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Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug. The major routes of administration of cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking. Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection. “Crack” is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Rather than requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine-using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate. (Madras, p5)
There is great risk whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking. It appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high. (Brain, p1)
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the reassertion process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Dopamine is released as part of the brain’s reward system and is involved in the high that characterizes cocaine consumption. Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart r…

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