Mental Health and Illness
Dated:-April 6, 2004
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Pure cocaine was first extracted from the Erythroxylon coca bush's leaves (found in Peru and Bolivia) in the mid 1800s. In the early 1900s it became the chief stimulant drug used in tonics/elixirs to treat many illnesses. It rapidly became popular as an ingredient in throat lozenges, tonics, etc. and other products (e.g. Coca Cola, from which it was later eliminated). However, the public soon became apprehensive about cocaine because of the instances of addiction, psychotic behavior, seizures and even death related to cocaine use. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was approved, as well as the Harrison Act of 1914 (which outlawed the use of cocaine and opiates in over-the-counter products; the drugs were made available only by prescription). Cocaine use soon dropped dramatically and remained at minimal levels for nearly 50 years.
Today, cocaine is a Schedule II drug, so it has high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as a local anesthetic for certain eye, ear and throat surgeries.
Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder. It is known as "coke", "C", "snow", "flake", or "blow". Street dealers dilute it with cornstarch, talcum powder, and/or sugar, or with procaine (a chemically-similar local anesthetic) or with amphetamines.
The chief methods of abuse are sniffing, snorting, injecting and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). "Crack" is the street name for cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking.
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of dopamine, the neurotransmitter of pleasure and...