What is Cocaine?
Did you know that one of the original recipes for Coca-Cola, or Coke contained cocaine? Interesting that a slang name for cocaine is coke and other slang names include Snow, Blow, toot, and nose candy. Coca-Cola was actually named for its two medicinal ingredients: the extract of the coca leaves and kola nuts. In 1929, Coca-Cola became completely free of cocaine.
Cocaine comes from coca leaves. Over 100 years ago, the purified chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, was isolated from the coca plant. At one time, surgeons and dentists used cocaine to block pain. Cocaine today is a Schedule II drug; it can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, but this does not happen often.
Cocaine use in America increased around 1900, and by 1905, it was very popular to snort cocaine. In 1922, the Federal government banned cocaine. In the seventies, cocaine reappeared on the scene with an abundance of cocaine coming from South America. Columbian drug traffickers were setting up elaborate networks for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Now cocaine became the drug of choice for the disco crew, entertainers, and business people. Today, more and more cocaine has flooded the streets of America and cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world. Cocaine use and abuse are seen in all walks of life today.
There are two chemical forms of cocaine, one that is snorted and the rock-like crack cocaine that is smoked. Water-soluble hydrochloride salt is the white powder cocaine that is snorted with a straw or a rolled up dollar bill. The water-insoluble cocaine base (or freebase) is the crack cocaine that is snorted. Smoking crack cocaine gives off a crackling sound hence the name “crack.”
Cocaine is very dangerous as it is very addictive. Users need more and more of the drug with more potency to achieve the same euphoria or high they previously got.
Many movies over the years have portrayed the history and popularity of cocaine and its journey to the United States, some of these include: Blow, Traffic, Scarface along with a half dozen movies, TV shows and documentaries on Pablo Escobar. As one of the most famous of the Columbian Cocaine Cartel leaders, drug lord Pablo Escobar earned over 30 billion dollars with his drug network with his Medellin Cartel. Escobar died in a shootout in December of 1993; 16 months after escaping from a prison in Columbia.
What are the Effects of Cocaine?
Getting high on cocaine is a rush and creates a wave of euphoria with intense pleasure. Cocaine stimulates the brain in a positive way similar to how you feel when you have a major accomplishment in life. When high on cocaine an individual will have the illusion of feeling better than they usually do about themselves, to the point of feeling superior to other people. Users become more sociable and energetic. They become talkative and gregarious. Sexual experiences are typically enhanced when one or both partners are high on cocaine. These qualities of cocaine lead to its powerful addiction because the user wants more of what they are feeling.
The bad news is the crash. The cocaine high does not last very long, maybe just a few minutes. Once the high and euphoria are over, the user wants and needs more cocaine to feel better. You have feelings of depression, anxiety and a need to get back up to the high and euphoria you experienced just a few minutes ago. Side effects often mirror the effects of the flu with a feeling run down, runny nose, pains, aches, and fuzzy head. The user is no longer full of energy nor as alert and confident as he or she was when high on cocaine.
Cocaine Short-Term Effects
- Death from respiratory (breathing) failure
- Short-lived, intense high that is immediately followed by the opposite—intense depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug
- Increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and convulsions
- Intense drug craving
- Dilated pupils
- Disturbed sleep patterns
Cocaine Long-Term Effects
- A person can become psychotic and begin to experience hallucinations
- Severe depression
- High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
- Liver, kidney, and lung damage
- Malnutrition, weight loss
- Increased frequency of risky behavior
- Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
Mixing alcohol with cocaine is really bad and dangerous. A person who drinks a lot might use cocaine to increase their physical energy. This mixture can cause the heart to beat much faster and potentially cause sudden death. The alcohol and cocaine combination increases blood pressure, violent and aggressive thoughts, and poor judgment. Additional consequences can be heart disease or cardiac arrhythmia, which can later lead to a heart attack.
We often hear of celebrities that die from cocaine use or their death is related to cocaine use. John Belushi died at an early age of 33 with cocaine abuse a contributing factor. When Whitney Houston died at the early age of 48, the medical examiner found cocaine and heart disease caused her death. Corey Haim died from a cocaine overdose at the young age of 38 in 2010.
Understanding the Cocaine Drug Test
Since the early 1980s, drug testing programs have expanded across the United States. A cocaine drug test has always been included in the standard 5-panel drug test primarily used by employers. This five-panel drug test includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine / methamphetamine, opiates, and PCP. Typically, every drug test panel includes a test for cocaine. A common drug test utilized is the ten panel drug test with expanded opiates, which includes: AMP-Amphetamines (MAMP-Methamphetamine, MDMA-Ecstasy), COC-Cocaine, PCP-Phencyclidine, THC-Marijuana, BZO-Benzodiazepines, BAR-Barbiturates, MTD-Methadone, PPX-Propoxyphene, Meth – Methaqualone, OPI-Opiates (including heroin, codeine and morphine), and expanded Opiates which adds Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone.
With urine drug testing, cocaine breaks down to the metabolite, and this is detected in the drug screen. Benzoylecgonine is detectable in urine within two to three hours and for a period of two to three days after a single use. A cocaine drug test should be performed by a professional service using a laboratory certified by the Federal government. Initial screening and confirmation testing should be included. Beware of an instant rapid cocaine drug test that may show a false positive result for cocaine.
How long cocaine stays in the system is not the same for each user. There are determining factors such as frequency of use, the amount ingested, body weight, metabolism, and the type of cocaine drug test. A single use can be detected with urine for 2 – 5 days with a urine drug test for cocaine whereas this single use might not be detected with a hair cocaine drug test.
Cocaine drug testing can be with urine, hair, oral fluid or blood. Each shows a different look back period with oral fluid the shortest and hair the longest. Our laboratories at National Drug Screening can perform a hair test for cocaine or a urine test for cocaine. Urine and hair drug testing are the most common screening tests for cocaine. A blood test is invasive and very expensive so not used very often. The hair drug test for cocaine is used to show use going back up to 90 days. If you want to know how to pass a cocaine drug test, it is best to stop using cocaine. You can then always get a cocaine drug test to make sure you are now clean.