Classification, Origin & Characteristics
Cocaine is classified as a stimulant. It is derived from the coca leaf which grows in South America and is known for its medicinal value. There are two forms of cocaine; powdered cocaine and crack. The powdered, hydrochloride form can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. This form of cocaine comes in a rock crystal that can be heated and its vapors smoked.
Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder. Street dealers may dilute pure cocaine with inert substances such as lactose, cornstarch, and/or sugar. Other active substances may include stimulants such as amphetamines.
Medicinal & Derivative Use
Cocaine has a useful medical purpose. Cocaine has the ability to deaden nerve endings this it is commonly used as an anesthetic. Derivatives of cocaine can include sunburn sprays, and Novocain.
Some of the signs of cocaine use can include blurred vision, dilated pupils, tremors and twitching, and chest pains or pressure. In general, cocaine use causes:
- Decreased Appetite
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Elevated Heart Rate
- Elevated Respiratory Rate
Long term effects of use include a strong psychological dependence and varying degrees of physical tolerance.
Crack is derived directly from cocaine. Cocaine powder is dissolved in a solution of ammonia or baking soda and water. The solution is boiled until a solid substance separates from the boiling mixture. The solid substance, crack cocaine, is allowed to dry and then broken or cut into “rocks” of varying weights. Crack is typically heated and smoked. The term “crack” comes from the crackling sound heard when it is heated.