Blow, snow, nose candy, yayo, girl. Bolivian marching powder. Peruvian flake. By name, it’s coke. Or coca. Short for cocaine. It’s instantly addictive and obscenely rewarding. It’s also instantly rewarding. Giving courage to cowards, confidence to the insecure and stamina to the tired and worn-out. That’s what makes the drug so damn dangerous.   Cocaine is generally snorted, by the line, by the rail or by the bump. It can also be intravenously injected, or smoked with tobacco or marijuana. However it’s used, the euphoric effect is instantaneous. But the peak high varies by method, typically between three minutes (injecting) and 15 minutes (snorting). Once the peak subsides the user is then compelled to repeat the process, albeit in increasingly stronger doses. Cocaine users sometimes mix the drug with heroin. That’s called speedballing.

Short Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine causes a short-lived, intense high that is immediately followed by edginess and a craving for more of the drug, and even intense depression. Cocaine users often don’t eat or sleep properly. They can experience greatly increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions.
They can also feel paranoid, 1 angry, hostile and anxious, even when they aren’t high. Regardless of how much of the drug is used or how frequently, cocaine increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death.

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Tolerance increase:

Again, cocaine tolerance increases at once. As tolerance increases, of course, greater and greater quantities are necessary to get the same high. Prolonged daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite. A chronic cocaine user can also become psychotic and begin to experience hallucinations.

Loss of interest:

Like opioids, cocaine significantly interferes with the way the brain’s chemical processing. Cocaine users then need more and more of the drug just to feel “normal.” Cocaine addicts (like most other drug addicts) typically lose all interest in other areas of life.


Coming down from cocaine causes severe depression. In fact, the post-high depression can be so severe that a person will do almost anything to get the drug. This may include burglaries, robberies, even murder. Post abuse depression can also get intense enough to drive an addict to suicide.

Health Effects:

But cocaine addicts generally suffer severe health effects of long-term abuse, including permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death, as well as liver, kidney and lung damage. Cocaine abuse may also cause respiratory failure (if smoked) and infectious diseases and abscesses (if injected). Psychologically, cocaine abuse can lead to auditory and tactile hallucinations, disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion and delirium. This is generally known as cocaine psychosis.


Cocaine use generates a sense of energy, excitement and confidence. Cocaine withdrawal pretty much results in the opposite effect. It’s called a crash. And it’s accompanied by strong cravings, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion and an inability to feel pleasure from any normal source.
That’s generally followed by depression and restlessness, which can last days, weeks or even months. It is not uncommon for a cocaine user to experience paranoid and suicidal thoughts or intentions during withdrawal. And it is recommended that a recovering cocaine user be monitored to ensure their own safety.
A range of treatments are effective in treating cocaine addiction, including dual-diagnosis medications and behavioral therapy. It’s crucial though to match the best treatment approach with the particular needs of each individual patient. Behavioral therapies for cocaine addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps modify the patient’s drug-use expectations and behaviors. It also helps effectively manage triggers and stress. Contingency management provides motivational incentives for staying drug-free. These behavioral treatment approaches are especially effective when used along with a solid 12 Step regimen.
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  • 1855: German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke (5 June 1828 – 19 September 1890) is the first person to isolate the cocaine alkaloid.
  • 1859: Italian neurologist, physiologist and anthropologist Paolo Mantegazza issues a paper entitled “On the hygienic and medicinal properties of coca and on nervous nourishment in general,” in which he chronicles his own coca experiments on himself. Mantegazza considered coca to be a wonder drug, saying “God is unjust because he made man incapable of sustaining the effect of coca all life long.”
  • 1860: German chemist Albert Niemann more fully isolates the cocaine alkaloid. And he names it cocaine.
  • 1863: Corsican chemist Angela Mariani concocts Vin Mariani, a mixture of wine and cocaine, and sells it as a stomach stimulant, pain reliever, appetite suppressant and anemia treatment.
  • 1870s: Parke,Davis manufactures a liquid extract of coca.
  • 1884: Sigmund Freud published his work Über Coca, basically a love letter to the drug. Among other things, Freud advocates using the drug to treat morphine addiction.
  • 1885: the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supplant the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and render the sufferer insensitive to pain.”
  • 1886: Coca-Cola is first introduced by John Pemberton, containing cocaine laced syrup and caffeine.
  • 1887: The US Surgeon General recommends that cocaine be used to treat depression, claiming that there was no such thing as cocaine addiction.
  • Late 1880s: Parke-Davis starts to manufacture refined cocaine.
  • 1901: Coca-Cola removes coca from its soft drink formula.
  • 1905: Snorting cocaine becomes popular.
  • 1910: First cases of nasal damage from cocaine snorting are seen in hospitals.
  • 1912: The U.S. government reports 5,000 cocaine-related fatalities in one year.
  • 1914: The Harrison Narcotics Act rounds up a list of drugs that had been used in patent medicines or pharmaceutical compounds and puts them under federal control. Cocaine was on the list.
  • 1930: illegal drug use in movies was banned in the 1930 Motion Picture Code.
  • Early 1930s: Japan is the world’s leading cocaine producer (23.3%) followed by the United States (21.3%), Germany (15%), U.K. (9.9%), France (8.3%).
  • 1970s: Cocaine use begins to be highly glamorized
  • 1982: There are an estimated 10.4 million cocaine users in America — an all-time high
  • 1985: Crack starts showing up on the streets of Miami, New York and Los Angeles
  • 1986: Basketball star Len Bias suffers a cocaine-related death the night he’s drafted by the Boston Celtics.


Cocaine has been making its mark in the arts and sciences since the Victorian Era. In 1863, Corsican chemist Angela Mariani wine and cocaine concoction Vin Mariani, was used by the likes of HG Wells, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, the Queen of Portugal, the King of Spain, Pope Leo XIII, President William McKinley, sculptor Auguste Rodin, and many others. In 1885, as former President Ulysses S. Grant lay dying of throat cancer, he was reported to have been sipping Vin Mariani as he wrote his memoirs. Edison also claimed Vin Mariani helped him work throughout the night. Around the same time Freud came out with his Uber Coca, which was basically a love letter to the drug. Freud’s supply came gratis from pharmaceutical providers Parke-Davis and Merck, and was of a particularly pure grade. While Freud’s research was all self-administered. Arthur Conan Doyle also took a do-it-yourself approach to cocaine. Sure, he gave Sherlock Holmes a major cocaine addiction. But it’s a cinch both writer and detective kept a syringe loaded with a seven percent solution on hand for the occasions when either felt understimulated. Cocaine was all the rage during Hollywood’s Silent Era. It also left an ugly mark. In fact, the murder of William Desmond Taylor, a director for Paramount Studios, was said to have been related to the cocaine addiction of movie star and good friend Mabel Normand. Celebrity gossip columnist Tallulah Bankhead was another well-known Hollywood cocaine addict, though she was reportedly more discreet about her habit.
Bankhead has been quoted as saying,
“Don’t tell me cocaine is habit-forming. I’ve been taking it for seventeen years and I ought to know.”
Other Hollywood names who developed a love for the drug were Tim Allen (who actually served prison time for cocaine trafficking), Angelina Jolie (who reportedly did coke at least two or three times a week throughout her 20s), Robert Downey Jr. (who finally got off rehab’s revolving door back in 2002), and Drew Barrymore (who started snorting cocaine at 13). Michael J. Fox played Jamie Conway in the film adaptation of Jay McInerney’s Bolivian Marching Powder-fueled novel Bright Lights Big City in 1988. McInerney’s New York epic joins a long list of cocaine fiction that began with Italian author Pitigrilli’s 1921 Cocaine. McInerney also joins an illustrious list of cocaine-using novelists, which includes Robert Louis Stevenson (who reportedly wrote the 60,000 word The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde during a six-day cocaine binge) and Steven King (who relied upon cocaine between 1979 and 1987) Cocaine’s most devastating impact on culture though comes when it is mixed with opioids and other drugs. The practice is known as speedballing, and it’s taken the lives of John Belushi, Chris Farley, Philip Seymour Hoffman, River Phoenix and Layne Staley, among too many others.

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