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Cocaine, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1424

Essay

Definition

Cocaine also known scientifically as Benzoylmethyl ecogine (C17H21N04) is a white, odorless and crystal-like substance that is used in medicine as a local anesthetic for eyes, throat and nose. It is also extensively used as an illegal drug due to its euphoric and stimulating effects. There are two forms of cocaine known to man (Connolly, 2008). The first type is the original cocaine, which is usually in powder form, and the second type is known as crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is a solid form of freebased cocaine, which snaps and cracks when heated and smoked. This form of cocaine is prepared from the chemical removal of hydrochloride present in the drug. Through the removal of the hydrochloride component present in cocaine via the process of freebasing, the freebased drug becomes more potent than the original cocaine.

History of cocaine

The history of cocaine dates back to the year 1855 when it was first synthesized and used in the medical world. During the 1880s, a world famous psychologist named Sigmund Freud became the first documented authority and promoter for this drug. Freud broadly promoted and advocated the use of cocaine as a useful and safe tonic, which could cure sexual impotence and depression. The drug became more acceptable especially in the year 1886, after “John Pemberton included cocaine as one of the main ingredients in his new soft drink called Coca Cola.” Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which is identified as a native plant in the South America’s high mountain ranges.

The natives of this region used coca leaves as stimulants since they would experience effects such as increased breathing, which increased the level of oxygen intake. These effects afforded native laborers in the region the stamina to work and perform on their duties in the high attitudes with thin air. Additionally, the native South Americans used to chew these leaves for both religious and social occasions. The spread of civilization and cultivation turned cocaine into a profitable and recreational drug.  As time passed by, science figured a way of maximizing the strength and effects of the drug contained in the coca leaves. Although the initial creation, of cocaine involved chemical synthesis of coca leaves, in order, to obtain white crystal powder, modern methods, which magnify the euphoric effect of the drug, were invented and this led to the creation of the most addictive and potent form on cocaine named crack cocaine (Karch, 2006).

Uses of cocaine

Although cocaine is categorized as one of the hard drugs and its usage declared illegal in most countries, cocaine has a number of legitimate medical uses. These legitimate uses exacerbate the problems of controlling this substance of abuse. As stated earlier, this drug is used as a topical anesthetic during eye, ear, nose and throat surgeries. However, its anesthetic use has diminished in recent times as it has been replaced with other local anesthetics that provide a stimulus that lacks addictive potential.

It is also used in making a concoction named Brompton’s Cocktail that is given to cancer patients during their treatment. Brompton’s Cocktail is a mixture of cocaine, morphine, vodka and cherry syrup. The concoction is prepared so as to kill the pain experienced by cancer patients. Shannon (2010, pg 137) argues that, cocaine is used as a potent vasoconstrictor. This means it constricts the blood vessels found in the injected area of the eye or nose. The vasoconstriction aids in reducing bleeding and the systematic circulation of cocaine in particular organs such as the heart.

Methods of administering cocaine

Cooper (2002, pg. 4-6) identifies the several methods involved in administering cocaine. Snorting or sniffing, injection and smoking have been identified as the main routes of administration. Snorting involves the process of inhaling cocaine powder via the nose where it becomes absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. On the other hand, smoking involves the inhalation of cocaine smoke or powder into the lungs where the process of absorption into the bloodstream happens in a rapid manner.

Injection involves the act of using the needle of a syringe to release the drug directly through blood vessels into the bloodstream. Other methods include rubbing the powder onto the gums and in other cases the genitals of the user. A study done on the common effects of the drug on users once they became intoxicated revealed effects of hypersensitivity, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, decreased appetite, sexual arousal and a false sense of invisibility. Heavy use of the drug induces agitation, paranoia, impotence, nausea, violent behavior, stroke, seizure or heart attacks on users.

Cocaine addiction

According to the National institute on Drug Abuse (2011), approximately 15 to 19.3 million people use cocaine at least once in a year. This estimate is equivalent to 0.3 to 0.4% of the world’s population. Almost all of the users are addicts of cocaine. Cocaine is known to be one of the powerfully addictive drugs of abuse besides heroin and marijuana. Once an individual tries to use it, it becomes impossible for them to predict or control the extent to which they would continue to use the drug. Many individuals become addicts of this drug since its effects tend to be immediate, extremely pleasurable and brief. Both powdered cocaine and crack cocaine produce a short lived euphoria intense, which makes users feel more energetic. Just like caffeine, this drug produces wakefulness and reduces the feeling of hunger.

The psychological effects of cocaine include feelings of well being, grandiose sense of ability and power mixed with restlessness and anxiety. As the drug begins to wear off, the temporary sensation of mastery is replaced by an intense depression that leads to the ‘crashing’ of the drug user. The user then becomes lethargic and typically sleeps for several days. Since the duration of intoxication is rapid and lasts for 20 to 40 minutes, users will tend to use the drug as often as possible so as to be intoxicated for a longer period. In addition, since crashing occurs in an equally rapid manner with a lingering depression, users would often go back to use the drug as a way of dealing with the depression. in simple terms, cocaine addiction is psychological in nature and the addiction is fuelled by the depression experienced after the crash (Jenab, 2007).

Effects of long-term use of cocaine

The first effect associated with cocaine use is addiction due to its highly addictive nature. Researchers have found that cocaine use aggravates violence, confusion, memory loss, apathy, compulsive behaviour and concentration problems. With such psychological effects, cocaine users often lose their jobs, families and friends. Their involvement with the drug is all consuming and leaves little room for loyalties for anyone or anything. Although cocaine is not expensive, it still requires a considerable cash flow to support addiction.

Addicts commonly take up stealing so as to support the habit. Cocaine users also experience physical effects of fatigue and fevers. The side effects of using cocaine include the paralysis of the hair like structures in the nose making users susceptible to stuffiness and bacterial infections. They also experience respiratory problems among other problems such as insomnia, abdominal pains, dental erosion, malnutrition and the development of cocaine psychosis (Hafen & Soulier, 2009). Most of cocaine users often suffer and die from various illness because the destruction of the body’s defense mechanism.

Conclusion

Since cocaine is identified as one of the most addictive drugs with extremely severe effects, people should think twice before using it. Cocaine abuse is one of the complex problems thought to result from hereditary, psychological and environmental factors. Most countries prohibit its use due to the negative effects associated with it and the loss it brings to users and the society. Through increased educational campaigns and advertisement, the society might win in the fight against cocaine abuse.

References

Connolly, S. (2008). Cocaine. Collingwood, ON Canada: Saunders.

Cooper, E. F. (2002). The emergence of crack cocaine abuse. New York, N.Y.: Novinka Books.

Drug Information | Cocaine Today. (n.d.). Narconon | Drug Rehabilitation | Drug Education. Retrieved September 21, 2012, from http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/cocaine-today.html

Hafen, B. Q., & Soulier, D. (2009). Cocaine and crack (Rev. ed.). Center City, MN: Hazelden Educational Materials.

Holly, J. (2009). Pharmacology. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Jenab, V. (2007). The biological basis of cocaine addiction. New York: New York Academy of Sciences.

Karch, S. B. (2006). A brief history of cocaine: from Inca monarchs to Cali cartels: 500 years of  cocaine dealing (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: CRC/Taylor & Francis.

Shannon, J. B. (2010). Drug abuse sourcebook: basic consumer health information about the abuse of cocaine, club drugs, hallucinogens, heroin, inhalants, marijuana, and other illicit substances, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medicines … (3rd ed.). Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.

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