What is cocaine?
Cocaine (C17H21NO4) is a powerfully addictive, psychoactive, stimulant drug. On the street it is usually sold as a fine, white powder. The powdered, hydrochloride salt form can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Use in any form is illegal in the U.S. when used as recreational drug.
Freebase is cocaine hydrochloride that is made with ammonia and under goes heating to remove the hydrochloride salt. This ‘freebase’ form is not water-soluble; the powder under goes heating and its vapors brings smokes due to the lower melting point. Crack cocaine (“crack”) is another form through processes into a rock form using baking soda . The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound when it is heated prior to smoking. Crack abuse in the U.S. rose in the mid-1980’s and is the most addictive form of the drug.
How is cocaine used medically?
It is available in the U.S. as a prescription solution for local mucosal anesthesia, and for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries, but is infrequently used because of safer alternatives, such as lidocaine or benzocaine. In the U.S. cocaine for is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a physician for legitimate medical uses.
Methods of cocaine abuse
- snorting up the nose
- rubbing onto the mucous membranes.
The effect, or ‘high’ with snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, but does not occur as quickly as smoking or injecting it. Alternatively, smoking crack or injecting cocaine may have a rapid and more intense effect, but the ‘high’ only lasts 5 to 10 minutes, often with an intense “crash”, which leads to repeated use to sustain the high, an action called ‘binging’.
Effects of cocaine use
The effect is described as euphoric with increased energy, reduced fatigue, and heightened mental alertness. Users may be talkative, extraverted, and have a loss of appetite or need for sleep. The psychoactive and pleasurable effects short-live without further administration. Use in a binge, during which the drug dose comes in always and at increasingly high doses. leads to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This can result in a period of paranoid psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations.
Metabolism of cocaine
Cocaine metabolizes primarily in the liver, with less than 1% of the parent drug . The primary metabolite is benzoylecgonine and it is detectable in the urine for up to eight days after consumption.