What is cocaine?

Manufactured from coca leaves, cocaine is an intensely addictive stimulant. While South American populations have used coca leaves for centuries in social and religious settings to ward off hunger and fatigue, cocaine in the US is generally sold as a fine, white, crystalline powder. The coca leaf can be rolled into cigarettes or cigars and smoked, or infused in liquid and consumed like tea. To prepare cocaine for drug trafficking, coca leaves are dried and put in a pit with chemicals designed to extract the cocaine alkaloid.

Once snorted, cocaine affects the brain by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for movement and pleasure. Increased levels of dopamine overstimulate neurons in the brain, creating a “high.” Within 20 minutes of snorting cocaine, users report feeling a sense of euphoria and power, and a loss of inhibition. The drug usually wears off after about 30 minutes, at which point users complain of an intense “down” feeling, fueling desires to take the drug again.

What are the effects of cocaine?

People use cocaine to experience the immediate euphoric rush, which is accompanied by feelings of confidence, motivation to work, and increased sex drive. However, while the user experiences initial pleasure, the body faces danger by elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. This stress on your circulatory system could lead to strokes, seizures, headaches, blurred vision, and fever. Cocaine also decreases appetite, promoting malnutrition in the long-term addict.

After the initial pleasurable effects of cocaine, the user will likely suffer paranoia, depression, and irritability. Extended, regular use will cause strong psychological dependence, insomnia, agitation, and depression.

What happens if I take cocaine while drinking?

Mixing alcohol and cocaine can be deadly for a couple of reasons. First of all, you won’t be able to gauge how much you’re drinking because the cocaine masks the depressive effects of alcohol. Once the high wears off, you will immediately feel the alcohol in your system. Second, the alcohol and cocaine create a lethal mix in the liver, cocaethylene. This compound can cause sudden death.