Cocaine & Crack
3- Cocaine & Crack
What are Cocaine & Crack
- Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca shrub, which grows in the mountainous regions of South America in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. Cocaine was first extracted from the leaves in 1855 and by the 1870s it was a popular stimulant and tonic and used in a range of patent medicines for all sorts of ailments. In those days, doctors also used cocaine as a local anaesthetic for eye surgery and in dentistry.
- In Britain and America the most common form of cocaine is as a white crystalline powder. Most users sniff it up the nose, often through a rolled banknote or straw, but it also sometimes made into a solution and injected.
- Crack is a smoke able form of cocaine made into small lumps or ’rocks’. It is usually smoked in a pipe, glass tube, plastic bottle or in foil. It gets its name from the cracking sound it makes when being burnt. It can also be prepared for injection which is known as freebasing.
- Cocaine and crack are strong, but short acting, stimulant drugs. Crack in particular has strong but short-lived effects. Crack, like heroin, still remains a relatively uncommon drug among the general population. General prevalence figures show that crack use is still very rare with only 0.1% of 16-59 year olds reporting having used it in Western countries. Crack is also the only drug more prevalent among black people, particularly young black men, than whites or other ethnicities. Use of crack, unlike cocaine, is often localized and linked with social exclusion and deprivation in inner city areas.
Effects & Risks of cocaine and crack
- Cocaine and crack are strong but short acting stimulant drugs. They tend to make users feel more alert and energetic. Many users say they feel very confident and physically strong and believe they have great mental capacities.
- Common physical effects include dry mouth, sweating, loss of appetite and increased heart and pulse rate. At higher dose levels users may feel very anxious and panicky. The effects from snorting cocaine start quickly but only last for up to 30 minutes without repeating the dose. The effects come on even quicker when smoking crack but are even shorter lived. Large doses or quickly repeating doses over a period of hours can lead to extreme anxiety, paranoia and even hallucinations. These effects usually disappear as the drug is eliminated from the body. The after-effects of cocaine and crack use may include fatigue and depression as people come down from the high. Excessive doses can cause death from respiratory or heart failure.
- Cocaine may be adulterated with other substances and this may make it particularly dangerous to inject. There is some debate as to whether tolerance or withdrawal symptoms occur with regular use of cocaine or crack. While it is true cocaine and crack do not have the same severity of physical addiction as heroin, they are addictive drugs with sever psychological symptoms. Once the disease of addiction has developed, the body of a cocaine or crack user will become very tolerant to the drug, needing it in order to function normally. As with any other forms of addiction, it is very difficult for the addict to try and control their intake or stop it based on their will power alone and outside help is needed.
- As far as crack is concerned, claims have been made that, unlike cocaine, it is instantly addictive. Crack appears to induce an intense craving in some users, leading them to want to use more often which in turn increases the likelihood of the development of the disease of addiction.
- Crack causes a short-lived, intense high that is immediately followed by the opposite—intense depression, edginess and a craving for more of the drug. People who use it often don’t eat or sleep properly. They can experience greatly increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions. Crack can make people feel paranoid, angry, hostile and anxious—even when they aren’t high.
- Regardless of how much cocaine or crack is used or how frequently, both these drugs increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory failure, any of which can result in sudden death.
- Smoking crack further presents a series of health risks. Crack is often mixed with other substances that create toxic fumes when burned. As crack smoke does not remain potent for long, crack pipes are generally very short. This often causes cracked and blistered lips, known as “crack lip,” from users having a very hot pipe, pressed against their lips. In addition to the usual risks associated with cocaine use, crack users may experience worse respiratory problems, including coughing, shortness of breath, lung damage and bleeding.
- Long-term effects from use of cocaine or crack include severe damage to the heart, liver and kidneys and users are more likely to have infectious diseases. Continued daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite, resulting in malnutrition. Smoking crack can also cause aggressive and paranoid behavior. As both cocaine and crack interfere with the way the brain processes chemicals, the user needs more and more of the drug just to feel “normal.” Those who become addicted to cocaine or crack (as with most other drugs) lose interest in other areas of life. Coming down from the drug causes severe depression, which becomes deeper and deeper after each use. This can get so severe that a person will do almost anything to get their drug, even commit murder. In addition risk of sever depression due to unavailability of the drug, can lead cocaine or crack addict to suicide.