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Effects of Addictive Substances



Cocaine Effects


From the plant called Erythroxylon coca, cocaine is a local anesthetic and central nervous system stimulant. It can be taken by chewing on coca leaves, smoked, inhaled ("snorted") or injected.

History of Cocaine

Early Spanish explorers noticed how the native people of South America were able to fight off fatigue by chewing on coca leaves. A medical account of the coca plant was published in 1569. In 1860, Albert Neiman isolated cocaine from the coca leaf and described the anesthetic action of the drug when it was put on his tongue. From that came the "medicinal" wine, called Vin Mariani, that contained 11% alcohol and 6.5 mg of cocaine in every ounce. Cocaine can be used for a variety of illnesses and for alcohol and morphine addictions. Unfortunately, many of his patients went on to become addicted to cocaine. In 1886 Coca Cola was developed, a drink that contained cocaine and caffeine. Cocaine was Removed from Coca Cola in 1906 (but it still has the caffeine).


The Narcotic Act in 1914 made cocaine illegal.
Preoccupation with thoughts of doing cocaine.
Feeling the need to use cocaine before any social or business event.
Setting limits to cocaine use, then breaking them again and again.
Using the drug nonstop for periods of an entire day or longer.
Lying to family and friends about your cocaine use.
Finding that cocaine is hurting your work, your health, and your relationships with others.

It apparently offered no threat of addiction, only the promise of pleasure and euphoria. Cocaine lures users toward a titillating but short-lived high, followed by a gripping physical and psychological dependency. Coke users quickly reach a point where they don't know how to exist without it. Inhaled, snorted, or injected, cocaine traps you into thinking you need it--to have fun, to be productive, to get through life.

Toxic levels can cause psychotic reactions that can last from two to four days. (In short, it makes you crazy.) Added to that are the real and present dangers of seizures or a fatal stroke or heart attack, even among first-time coke users.

Effects of Cocaine on the Nervous System

A dose of between 25 to 150 mg of cocaine is taken when it is inhaled. Within a few seconds to a few minutes after it is taken, cocaine can cause:
a feeling of euphoria
reduced hunger
a feeling of strength

After this "high" which lasts about one hour, users of cocaine may "crash" into a period of depression. This crash causes cocaine users to seek more cocaine to get out of this depression and results in addiction. Withdrawal from cocaine can cause the addict to feel depressed, anxious, and paranoid. The addict may then go into a period of exhaustion and they may sleep for a very long time.

Various doses of cocaine can also produce neurological and behavioral problems like:
movement problems

Death caused by too much cocaine or overdose is not uncommon. Cocaine can cause large increases in blood pressure that may result in bleeding within the brain. Constriction of brain blood vessels can also cause a stroke. An overdose of cocaine can cause breathing and heart problems that could result in death.

Cocaine is highly "reinforcing" :
when it is given to animals, they will give it to themselves. In fact, if animals are given the choice, they will put up with electrical shocks and give up food and water if they can get cocaine.
Cocaine acts by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Therefore, these neurotransmitters stay in the synaptic cleft for a longer time. Research has also shown that cocaine can also cause the release of dopamine from neurons in the brain.
Cocaine can also affect the peripheral nervous system. These effects include constriction of blood vessels, dilation of the pupil and irregular heart beat.


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