- Cocaine is prepared from the leaf of the Erythroxylon coca bush, which grows primarily in Peru and Bolivia.
- Experiments with animals suggest that cocaine is perhaps the most powerful drug of all in producing psychological dependence.
- The slang terms for using cocaine are, respectively, "chewing," "snorting," "mainlining," "injecting," and "smoking" (including freebase and crack cocaine).
- Near half of all drug related emergency room visits are due to cocaine abuse.
Cocaine is produced as a white chunky powder. It is sold most often in aluminum foil, plastic or paper packets, or small vials. Cocaine is usually chopped into a fine powder with a razor blade on a small mirror or some other hard surface, arranged into small rows called "lines," then quickly inhaled (or "snorted") through the nose with a short straw or rolled up paper money. It can also be injected into the blood stream.
Paraphernalia associated with inhaling cocaine include mirrors, razor blades, straws, and rolled paper money, while paraphernalia associated with injecting the drug include syringes, needles, spoons, and belts, bandanas or surgical tubing used to constrict the veins. Scales are used by dealers to weigh the drug. Sometimes substances such as baking soda or mannitol are used to "cut" cocaine in order to dilute the drug and increase the quantity of the drug for sale.
The high from a typical inhaled dose of cocaine lasts for about 20 minutes. During this time the cocaine user may appear very alert, confident, energetic, and stimulated; physical signs include dilated eyes and a runny nose, and little or no appetite. The high from cocaine is followed by profound depression, an intense desire for another dose of the drug, mental fatigue, restlessness, and irritability. An overdose of cocaine can cause extreme agitation, respiratory failure, heart failure, or death.
History of Cocaine and Crack Use
In ancient times, South American natives used coca for religious and medicinal purposes. They used its stimulant properties to fight fatigue and hunger, and to enhance endurance. The Spanish conquistador banned coca at first, but when they discovered that the addicted natives could barely work the fields in the gold mines without it, they began to distribute it to the workers three or four times a day.
The Spanish conquistadors introduced coca to Europe, where it was used only occasionally until the 19th Century. The active ingredient of the coca plant was first isolated in 1859. Coca leaves were soon processed into cocaine hydrochloride, the powder form of the drug. However, cocaine was taken mostly in liquid form at that time, whether by mouth or by injection. Sigmund Freud experimented with cocaine extensively in the latter part of the century. Doctors began to use cocaine as an antidote to morphine addiction, but some of the patients ended up addicted to both.
In 1863, the coca wine Vin Mariani went on sale throughout France. It contained 6 mg cocaine per ounce of wine in France, but exported Vin Mariani contained 7.2 mg per ounce to compete with the higher cocaine content of American competitors.
German ophthalmologist, Carl Koller, discovered cocaine's effectiveness as an anesthetic for eye surgery in about 1880. Until that time, eye surgery was done without adequate anesthesia, sometimes requiring a conscious patient to move his eye without flinching as a surgeon directed him.
Cocaine was soon sold over-the-counter. Until 1914, one could buy it at department stores. It was widely used in tonics, toothache cures and patent medicines, and in chocolate cocaine tablets.
Coca-Cola was introduced in 1886 and was promoted as a drink "offering the virtues of coca without the vices of alcohol." Until 1903, a typical serving contained around 60mg of cocaine. The new beverage was invigorating and popular. Today, Coca-Cola is still flavored with an extract of coca-leaves, but contains none of the drug itself.
By 1890, the addicting and psychosis-producing nature of cocaine was well understood in the medical community, but no laws banning the general use of the drug were made until 1914. Perhaps it was cocaine's effectiveness in reducing the swelling of mucous membranes, consequently enlarging the nasal and bronchial passages, that gave users the idea of sniffing cocaine. Whatever the origin of that idea, by 1905 it was the most popular method of using the drug. In 1910, the first cases of nasal damage from cocaine snorting were written of in medical literature. In 1912, the U.S. Government reported 5,000 deaths from cocaine use -- when the US population was only a third of what it is today!
In 1914, cocaine was banned in the US Except for a few uses in medicine as a local anesthetic, cocaine has been illegal worldwide ever since. Since 1914, the possession, sale, and giving away of cocaine have been highly regulated and subject to severe legal penalties. During the 1940s, 1950s, and most of the 1960s, the smuggling of cocaine into the United States was very limited and the black market in cocaine was relatively small. Other drugs, such as amphetamines, which were available far more cheaply than cocaine, grew in popularity as drugs of abuse. Late in the 1960s, law-enforcement agencies began cracking down heavily on the amphetamine black market, and cocaine smuggling and cocaine use regained popularity. As it had been early in the century, in the 1960s and 70s, cocaine was mostly sniffed. Cocaine hydrochloride is a fine white powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Some cocaine abusers, no longer able to get the high they were seeking from sniffing the drug, have mixed it with water and injected it intravenously. However, most people are unwilling or unable to inject themselves. Soon, a smokeable form of cocaine was developed. Freebasing cocaine involves mixing it with highly explosive solvents, such as ether, and heating it. This technique is physically dangerous because the solvent tends to ignite.
In the early 1980s, a more
convenient and less dangerous method of producing smokeable cocaine became common.
The process involved concentrating ordinary cocaine hydrochloride by heating
the drug in a solution of baking soda. This process rarely ended in fires or
explosions. In addition, it allowed dealers to "stretch" the raw material;
a tiny bit of cocaine hydrochloride made a full dose of the new freebase. Freebase
cocaine vaporizes at a low temperature, so it can be easily inhaled from a heated
pipe. This type of freebase cocaine makes a crackling sound when heated, so
it was named "crack." The wholesale price of a kilogram of cocaine
dropped from about $55,000 in 1981 to about $25,000 in 1984. In addition, turning
cocaine hydrochloride into crack meant that one "dose" went from about
twenty dollars to about five dollars. When each dose became so much cheaper,
dealers could sell to rich and poor alike and make more money. A cocaine addiction
epidemic was underway.
The following table contains most of the slang names used for cocaine powder, smokeable cocaine or crack, and injected cocaine. Street drug language changes all of the time, so as soon as a list is published it’s somewhat out of date. The slang used for cocaine in your area may include some of these terms, and may include totally new terms.
|Street Term||Form of Cocaine|
|Berni (ce)||Cocaine powder|
|Big C||Cocaine powder|
|Big flake||Cocaine powder|
|Bouncing powder||Cocaine powder|
|Chicken scratch||Cocaine powder|
|Cocaine blues||Cocaine powder|
|Cooking up||Cocaine powder|
|Do a line||Cocaine powder|
|Devil Drug||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Flame cooking||Freebased/cooked cocaine|
|Florida snow||Cocaine powder|
|Foo Foo||Cocaine powder|
|Happy dust||Cocaine powder|
|Happy powder||Cocaine powder|
|Happy trails||Cocaine powder|
|Kibbles n’ Bits||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Lady caine||Cocaine powder|
|Late night||Cocaine powder|
|Mama coca||Cocaine powder|
|Marching dust||Cocaine powder|
|Marching powder||Cocaine powder|
|Mujer (Spanish)||Cocaine powder|
|Nieve (Spanish)||Cocaine powder|
|Nose candy||Cocaine powder|
|Piedras (Spanish)||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Prime Time||Cocaine powder|
|Ready rock||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Rock star||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Shootin’ Caine||Injected cocaine|
|Smoke houses||Smokeable cocaine/crack|
|Smoking gun||Cocaine powder|
|Sweet stuff||Cocaine powder|
|White horse||Cocaine powder|
|White lady||Cocaine powder|
|White powder||Cocaine powder|
|Working bags||Cocaine powder|
|Yeyo (Spanish)||Cocaine powder|