Cocaine crystal rocks – More information
Cocaine (also known as benzoylmethylecgonine, and popularly as coke, snow, blow, white, and many others) is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant substance of the benzoic acid ester class. Notable effects include stimulation, appetite suppression, local anesthesia, and euphoria.
Cocaine is a tropane alkaloid extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from “coca” and the alkaloid suffix “-ine”, forming “cocaine”. It is thought to be markedly more dangerous than other CNS stimulants, including the entire amphetamine drug class. Regular use has been linked to the development of permanent heart conditions and at high doses it can cause sudden cardiac death.
|Common names||Cocaine, Coke, Crack, Blow, Girl, White, Snow, “Nose Candy”|
|Systematic name||Methyl (1R,2R,3S,5S)-3- (Benzoyloxy)-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1] octane-2-carboxylate|
|Chemical class||Tropane alkaloid|
Cocaine dosage table
|Threshold||5 – 10 mg|
|Light||10 – 30 mg|
|Common||30 – 60 mg|
|Strong||60 – 90 mg|
|Heavy||90 mg +|
Cocaine effect progress
|Total||10 – 90 minutes|
History and culture
Cocaine is a tropane alkaloid found in the leaves of the coca plant, Erythroxylum coca. It is most commonly consumed as the hydrochloride salt which is typically produced in clandestine laboratories. Cocaine decomposes when heated strongly so the freebase and hydrogen carbonate salts of cocaine, which have much lower boiling points compared to the hydrochloride salt, are typically used when the substance is to be vaporized and are known as cocaine base and crack respectively.
The chemical structure of cocaine consists of three parts; the hydrophilic methyl ester moiety and the lipophilic benzoyl ester moiety, which are located in place of the carboxylic acid and hydroxyl groups of ecgonine respectively. This structure allows for its rapid absorption through nasal membranes and blood-brain barrier.
The presence of the two ester groups makes cocaine relatively unstable in warm, humid environments and cocaine stored in an open container or with a high moisture content will lose apparent potency over time due to hydrolysis to methyl ecgonine or benzoylecgonine.
Cocaine is structurally similar to atropine and scopolamine, which also contain the tropane moiety.
Cocaine is often adulterated when sold on black markets and this can significantly alter its effects on the body. Even when adulterants are pharmacologically inactive, their combination with the long-term perishability of cocaine due to moisture can lead to vastly differing apparent potencies between dosages of cocaine, and as such, it can be challenging to determine a “typical” recreational dose. Pure cocaine is very potent and generates perceptible local anesthetic effects from 1 mg and perceptible CNS stimulation from 5-7 mg, however in recreational settings much higher doses tend to be used.
Occasional use of cocaine rarely causes permanent or severe trouble to the body and mind. In terms of neurotoxicity (as defined by the damage or death of cells in the brain in response to over-excitation or reactive oxidation caused by drugs), cocaine does not appear to exhibit these effects unlike certain other substances such as methamphetamine. Its extended use or abuse does, however, cause short-term down regulation of neurotransmitters.
The most potentially harmful physical effects of cocaine appear to be not neurological but cardiovascular. Severe cardiac adverse events, particularly sudden cardiac death, become a serious risk at high doses due to cocaine’s blocking effect on cardiac sodium channels.
Moreover, long-term cocaine use may result in cocaine-related cardiomyopathy.
Regular cocaine insufflation, the most popular method of ingestion, can have extremely adverse effects on one’s nostrils, nose, and nasal cavities. These include a loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or a chronically runny nose.
It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this substance.
Susceptible individuals have died from as little as 30 mg applied to mucous membranes, whereas addicts may tolerate up to 5 grams daily.
As with other stimulants, the chronic use of cocaine can be considered highly addictive with a high potential for abuse and is capable of causing psychological dependence among certain users. When addiction has developed, cravings and withdrawal effects may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage. Addiction is a serious risk with heavy recreational cocaine use but is unlikely to arise from typical medical use.
Tolerance to many of the effects of cocaine develops with prolonged and repeated use. This results in users having to administer increasingly large doses to achieve the same effects. After that, it takes about 3 – 7 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 1 – 2 weeks to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). Cocaine presents cross-tolerance with all dopaminergic stimulants, meaning that after the consumption of cocaine all stimulants will have a reduced effect.
After taking cocaine on a regular basis, some users will become addicted. When the drug is discontinued immediately, the user will experience what has come to be known as a “crash” along with a number of other cocaine withdrawal symptoms including paranoia, depression, anxiety, itching, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, an intense craving for more cocaine, and, in some cases, nausea and vomiting. Some cocaine users also report having similar symptoms to schizophrenic patients and feel that their mind is scattered or incoherent. Some users also report a feeling of a crawling sensation on the skin also known as “coke bugs”.
These symptoms can last for weeks or, in some cases, months. Even after most withdrawal symptoms dissipate most users feel the need to continue using the drug; this feeling can last for years and may peak during times of stress. About 30-40% of cocaine addicts will turn to other substances such as medication and alcohol after giving up cocaine.
Cocaine has a similar potential to induce temporary psychosis with more than half of cocaine abusers reporting at least some psychotic symptoms at some point. Typical symptoms of sufferers include paranoid delusions that they are being followed and that their drug use is being watched accompanied by hallucinations that support the delusional beliefs. Delusional parasitosis with formication (“cocaine bugs”) is also a fairly common symptom.
Cocaine-induced psychosis shows sensitization toward the psychotic effects of the drug. This means that psychosis becomes more severe with repeated intermittent use.