Cocaine: history, composition and side effects

Cocaine: history, composition and side effects

Coca is one of the oldest, most potent and most dangerous naturally occurring stimulants known. Three thousand years before the birth of Christ, the ancient Incas in the Andes were already chewing coca leaves to accelerate their heartbeat and breathing to counteract the effects of living at a high altitude in the mountains.


  • 1 What is cocaine?
  • 2 Brief history of cocaine
  • 3 Short-term effects of cocaine
  • 4 Long-term effects of cocaine
  • 5 Cocaine dependence
  • 6 Effects of cocaine on children

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a derivative that comes from thecoca plant, perennial shrub of South America (the Bolivian or "huanaco", the Colombian or "novagranatense" and the "trujillense" of Peru). Hence the coca paste or cocaine hydrochloride, a white powder that acts as a stimulant of the SNC.

Physical dependence is controversial but we do know that it is the most problematic psychoactive drug in terms of the degree of psychological dependence.

Thecocaine absorption (both free base and crack) It is very fast and the effects occur after the first inhalation immediately, lasting between four to six minutes.

It causes great euphoria and excitement, with a feeling of well-being. You do not feel physical or psychic fatigue, so the person who has consumed it overvalues ‚Äč‚Äčtheir abilities. Many people do not consume regularly, but occasionally at parties or when they leave. The type of patient is more similar to the alcoholic and not to the heroin addict, for a cocaine man the heroin users are marginal people, while they generally come from a higher social level.

The final feeling is more anguish than pleasure This is why we tend to continuously abuse new doses. After this initial process, the consumer presents a state of mutism with decreased attention and motor difficulties.

Brief history of cocaine

Peruvian natives chewed coca leaves, although only during religious ceremonies. This taboo was broken when Spanish soldiers invaded Peru in 1532. Indian workers forced into Spanish silver mines kept them under control with coca leaves, as it makes them easier to control and exploit.

Cocaine was first isolated (coca leaf extract) in 1859 by German chemist Albert Niemann. It was not until the 1880s that it became popular in the medical community.

Already in his time the famous Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, used this drug with himself, and was the first to promote it as a tonic to cure depression and sexual impotence.

In 1884, he published an article entitled "Über Coca" (On Coca), which praised the "benefits" of cocaine, which he described as a "magical" substance.

Freud, however, was not an objective observer. He used cocaine regularly, prescribed it to his wife and best friend, and for general use.

He eventually realized that cocaine had led to "physical and moral decline," since Freud maintained the promotion of cocaine among his close friends, one of whom ended up suffering from paranoid hallucinations with "white snakes that crawl on their skin."

He also believed that "For humans the toxic dose (of cocaine) is very high, there seems to be no lethal dose." But unfortunately one of Freud's patients died from a high dose that he prescribed.

In 1886, the popularity of the drug received an additional boost when John Pemberton included coca leaves as an ingredient in his new soda, the Coke. The euphoric and invigorating effects on the consumer helped boost Coca-Cola's popularity by the turn of the century.

From 1850 until the early 1900s, cocaine, opium, tonics and other substances were widely used by people of all social classes. Notable figures of society promoted the "miraculous" effects of cocaine tonics and elixirs, including the inventor Thomas Edison and the actress Sarah Bernhardt. The drug became tremendously popular in the silent film industry and messages in favor of cocaine coming out of Hollywood at that time they influenced millions of people.

Cocaine use increased in society and the dangers of the drug gradually became more evident.. Public pressure forced the Coca-Cola company to remove cocaine from the beverage in 1903.

By 1905, it had become popular to inhale cocaine, but after five years, hospitals and medical literature had begun to report cases of nasal damage as a result of the use of this "medicine."

In 1912, the United States government reported 5,000 cocaine-related deaths in a single year and in 1922 the drug was officially banned.

In the seventies, cocaine resurfaced as the new fashion drug for artists and businessmen. Cocaine seemed to be the perfect partner for the high demands of an accelerated life. It provides them with "energy" and helped people stay "up."

In some universities in the United States, the percentage of students who experimented with cocaine increased tenfold between 1970 and 1980.

In the late 1970s, Colombian drug traffickers began to establish an elaborate network for smuggling cocaine into the US.

Traditionally, cocaine was the drug of rich and powerful people, due to the great expense that accompanies a cocaine addiction. But in the late 1980s cocaine ceased to be considered the drug of choice for the rich. By then, it had the reputation of the most dangerous and addictive drug in the United States, linked to poverty, crime and death.

In the early 1990s, Colombian drug cartels produced and exported 500 to 800 tons of cocaine a year, to the US, Europe and Asia. The big cartels were dismantled by law enforcement in the mid-1990s, but they were quickly replaced by small groups, with more than 300 active drug-smuggling organizations in Colombia today.

As of 2008, cocaine had already become the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world.

Short-term effects of cocaine

The effects of cocaine occur almost immediately after administration of the dose and disappear a few minutes or an hour later. In small quantities it usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, mentally alert, hypersensitive to sight, hearing and touch. The drug can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep. Some users find that cocaine helps them to perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly, although others experience the opposite effect.

The duration of the euphoric effects of cocaine depends on the route of administration. The faster the drug is absorbed, the more intense the result, but also shorter its duration. Inhaled cocaine produces a relatively slow initial effect, but it can last 15 to 30 minutes. On the contrary, smoking is more immediate, but it can last only 5 to 10 minutes.

In the short term the physiological effects of cocaine use They include constriction of blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.

Large amounts of cocaine can intensify all these symptoms, but it can also produce a strange, erratic and violent behavior. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic and paranoia. Users may also experience tremor, vertigo, and muscle spasms.

Regardless of how much the drug is used or how often, Cocaine increases the risk of the user experiencing a heart attack, stroke, seizures or respiratory (breathing), any of which can cause sudden death.

Long-term effects of cocaine

The word "drug addict" was originally coined many years ago to describe the negative side effects of constant cocaine use. As the tolerance As the drug increases, it becomes necessary to take increasing amounts to achieve the same effect. Prolonged daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite. A person can get to suffer psychosis and start experiencing hallucinations.

How Cocaine interferes with the way the brain processes chemicals, it takes more and more of the drug to feel "normal." People who become addicted to cocaine (as with most other drugs) lose interest in other areas of life.

Going down from the causes of depression drugs so severe that a person is going to do almost anything to get the murder to commit equilibrium drugs.

When the addict fails to get cocaine, depressive symptoms can be so intense that it can lead to suicide.

  • Permanent damage to the blood vessels of the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of the tissues of the nose and loss of smell
  • respiratory insufficiency
  • Malnutrition and weight loss
  • Dental caries
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Sexual problems, damage to reproduction and infertility (in men and women)
  • Disorientation, apathy, exhaustion, confusion
  • Mood disorders
  • Irritability
  • Increase in the frequency of risk behaviors
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Tolerance and addiction (even after a single use)

Cocaine dependence

Dependency characteristics: There is a loss of control, aggressiveness, compulsion to take the drug, continued consumption, denial of the existence of consumption or of the problems derived. It does not produce physical dependence, it is basically psychological.

Route of administration: Snifada is usually taken, it can also be taken orally by chewing or intravenously. It is sold in paper, the dust is cut to avoid lumps (many times with the identity card or credit card), they usually do it on top of a mirror to be able to observe how they are snorting it. If cocaine is not prepared to be injected, it can burn the veins, deteriorates and swells them, although it has local anesthetic effects. It produces dry mouth, which causes an increase in alcohol consumption to compensate.

Physical effects of consumption: addicted cocaine addicts are usually too thin, it gives sexual disorders due to the anesthetic effect, because orgasm is delayed. It causes mydriasis (crystalline gaze), dry mouth, sweating, irritability and aggressiveness.

Abstinence syndrome: depression, apathy, drowsiness, muscle aches, restlessness, need for the product, diarrhea, paleness, crying crisis, sweating, tachycardia and emotional crises.

They may appear:

  • Paranoid reactions with delusions of persecution.
  • Depression, sexual indifference, melancholy, insecurity, low self-esteem
  • The ideas of suicide.

Associated pathologies: alterations of nutrition, cardiovascular, nervous system, sexual, obstetric and gynecological, complications of the nasal route (perforation of the septum) or respiratory.

Psychosocial consequences: produces a lack of appetite, restlessness and agitation, insomnia, impaired sensations, irritability, crisis of anguish, compulsivity, attention and memory deficits, alterations of sexual desire, apathy, depression, suicide attempts, acute psychosis, paranoid traits and hallucinations. Depending on age, social class and form of consumption, economic, labor, family and legal problems may appear.

Cocaine is currently widely used, reaches all social strata and, in developed countries, has followed a clearly upward trend.

Effects of cocaine on children

The most tragic victims of cocaine are babies born to mothers who use the drug during pregnancy. In all countries tens of thousands of babies exposed to cocaine are born every year. These children often suffer from a wide variety of physical problems that may include premature birth, low birth weight, growth retardation, birth defects and damage to the child. brain and the nervous system.

Low birth weight babies are twenty times more likely to die in the first month of life than normal weight babies, and face a higher risk of disabilities for life, like cognitive deficit and brain damage.

"With cocaine you are like a moth caught in a light. It attracts you more and more and you can't stop. It is not physical. It is in your head. The more you take, the more you need to take. I have injected myself every ten minutes. I borrowed money from the bank to buy. One day I lost my job. It used to take all the time. This thing made me go crazy. I knew it, but I continued. I became a total failure".