“Cocaine is God’s way of saying you have too much money”- Robin Williams

Cocaine known as the rich man’s drug, a big part of fashionable parties in affluent societies and found in pockets of many rock stars of the 70’s has found resurgence in popularity in the 21st century.

Cocaine, known by its chemical formula as benzoylmethylecgonine, and more commonly known by its street name coke, is used as a recreational drug. It is without a doubt an addictive stimulant, made from Coca plants in South America. You will generally find it in powder form with an appearance identical to white snow.

There are countless ways to embrace this deadly drug, you can take it orally by rubbing it on the inner gums, and more commonly by snorting a line of coke via a bank note.

Cost Of Cocaine

The price of cocaine is based on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report . A popular street measurement for cocaine is known as “eighth ball” which is one/eighth of an ounce. The price of cocaine varies greatly from country to country and depends on its availability and the country’s drug policy. In Colombia, it is the cheapest costing around $3.5 per gram median price. Kuwait is the most expensive costing around $330 per gram median price. In United States the price is around $62 for a gram.

Cocaine Is Mankind’s Oldest Fr Enemy

Thousands of years ago, ancient Inca tribes of Andes, used to chew coca leaves to increase heart rate in order to better assimilate to the high atmospheric air pressure of the mountains. Native Peruvian tribes used to eat coca leaves as part of their religious ceremonies. When Spanish soldiers invaded Peru in 1532, they forced the locals working in silver mines to consume coca leaves so they could exploit them better.

Cocaine was first extracted from the coca plant in 1859 by German chemist Albert Neiman. Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud was the first to promote cocaine to cure depression and sexual impotence.

Cocaine’s popularity grew significantly when John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca Cola started using coca leaves in the drink. The euphoric high consumers got from drinking Coca Cola played a major role in increasing the admiration of the drink. Its popularity took a major hit when health advocates started to highlight the effects of cocaine which prompted Coca Cola to remove coca leaves from the drink’s recipe in 1903.

By 1905 people started snorting cocaine heavily, so much so, that hospitals and clinics had started reporting cases of nasal injuries due to cocaine. In 1912, government reported 5000 deaths due to cocaine and by 1922, the drug was officially banned.

By 1961, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs has made the recreational use of drugs a global offense.

In the 70’s cocaine became the unofficial rockstar drug, as it was associated with rich businessmen and partygoers.Due to its rise in the limelight, drug traffickers looked to capitalize on it. By the late 70’s Colombian drug traffickers had set up many channels for transporting drugs from Colombia to US.

By the late 80’s however, cocaine wasn’t linked as the rich man’s drug. Instead it became one of the leading causes of death, violence and crimes in the US.

In the early 90’s Colombian drug smugglers started exporting 500 to 800 tonnes worth of cocaine to parts of Europe, Asia and the US. By the mid 90’s many of the most well-known drug lords were arrested but this resulted in smaller drug cartels operating till date in Colombia.

By 2008 cocaine became the second largest illegally trafficked drug.

Cocaine Aka Ibn-E-Batuta Of Drugs

Venezuela has been a historically prominent route to the US and Europe for cocaine produced in Colombia. Many West African countries such as Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria have been a bay for cocaine shipments originating from Colombia and many of these countries have also been used to launder money. Cargo planes are now used for transport to West Africa from Colombia,  Bolivia and other cocaine producing countries. Before that, ships were used to transport cocaine to the US.

A lot of drugs are smuggled to Europe through Asia particularly Afghanistan, which is the main production hub of cocaine in Asia. According to EU Drug Markets Report 2016, Europe has seen an influx of $27.4 billion though illegal drug trade.

Cocaine makes for 24% of the total income, while the highest remains for marijuana (38%) followed by heroin (28%). The illicit trade was driven by simple principles of power and profit. The report also warned that the growing evil of terrorism is linked to illegal drug trade, as profits made from it are used to fund many terrorist organizations.

Cocaine: The Dopest DJ

Cocaine is infamous for being a party drug and its presence in film and movie culture is undeniable. People who are curious about the nightlife of parties and drugs can by highly influenced by such movies and can feel pressured into trying cocaine. As life’s pressures increase so does the demand for coke.

Cocaine has a euphoric high that lasts for 15 minutes to half an hour. Its high dilates pupils, increases heart rate and blood pressure, and increases breathing rate. The user become more talkative, has more energy and feels uplifted.For these reasons Cocaine makes for the ideal party drug.

Crack cocaine is the crystallized form of cocaine. Crack is cocaine mixed with bicarbonate of soda and smoked in a glass pipe. As it is a less pure form of cocaine, it is commonly distributed in poor neighborhoods. As crack is smoked, its effects take place quickly, and due to its cheap availability, and it’s usually mixed with other harmful chemicals, it is more dangerous than normal cocaine.

Crack’s hit lasts for 5 to 10 minutes during which the user feels a euphoric high. When the hit loses its effects, the user feels an extreme low due to the dip in dopamine levels of the brain. Hence, to regain that high, the user takes more of it. The addiction of crack is a subject of much controversy and research. Many believe that crack can make users physically dependent but its addiction is mostly psychological as many users have gone days without using it.

A recent study explored the hypothesis that nicotine is a gateway for illegal drugs such as cocaine.The hypothesis was developed by Denise Kandel, who observed that young people become involved in drugs in stages. She stated that in Western countries, people especially youth started using illegal drugs after wetting their feet in legal drugs, specifically tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.

The research concluded that there definitely is a link between nicotine use and cocaine use, as Nicotine acts as a gateway drug and exerts a priming effect on cocaine in the sequence of drug use through global acetylation in the striatum, creating an environment primed for the induction of gene expression,which allowed more dopamine to be released when cocaine is taken after nicotine has entered the body. It also showed that many people used cocaine with nicotine to enhance the physiological effects of nicotine.

Are Cocaine And Heroin Related?

Cocaine and heroin are both addictive substances which are related by similarities and unrelated by differences. Cocaine can be lethal as it affects the heart rate, causing heart arrhythmias and many users have died due to heart stoppage. Heroin on the other hand, attacks the respiratory system. Heroin has an antidote naloxone whereas cocaine does not.

In appearance, cocaine is a smooth white crystalline powder while heroin is brownish and coarser.  In terms of taste the two drugs differ widely; cocaine has a peculiar sour taste that numbs the mouth whereas heroin has a bitter taste and doesn’t numb the mouth.

Heroin is derived from poppy plants found in regions of Europe and Asia. Cocaine is extracted from coca plants found in South America. Heroin is classified as an opiate, so it has a numbing sedative effect, which is why it was widely used in hospitals for managing extreme pain in patients of war. Cocaine on the other hand, has a more uplifting and euphoric effect, hence, cocaine is a stimulant whereas heroin is a depressant.

Effects Of Cocaine On The Body

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s most commonly abused drug charts, cocaine attacks the central nervous system by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain, hence increasing pleasure, which makes it so addictive.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls flow of many hormones. Under normal circumstances, dopamine is released as a reward system, for example when you get good marks in a test, and is recycled back, thus shutting the pathway between neurons. Cocaine stops the dopamine recycle process hence causes excess dopamine build up, thus disrupting normal brain functionality. The release of the excess dopamine is what gives cocaine its signature high.

Cocaine Affects The Body In A Variety Of Ways

Frequent use of cocaine can unbalance the brain’s pleasure reward system and distort dopamine levels, causing addiction. Frequent use can cause tolerance of cocaine which means that users will then indulge in more heavy cocaine usage, further aggravating their dependence and prolonging the effects of its addiction.

Cocaine affects the body in a variety of ways. It increases body temperature, increases blood flow, fastens heartbeat, dilates pupils and constricts arteries.It also causes abdominal pain and nausea. It can also cause psychosis, blurred vision and depression in rare cases. The depression can be so severe, that many users have tried to commit suicide. These are the short term effects of cocaine.

Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine

Long term effects of cocaine can be nosebleeds, loss of smell, nasal damage and trouble swallowing due to mouth numbness. Poor nutrition and weight loss is a side effect due to decreased appetite. Taking cocaine through the mouth can cause bowel disease as well.

Taking cocaine via injections can cause HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. Cocaine can be fatally lethal when combined with other drugs and alcohol. Speedball, which is a combination of heroin and cocaine, has been proven to be extremely lethal as many have died from overdose.

Cocaine Causes Cerebral Hemorrhages

The growing pandemic of cocaine in Western Countries has provided a lot of evidence of its link with cerebral hemorrhages. It is becoming quite clear that cocaine misuse in young people with underlying vascular abnormalities can cause hemorrhages. But according to a recent study? The results have shown that drug related intra-cerebral hemorrhage often seems to be related to an underlying vascular malformation.

Severe headache immediately after taking cocaine should be the first indicator of this condition. Cerebral computed tomography should always be performed when severe headache or altered consciousness, or both, occur in relation to cocaine use, to better assess the patient’s condition and could be quite critical in saving patients’ lives.

 

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Effects Of Cocaine On Society

Due to cocaine’s highly addictive nature, people will resort to crime, such as theft, robberies, prostitution or even murder to pay for the drug.

Both the countries that transport the drug and receive the drug are adversely affected by cocaine. Third world countries such as Ecuador have seen a large group of immigrants fleeting from Colombia due to mass violence caused in the war against drugs. Honduras is the capital of the world in murder rate. This is partly due to the fact that about 79% of the cocaine that goes to US passes through Honduras.

A report by the UK’s Drug Strategy Unit stated that due to the expensive price of highly addictive drugs such as cocaine, around £16 billion worth of crime is committed annually.

The War Against Drugs

Due to the mass violence caused by drugs such as Cocaine, President Nixon formally launched the war on drugs in 1970. Over the following decades, global military and police insurgence escalated. In the process, the war on drugs has made drugs less accessible but as consequence it has led to mass violence, widespread imprisonments, and global chaos.

The war on drugs’ goal was to reduce drug use, by making them scarcer and more expensive. It was focused to destroy the international drug trade, hence making the goal of reducing cost and limiting availability possible. According to many data reports, drug prices have become cheaper over the years, but many drug policy experts believe that drugs have generally become less easily available; hence the war on drugs is somewhat successful.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the prices of many drugs, including cocaine have dropped significantly. Between 1981to 2007 the median bulk price of cocaine is down by 87%. Between that time period, the median bulk price of crack cocaine dropped by 57%. The most significant price drop however in that time frame, is in the price of heroin, which has seen a drop of about 93%.

There are however a lot of studies that claim there is too much risk and not enough reward associated with the war on drugs.A 2014 study from Harold Pollack from University of Chicago and Peter Reuter from University of Maryland found that there’s no evidence that suggests tougher laws and strict punishments will curb drug use compared to lenient punishments. So implementing tougher methods to eliminate drug distribution doesn’t help in restricting drug use.

So the question arises can making drugs legal solve the issue?

The Case For Making Drugs Legal

Due to the high costs of operation and bloodshed and violence caused to control drug trade has forced many committees to question the global drug policies. The former presidents ofColombia, Switzerland and Mexico, former UK deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, businessman Richard Branson has said that countries should experiment with their drug policies.

The group represented the global commission on drug policymade the decision on 21st April 2016 after a special meeting of United Nations general assembly (UNGASS) to discuss the world’s drug problem. The group criticized UNGASS for failing to acknowledge the failure to reduce drug supply and demand under the current drug policy. The panel discussed on the possibilities to regulate drug market.

Many drug policy experts believe that by decriminalizing drug possessions will keep nonviolent drug users out of prison but still let law enforcement agencies to go after drug dealers. Mark Kleiman, one of the leading drug policy experts in US has said decriminalization will be favorable combined with rehabilitation programs for drug users.

He analyzed a research paper and said that a program for illicit drug users in Hawaii produced favorable results.Participants in that program had large reductions in positive drug tests and were significantly less likely to be arrested during follow-ups at three months, six months, and 12 months.

Other drug policy experts, such as Isaac Campos, a drug historian at the University of Cincinnati are against decriminalization. Campos argued that by making drugs legal, drug traders will roam free and keep the revenue in their hands.This could lead to more drug use as it would lead to aggressive marketing and advertisement of their products.”The black market might even be fueled somewhat by the fact that people won’t be arrested anymore, because maybe more people will use,” Campos said. “We don’t know if that’s the case, but it’s possible.”

Decriminalization is therefore a compromise in the war against drugs. Therefore, newer drug policies should be focused on rehabilitation, to prevent cocaine abuse.


Co Author : Fazeel Ashraf 

The A-Z of Cocaine
The A-Z of Cocaine
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