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Article Summary

What is Cocaine?

When you hear the word cocaine, you likely think of the world 'drug abuse'. This is because cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs on the market because of its highly addictive nature that directly affects the brain. While it is widely abused now, it has not always been that way.

Where Does Cocaine Come From?

Cocaine is an old medicinal drug, which was used for thousands of years as a painkiller and medicine able to improve mental and physical alertness. In the first part the 1900's, pure cocaine was used to treat many different illnesses. However, the stimulant was also known for its psychedelic aspect, and for over 100 years, it has been a commonly abused drug.

In South American, in the Andean highlands, the leaves from a plant called the Erythroxylon coca, also called the coca scrub, provide the extract that we know as cocaine. It is manufactured into powder so that it can be transported easily and sold easier.

The natives chewed on the leaves to improve breathing as it increases oxygen intake. This helped them to partake in their daily physical duties, even inside the high altitudes that they lived in.

Once the power of this stimulant was truly recognized, people were quick to find a way to synthesize it and create it into powder form for transportation. Soon, methods that multiplied the effects of the drug were created and now we are left with the addictive version of cocaine called crack.

Cocaine is now a way for poor South American countries to earn money. Moreover, in the process, many people who make cocaine to be shipped out to America have also become addicted the powerful drug. However, they tend to get the more dangerous version of the drug (the residue) and the affects it has on these people are horrifying.

The History of Cocaine

Besides its native use, it is interesting to note that Sigmund Freud first promoted cocaine as safe to use medicinally in 1880. He encouraged its use for sexual impotence and depression.

Because of this 'safe' label on cocaine, and perhaps the addictive nature of the substance, it was added into Cola Cola. Needless to say that the people who drank Coca Cola became addicted to and were rewarded with an energized and euphoric feeling.

Soon, the true effects of cocaine were realized and it was labeled as a narcotic and made illegal for public use.

What is Cocaine? Really?

Many people do not realize that cocaine is not a pure substance. Because it has to be extracted, and chemicals are need for the extraction, you cannot be sure you are actually getting a pure substance unless you are chewing directly on the leaves of the coca plant.

In Columbia, for example, it is made with very dangerous chemicals and can cause many problems besides addiction and brain damage. The multi-billion dollar industry starts in a place you wouldn't imagine, and likely would not want to be.

Men risk their lives and their freedom in the forest of Columbia all for the small amount of money they make in their share of this billion-dollar business.

They start by pouring water into a large basin of water. Chlorine is then added to water and then the coco leaf is added to mixture.

Next, a toxic chemical mixture of bleach, kerosene and sulfuric acid is added to the mixture to extract the cocaine from the leaves.

Then the leafs are strained from the liquid, and more kerosene is added to the liquid. This draws the coca alkaloid (thicker than the liquid) to the top of the mixture. The kerosene containing the coca alkaloid is skimmed off the top and the rest of the chemicals are poured away into the river system, making this a hazard not only for their life and freedom, but also for both wild life and nature that surrounds them.

Next, the toxic brew is strained and the remaining residue is heated and turned into a solid.

What makes it worth the dangers that they go through is the money that they receive, because it is their only source of income.

In the end, cocaine is not only a dangerous stimulant and addictive substance, but it is also a dangerous way of making an income for many people. In short, the word 'danger' is attached to it from the beginning of the process to the ingestion of the drug.

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