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What is Cocaine?

A powerful stimulant whose annual street use revenues top 100 Billion dollars and exceed that of corporations as large as Starbucks.

In countries around the globe, cocaine has become a popular recreational drug. In the United States of America, the creation of an alternate form, known as "crack" cocaine introduced the substance to a commonly poorer population, the inner-city market. Use of the powder form has stayed relatively constant over the past 50 years, however a new height of use was experienced during the late 1990s and early 2000s in the U.S., and coke has become much more popular in the early 2000s in the United Kingdom.

Cocaine use remains prevalent across a wide array of socioeconomic strata. Its use sees few boundaries in various groups of age, demographics, economic classes, social status, political affiliation, religious association, and livelihood.

The Basics

What it is, what does it look like, how is purity determined, what is crack cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. It is known as snow, blow, and flake. Cocaine looks like a white powder. Crack cocaine is a processed, powerful version of the drug that looks like a rock and is smoked. Learn more about the basics... of using cocaine.

Effects of Cocaine

What it does, the physical and mental effects while high, what happens in the brain, after-effects of using coke.

Using cocaine produces a feeling of euphoria in the user. It also causes the blood pressure and heart rate to increase. Cocaine users report feeling energetic and alert while using the drug. Learn more about the effects... of doing coke.

Cocaine Dosage and Amounts Taken

How much cocaine will cause an overdose? What is a lethal dose of the drug?

It has been estimated that 1.2 grams of cocaine, when used orally, or 750-800 milligrams, when used intravenously or by inhaling, can be a fatal dose of the drug. The amount of cocaine sniffed that would result in fatal overdose is unknown however even the dosages listed above are estimates and in many cases much smaller doses have resulted in death or serious physical harm.

A more common non-fatal overdose causes the user to feel restless, anxious and suspicious. Often a user who has exceeded the typical levels of recreational dosage feels so suspicious that it can turn into paranoid delusions. For example, users may be afraid that they are being followed, watched, or monitored.

Dangers and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Risk of overdose, damage to the nose and nasal passages, what are the long term effects of use?

Cocaine addicts can develop a chronic runny nose and find that their ability to smell is impaired, and their ability to taste also decreased. Cocaine users are at risk for heart attack and stroke. Gangrene in the bowels from decreased blood flow is also a possibility for regular users. Learn more about the dangers and long term effects... of cocaine abuse.

Cocaine Addiction and Tolerance

How addictive is it? Is addiction a myth? Do I have a problem? Signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse and dependency

A cocaine addict continues to use the drug to try to recreate the intensity of the initial high. Since the pleasurable experience is not a long-lasting one, the addict may use repeatedly to keep the high going. Learn more about coke addiction... and the effects of long-term use, or use our directory of local cocaine rehab centers to get help.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms, Signs, and What to Do

What are the signs of an overdose? What to do if you spot symptoms of a cocaine overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose include fever, rapid heart beat, and agitation. Seizures may occur during an overdose, and the addict may have a heart attack. This situation is a medical emergency and the victim should go to an Emergency Room for treatment.

It is recommended you call your local emergency line if you or someone you are with is possibly experiencing an OD. For a list of US poison control centers and addiction resources visit our drug emergencies resource page. Once the emergency is neutralized, please consider seeking treatment.

Mixing with Other Drugs

What are the effects of mixing cocaine with alcohol, amphetamines, cannabis, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, tobacco and other drugs?

Combining cocaine with heroin may affect the respiratory system and slow down the user's breathing, with severe consequences. Cocaine and alcohol is another combination that you want to avoid, since it causes the body to produce a toxic substance called cocaethylene in the blood. Learn more about mixing... cocaine and other substances.

Drug Tests and Detox

What are the detection times? How long does cocaine stay in my system? Will I pass a coke drug test?

Cocaine is a substance that is routinely screened for in drug tests, especially employment related drug testing. It will show up in the user's urine for around 72 hours after use, for occasional users. For more frequent users, the drug stays in the body longer. Certain antibiotics can trigger a false positive reading on a drug test. Cocaine detox should be supervised by trained personnel for safety reasons. Learn more about cocaine drug testing and how long it takes to detox... from coke.

Legality, The Laws of Possession, Use, and Distribution

Is cocaine illegal? I got caught with cocaine, am I going to jail? How long are sentences for coke dealers; what about just possession for recreational use? Is it a felony?

In the United Kingdom, cocaine is a Class A drug and illegal to buy, sell, or possess. Under U.S. law, cocaine is considered a controlled substance, but it can be used as a local anesthetic for certain medical procedures. Learn more about the legal and criminal aspects... of the drug.

Spiritual or Medicinal Use

What are the signs of an overdose? What to do if you spot symptoms of a cocaine overdose.

In some places, cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic, for example when children need stitches. This drug may also be used to treat a person who experiences severe nosebleeds that don't respond to other forms of treatment.

The free and legal commercialization of dried coca leaves in the form of filtration bags to be used as "coca tea" has been accepted and actually promoted by the governments of countries such as Peru and Bolivia for years as a drink having medicinal powers. In certain parts of Europe and Australia processed cocaine is permitted for medicinal uses only.

There are few documented "spiritual" or religious uses of cocaine.

In the Media

Why do celebrities use cocaine? Pop culture and coke in the mainstream press.

With movies like Blow, and Cocaine Cowboys glorifying but also showing the harsh realities this substance has brought about, there's little wonder it maintains constant media exposure in the modern world. From scientific to sensational and celebrity, below are a few examples of coke in the press.

Frequently Asked Questions

Was cocaine use legal at one time? Can I get hooked on cocaine from the first time I try it? What does cocaine do to an addict's brain?

A number of questions are commonly asked about cocaine and its effects, its origins. From the ordinary and logical line of questions to the often bizarre, we present answers to questions... about this drug.

Sample questions posed by visitors to the site:

» is it safe to take cocaine during pregnancy?

» what is freebasing?

» rubbing it on your genitals to make sex better - does it work?

Related Site Links

» the gallery: cocaine powder

» the gallery: cocaine toothache drops

» the gallery: coca leaf

» the gallery: coca wine poster

» the gallery: coca cola poster

» articles: the golden age of cocaine

» articles: the 80s: cocaine, leg warmers and drugs wars

» articles: cocaine as medicine

» articles: cocaine's dark side revealed

» articles: famous users: cocaine

Offsite Links

» cocaine@erowid.org massive resource

» National Institute on Drug Abuse a good overview

Related News Stories

View Treatment Centers Find Local Treatment Centers Now Learn more now
» Student Cocaine Use Rockets As Price Tumbles (Guardian, 2001)

» Cocaine in the News (past 30 days, Google News)

 
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