Cocaine is a Central Nervous System StimulantDrug addiction cocaine became prevalent in the 1980’s and 1990’s and since that time the medical community has learned much about the highly addictive nature of this drug. This group of drugs includes amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine and methylphenidate (Ritalin).Dr. Nora D, Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, explained the serious increase in the use and addiction to cocaine and wrote: “One of NIDA’s most important goals is to translate what scientists learn from research, in order to help the public better understand drug abuse and drug addiction cocaine use, and to develop more effective strategies for their prevention and treatment.”Volkow explains that scientists can actually observe the “dynamic changes” in the brain as a person uses this drug. They can see the “rush” and the “high” and actually see when a person is “craving” cocaine. As stated, cocaine is highly addictive and while it became popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it is hardly new and is one of the oldest drugs known. Cocaine Hydrochloride is the pure chemical and has been abused for over 100 years. Cocaine is made from coca leaves and they have been eaten for thousands of years. There are a couple forms of cocaine that are most common, the hydrochloride salt, and the “freebase.” The powder can be mixed with water and injected, or snorted through the nose. Most commonly, cocaine on the street is a white powder, diluted by street dealers with talcum powder, sometimes mixed with sugar, or cornstarch and sometimes the cocaine is mixed with other stimulants.CrackThe term “crack” comes from the street and refers to the cracking sound the drug makes when it is smoked. Crack cocaine is made by combining the powder form of the drug with ammonia or baking soda and water, then heating the mixture to remove the hydrochloride. The drug produces an almost immediate high, usually within 10 seconds. It became popular in the 1980’s for its quick effect and for the fact that it is inexpensive. The combination of these two factors has made crack a huge problem, as user’s number close to 600,000.One of the ways that you can identify a person who is using cocaine is the euphoria that the drug produces, a feeling of well-being beyond what you would regularly encounter. The person’s speech patterns might be faster, or they are restless. Also, users who chose to snort the drug may develop nasal congestion and damage the mucous membrane of the nose through prolonged use. Users coming down from a cocaine high might get depressed, experience insomnia. Common for cocaine users is a decrease in appetite, accompanied by weight loss. An increase in heart rate is also common.Scope of Cocaine UseAccording to a 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), some 35.3 Americans (14.3%) age 12 and older have tried cocaine at least once. The most likely age group to use cocaine is adults 18-25, and use among men is slightly higher than women. Five years ago, the estimated number of cocaine-dependent users was 1.5 million. In that 2006 study it showed that approximately 6.1 million people used cocaine in the previous 12 months and that 2.4 million had used during the last month. Our overview of drug addiction cocaine is hardly exhaustive and if you desire detailed, scientific information, we encourage you to click on this link and visit the NIDA’s website section at:
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