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What is Cocaine

What is cocaine? Cocaine is the most powerful stimulant of natural origin. It is taken from the leaves of the coca plant which is native to the Andean highlands of South America. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most addictive drugs. In ancient times, South American natives used coca for religious and medicinal purposes.

The natives took advantage of cocaine’s stimulant properties to fight fatigue and hunger or to enhance endurance. The Spanish conquistadors banned coca at first. However, they soon discovered that the addicted natives could barely work the fields and the gold mines without it. At that point, the Spanish began to distribute it to the workers three or four times a day.

What is cocaine and why do people use it? Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that acts on the user's brain by stimulating its pleasure center. When an individual repeatedly uses cocaine, their brain begins to adjust to its presence. Everyday activities that they once took pleasure in now fall by the wayside. The pleasure once felt from normal activities is substituted with cocaine. Cocaine provides them with feelings of well being. As time progresses, it takes more and more cocaine to fill them with the same feeling of well being and euphoria that they initially felt when they used cocaine for the first time.

You may wonder, “What is cocaine and how does it work on the user?” Cocaine produces a pleasurable high by interfering with the brain’s pleasure centers where dopamine is produced. Cocaine traps an excess amount of dopamine in the brain, causing an elevated sense of well being. Cocaine also acts as a stimulant to the body. The drug causes blood vessels to constrict, causes pupils to dilate, increases the body’s temperature, increases heart rate, and elevates blood pressure.

No matter how cocaine is ingested or how frequently it is used, an user can experience severe cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies such as a heart attack or stroke. This could result in sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizure, followed by respiratory arrest.

When wanting to know more about what cocaine is, take into consideration the many different routes of administration. The different methods of administrating cocaine produce various unpleasant effects on the users. Inhaling cocaine on a regular basis can lead to the loss of smell, nosebleeds, problems swallowing, hoarseness, and an overall irritation of the nasal septum. This in turn can lead to a chronically inflamed and runny nose. Those who ingest the drug can end up with severe bowel gangrene due to reduced blood flow. Lastly, addicts who inject cocaine create puncture marks and “tracks”, most commonly on their forearms. Intravenous cocaine users may also experience an allergic reaction to the drug itself or to the many additives in street cocaine. In severe cases this can result in death.

The answer to, “What is cocaine?” should also include information on cocaine addiction. Cocaine addiction is a problem that affects millions of Americans each year. Overall, adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five have a higher rate of cocaine addiction than those in any other age group. Research also indicates that men have a higher rate of cocaine addiction than women. Cocaine and crack use was endemic in many areas of the country during 2002. Rates of emergency department mentions were higher for cocaine than for any other drug in several major areas of the country. Emergency department cocaine mention rates increased significantly between 2001 and 2002 in Baltimore, and were highest in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, Newark, Detroit, and New York.