Also known as coke is a stimulatory drug mostly used for recreational use and commonly snorted but can be smoked and/or injected.
The effects begin within seconds or minutes and only lasts from a few minutes to a couple hours, there are medical uses for cocaine as well as in surgery.
Cocaine is highly addictive with a significant risk of dependency. The first thing you know that you don’t want nothing else but coke and it is also rarely sold on the street, this pure form and commonly mixed with local anesthetics among and many of their substances which is a large reason why it is so common that users report a feeling of being physically tired when using the drug when in fact pure cocaine actually produces a very energetic effect.
Feeling pleasure motivates us to repeat behaviors, when the reward circuit is activated, each individual cell on the circuit release electrical and chemical signals, the small gap between the sending and receiving cells is called the synapse.
When dopamine binds to the exterior of the dopamine receptor, this causes proteins attached to the interior part of the receptors to carry the signal onward within the cell. Some dopamine molecules re-enter the sending cell via dopamine transporters and can be re-released.
When a reward is encountered the presynaptic cell releases a larger amount of dopamine in a sudden burst. Dopamine transporters will then quickly remove the excess. Dopamine surges in response to natural rewards help the brain learn and adapt to a complex world.
However, drugs are able to hijack this process contributing to unhealthy behaviors and consequences. When someone first uses cocaine the drug quickly enters the brain where it blocks the transporters on the presynaptic cell since dopamine cannot re-enter the presynaptic cell it begins to accumulate in the synapse, where it can reach abnormally high levels and remain there much longer than usual.
The postsynaptic cell becomes hyper activated which produces a feeling of euphoria, this creates an incredibly powerful association between cocaine and pleasure making a person want to repeat the experience of taking the drug.
Vast amounts of cocaine come from South America because of the abundance of coca plants that grow in the mountains and jungle areas.
The drug stimulates the brain in the same way that a real achievement might do, like winning a college football game. This feeling is the main reason people who get addicted want to get high on cocaine again and again.
But each high requires a little more of the drug to get the same effect. Users also often feel superior to other people and so the effect of the cocaine high can have a particular appeal to people with low self-esteem, or who are in situations where a greater level of confidence is desirable, such as performers.
And talking of performers, there have been scores of famous addicts over the years. Many were musicians and few lived to tell the tale.
Cocaine use has been prevalent with the rich and famous but deaths are less common from cocaine use alone. In 2012, Whitney Houston was found submerged in a filled bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. According to the autopsy report, she died of a combination of a possible heart attack and cocaine use.
And then in August 2014 the world was shocked when comedian Robin Williams hanged himself in his California home. There has been much debate around the reasons for William’s death and though most relate it to his ongoing battle with depression, his widow Susan told people magazine it was a debilitating brain disease called diffuse Lewy body dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) that took hold of Williams and probably led him to suicide.
Whether depression or brain disease, Robin Williams was known to have a long-standing issue with both alcohol and cocaine.
What about the cost of these drugs?¶
As they are on the black-market drug prices are not affected by inflation, like the usual products we purchase. But supply and demand can still have an influence on the price. Tom Wainwright, the former Economist reporter in Mexico City and author of Narconomics, told Business Insider, “The price of cocaine in the United States has hardly moved.
In the past couple of decades, it’s been about $150 per pure gram, and that’s barely budged, so there’s a puzzle there.” Wainwright went on to explain that the static nature of cocaine prices can likely be explained by the hold cartels and other traffickers have over the cocaine market at its origins.
They have the ability to dictate prices to producers.