Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that mainly affects the brain. Pure cocaine was first extracted from the leaf of the Erythroxylon coca bush, which grows mainly in Peru and Bolivia. Today, cocaine is a Schedule II drug, meaning it can be administered by a doctor for medical uses, such as a local anesthetic. There are two basic forms of cocaine, hydrochloride salt and the "freebase." The hydrochloride salt form of cocaine dissolves in water and can be taken by vein or in the nose. The "freebase" form of cocaine is smokable.
In 1997, an estimated 1.5 million Americans were cocaine users. This number has not changed since 1992, even though it is a large decrease from 5.7 million cocaine users in 1985. Adults 18 to 25 years of age have a much higher rate of cocaine use than any other age group. The main routes of cocaine administration are oral, intranasal, intravenous, and inhalation. More common words used for administration are chewing,
snorting, mainlining, injecting, and smoking. Cocaine use ranges from occasional use to repeated use, with a wide range of patterns. Any route of administration can lead to absorption of toxic amounts of cocaine. Repeated cocaine use can produce addiction and other adverse health problems.
Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes or hours. The duration of the effects depends upon the route of administration. The short-term effects include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug.
Once having tried cocaine an individual may have difficulty predicting or controlling the extent to which a person will continue to use the drug. A user can build up a high tolerance to cocaine's high. Some users will increase their dose to intensify and prolong
the effects. Users can also become more sensitive to cocaine's effects, which may explain some deaths occurring after...