Cocaine is one of the most potent and dangerous narcotic substances known to man, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World. It is a natural drug, indigenous to South America from to the coca plant found there, as reported by the National Drug Institute website. Cocaine can have potentially damaging effects on the human body which need to be demystified.
Though fairly archaic, but hugely popular, the drug’s antiquatedness dates back to 3,000 years before the birth of Christ. At that time, it existed in the form of coca leaves, the original source from which it is derived, and was widely consumed by the ancient Incas in the Andes. They chewed the leaves to increase their heart rate and breathing to counter the thin mountain air of their habitat.
Interestingly, before being classified as a narcotic substance, cocaine was originally developed as a painkiller. It was isolated from coca leaves in 1859, by the German chemist Albert Niemann, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
However, it took another twenty years to gain popularity among the medical fraternity. In fact, one of its early users and promoters was an Austrian psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, who recommended it for curing depression and sexual impotence. Freud even called it a “magical substance” in a paper entitled “Uber Coca,” (About Cocaine) that he wrote in 1884.
Cocaine’s popularity got “another shot in the arm” in 1886. John Pemberton laced his new soft drink, Coca-Cola with coca leaves, whose euphoric and energizing effects on the consumers, yet to be demystified took the soft drink market by storm and transcended into the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, for Pemberton, the drug’s health hazards were slowly revealed to society, which pressured him and his company to remove cocaine from its soft drink in 1903.
However, the web of addiction which cocaine had got the society entangled in was not easy to cut.
The drug claimed around 5,000 lives in the U.S. in 1912, as reported by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Consequently, it was banned by the U.S. government in 1922.
The 1990s saw the drug cartels in Columbia actively produce and export 500-800 tons of cocaine annually to the European and Asian countries in addition to the U.S.
Today, the kind of havoc cocaine plays with the human body, make both physical and mental rehabilitation from its grip a daunting challenge for its user.
According to WebMD, cocaine is responsible for more emergency room visits in the U.S. than any other illegal drug due to damage it does to the heart, brain, lungs and blood vessels, sufficient to cause sudden death. This automatically necessitates demystifying Cocaine’s long lasting and powerful effects.
Cocaine, according to the National Drug Institute, is usually consumed through snorting, drinking it mixed with water or injecting into the blood stream.
Snorting is the least risky and directly injecting it is the most, as reported by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
Still, the method of abuse does not delay or lessen the intensity of its disastrous effects both in the short-run and long-run. This is because after entering the bloodstream, cocaine quickly travels to the brain where it meddles with neurotransmitters, while simultaneously, affecting the entire body, as per the WebMD website.
The long-term and potentially negative effects of the drug usually offset its short-term and so-called positive ones. The instantaneous boost of energy felt after consuming cocaine, is usually accompanied by a sense of supremacy and alertness in mood.
Unfortunately, the feeling is short-lived. It soon translates into intense depression, anxiety and a craving for more of the drug, according to WebMD and Foundation for a Drug-Free World, alike.
Prolonged abuse of cocaine, besides permanently damaging the victim’s vital organs, also causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite.
In addition, on the social front, fractured relationships on account of the person’s psychotic behavior riddled with suspicion, distrust and fear of other people around him also result, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
Cocaine is one such drug whose dangers and effects are much more extreme and irreversible than actually known, a fact which demystifies the drug making it advisable to stay away from its use.
By Bashar Saajid
Edited by Cathy Milne
Foundation for a Drug-Free World: Cocaine: A Short History
Foundation for a Drug-Free World: What is Cocaine?
National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drug Facts – Cocaine
WebMD: Cocaine Use and its Effects
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