to get the effects of cocaine. In South America, it is ingested, where the leaves are chewed. In the U.S. cocaine is snorted through the nose where it is absorbed through the mucus membrane into the bloodstream. In about 3 5 minutes it takes effect, and lasts for 20 to 40 minutes. It is also mainlined by injecting intravenously. Since it is water soluble, a mixture of it and cocaine can be injected, and in approximately 30 seconds it takes effect. It will last for 10 minutes and it has been described as giving a rush that is almost orgasmic in nature. Freebasing is also used in the United States, where the cocaine substance is mixed with ether (which is rather volatile), which separates the salt molecule from the cocaine alkaloid. A newer form of cocaine is called Crack, also known as Chasing the Dragon. By mixing baking soda with street cocaine, a smoke-able form is made. The name derives from the sound that the substance makes when it is ready.
Side effects of cocaine use are varied according to how much and how frequent the use. Light use results in pleasurable, psychological effects. Regular users are restless, irritable, anxious, sleepless, go through mood swings, and distortion of senses. Heavy users have cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, headache, and erosion of the septum. The result of cocaine use for pregnant women has disastrous consequences for the unborn fetus. Problems arise such as growth retardation, low birth-weight, the child has difficulty in cuddling and nursing, and they are more irritable and unresponsive. Some infants suffer strokes and heart attacks from their mothers use.
To prove the addictive properties of cocaine, a number of tests were done. One such test uses a progressive schedule, which gradually increases the number of times the animal has to press a lever to receive the drug. For example, the first injection may require 10 presses, the second 20, the third 40, and so forth. This continues until the breaking point is reached the point at which the animal ceases to respond. Using this procedure, monkeys have been shown to press a lever as many as 6,400 to 12,800 times for a single injection of cocaine. The breaking point for cocaine is much higher than for other stimulant drugs such as amphetamine, suggesting that cocaine s reinforcing properties, and thus its potential for abuse, are greater.
Cocaine s reinforcing strength was also demonstrated in studies that gave rhesus monkeys the opportunity to choose between cocaine and other positive reinforcers. Data show that at most doses, cocaine was preferred over procaine, a local anesthetic, and diethylpropion, a CNS stimulant. When given the choice between cocaine and the opportunity to have visual contact with other monkeys, the monkeys chose the drug. And even more startling, monkeys will choose cocaine over food even to the point of starvation. Animals will even self-administer cocaine when each injection is accompanied by an electric shock. When given a choice between receiving a high dose of cocaine with an electric shock and receiving a low dose with no shock, animals selected the drug with the shock. Obviously cocaine is a very potent reinforcer.
The toxic effects of cocaine have also been investigated using self administration procedures. In most of the studies discussed above, cocaine was available only for a limited period each day. Under these conditions, though the animals became obviously intoxicated, severe drug toxicity was rare. However, when cocaine is available 24 hours per day Rhesus monkeys sometimes ingest up to 100 mg per k of body weight, doses high enough to produce convulsions that lead to death. Thus it seems that when drug availability is unlimited, animals, including humans, may increase their drug-taking behavior to the extent of severe toxicity and even death.
Laboratory experiments have provided much data to support and predict the extent and debilitating effects of cocaine use among humans. Cocaine is a strong reinforcer under a variety of conditions. Animals, including people, will go to great lengths to get cocaine, will choose it over almost all other reinforcers including food, and will continue to take the drug even when such behavior is punished. These results help to explain the loss of control that many cocaine users exhibit.
In conclusion, the potent drug of cocaine is not one to be taken lightly. From the facts and the history that have been cited, humans cannot control the addiction of this substance. Even those that are in the public light aren t even able to control this beast. Some drugs can be tamed to perform for doctors, but this one doesn t want to give up that power. All in all, cocaine should be left alone at all costs, and particularly by those that are intelligent.
1. Tice, Patricia M. (?) Altered States: Alcohol and Other Drugs in America, Publishing information not available.
2. Johanson, Chris-Ellyn, Ph. D. (?) Cocaine: A New Epidemic, Publishing Information Not Available.
3. Kusinitz, Marc (?) Celebrity Drug Use, Publishing info. Not Available.
4. Carroll, Charles R. (1996) Drugs in Modern Society, Brown & Benchmark Publishers, Fourth Edition
5. Williams, Robin (?) Robin Williams Live at the Met
(Recording),Published on Napster website, www.napster.com
6. Snowstorm in the Jungle, Video notes from Drug and Alcohol class.
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