Cocaine, Crack Cocaine
Category: central nervous system stimulant
- Cocaine comes as a fine white powder with a numbing and bitter taste. It is extracted and refined from the leaves of the coca plant, grown primarily in the Andean region of South America.
- Crack is obtained by heating cocaine with sodium bicarbonate and water, leaving little white rocks when dry. It is usually smoked. Its effects occur much quicker and are more intense than with cocaine, but wear off faster as well, making dependence more likely.
- When sniffed, maximum blood concentration (the peak) is reached after 10 to 30 minutes; when smoked 5 to 10 minutes, and below 10 minutes when injected.
- The powder sold on the streets usually contains only 3-35% pure cocaine! It can contain other ingredients, such as sulfuric acid, sugar, baby powder, household cleaners, drugs and toxic substances that can be dangerous and result in unexpected side effects, even hospitalization or death.
*Reactions and experiences may vary dramatically from person to person.*
Effects on brain:
- Blocks reuptake of neurotransmitters (dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin) in many parts of the brain, so there is a lot more of these neurotransmitters than your brain is used to. Your brain becomes flooded with these three “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
- The neurons adapt to this flood of neurotransmitters by increasing the amount of receptors for these 3 neurotransmitters. After regular use, when cocaine is not in the system, the brain does not produce enough of these neurotransmitters to satisfy these new receptors, resulting in physical dependence.
Effects on body:
- Possible short term effects include increased energy and performance, increased blood pressure, anxiety, breathing difficulties, dry mouth, dilation of pupils, shaking and reduced appetite.
- When cocaine is mixed with alcohol, a third substance (cocaethylene) is produced. This substance increases the euphoric effect of cocaine, but also increases the risk of sudden death.
- Possible long term effects include high blood pressure, heart irregularities, stroke, seizure, sexual dysfunction.
- Sharing equipment (straws, syringes, spoons, pipes etc) can result in transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B and C and other viruses and bacteria.
- Regular and repeated injection can cause abscesses, collapsed veins, infections and other complications. Regular smoking can cause chest pain and breathing difficulties. Regular and repeated snorting can cause serious damage to the nose such as a chapped, runny nose, sinus infections, nose bleeds and developing a hole in the cartilage wall between nostrils.
- Because cocaine can contain many substances other than pure cocaine (cornstarch, talcum powder, chemicals) there can be serious damage to arteries. Research shows that blood flows on the brain instead of in the arteries. This leads to a lack of oxygen to parts of the brain, inducing loss of mental abilities (making simple math tasks difficult). These changes appear to be permanent.
- Smoking crack can deteriorate the health and appearance of the teeth and skin.
Effects on behavior:
- Possible short term effects include euphoria, heightened self-esteem, and talkativeness.
- Possible long-term effects include depression, anxiety, paranoia, violence, restlessness and preoccupation with craving or getting the next hit.
Addiction: Strong physical and psychological addiction can occur with regular use.
Tolerance: Tolerance to cocaine and crack is built up very quickly, which means that bigger and bigger doses are needed to achieve the same desired effect.
Withdrawal Symptoms: Can include nausea, vomiting, depression, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, shivering, rage.
Quitting cocaine: The best proven ways to make the process easier is therapy intended to change the lifestyle and personality.
*Disclaimer! Nothing you do can make using cocaine or crack completely safe. All drug use has inherent risks and dangers. The suggestions in this section can only help you reduce some of the associated risks. The best way to avoid the harms related to drug use is to not take the drug at all.*
- Cocaine and crack are illegal, therefore if you are caught possessing, exchanging, buying or selling these drugs it can result in criminal charges.
- Drug use affects the developing mind and body differently than developed ones. Waiting until your mind and body have more fully developed before using substances can have long term health and mental benefits.
- Inappropriate, unknown or toxic substances may be added to the drug and may cause unpredictable effects or even be extremely dangerous and cause death. Do what you can to get the drug from a reliable source.
- Cocaine and crack are very fast acting, usage can easily be exaggerated. Take time between hits to assess your situation before deciding whether to take more or not.
- Avoid sharing equipment (straws, syringes, spoons) since this could lead to transmission of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
- When injecting, use new, clean syringes and equipment. Prepare your shot on a clean surface. Clean the area you are planning to inject with soap and water or an alcohol pad. You can get clean injection supplies from a syringe exchange, a pharmacy, or your local health department. If you can’t get new needles, try smoking or snorting instead.
- Cleaning needles and works is not risk-free; it’s a last resort. Rinse with cool water 3 times, bleach for 30 seconds, then clean water 3 times.
- Use a clean pyrex pipe and a screen for smoking crack to reduce toxins and damage to your lungs. Avoid sharing crack pipes since this could lead to transmission of HIV, Hep B and C.
- When cocaine is mixed with alcohol, a third substance (cocaethylene) is produced. This substance increases the euphoric effect of cocaine. It is more toxic for the liver, is associated with seizures and compromised functioning of immune system. It also increases the risk of sudden death. Avoid taking other substances while using cocaine or crack as you can’t be sure how your body will react to the combination or how the drugs will react to each other.
- Don’t rack up your lines on unclean surfaces (sinks, toilets, etc.) because you might snort germs and viruses along with the cocaine.
- Snorting can cause infections and damage the inside of your nose. A nasal douche of lukewarm salt water can help reduce the risk of infection and also help minimize the damage done by snorting.
- Cocaine can be detected in the urine anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days, depending on your use.
- Know the signs of overdose (agitation, hostility, convulsions, high body temperature, stroke, heart attack) and call 911 if they appear. Tell the paramedics what drug(s) were used.