Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from “coca” in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is both a stimulant of the central nervous system and an appetite suppressant. Specifically, it is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which mediates functionality of such as an exogenous DAT ligand. Because of the way it affects the mesolimbic reward pathway, cocaine is addictive.
Its possession, cultivation, and distribution are illegal for non-medicinal and non-government sanctioned purposes in virtually all parts of the world. Although its free commercialization is illegal and has been severely penalized in virtually all countries, its use worldwide remains widespread in many social, cultural, and personal settings.
Cocaine is distributed on the street in two main forms: cocaine hydrochloride is a white crystalline powder and “crack” is cocaine hydrochloride that has been processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water into a freebase cocaine – chips, chunks, or rocks.
Cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack can be smoked.
Short-term effects of cocaine/crack include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Duration of cocaine’s immediate euphoric effects, which include energy, reduced fatigue, and mental clarity, depends on how it is used. The faster the absorption, the more intense the high. However, the faster the absorption, the shorter the high lasts.The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking crack cocaine may last 5 to 10 minutes. Cocaine’s effects are short lived, and once the drug leaves the brain, the user experiences a “coke crash” that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.
High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they often become depressed. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose.