Real Life

Cocaine: A Quick Look


Active Agent

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant alkaloid, extracted from the coca bush of South America. The leaves of the coca bush have been used by the indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia since before recorded European history. Pure cocaine was first extracted from the Erythroxylum coca bush in the mid-19th century and became popular in tonics and elixirs thereafter. Cocaine was the initial stimulant in Coca-Cola before a switch to caffeine was made. Today, cocaine is a Schedule II drug with legitimate medical uses as a local anesthetic for surgeries of the eyes and sinuses.

There are two typical chemical forms of the drug: the hydrochloride salt (powdered cocaine) and the “freebase” (crack). Cocaine hydrochloride is water soluble and may be used intra-nasally (snorting) or by intravenous injection. Freebase cocaine (crack) may be smoked.


Euphoria, increased level of activity, and an increase in blood pressure are typical effects of cocaine. It was cocaine’s stimulant effect that was the reason for its prior use in elixirs. Cocaine use is associated with activation of primary pleasure centres in the brain, as well as increased dopamine buildup in some of these same areas. These effects probably lead to the very high addiction potential of cocaine. Side effects include hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain), headache, nasal septal erosion, heart attack and cerebral vasculitis (which can cause strokes and brain damage). Chronic overuse can result in irritability and psychosis.

Addiction Potential

Physical – High. Psychological – High.

Method of Use

Snorting, Intravenous. Crack-smoking.


Lots of physical side effects. Highly addictive. Very expensive. Sharing IV needles spreads AIDS. Addicts will do anything to get more.

Additional Info

National Institute on Drug Abuse

New Life Detoxification Program – Rehabilitation Info

A Cocaine Bush

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