Cocaine Characteristics and Effects

Inhabitants of South America have a history of chewing of the coca leaf for thousands of years but it has only been known to the Europeans since the 19th century.

The coca leaf affects a number of neuro-transmitter systems in the brain and is active on various anatomical sites within the central nervous system.

Cocaine is produced by chemical processing and treatment of the coca plant which transforms the leaves into coca paste.

Paste is treated with hydrochloric acid to remove impurities and results in white, crystalline substance, cocaine hydrochloride.

It is the most potent of the stimulants.

In the form of leaf chewing or brewed tea the drug is believed to be virtually harmless but it is rarely available in this form outside of South America.

Disagreements exist among authorities and researchers as to the addictive nature of cocaine. While some state there is a high risk of developing physical and psychological dependence, many researchers suggest that cocaine does not produce physical dependence.

Methods of administration include snorting by intranasal inhalation (onset of effects 2-4 minutes); smoking or “freebasing” (burning the crystals and smoking the vapours; onset of effect 10-15 seconds); and injection (onset of effect 15-20 seconds).

Effects can last from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the purity and the route of the administration.

Typical behaviours during the effect include hyperactivity, exhilaration, increased energy, alertness, confidence and sexual activity. The user may also have unpredictable behaviour, feel invincible and be both quarrelsome and aggressive.

A fatal condition can result from high sensitivity to the drug or massive overdose

Several hours after last use, feelings of agitation and depression can occur.

High risk of HIV transmission through multiple injections with previously used injecting equipment and through unprotected, prolonged sexual intercourse.

What are your observations, experiences with cocaine?

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