Cocaine is an alkaloid obtained from leaves of the coca plant and used medically as a local anesthetic. It is also widely abused as a drug. Native Americans of the Inca Empire chewed coca leaves to obtain mild euphoria, stimulation, and alertness. The drug wasfirst isolated in 1855 and came to be used widely as a local anesthetic in minor surgery.
Cocaine has long been known as a drug of abuse, but it projected in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Cocaine hydrochloride, a water-soluble salt, is a dry white powder (known on the street as "snow") that is usually inhaled through a thin tube inserted into the nostril. More rarely, cocaine is injected into a vein. The drug may also be smoked in a purified form through a water pipe ("freebasing") or in a concentrated form ("crack") shaped into pellets and placed in special smoking gear. Users experience euphoria, exhilaration, and a decreased appetite. The drug also increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and dilates the pupils. Chronic use can lead to skin abscesses, perforation of the septum of the nose, weight loss, and damage to the nervous system. Negative mental effects include extreme restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and, occasionally, paranoid psychosis. Death from even a small dose can occur, and is usually caused by seizures or heart attacks.
Historically some South American tribes chewed coca leaves as early as 600 to 800 A.D. however, by the thirteenth century a definitive role had been established for the coca plant in the religious and political structures of the early Inca Empire.To guarantee a safe crossing of the Andes Mountains, the tribe would offer coca leaves to the gods.Later, the Incas employed the leaves in their sacrificial rituals.In the sixteenth century, the Spanish realized the profit potential of trading coca leaves with the Incas for their gold and silver. It was not until 1844 or later that cocaine wasfirst…

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