Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. It is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant which grows on the mountain slopes of the Andes Mountains of South America. Cocaine is distributed illegally, usually as a white crystalline powder or an off-white, chunky material. Cocaine base is converted into a powder form by diluting it with other substances. This is called cocaine hydrochloride. The substances most commonly used in this process are sugars, such as lactose and mannitol, and local anesthetics, such as lidocaine.

Cocaine is snorted, injected or smoked. Snorting is inhaling cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine smoke into the lungs, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream.

“Crack” is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a ready-to-use form for smoking. Rather than requiring the more dangerous method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is heated, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate.

Street Names for Cocaine are Coke, Dust, Snow, Powder, The White Lady, Cain, Rock and Crack, although many others exist.

Physical Effects
The physical effects of cocaine are the same as any other stimulant drug, except more intense. Cocaine raises blood pressure , increases heart rate , causes rapid breathing , tenses muscles and causes jitters. This can cause a cocaine-induced stroke –even after the first time you use it. Over time, and with regular use, people may get paranoid, anxious and confused, and sometimes they hallucinate. Insomnia , agitation and depression can also result from frequent cocaine use.

Cocaine’s addictive properties (physically and psychologically) can easily turn into abuse, even shortly after one’s first cocaine experience.

Mental And Physical Effects:
Angry, hostile and anxious feelings
Violent behavior
Increased physical activity
Loss of appetite and severe weight loss
Inability to sleep
Increased heart and pulse rate
Permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain
Convulsions and body tremors
Chest pain and raised blood pressure
Irregular heartbeat
AIDS or Hepatitis resulting from shared needles
Dependence and addiction
A runny nose and/or nose bleeds
Deviated septum (collapse of the “bridge” between the nostrils)