WHAT IS COCAINE?
Cocaine is an intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug
with strong addictive potential.
WHAT IS ITS ORIGIN?
Cocaine is derived from coca leaves grown in Bolivia,
Peru, and Colombia. The cocaine manufacturing process
takes place in remote jungle labs where the raw product
undergoes a series of chemical transformations. Colombia
produces about 90 percent of the cocaine powder reaching
the United States. Most of the cocaine entering the United States comes through Mexico.
What are common street names?
Common street names include:
Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow, and Soda Cot
What does it look like?
Cocaine is usually distributed as a white, crystalline powder.
Cocaine is often diluted (“cut”) with a variety of substances, the
most common of which are sugars and local anesthetics. It is
“cut” to stretch the amount of the product and increase profits
for dealers. In contrast, cocaine base (crack) looks like small,
irregularly shaped chunks (or “rocks”) of a whitish solid.
How is it abused?
Powdered cocaine can be snorted or injected into the veins after
dissolving in water. Cocaine base (crack) is smoked, either alone
or on marijuana or tobacco. Cocaine is also used in combination
with an opiate, like heroin, a practice known as “speedballing.”
Although injecting into veins or muscles, snorting, and smoking
are the common ways of using cocaine, all mucous membranes
readily absorb cocaine. Cocaine users typically binge on the drug
until they are exhausted or run out of cocaine.
What is its effect on the mind?
The intensity of cocaine’s euphoric effects depends on how
quickly the drug reaches the brain, which depends on the dose
and method of abuse. Following smoking or intravenous injection,
cocaine reaches the brain in seconds, with a rapid buildup in
levels. This results in a rapid-onset, intense euphoric effect
known as a “rush.”
By contrast, the euphoria caused by snorting cocaine is less
intense and does not happen as quickly due to the slower
build-up of the drug in the brain. Other effects include increased
alertness and excitation, as well as restlessness, irritability,
Tolerance to cocaine’s effects develops rapidly, causing users
to take higher and higher doses. Taking high doses of cocaine
or prolonged use, such as binging, usually causes paranoia.
The crash that follows euphoria is characterized by mental
and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several
days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use
What is its effect on the body?
Physiological effects of cocaine include increased blood pressure
and heart rate, dilated pupils, insomnia, and loss of appetite.
The widespread abuse of highly pure street cocaine has led to many
severe adverse health consequences such as:
Cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic heart conditions, sudden
cardiac arrest, convulsions, strokes, and death
In some users, the long-term use of inhaled cocaine has led to
a unique respiratory syndrome, and chronic snorting of cocaine
has led to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.
Which drugs cause similar effects?
Other stimulants, such as methamphetamine, cause effects
similar to cocaine that vary mainly in degree.
What is its legal status in the United States?
Cocaine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances
Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has an
accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. Cocaine
hydrochloride solution (4 percent and 10 percent) is used primarily
as a topical local anesthetic for the upper respiratory tract. It also is
used to reduce bleeding of the mucous membranes in the mouth,
throat, and nasal cavities. However, better products have been
developed for these purposes, and cocaine is rarely used medically
in the United States.
SOURCE: A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition