Cocaine is considered extremely addictive substance that leads to a very serious damage of the human brain and nervous system. The peak of the drug utilization is dedicated to 1980-1990s; in this period, it was named a very dangerous drug. This substance is usually on top of the lists of the most common illegal drugs. It is familiar to people all over the world as a heavy stimulant, which is often utilized excessively and is extremely addictive. The most popular method to consume cocaine is to snort it in powder form; however, it can be also swallowed in the form of liquid or injected. In most cases, straight after taking the drug, people feel euphoria. This beatific feeling is the reason that makes addicts take the drug again and again; this desire results into abuse and addiction (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2004).
Cocaine in different forms is made of the coca plant that was first cultivated in the high mountains of South America. It is a white pulvis that can be reached from the dried coca leaves. Local people used to apply this plant’s leaves in the function of a stimulant. The stimulating effect enhanced breathing and, as a result, increased the oxygen saturation. That is why the local workers were able to fulfill their duties in the thin air, at high altitudes.
Crack is known as a state of cocaine that is made by cooking the coca powder with the baking soda. Then it is broken into little pieces that are named rocks. Crack has received such a name because the substance crackles when it is heated and smoked. It looks like white or tan pellets. Both cocaine and crack are very addictive and dangerous (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2004).
The amount of cocaine in the human body can be defined using the toxicology screens. A toxicology screen is considered a medical examination, which is used for identifying whether a person takes any legal/illegal drugs or not. They are required to examine whether the patient has consumed drugs that can jeopardize his life.
The toxicology screens are generally ordered by doctors when an examinee seems to be retarded or is senseless. Testing is also performed for patients whose mental condition has changed recently, for example, in the events of epileptic seizure, and dotage. The toxicology testing is also vital in cases of suspected sexual harassment. Sometimes, however, a patient can take drugs prescribed by a doctor, and accidentally overdose them (Markway & Baker, 2011).
Some extremely demanding employers require their employees to undergo random drug screening from time to time, in order to ensure that their workforce performs the tasks consciously. Those workers whose test results are positive can be suspended or even dismissed. The test results can be ready in a very short period, so that doctors are able to start treating their patients in an appropriate way as soon as possible.
There are few types of the toxicology tests. Some of them research blood; others investigate urine or saliva for the presence of drugs. The majority of the toxicology tests identify drugs in the human organism(qualitative testing); however, they do not determine the exact amount and type of drug. It is usually required to conduct post survey in order to find out the precise level of a certain drug in the organism (quantitative testing) and justify the results of the first examination.
Cocaine can be detected in the urine within the period of 24 to 48 hours. In constant consumers, these chemicals can be detected for longer time. Most screens provide restricted information on the amount or frequency of the drug intakes. As soon as a doctor figures out that a person has consumed some drugs, he can order an additional test that will detect the exact amount of drug that is visible in the patient’s organism (Markway & Baker, 2011).
The inside of the stomach can also be examined if doctors assume that a patient has consumed a drug per os. Some toxicology screens contain complete blood tests that require one or more little vials with blood. A medical specialist inserts a needle inside a vein and gets the necessary amount of blood in order to perform the required tests. If a doctor needs the urine sample, the patient has to urinate inside a small sample cup with witness of the law bodies or medical workers. In this case, doctors can prevent the patient from faking up the sample (Hathaway, 2012).
There are two popular types of the urine drug screens (UDS) – immunoassay and gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Immunoassay is the most common initial method for detecting the presence of the specific drugs. The main disadvantage of such test is that it often shows false-positive results, so the doctors have to double check them. On the contrary, GC-MS can detect even the smallest amount of drug. Moreover, it is more accurate and reliable that the first one. However, it also has some cons: it takes much time to complete the test, it is quite expensive and requires a high level of preparation (Woelfel, 2005).
All in all, the urine tests are very accurate in detecting the recent cocaine intake. Nevertheless, the problem is that these tests do not show how exactly the drug has got into the human body. Drinking tea or other natural products that contain some amount of the coca leaves also shows positive results during this test. Moreover, some food product bought via the Internet can show positive results for cocaine on a toxicology screen.
The history of the cocaine use is quite long and complicated. In the early 1900s, for example, cleared cocaine was the leading active component of different tonics and elixirs that were produced for curing a huge number of diseases. Clear cocaine was primarily extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylon coca bush that had been first discovered in Peru and Bolivia.
In addition, an Austrian analytical psychologist Sigmund Freud, who was famous for using cocaine himself, was considered the first practitioner who widely advertised cocaine as a medicinal product for treating collapse and sexual debility. However, he was not a passive observer and took cocaine on a regular basis, placed it on to the girl he dated with and his first mate, and advised to use it permanently. Despite the fact that cocaine results into a physical and mental retrogress, Freud went on recommending it to his nearest circle that led to paranoid hallucinations that one of his friends started suffering form, claiming that white snakes were crawling on his skin (Hathaway, 2012).
In 1886, the drug received even more fame after John Pemberton added the coca leaves to his new soft drink, named Coca-Cola. It had a euphoric and energizing effect on people, and had helped the drink earn massive popularity by the end of the century. Although the popularity of the drink was raising gradually, the government made the Coca-Cola company exclude the cocaine from the drink in 1913 since the result of it usage became more obvious in the society.
Until 1905, it was popular to snort cocaine. Nevertheless, in five years, medical magazines and newspapers started publishing cases concerning the issues of nasal damage, which was caused by the usage of the drug. In 1912, the U.S. government reported about 5000 deaths that were associated with the cocaine intake; therefore, in 1922, it was formally prohibited to take that drug.
Nevertheless, in the 1970s, cocaine appeared again as the fancy new drug for people working in the artistic world and business. It was named the perfect partner for a journey in the quick pace of life. It was famous for providing people with energy and helping them stay up all night when it was necessary. Historically, cocaine was regarded a drug for rich people, because of its high cost. However, by the end of 1980s, nobody had thought of cocaine as a choice for wealthy people; it had received a reputation of the most horrible, dangerous, and addictive drug in the USA that made people face violence, poverty, diseases, and even death (Gawin, 1989).
Cocaine is regarded as the second illegal drug that is in good request throughout the United States leaving behind marijuana. Indeed, the U.S. is the biggest consumer of cocaine in the world. However, it is also utilized as a prescription drug, as well. The target audience of the cocaine addicts varies from the middle to upper classes. It is also widespread among college and high school students as a party drug. Between 1970 and 1980 cocaine became especially famous in the disco culture all over the USA (Hathaway, 2012).
In 1999, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) reported that cocaine was used by nearly 3.7 million Americans and that mostly they were children from the age of 12. The data is verifying from year to year; however, scientists have managed to claim that the average number of addicts is within 1.5 million. Since 2001, Hispanics have become the most numerous nation in the USA sentenced for being involved in crimes associated with the powder cocaine. At the same time, the African Americans were accused of committing crimes associated with the crack cocaine (Cowan & Devine, 2012).
Cocaine is common to find on the street as a fine, white powder; in the circles of the drug dealers, it is also called coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. As a rule, the street dealers blend it with inert substances such as cornstarch, talc powder, or even sugar. Sometimes they can mix it with other active drugs, for example, procaine or amphetamine. Some of those who consume cocaine also combine it with heroin, it is called a speedball (Washton, 1992).
Cocaine tends to be used for medical purposes too. For instance, it is legal to be utilized by doctors during surgery as a mean of local anesthesia for eyes, ears, or throat. It is also used by practitioners to analgize temporarily the lining of the mouth or throat during some medical procedures, such as biopsy or wound cleaning. It takes 1-2 minutes for cocaine to numb the area after application. It is also utilized for narrowing the blood vessels and reducing bleeding and swelling during the procedure (Dhaval, 2006).
All effects caused by cocaine can be divided into two broad categories: short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects include the feelings of flying and intense high that are always followed by a contrary effect – deep depression, impatience, and desiring a bigger dose. Those who are taking constantly the cocaine suffer from insomnia and anorexia. They can also feel accelerated heartbeat, shakes, and muscle spasms. The cocaine addicts can also suffer from paranoia, outbursts of anger, hostile behavior, and even pathologic acrophobia. Moreover, people that engage in the drug habit are very often exposed to heart attack, cerebral hemorrhage, epileptic seizure, and even death (Puhl, Cason, Wojnicki, Corwin, & Grigson, 2011).
As for the long-term effects, a special term dope fiend was invented many years ago; it was employed for depicting the negative side effects of using cocaine permanently. It is proved that the more cocaine one takes, the more he/she wants. It is triggered by the fact that the endurance to the drug enhances and the person has to take bigger and bigger amount of the drug aiming at getting the same effect. Constant use of cocaine results in sleeplessness and lack of appetite. It also raises the body’s temperature. Furthermore, the person turns out to be mentally sick and starts having hallucinations (Khalsa, Tashkin, & Perrochet, 1992).
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As it was mentioned before, cocaine can be consumed not only by snoring, but by injecting. In this case, there is a special substance prepared of powder and crack. According to the majority of scientists, it is the most dangerous way of taking cocaine. Apart from damaging human organism, there is a risk of catching some infection while sharing needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment. These infections include HIV and Hepatitis C. There is also a possibility of injuring the veins, as well as developing an abscess or blood clot in the addict (Hellerman, 2011).
People who experience addiction to cocaine (or any other drugs) disengage from other spheres of life. It happens because cocaine influences the way brain treats the chemical; consequently, the addict requires bigger and bigger amount of the drug for the organism to feel in a usual way. When a drug comes out of an organism, a person develops a serious depression and is capable of doing anything, even committing murder or act of vandalism. If a drug addict does not reach a dose, his/her depression will go further to such an extent that it can lead to suicide (Washton, 1989).
Cocaine can make people feel they are on top of the world, extremely confident, active, and wide-awake; however, some people can be too confident, haughty and violent that can lead to taking careless risks.