Cocaine: what you need to know
Cocaine, derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant, is a potent central nervous system stimulant and a local anaesthetic. In addition, cocaine is a highly addictive and naturally occurring anaesthetic or pain blocker. Cocaine and its derivative, crack cocaine, are widely used as illegal recreational drugs. As a recreational drug, cocaine is a white, crystalline powder or an off-white, chunky substance.
Some of the psychological effects induced by cocaine are euphoria, confidence and a sense of increased energy. The results generally last between 15 and 60 minutes. However, post-effects may linger for several days. In someone who’s taken a large dose, expect to see severe anxiety and violent behaviour.
Short-term effects of the drug may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch
- Dilated pupils
- Anger / Irritability
- Muscle twitches
- Decreased appetite
Long-term health effects of cocaine abuse may include:
- Chest, abdominal pain
- Respiratory failure
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Seizures / convulsions
- Heart attack, stroke
- Sexual impotence
- Loss of smell, nosebleeds
- Kidney failure
Rapid heart rate, dilation of the pupils, fever, tremors, and sweating.
Continued ingestion of cocaine could induce tolerances and physiological dependency, which leads to its abuse. Large uncontrolled doses can cause everything from seizures to heart attack and kidney failure. Cocaine drug can also make changes to the structure of the brain. As a result, cocaine addiction can cause long-term brain damage and mental health issues such as mood swings or other emotional irregularities.
Cocaine is used by smoking, intravenous or oral administration and excreted in the urine primarily as benzoylecgonine in a short period. Benzoylecgonine has a biological half-life of 5-8 hours, which is much longer than of cocaine (0.5-1.5 hours) and can be generally detected for 12-72 hours after cocaine use or exposure. Cocaine itself typically lasts in your system for up to 1-day before it is completely broken down. A urine drug screen can detect the presence of cocaine up to 4 days after one’s taken the substance. High-frequency users build up an excess of cocaine metabolites in their system, which takes the body longer to excrete them. Unlike marijuana, which can last in your urine for up to 30 days, cocaine is relatively short-acting.