Coke. Coca. Snow. Flake. Blow. These are all slang or street names for cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance due to its medicinal properties and the high likelihood for abuse. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) native to South America, which has traditionally – for over 4,000 years – been used as a medicine and stimulant in what is now Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. The coca leaves were chewed to elevate mood, help with digestions, and suppress appetite. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that U.S. drug companies began exploring the uses of cocaine as a stimulant and nerve tonic. What they did not know just yet was how addictive and harmful to human health cocaine can be. They discovered this about 30 years later.
This white and powdery substance is now common, used in the party scene and even in fast-paced professions (remember the film “Wolf of Wallstreet”?). It is usually snorted, but it can be mixed with water and injected for a quicker route to the blood. Some even smoke cocaine. The effects take about five minutes to kick in when snorted, and you’ll peak about half an hour later.
You might wonder, “Why would someone even take this stuff?” Well, cocaine has a euphoric effect on those who ingest it, making them feel very happy, talkative, capable, in control, affectionate, and incredibly energetic. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, that is not the entire story of cocaine. There are significant cons to cocaine use, including the coming down period and the day after use, not to mention the long-term damage to the body and addiction potential. It is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Is Crack Different Than Cocaine?
You may have heard the term “crack cocaine” in your lifetime. But are crack and cocaine two different things? Kind of, but not that much. For starters, its street names are different. Crack is also knowns as CDs, Mighty White, Rock, Yam, Twinkie, Girl, and SpaceCrack. In the U.S., crack came about in the 1980s as a much cheaper alternative to cocaine. It is not that much different from cocaine in its chemical structure and effects. However, crack can be more dangerous because the high is experienced more quickly and intensely and doesn’t last very long, causing a person to binge and potentially develop dependence.
Cocaine is a hydrochloride salt in its powdered form, whereas crack is produced by combining cocaine, water, and another substance like baking soda. This mixture is boiled, and eventually, solid rocks form: voila! Crack cocaine is born. Crack rocks are smoked in a small glass pipe and reach the brain more quickly, producing a high that lasts five to ten minutes; the effects are instant. These characteristics allow crack to be more addictive than cocaine potentially.
Despite no significant chemical differences between cocaine and crack, it is notable how more severely one is punished for selling crack or possessing than doing so with cocaine. In 2010, the laws were somewhat improved, but before that, possessing five grams of crack would end with a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. To get the same sentencing for cocaine possession, you’d have to have at least 500 grams on you. This 100 to 1 ratio has been criticized as not being backed by science and disproportionately affecting and incarcerating the poor, people of color, and persons with mental health disabilities.
How the Substances Affect Your Body
After you’ve reached your peak high, there is a coming down period that feels, to some, as extreme as going up. It is described as more of a crash. You may feel irritated, exhausted, nauseous, severely depressed, and just completely drained. While on cocaine, appetite is suppressed, and it is common not to want to eat a thing. So the next day, you might be starving and lacking energy. Was that night of fun worth how you’ll feel the next day and maybe even the day after that?
When addicted, withdrawals can produce symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Some may have hallucinations, which can be dangerous.
Because cocaine speeds up your heart rate and increases blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke is a genuine risk of using. A heart attack is the leading cause of death in cocaine and crack abuse. Chronic use of either crack or cocaine has been found to cause long-term damage to the brain and the cardiovascular system in various ways, including:
- Increased risk of dementia
- Poor blood flow
- Blood clots (can lead to heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and deep vein thrombosis)
- Chest pain
- Death of heart muscle
- Permanently increased blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
These drugs can also damage the liver, kidneys, and intestines.
Cocaine and crack are both addictive drugs that can cause euphoria, extreme alertness, and energy. They are similar, but crack is much cheaper and more intense, and thus, addictive. These two drugs are derived from the coca plant native to South America and have found their way into parties, careers, schools, and marginalized communities in the United States. These drugs are so common and impact many diverse demographics of society. Long-term use can most significantly damage the cardiovascular system and brain, in addition to the kidneys, liver, and intestines. At Oceanfront Recovery, we understand that these drugs are hard to get off of and can be devastating. Luckily, we have specialized programs that treat cocaine and crack addiction through personalized care. Shame and desperation can turn the cycle of continual use. We want to help you break that cycle today. Call us today at (877) 279-1777 to learn more about our program.