Athletes and Drugs.

Essay by kjv0876College, UndergraduateA+, November 2005

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Drugs have been a problem in our society for many years. They have been used and abused by many groups, including professional athletes. It is certainly quite common to hear about or read about athletes and drug use. Although drugs have a lengthy history of use by athletes, they have varied effects on the body and different preventions.

Much of the world's supply of cocaine is produced in South America. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Incas of Peru chewed coca leaves because they made it possible for them to work in the high mountains of the land for longer periods of time. In the 1880's Bolivian soldiers were given the drug to help them gain endurance and overcome fatigue. One hundred years later as many as 90 percent of the natives of the Andes Mountains in Peru regularly chewed coca leaves. It wasn't until the early years of the 20th century that cocaine increased in popularity among athletes ("Coca").

Cocaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid, extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. It is an excellent local anesthetic and a widely abused illicit drug. Cocaine is an odorless, white powder. The many street names of cocaine include "coke," "snow," "lady," and "gold dust." Street cocaine consists of cocaine hydrochloride that is mixed or "cut" with a number of other white, powdery substances. These include procaine and lidocaine, sugars like lactose and dextrose, stimulants such as dexedrine and caffeine, and other substances including cornstarch, talcum powder, and flour. Street cocaine today contains only 12 to 50 percent cocaine hydrochloride. About 100,000 pounds of cocaine are brought into this county each year. Eighty thousand tons of coca leaf will eventually produce about 200 tons of cocaine("Coca").

Marijuana was first smoked as a medicine as early as 2737 B.C.E. in China.