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Cocaine is a crystalline substance obtained from the leaves of coca plant. It is medicinally used as a stimulant, topical anaesthetic, and an appetite suppressant. Cocaine is known to cross the blood-brain barrier quite faster, making them as one of the most effective psychoactive stimulant. Taking cocaine increases feelings of well-being and euphoria, sexuality, feelings of competence, energy and motor activity, as well as mental alertness. Cocaine abuse or addiction is common due to its stimulant nature on the nervous system, and the effect can last from 15 to 30 minutes based on the route of administration.
Four routes of administration are commonly used for Cocaine: Oral, injecting, smoking (inhalation), snorting (intranasal) and plugging (vaginal or rectal). There are basically two forms of Cocaine available, the hydrochloride salt and the freebase. The powdered form of Cocaine is termed as the Hydrochloride salt, which can be dissolved in water and when abuses, it can be taken intranasally (through nose by snorting) or intravenously (injecting through the veins). Freebase is the basic form of Cocaine, as opposed to the salt form. Since the freebase form of Cocaine is not water soluble, it is taken by inhalation (through smoking). Crack Cocaine commonly used for abuse is a lower pure form of freebase cocaine obtained by neutralization of Cocaine hydrochloride with a solution of water and baking soda.
Smoking involves the inhalation of cocaine smoke or vapor in to the lungs . Cocaine is smoked by sublimating solid cocaine by heating and then inhaled. This route of administration through inhalation is as rapid as by injection route in to the blood stream.
Inhaling freebase or crack cocaine is done with a pipe made of small glass tubes, called straight shooters, blasters, horns, and stems. A small piece of scouring pad (made of copper or stainless steel) called brillo, acts as a reduction base and flow modulator, where the Cocaine can be melted to vapor. The effects through smoking are obtained immediately and are very intense, which last for a very short period of time, 5 to 15 minutes only.
Cocaine is sometimes smoked with other drugs like cannabis. Occasionally powder Cocaine is also smoked by sprinkling it on Cannabis.
Nasal insufflation is one of the most common method of administering Cocaine, which is also termed as sniffing, snorting, or blowing. When Cocaine is administered intranasally, the absorption of the drug is mainly through the nasal membrane. This method has lesser absorption of only 30 to 60%, and any unabsorbed material are collected in the mucus membrane are swallowed.
In this form, powdered cocaine is dissolved in water and injected directly in to the veins. This method releases the drug directly in to the blood stream and produces high euphoric effect instantly. Injecting Cocaine with heroine, is dangerous, as both the drugs not only complements each others effects but also mask the symptoms of an overdose, leading to death.
Another method of Cocaine administration is the suppository form, which is not much focused by anyone. This method, known as plugging, administers dissolved cocaine using an oral syringe in to the vaginal or anal cavity for its high feeling. In this route of administration, the drug absorption happens through the membrane linings in the walls of rectum or vagina.
The use of cocaine ranges from occasional use to repeated or compulsive use, with a number of different patterns in between. In general, there is no safe way to administer cocaine. Repeated or continuous use of Cocaine through any route, smoking, snorting, injection, oral or plugging, can produce addiction as well as other health issues.
Disturbances of the rythm of heart, nausea, abdominal pain, stroke, seizures, respiratory failure, chest pain, and heart attack are the most frequent health complications related to cocaine use. Different routes of cocaine administration can produce addictional medical problems too. Continuous inhalation of cocaine can result in nose bleeds, chronically inflamed runny nose, and loss of the sense of smell. Oral administration can lead to the development of severe gangrene of the bowel. Cocaine injections can result in severe allergic reactions, and are at a higher risk of developing hepatitis or HIV/AIDS, due to repeated use of the same syringe or due to sharing with others.
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