Definition of Cocaine
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that comes from the coca leaves. For centuries, South America people chewed and ingested the coca leaves to get the extra energy needed for farm works. The drug also helps them breathe in thin air in high altitude mountain areas. Currently, the US government labeled cocaine as a Schedule II drug, meaning that the drug contains addictive properties. However, doctors can still use cocaine in their medical procedure as a local anesthesia in surgeries for the eye, ear, and throat. The drug typically sold in the black markets as a fine, white and crystalline powder.
Some of the street names of cocaine include:
Drug dealers often mix or (‘cut’) cocaine using readily available materials like talcum powder, cornstarch, flour, baking soda to increase their profits. Some users even mix cocaine with another drug like heroin and call it a ‘Speedball’.
History of Cocaine
The purified form of cocaine, cocaine hydrochloride was first extracted from the plant more than a century ago. During the early 1900’s, purified cocaine was used as the main ingredient for various elixirs and tonics. These so-called ‘medicinal’ tonics believed to treat several diseases. Cocaine was even the main ingredient in the early recipe of the famous Coca-Cola drink. Before the discovery of local anesthetic, the medical community used cocaine to block pain in some surgical procedures. However, several types of research emerge indicating that the potent stimulant can cause damage in the brain functions and its structures.
How Cocaine is consumed
Users usually snort, smoke and inject cocaine. It is a fast acting drug which can immediately felt within 2 seconds to minutes after the last dose. It usually lasts between five minutes to ninety minutes. This can result in mental effects such as:
- loss of contact with the real world
- the intense feeling of happiness
- fast heart rate
- dilates pupils
In higher doses, the drug can cause:
- high blood pressure
- high body temperature
- sleep disorders
- tremors and muscle twitches
- nausea and vomiting
- rapid and weak pulse
- chest pain
- heart attack
- kidney failure
- brain hemorrhage
What are opiates?
Opioids are a group of drugs derived from the Asian poppy plant. They affect the central nervous system and the spinal cord. Experts designed these drugs as chemically similar to interact with opioid receptors in the brain.
Some of the drugs that belong to this class are:
These type of drugs are used as pain management medications and generally safe if taken for a short period of time. Doctors often prescribe the drugs after a surgical procedure to help them deal with the pain. However, even when prescribed legally the drugs can still produce tolerance and euphoria. Some users manage their way misusing the drug, either taking it longer or in higher doses. Drug overdose and deaths are common in opiate abuse.
How opioids work
Opioids bind the opioid receptors in the brain that controls pain, digestion and other bodily functions. Once these drugs flooded the brain’s receptors they weakened the person’s perception of pain. However, they also affect the reward system of the brain, producing euphoria which the users seek. Some people fall pray into this euphoric feeling and eventually get addicted to opiates. It somehow leads in taking the prescription drug longer and in higher doses as the addiction develops. This put the users at a higher risk of serious health problems, drug overdose even death. The best way to avoid opiate addiction is to follow the strict prescription of doctors and take it only as needed.
Opioid addiction is on the rise, and opioid overdose deaths are a common scenario in emergency rooms nowadays. These drugs can repress the breathing process of the user, in an overdose scenario, the heart completely stops beating.
- Around 200,000 people die from prescription drugs like opiates annually.
- About 75% of those people are just teenagers.
Differences of Cocaine and Opiates
To sum it up and for the information of those who are in drug detox, cocaine does not belong to opiates as it acts as a stimulant. Opiates, on the other hand, bind receptors in the brain to dull pain, in some opiates it acts as a sedative. There are several more differences between the two drugs.
Here are some of them:
- Cocaine contains more addictive properties than any other drugs.
- This drug can kill users through cardiotoxicity, an extreme condition of the heart. Meanwhile, opiates repressed or decrease the breathing process of the user.
- Since cocaine directly affects the heart it can cause immediate death, but opiates like in heroin, some of the effects are reversible using naloxone.
- Cocaine came from the leaves of coca plant while opiates are derived from poppy plants.
- Opiates often regarded as ‘downer’ it slows the user’s movements. Users often feel more relaxes and subdued. These drugs are often used a medical management for moderate to severe pain.
- On the other hand, cocaine gives a stimulating effect referred to as ‘upper’. The drug can produce extreme happiness, elated and overly active.
- Thus cocaine is a stimulant while opiates are depressants.
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