What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal drug formulated from South American plant leaves called coca. It generally comes in the form of a white powder which people consume by snorting, smoking, rubbing on their gums, or dissolving in water and injecting in their veins. Common street names for this powdered form of cocaine include “coke” and “blow.”

Crack cocaine is a cooked form of the powdered drug, giving it the appearance of small brown rocks. Crack cocaine is generally consumed by smoking via pipe, or mixing with marijuana or tobacco. Crack is sometimes referred to as “rock” or “gravel.”

Upper or Downer? Stimulants vs. Depressants

There are many different ways to classify different substances, but two of the most commonly referred to categories are stimulants and depressants; colloquially known as “uppers” and “downers.” 

As one might imagine, stimulants increase the energy of the user and up-regulate the nervous system, oftentimes resulting in a sense of euphoria, extended wake period, and reduced appetite. They increase the user’s heart rate and can result in a feeling of agitation and alertness. Some examples of stimulants are amphetamines, caffeine, nicotine and ecstasy. 

Depressants on the other hand, or “downers,” have the opposite effect on the nervous system. They create a sense of relaxation, lowering the user’s heart rate, causing drowsiness and sometimes inducing feelings of euphoric floating. Some examples of depressants are fentanyl, alcohol, prescription painkillers and heroin. 

Both stimulants and depressants are habit-forming and can be highly addictive, even after a single use. They have different health risks associated with them, due to the differing effects they have on the body, but both can be devastating to overall wellbeing.

Blurred Lines: Where does Cocaine Fall in the Stimulant vs. Depressive Conversation? 

Cocaine is officially categorized as a stimulant, but it has a complex effect on the body. The initial effect is typical to that of other stimulants, heightening reactivity and sensitivity, and increasing energy levels. Users report feeling more confident and outgoing, increasing extroversion and amplifying their behavior in social settings. This high usually lasts between ten and twenty minutes, but some people report feeling the effects for up to four hours. Effects vary based on the method of ingestion and the individual user.

On the contrary, the period following the cocaine high, also referred to as the let-down period, has the opposite effect on users. During the let-down, cocaine users experience a “crash” of sorts, marked by depressive symptoms such as reduced heart rate, apathetic attitude, drowsiness and exhaustion. This let-down can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, sending users into a downward spiral. This dual effect on the body complicates cocaine classification, but as of yet, cocaine remains a classical stimulant.

It is important to note that cocaine may have differing effects on individuals based on their pre-existing physical, mental and emotional health conditions. While some people may tolerate the high, they may be less apt to manage the low following cocaine use or visa-versa.

The Down Side: Cocaine Risks and Side Effects 

Cocaine use is highly risky and not advisable for anyone. It is highly addictive and can be habit-forming even after one single use. Prolonged cocaine use can lead to long-term health conditions like asthma, heart attack and stroke. Most severely, a cocaine overdose can be fatal. 

Other health risks of cocaine include but are not limited to: 

  • Restricted breathing
  • Delirium 
  • Seizures 
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain 
  • Tremors 
  • Paranoia 

Cocaine use has also been linked with mental and psychological issues including paranoia, depression, anxiety, restlessness, aggression and hallucinations. Cocaine addiction often has a detrimental impact on relationships and families, as well as one’s professional and social life. Cocaine is detectable in the body for 2-3 days via blood test, 3 days by urine test, and 2-3 days by saliva test, and it remains traceable in users’ hair follicles for up to three months.

Find Help for Cocaine Addiction Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to cocaine, you are not alone. October Road is here to provide support and resources for your journey to healing and freedom. Contact us online today, or call 888-201-5086 to begin a new chapter in your story.

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