What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a severely addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. It increases the natural chemical messenger (dopamine) levels in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward. Cocaine comes in a few different forms. The most common is a fine, white powder. It can also be made into a solid rock crystal. Today, cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some ear, eye, and throat surgeries.
No matter how much cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include heart attack and stroke. Addiction recovery professionals recommend facing cocaine addiction with a long-term treatment plan that promotes positive decision-making and overall health improvements that include learning coping skills.
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug used by 14-21 million people worldwide . In 2018 there are 874,000 new cocaine users . Since cocaine is combined or ‘cut’ with other chemicals, people have no idea if the dose will be weak or strong. These other chemicals may include fillers, such as paint chemicals, cornstarch, fentanyl, and its analogs, which are added purely to boost profits.
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How Do People Use Cocaine?
People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and inject it into the bloodstream. Some people inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball. The high a single dose of cocaine produces lasts only a few minutes to an hour, encouraging repeated use, which can result in a cocaine overdose. A cocaine overdose can result in permanent physical damage to the brain, heart, and, circulatory system. Stopping cocaine can cause withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and agitation. Cocaine addiction is difficult to recover from, but it can be treated.
What Type Of Drug Is Cocaine?
Street cocaine is an illegal stimulant. Stimulants speed up messages between your body and brain. They increase your energy and level of alertness. It is also considered a psychoactive drug. Psychoactive drugs are drugs that affect the Central Nervous System (CNS), altering its regular activity.
Some would ask, ” is cocaine an amphetamine?” The answer is “no.” But both drugs share two critical properties with other addictive drugs: they are reinforcing when administered acutely (i.e., drug use entails repeated drug use) and produce compulsive use if administered chronically with adequate dose and frequency .
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Different Types Of Cocaine
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), the main ingredient in cocaine. The leaf extract is processed to produce three different types of cocaine:
- Cocaine hydrochloride: a fine white powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lidocaine, talcum powder or sugar to dilute it before being sold.
- Freebase: a white powder that is purer than cocaine hydrochloride. Freebase cocaine has a higher level of lipid solubility, and because of this, it enters the bloodstream and brain much faster than other forms of the drug. As a result, the high is faster than snorting cocaine, and it’s similar or sometimes faster than injecting it. Most individuals also feel that the high from freebase cocaine is more intense.
- Crack: crystals ranging from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue. It may contain impurities. Crack is the crystalline solid form of cocaine that has grown in popularity in the last few decades. The name crack cocaine came from the crackling sound the rock makes when it’s being heated. It is created using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water instead of ammonia to remove hydrochloride from cocaine. Like the freebase cocaine, it is then heated and smoked. The potency of cocaine, a lot of times users receives a form of the drug that they think is pure cocaine but is in fact combined with other dangerous substances, such as fentanyl or synthetic opioids.
How Is Cocaine Made?
Different methods are used to make cocaine. In one method, dried coca leaves (the main ingredient in cocaine) are soaked with lime water or other alkaline liquids and then extracted with gasoline in metal drums. Workers use sulfuric acid to extract the dissolved cocaine and form a liquid solution to which lime or other alkaline liquids is added, leading to the precipitation of coca paste. Workers then add acid and potassium to remove impurities, followed by bicarbonate, to cause the base to separate. The base is further dissolved in a solvent like acetone and then soaked again in acid. Finally, the cocaine paste is filtered through a cloth to separate, then dried.
Alternately, the base can be dissolved in a solvent, such as acetone, ether, or ethyl acetate, and heated in a bath of hot water. Methyl ethyl ketone is another solvent that workers add to the hot liquid mixture, along with hydrochloric acid, leading to cocaine hydrochloride crystallizing in the solution. Solvents are pressed out by hand, followed by a hydraulic press, then the mixture is heated in a microwave to create cocaine powder.
Powdered cocaine can be further processed into crack by first mixing it into a solution of either ammonia or a combination of baking soda and water, then heating that mixture to create a substance that forms rocks for smoking. Alternately, an alkali substance can be mixed into a heated liquid cocaine solution that then settles to the bottom of as a solid. Some adulterants, or cutting agents, can be filtered out through the creation of crack cocaine.
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What’s In Cocaine?
What Is Cocaine made out of? Cocaine contains a chemical substance called benzoylmethylecgonine. It is found in the leaves of the Erythroxylum coca plant, which is the main ingredient In cocaine. Technically cocaine is the alkaloid found inside the leaves. Although there are 200 varieties of this plant, only two of them contain enough cocaine for refining. This alkaloid is a very powerful stimulant and people used it for centuries before it became a popular high-end drug.
Unfortunately, due to its illegal nature, no one knows much about the actual cocaine plant. United States scientists often resort to studying other plants and making assumptions about cocaine. When considering what cocaine is made out of, you also have to consider how it is made, why people use it, and what the problems with cocaine are.
The filler ingredients that are cut into cocaine vary greatly, which adds to the danger of the drug. Among the additives used are:
- Additives with psychoactive or numbing effects that can greatly increase the risk of using the drug concoction sold as cocaine.
- Poisonous fillers that cause harm through toxicity but don’t have any psychoactive effects.
- White powders that merely mimic the appearance of cocaine and weaken the effect of the cocaine.
Although it is relatively rare for poisonous ingredients to be mixed into cocaine, the dangers are severe. Cocaine-containing poison is known among users as a “death hit” because it can be lethal. Strychnine is a toxic ingredient that is sometimes mixed with cocaine. It is used in rat poison and can kill humans. Psychological symptoms of strychnine poisoning are similar to the negative effects people sometimes experience from cocaine. These include anxiety, restlessness, agitation, and an increased startle response.
Dealers have been mixing a variety of street drugs with fentanyl. It is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. As fentanyl is not even the same kind of drug as cocaine, it might not seem to make sense that it would be used to cut street cocaine. However, this really is happening, possibly because of the intense euphoria that both drugs induce in users
How Does Cocaine Use Lead To Addiction?
As with other drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. The reward circuit eventually adapts to the extra dopamine caused by the drug, becoming steadily less sensitive to it. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to feel the same high they did initially and to obtain relief from withdrawal.
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Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Treatment for cocaine side effects to due abuse and addiction typically involves cocaine detox and therapy in an inpatient rehabilitation program. These programs greatly increase your chances of a successful recovery, even though psychological dependence on cocaine is a serious condition that is difficult to overcome. This determination is based on a number of factors including the severity of the addiction, living environment, and psychiatric and medical needs. If you are suffering from cocaine side effects and considering treatment for cocaine addiction, it is helpful to seek a substance abuse evaluation from an addiction professional to determine the right type of support.
Making the decision to find treatment for cocaine addiction is the first step toward recovery. It is also the most important step. Once you admit to struggling with addiction, the only way to go is forward. The brain does not simply go back to normal when the drug use stops and it could take several supports, therapy, counseling, and treatment methods in order to help you effectively overcome the disease. Not everyone needs cocaine addiction treatment, but such help is beneficial to those who have suffered adverse reactions to their sustained drug use, including cocaine overdose.
Treatment for cocaine addiction may include:
- Medically Assisted Detox
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Support groups
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Aftercare support
Now that answered the question “what is cocaine made out of?”, we’ve learned how it can be cut with fentanyl and rat poison that can lead to overdose and death. Treatment begins with recognizing there is a problem. Once you decide you want to do something about your drug use, the next step is to get help and support. If you or a loved one is struggling with stimulant abuse issues and addiction. We Level Up NJ addiction specialists are standing by to help.
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 NIDA – https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
 DEA – https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Cocaine-2020_1.pdf
 SAMHSA – https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/pep18-01.pdf
[4[ NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202508/