How They Work

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Article
12
Jun
2009
What is Cocaine
Posted By: bluebelly  |  Comments (0)
What is Cocaine

Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant Erthoxylon coca which is native to the mountains of South America. There are two main forms of cocaine, the salt form (cocaine hydrochloride) which usually appears as a powder, and freebase cocaine. Freebase cocaine (alkaloid cocaine) is a chemically changed type of cocaine that can be smoked. Crack cocaine is a particular type of freebase cocaine that appears like small crystals or “rocks”. Crack cocaine is very rare in Australia.


Cocaine is a stimulant , which means that it speeds up the central nervous system by producing effects similar to the body’s naturally occurring hormone, adrenalin. Cocaine also acts on the brain's pleasure and reward system and floods the brain with the naturally occurring neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is normally associated with pleasurable feelings such as having sex or satisfying hunger or thirst. Historically cocaine has been used as local anaesthetic, and will cause numbness at the point of administration when used.


Street Names

Coke, Charlie, Blow, Flake, Candy, Snow


What does it look like?
The salt form of cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) is an odourless crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water. In this form, cocaine is often "cut" with adulterants such as lactose, sucrose and talcum powder to increase volume and reduce purity. Crack cocaine has a crystaline or 'rock' like appearance.



How is cocaine used?
Powder cocaine can snorted, swallowed or injected. There is significant risk associated with injecting. Injecting is a major risk as not only is it associated with harms such as collapsed veins, abscesses and damage to body organs, but it also carries the risk of blood borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor which means that it can constrict and/or block blood vessels causing major damage to the body’s circulatory system and result in deprivation of oxygen carrying blood to major organs. Furthermore the local aneasthetic effect causes numbness in the area around the injecting site, often resulting in poor injecting technique when people are repeatedly injecting over a short period of time. This can lead to vein collapse, infection at injection site, bruising or more serious injuries.



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