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What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a drug extracted from South American coca plant leaves. It is typically sold on the street as a white crystalline powder known as "coke," "C," "snow," "flake," or "blow." Dealers often dilute the substance with cornstarch, talcum powde, or sugar, or with other stimulants like amphetamines.
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Users experience a high and a feeling of energy and euphoria. Cocaine can cause users to be taken over by the drug, which leads to addiction. For those dealing with cocaine addiction, the best help is a treatment facility that offers detox, as well as long-term residential care.
Cocaine is primarly snorted. Use ranges from occasional use to repeated or compulsive use, with a variety of patterns between these extremes. Cocaine use can lead to acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, which can result in sudden death.
What Is Crack?
Crack is the street name given of the "freebase," smokable form of cocaine processed from powdered cocaine in hydrochloride form. Crack cocaine, which is cheap and easier to obtain than powdered cocaine, is processed with ammonia or baking soda and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride. Crack produces a fast, euphoric high in less than 10 seconds.
Short-term Effects of Cocaine Use
Cocaine immediately produce effects after a single dose and typically disappear within a few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine produces a euphoric, energetic and alert feeling.
Short-term physiological effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils and increased temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Risks include erratic and violent behavior, tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, restlessness, irritability and anxiety. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures, followed by respiratory arrest.
Long-term Effects of Cocaine Use
Cocaine is highly addictive, as it can inhibit reabsorption of dopamine by nerve cells, triggering the brain's reward system. When tolerance develops, many users increase their doses to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects. High doses of cocaine during binges can cause increases irritability, restlessness and paranoia, which could in turn lead to paranoid psychosis, respiratory failure, strokes, seizure, headaches, gastrointestinal complications, heart disease, increased blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, fever, muscle spasms, convulsions and coma.
Effects of Maternal Cocaine Use
Scientific studies show that babies born to mothers who abuse cocaine during pregnancy are often prematurely delivered and have low birth weights and smaller head circumferences. Scientists are also finding that babies exposured to cocaine during development may have subtle but significant behavioral disorders later in life.