Illegal drugs do not benefit anyone and that’s a plain fact that can’t be debated. They have been one of the greatest menaces to societies around the world for the past fifty years, with countless people—especially young adults—losing their lives annually due to overdosing and drug abuse. The worst part is that drugs can not only kill you, but also alter and destroy your personality in the process as they change the chemical state of your body and mind. In many instances they also make you do things you normally wouldn’t if you were clean and sober. One of the most addictive and catastrophic drugs out there is cocaine. Known as the “caviar of street drugs,” it has become the drug of choice of celebrities, fashion models, and even sportsmen. In many cases, athletes who violate anti-doping controls have been caught using cocaine as a stimulant. But what makes this drug so addictive, dangerous, and at the same time luxurious and glamorous? Written by Theodoros II
Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylon coca bush, which is indigenous to the Andes of South America. It is considered the most powerful central nervous stimulant found in nature. Its physical effects include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood flow. Those who use it experience greater alertness, energy, self-confidence, and even power after taking it.
Currently cocaine comes in two main forms: powder and crystal. The crystal rock form, known as crack or freebase, has not been neutralized by an acid. Crack cocaine appeared in the mid-’80’s and became an instant “hit” among the poor and young, thanks to its relatively inexpensive street price and quick euphoric effects.
The average street price for a gram of pure cocaine in the States is between $80 and $100. The average price for a rock of crack cocaine is $10 to $25.
Cocaine produces euphoria by activating the nerve cells in the brain that release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and alertness. The drug then prevents neural transporters from “cleaning up” the dopamine and storing it for a later time.
Cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal drug in the United States after marijuana. However, cocaine causes three times more deaths than any other illegal drug.
Pure cocaine was first extracted from coca plant leaves in 1859 and was marketed in a fortified wine in France as early as 1863. It was first used in the U.S. in the 1880’s, where it was used as an anesthetic during eye, nose, and throat surgeries. It became obsolete once other drugs were identified as safer anesthetics. In 1884, William Stewart Halsted, a famous American physician, performed the first surgery using cocaine as an anesthetic. Halsted later became the first cocaine-addicted doctor on record.
Worldwide, cocaine use has been reported in more than two-thirds of all countries. The U.S. has the highest incidence of cocaine abuse, with New Zealand, Mexico, and Colombia right behind it. The lowest rates of cocaine use are found in Asia.
Cocaine users are more prone to being antisocial, depressed, anxious, and using multiple substances than the general population. To get a better idea, the vast majority of cocaine-related deaths are caused by homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents as a result of its mind-altering properties.
Men tend to feel the effects of cocaine faster than women and report more episodes of euphoria and dysphoria (intense bad feelings) than women do.
Sigmund Freud was one of the more famous proponents of cocaine. After trying the drug in 1884, he recommended it as a treatment for depression, alcoholism, and morphine addiction. Furthermore, the famous detective Sherlock Holmes was supposedly addicted to cocaine too. Conan Doyle often describes him as indulging in it whenever there was a lack of stimulating cases to fire his mind.
Coca-Cola originally had an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per serving, which, combined with the caffeine in the soda, created its stimulating effects. Although cocaine was removed from the drink in 1903, a cocaine-free version of the coca leaf is still used as a flavor additive. What's even more shocking, trace amounts of cocaine can be also found on four out of every five dollar bills in circulation. However, because cocaine is a fine powder and easily spreadable, presence of the drug does not necessarily mean the bill was used to snort it.