What you need to know about Cocaine

Another member of the stimulant family, the drug cocaine has been extremely popular throughout the United States over the last thirty years and continues to be popular on a global scale.  Cocaine is a concentrated drug that originates from the coca plant, of which generally grows around regions along the equator and Southern Hemisphere.  Cocaine's origins are ancient and stem from one of the most potent and dangerous naturally occurring compounds on the planet. 


Over 3,000 years ago Incas in the Andes mountains chewed coca leaves in an effort to counter the effects of living at high elevations.  Cocaine itself was first isolated by a German scientist named Albert Niemann in 1859 and in 1884, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud published an article entitled "Uber Coca" (About Coke), promoting the benefits of cocaine, referring to it as a, "magical substance."  It wasn't long before cocaine use was widely accepted throughout the medical world during the turn of the 20th century - even the popular soft drink Coca Cola included small amounts of cocaine in its original formula. 


Cocaine generally comes in powder form, is white in color, and is generally snorted or smoked.  Crack cocaine is another more concentrated, more potent version of cocaine and it is generally smoked versus snorted - crack cocaine resembles shiny white rocks that "crack" when burned, hence the name.  Cocaine addiction can occur very quickly, and like methamphetamines, can completely take over a person's entire life.  Cocaine also affects the levels of dopamine in the brain, much like meth.  Once cocaine has crossed the blood-brain barrier, its effects occur quickly, resulting in the user experiencing a feeling of pronounced wellbeing, happiness, over-overconfidence, focus, and a marked increase in mental alertness or feelings of being "awake". 


The negative consequences of cocaine abuse are similar to those of meth - weight loss, anxiety, paranoia, memory and cognitive problems, and an increased potential for heart attack or stroke.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths related to cocaine use has increased 42.4% from 12,122 in 2015, to 17,258 in 2016.  As with methamphetamine addictions, getting professional help can often mean the difference between a successful attempt at sobriety, or not.