All You Need to Know About Cocaine
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug with a white powdery characteristic that produces a euphoric effect especially when snorted or injected by a person. Otherwise known as benzoylmethylecgonine, cocaine is the second most commonly abused drugs next to marijuana. Because of its direct effect to the brain, kids are easily lured to try and get addicted to the drug.
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that comes from the plant known as "coca" which commonly found in Peru and Bolivia. Along the streets, this type of drug is generally sold as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. Some dealers even dilute the drug with some inert substance such as cornstarch, talcum powder, sugar, and other active drugs like the local anesthetic known as rocaine and other stimulants like amphetamines. To detect cocaine in the body a drug testing may be administered through cocaine detection.
History of Cocaine
Cocaine became popular in the 1980s and the 1990s as a medicine to treat a wide variety of diseases. It was also used as cough tinctures, painkillers, and mood brighteners. Most of the laborers in high mountains of South America ingest coca leaves to boost up energy and add more oxygen to women when they give birth. South American tribes also chew coca leaf to survive hunger and thirst.
Later on, people have discovered some ways to maximize the effects of cocaine and induced more euphoric effect. Coke has become an ingredient in some wine and drinks. People learned to smoke crack and enjoy its instant effect for a couple of minutes. By then Coca- cola was first introduced by John Pemberton, containing 60 mg of cocaine and a certain amount of caffeine.
However its dangerous effects to health that have been later on discovered by people abusing cocaine have urged the government to ban its use. Crime rate also rose, hence; legislators added cocaine to the list of the most dangerous and prohibited drugs.
Today, cocaine is considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse as controlled substance, Schedule II.
Forms of Cocaine
The cocaine's white color can be compared to that of a pearl. When they are sold in the streets, they are treated with some other chemicals to enhance euphoric effect, maximize its weight, or simply mimic the drug's numbing effect. By this, dealers usually mixed with baking soda, sugars such as lactose, dextrose, inositol, and mannitol including local anesthetics like lidocaine and benzocaine.
There are basically four forms of cocaine that is commonly abused by adults and youngsters today. Depending on its form and the route of administration, its effect can vary in terms of swiftness and duration.
- Hydrochloric Salt - The hydrochloride salt is the result of cocaine that has already been pulverized to form a white powder that is also soluble in water. It basically has a bitter and numbing taste which is either snorted or injected intravenously. Its absorption is around 20 -30 percent and is considered to be relatively poor.
- Basic - Basic cocaine or freebase cocaine is the base of all cocaine forms which is not yet neutralized to form a powder. Unlike, the hydrochloride salt, freebase cocaine is indissoluble in water and is commonly smoked when abuse. Smoking freebase cocaine releases methylegonidine, a metabolite that is used to detect recent abuse of the drug that is not present in the hydrochloric salt. This metabolite along with ecgonidine stays in the body for 18 to 21 minutes, however; what abusers do not about it is its adverse effects health especially to the circulatory system, heart, lungs, and liver.
- Crack - Crack is lower purity form of free base cocaine that is considered to be the most addictive form of cocaine. Its color may vary depending on several factors and origin of how the cocaine is used, but the purer forms of crack has an off-white color which appears like candle wax with jagged edges. Through the neutralization of the hydrochloride salt they can turn from off white to brownish color. Along the streets, crack is also known as rock, hard, iron, or cavy.
Like freebase cocaine it is also smoked when abuse. Together with water, ammonia, and sodium bicarbonate, they are all heated together while the smoke that comes from the vapor is inhaled. Boiling the mixture basically produced a crackling sound to which crack got its name. Smoking crack makes a person feel high in just 10 seconds but this effect can only last for 10 to 15 minutes.
According to studies, crack directly affects the central nervous system and creates an intense stimulating effect which causes 95 percent of people who try to use for the first to get addicted to it.
- Coca Leaf Infusion - This form of cocaine basically comes from the natural leaf of the coca plant which are then mixed into some drinks or made into a tea such as the popular tisane of Peru for maté de coca, a tea made from coca leaves. To form the tea, the cut leaves of the coca plant are put into a tea bag and are dipped into a hot water. This method form of cocaine is popular to the mountaineers of Andes, as a remedy for altitude sickness and has been used by many people in Peru as a mood brightener and stress reliever.
Coca leaves consumption has long existed in times of Inca elites. Today, it is also sold in various supermarkets in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador as a medicine to boost up energy and endure a long day of work without eating.
Uses of Cocaine
Medical Use of Cocaine
In history, cocaine is basically used as medicine to several illnesses and diseases like cough, fever, and diarrhea until it was found to have several side effects. In fact, in 1914, the drug was used the United States to treat sinusitis, hay fever, depression, and chronic fatigue, as well as a remedy to suppress the appetite.
Despite its consideration as the second most widely abused and highly addictive drug, cocaine is still used by many medical practices but with doctors- supervision. For instance, in Europe healthcare professional have continuously used cocaine as a local anesthetic and vasoconstrictor because of its numbing effects.
Medical doctors usually use it to numb the mouth, nose, and throat a certain medical procedure such as wound cleaning, stitching, and biopsy procedures. Cocaine immediately numbs the area on which it has been applied to in as fast as two minutes. It basically narrows the blood vessels which then hinder heavy bleeding and inflammations.
Cocaine adulterants are some medicinal drugs that have some mixture or components of cocaine. In this case, cocaine is diluted through some cutting agents in form some other illicit drugs that can also be used medically, and are less expensive compared to the drug itself. These medicines, however; are considered to be prescription medicines that cannot easily be bought from pharmacies without doctor's prescription.
The following are some examples of cocaine adulterant:
Analgesics are medicinal drugs that are basically used to treat mild to severe pain. They include paracetamols, anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids such morphine and opium. Analgesic only kills the pain but do not completely lose the sensation, unlike anesthetics. An example of analgesic is Quinine, a natural white alkaline crystalloid which has been synthesized in the lab as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug. In the, 1940s Quinine was used to treat malaria.
Anesthetics are medicinal drug that are either applied on skin or administered intravenously before any medication or surgery in order to numb the sensation and hinder the person from feeling pain. An example of local anesthetic is the benzocaine which is commonly used in many over-the- counter drugs like Anabesol ointment which is used to relieve stomach pain caused by ulcer.
Different Routes of Administration
The routes of administration describe people abuse cocaine or use cocaine in order to benefit from its short time intense effects. Cocaine's reaction to the body basically depends on how it absorbed by the body. Cocaine drug testing also depends on the way it is administered, to detect its metabolite usually through urine, hair follicle, and saliva sample.
The following are five known routes of administration on how cocaine is abused by adults and teens.
- Snorting - This is the process of inhaling cocaine powder as for hydrochloric salt. Snorting is basically done by groups. They place a long line of cocaine powder on smooth surface and sniff it together using a coil made of tissue paper or aluminum foil. The group repeats the same ritual for a few minutes until all cocaine powder are consumed. When cocaine enters into the bloodstream that is when the group starts to feel its euphoric effect.
- Injecting - Injecting cocaine is very common with the substance known as "speedball", a mixture made of cocaine and heroin. Abusers directly inject the drugs into the veins to create a rapid effect just like smoking. The faster cocaine gets into the bloodstream, the faster it sends messages to the brain to create the euphoric effect. During the first few minutes of cocaine injection, a person may hear a ringing in the ear and may experience some audio distortion. The effects of injecting cocaine, however; can last to 15 minutes and beyond.
- Smoking - Smoking cocaine is usually done with crack. This basically done by heating crack together with ammonia, sodium bicarbonate, and water. When the mixture boils, the person inhales the vapor that comes out from it. The addictive smoke travels to the bloodstream through the nasal tissues and stimulates the brain to create the euphoric effect.
- Parachuting - Parachuting involves directly swallowing the cocaine powder through a roll of tissue paper. In this instance, the person unswervingly sends the cocaine into the stomach for ingestion. After a few minutes, the person immediately feels an intense feeling of happiness and relaxation.
- Suppository - This route of administration is also known as plugging wherein a certain dose of cocaine is dissolve into the water and is inserted through the anus or vagina via syringe. Through the lining walls of the rectum and vagina, cocaine may be taken to the bloodstream. However, because of cultural taboos, this method is yet being discussed and is rarely used.
Effect of Cocaine Abuse
The effects of cocaine can be divided into two categories, short term effects and long term effects. During the first few of minutes of abusing cocaine, a person may feel a variety of pleasurable feelings. That includes intense happiness or a sudden burst of euphoria that makes a person even more talkative, witty, and confident.
However, while cocaine is an addictive substance, a person who has tried cocaine for several days may not be able to stop it immediately and becomes addicted to it. The downside of cocaine abuse is its long term effects to the overall health of the person, which is mainly cause by longer association of cocaine. Likewise, withdrawing from cocaine may also cause severe withdrawal symptoms; one of them is craving for the same drugs which lure the person to go back to addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse
There are many signs that immediately show after a person abuses cocaine. These signs can actually become bases for a person to be subject to a drug testing. The following are the primary indicators that a person may be abusing drugs.
- Termination of job or job loss due to irresponsible time management and poor customer relations
- Red and bloodshot eyes
- Pupils are wide open or dilated
- Debt and money problems
- Frequent tardiness and low job/school performance
- Failing grades as for students
- Frequent family issues
- Relationship problems with the opposite sex, colleges, and friends
- Violent behavior that may lead to criminal and sexual behavior
The following are symptoms of abusing cocaine:
- Frequent mood swings
- Nose bleeds/ nasal infections
- Anxiety attacks
- Irregular heart beat
- Shallow breathing
- Nausea / vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Severe sweating even without getting into too much activity the whole day
- Rapid breathing
- Twitching and seizures
- Chest pains
Adverse Effects of Cocaine on Health
Cocaine has the most dangerous effect to health. Longer association with cocaine can actually damage blood vessels which mainly affects the circulatory system. When a person uses cocaine too much, he may develop heart problems that may lead to stoke, heart attack, and worst is death.
The spread of HIV can also be blamed to cocaine abuse. The drugs also cause severe mental disorientation and brain damage which may lead to a variety of psychological disorders.
- Spread of HIV and Hepatitis A & B
Injecting cocaine is one of the routes of administration that is noted to be very risky in terms of HIV and other blood-borne disease transmission. When an HIV-infected person shares a needle with the group, the whole group may be infected of the same disease in the coming days. Snorting and smoking cocaine can also be at risk for HIV when the coils smoked by individuals are shared.
- Brain Damage
Cocaine disrupts normal communications in the brain as it stimulates the nervous system to increase the levels of dopamine production. Dopamine plays a significant role in the brain cells functions, however; instead of allowing it to recycle itself, cocaine produces more and more dopamine to react with neurotransmitters in order to create the euphoric effect. This instance that happens inside the brain during cocaine abuse will cause long term changes to the brain functions. Aside from addiction, this will cause psychological damage that will cause hallucinations, insomnia, paranoia, and troubles in sleeping. In the long run, a person may suffer from severe mental illness.
Cocaine Addiction Facts
According to research teenagers are more prone to cocaine addiction. A survey done in schools show that 12 to 17 years old teenagers have been exposed to cocaine in the past month before the survey was administered. Youth usually abuse cocaine with other drugs, which is referred to as polydrug use.
Polydrug use happens when abusers combine two or more drugs such as using cocaine while drinking alcohol. What kids did not know about it is the danger of mixing two drugs together. Research has shown, that consuming two or more drugs all at once, will produce a substance in the liver known as cocaethylene. This substance make poly drug use a very risky action. In fact, these have caused many deaths than cocaine alone.
Despite the persistence and prevalence of drug abuse in the western countries, drug testing show that the number of youngsters and adults abusing cocaine have relatively decreased in number. According to records, there is a significant drop of cocaine abuse in the recent years from 7.2 percent to 6.0 among adults and youths.
A lot of youth that exhibit unusual habits and behavioral changes have been found positive through cocaine drug screening. These changes brought by abusing cocaine have actually pushed the government to prohibit the use of cocaine. Today cocaine is classified as a class A and is Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. By this, the production and distribution of cocaine drug is strictly restricted by the government. In most countries, the law is regulated by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the United Nations Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs. In the United States, the control of cocaine production is regulated by the 1970 Controlled Substance Act.
Because of its effects to people, cocaine is considered to be a hard drug. People who are caught to be trafficking cocaine will face some penalties. Younger people and adults who are caught to be positive in cocaine drug testing will hold varying liabilities. Despite this, demands for cocaine are very high in the black market. Coca leaves and other cocaine products are usually sold at $100 per tons.
In the past years cocaine has been very helpful in treating many kinds of diseases. But because of its euphoric effect, nowadays, cocaine is very popular as a recreational drug or club drug which youth commonly abused during parties and night outs. The furtive sale of cocaine in the United Sates is very common in poorer inner-city market. When cracked was introduced, cocaine used among youth even surged, which then marked a significant height of use in the early 2000s. By then, crack also became very popular in UK and then in Australia.
Europe has the second largest consumption of cocaine next to United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. According to research, there are approximately 12 million Europeans who are abusing cocaine. Young adult abusers who are found to be abusing cocaine accounted 87.5 percent while 0.5 percent has used cocaine in the last month.
United States is considered to be the second largest number of cocaine consumption. According to research, 1 out of 4 Americans between the age of 16 and 34 used cocaine in their lifetime. Youth, however, accounts the most number of abusers on which 8.2 percent are reported to have experienced abusing cocaine in the past years. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), more than 3.7 million Americans have been abusing cocaine in the past years; 1.7 percent of which are age 12 years and above. Just in 2001, many African- American has been convicted for cocaine abuse.
Drug Testing on Cocaine
Drug testing on cocaine is basically administered through the use of cocaine testing kits. There are three basic ways to know whether or not a person has abused cocaine: urine testing, hair follicle test, and the saliva test.
Cocaine drug testing basically tests for the cocaine metabolites which are absorbed in the blood stream in order to confirm a diagnosis of poisoning or assist a forensic investigation. The interpretation of cocaine drug test result, however; needs a careful interpretation since inhalation of cocaine can be passive or cocaine.
New Federal Cut-off level
Confirming cocaine positivity through the drug testing kits follows the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guidelines for the new federal cut off of drug metabolites in the body. As of October 2010, the new federal cut off for cocaine initial test is 150 ng/ml while the confirmatory test should be 100 ng/ml.
Passive inhalation of Cocaine
Passive inhalation of cocaine may be obtained when the subject happens to inhale cocaine smoke from a primary source or a group of addicts who are smoking cocaine. This can result to false positive result that is why interpretation of cocaine drug test result needs to be done very cautiously.
Some lawyers use this as a defense to save subjects from further sentences and penalties. The penalties for passive inhalation are generally lighter than active inhalation.
Dermal absorption happens when drugs are absorbed by the skin through the bloodstream via the cell membranes. In a study done by Baselt, dermal absorption can alter the results of cocaine drug testing kits. In his study, a 5-mg dose of cocaine applied to skin actually resulted to 55 ng/ml in the drug testing administered after 48 hours.
In another study by Elsohly, the subject holding a paper bill which was previously immersed in to 75 percent of cocaine hydrochloride, produced low levels of cocaine metabolites during the drug test.