Cocaine originates from the coca bush, common in the Andes Mountains of South America. As long ago as 500 BC, coca leaves were used by the ancient Incans in religious ceremonies, and are still used to combat the harmful effects of high altitudes. The coca leaf is commonly chewed, or made into a tea.

In the family of STIMULANTS, Cocaine alkaloid (the chemical compound found in coca leaves -- otherwise known as cocaine) was first isolated and purified in the mid-1800's.It became commonly used in the late 1800s -- particularly as an anesthetic in some surgeries -- but by the early 1900s,people began to realize its harmful effects, and it became regulated as a drug.


Today cocaine is distributed as a white crystaline powder or an off-white 'chunky' material. The powder is often diluted with other substances, such as sugars, which increases the over-all volume and thus multiplies profits for the dealers. Cocaine is usually 'snorted' or dissolved in water and injected. It is rarely smoked.

On the other hand, "crack," the chunk or rock form of cocaine, is a ready-to-use freebase, sold generally in small doses that are smoked. Smoking delivers large quantities of cocaine to the lungs, producing immediate effects. Injection of cocaine produces a rush in 15 - 30 seconds; through the snorting method, in three to five minutes; and by smoking, the intense experience is produced almost immediately.

However, because the 'high' effect is short-lived,and 'coming down' results in fatigue and depression, users often take repeated doses.


"Crack" smokers often suffer from acute respiratory problems including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains, with lung trauma and bleeding.Excessive doses of cocaine may lead to seizures and death from respiratory failure, stroke, cerebral hemorrhage or heart failure.

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