Cocaine is a highly addictive drug with a white powdery characteristic that produces a euphoric effect, especially when snorted or injected by a person. Otherwise known as benzoylmethylecgonine, cocaine is the second most commonly abused drugs next to marijuana. Because of its direct effect on the brain, kids are easily lured to try and get addicted to the drug.
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that comes from the plant known as "coca" which commonly found in Peru and Bolivia. Along the streets, this type of drug is generally sold as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. Some dealers even dilute the drug with some inert substance such as cornstarch, talcum powder, sugar, and other active drugs like the local anesthetic known as rogaine and other stimulants like amphetamines. To detect cocaine in the body a drug testing may be administered through cocaine detection.
History of Cocaine
Cocaine became popular in the 1980s and the 1990s as a medicine to treat a wide variety of diseases. It was also used as cough tinctures, painkillers, and mood brighteners. Most of the laborers in high mountains of South America ingest coca leaves to boost up energy and add more oxygen to women when they give birth. South American tribes also chew coca leaf to survive hunger and thirst.
Later on, people have discovered some ways to maximize the effects of cocaine and induce a euphoric effect. Coke has become an ingredient in some wine and drinks. People learned to smoke crack and enjoy its instant effect for a couple of minutes. By then Coca-cola was first introduced by John Pemberton, containing 60 mg of cocaine and a certain amount of caffeine.
However, its dangerous effects on health that have been later on discovered by people abusing cocaine have urged the government to ban its use. Crime rate also rose, hence legislators added cocaine to the list of the most dangerous and prohibited drugs.
There are basically four forms of cocaine that is commonly abused by adults and youngsters today. Depending on its form and the route of administration, its effect can vary in terms of swiftness and duration.Cocaine's white color can be compared to that of a pearl. When they are sold in the streets, they are treated with some other chemicals to enhance the euphoric effect, maximize its weight, or simply mimic the drug's numbing effect. By this, dealers usually mixed with baking soda, sugars such as lactose, dextrose, inositol, and mannitol including local anesthetics like lidocaine and benzocaine.
The hydrochloride salt is the result of cocaine that has already been pulverized to form a white powder that is also soluble in water. It basically has a bitter and numbing taste which is either snorted or injected intravenously. Its absorption is around 20 -30 percent and is considered to be relatively poor.
Basic cocaine or freebase cocaine is the base of all cocaine forms which is not yet neutralized to form a powder. Unlike, the hydrochloride salt, freebase cocaine is indissoluble in water and is commonly smoked when abused. Smoking freebase cocaine releases methylecgonidine, a metabolite that is used to detect recent abuse of the drug that is not present in the hydrochloric salt. This metabolite along with ecgonidine stays in the body for 18 to 21 minutes; however, what abusers do not know about it is its adverse effects to their health, especially to the circulatory system, heart, lungs, and liver.
Crack is lower purity form of free-base cocaine that is considered to be the most addictive form of cocaine. Its color may vary depending on several factors and origin of how the cocaine is used, but the purer forms of crack have an off-white color which appears like candle wax with jagged edges. Through the neutralization of the hydrochloride salt, they can turn from off-white to brownish color. Along the streets, crack is also known as rock, hard, iron, or cavy.
Like freebase cocaine, it is also smoked when abused. Together with water, ammonia, and sodium bicarbonate, they are all heated together while the smoke that comes from the vapor is inhaled. Boiling the mixture basically produced a crackling sound to which crack got its name. Smoking crack makes a person feel high in just 10 seconds but this effect can only last for 10 to 15 minutes. According to studies, crack directly affects the central nervous system and creates an intense stimulating effect which causes 95 percent of people who try to use for the first to get addicted to it.
Coca Leaf Infusion
This form of cocaine basically comes from the natural leaf of the coca plant which is then mixed into some drinks or made into a tea such as the popular tisane of Peru for maté de coca, a tea made from coca leaves. To form the tea, the cut leaves of the coca plant are put into a tea bag and are dipped into a hot water. This method form of cocaine is popular to the mountaineers of Andes, as a remedy for altitude sickness and has been used by many people in Peru as a mood brightener and stress reliever.
Coca leaves consumption has long existed in times of Inca elites. Today, it is also sold in various supermarkets in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador as a medicine to boost up energy and endure a long day of work without eating.
Medical Uses of Cocaine
In history, cocaine is basically used as medicine for several illnesses and diseases like a cough, fever, and diarrhea until it was found to have several side effects. In fact, in 1914, the drug was used the United States to treat sinusitis, hay fever, depression, and chronic fatigue, as well as a remedy to suppress the appetite.
Despite its consideration as the second most widely abused and highly addictive drug, cocaine is still used by many medical practices but with doctors’ supervision. For instance, in Europe healthcare professionals have continuously used cocaine as a local anesthetic and vasoconstrictor because of its numbing effects.
Medical doctors usually use it to numb the mouth, nose, and throat as well as certain medical procedures such as wound cleaning, stitching, and biopsy procedures. Cocaine immediately numbs the area on which it has been applied to in as fast as two minutes. It basically narrows the blood vessels which then hinders heavy bleeding and inflammations.
Cocaine adulterants are some medicinal drugs that have some mixture or components of cocaine. In this case, cocaine is diluted through some cutting agents to form some other illicit drugs that can also be used medically, and are less expensive compared to the drug itself. These medicines, however; are considered to be prescription medicines that cannot easily be bought from pharmacies without doctor's prescription.
The following are some examples of cocaine adulterants:
Analgesics are medicinal drugs that are basically used to treat mild to severe pain. They include paracetamols, anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids such morphine and opium. Analgesic only kills the pain but do not completely lose the sensation, unlike anesthetics.
An example of analgesic is Quinine, a natural white alkaline crystalloid which has been synthesized in the lab as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug. In the 1940s, Quinine was used to treat malaria.
Anesthetics are medicinal drugs that are either applied to the skin or administered intravenously before any medication or surgery in order to numb the sensation and hinder the person from feeling pain. An example of local anesthetic is the benzocaine which is commonly used in many over-the-counter drugs like Anabesol ointment which is used to relieve stomach pain caused by an ulcer.
Different Routes of Administration
The routes of administration describe people abuse cocaine or use cocaine in order to benefit from its short time intense effects. Cocaine's reaction to the body basically depends on how it absorbed by the body. Cocaine drug testing also depends on the way it is administered, to detect its metabolite usually through urine, hair follicle, and saliva sample.
The following are five known routes of administration on how cocaine is abused by adults and teens.
This is the process of inhaling cocaine powder as for hydrochloric salt. This is the most common method and is usually called as snorting, sniffing or blowing. Snorting is basically done by groups. They place a long line of cocaine powder on a smooth surface and sniff it together using a coil made of tissue paper or aluminum foil. The group repeats the same ritual for a few minutes until all cocaine powder is consumed. When cocaine enters the bloodstream that is when the group starts to feel its euphoric effect.
This is done either through the following: rubbing the powder along the gum line or through a cigarette filter which is then smoked and numbs the gums and teeth, creating the colloquial terms “numbies”, “gummies”, or “cocoa puffs”. This is usually done with small amounts of cocaine remaining on the surface after insufflation.
Injecting cocaine is very common with the substance known as "speedball", a mixture made of cocaine and heroin. Abusers directly inject the drugs into the veins to create a rapid effect just like smoking. The faster cocaine gets into the bloodstream, the faster it sends messages to the brain to create the euphoric effect. During the first few minutes of cocaine injection, a person may hear a ringing in the ear and may experience some audio distortion. The effects of injecting cocaine, however; can last to 15 minutes and beyond.
Smoking cocaine is usually done with crack. This basically done by heating crack together with ammonia, sodium bicarbonate, and water. When the mixture boils, the person inhales the vapor that comes out of it. The addictive smoke travels through the bloodstream through the nasal tissues and stimulates the brain to create the euphoric effect.
Parachuting involves directly swallowing the cocaine powder through a roll of tissue paper. In this instance, the person unswervingly sends the cocaine into the stomach for ingestion. After a few minutes, the person immediately feels an intense feeling of happiness and relaxation. This is often called “snow bomb”.
This route of administration is also known as plugging wherein a certain dose of cocaine is dissolved into the water and is inserted through the anus or vagina via syringe. Through the lining walls of the rectum and vagina, cocaine may be taken into the bloodstream. However, because of cultural taboos, this method is yet being discussed and is rarely used.
Effects of Cocaine Abuse
The effects of cocaine can be divided into two categories: short-term effects and long-term effects. During the first few of minutes of abusing cocaine, a person may feel a variety of pleasurable feelings. That includes intense happiness or a sudden burst of euphoria that makes a person even more talkative, witty, and confident.
However, while cocaine is an addictive substance, a person who has tried cocaine for several days may not be able to stop it immediately and become addicted to it. The downside of cocaine abuse is its long-term effects on the overall health of the person, which is mainly caused by longer association with cocaine. Likewise, withdrawing from cocaine may also cause severe withdrawal symptoms; one of them is craving for the same drugs which lure the person to go back to addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse
There are many signs that immediately show after a person abuses cocaine. These signs can actually become bases for a person to be subject to a drug testing.
The following are the primary indicators that a person may be abusing drugs.
Termination of job or job loss due to irresponsible time management and poor customer relations
Red and bloodshot eyes
Pupils are wide open or dilated
Debt and money problems
Frequent tardiness and low job/school performance
Failing grades for students
Frequent family issues
Relationship problems with the opposite sex, colleges, and friends
Violent behavior that may lead to criminal and sexual behavior
The following are symptoms of abusing cocaine:
Frequent mood swings
Loss of appetite
Severe sweating even without getting into too much activity the whole day
Twitching and seizures
Adverse Effects of Cocaine on Health
Cocaine has the most dangerous effects on health. Longer association with cocaine can actually damage blood vessels which mainly affects the circulatory system. When a person uses cocaine too much, he may develop heart problems that may lead to stroke, heart attack, and worst of all, death.
The spread of HIV can also be blamed on cocaine abuse. The drugs also cause severe mental disorientation and brain damage which may lead to a variety of psychological disorders.
Spread of HIV and Hepatitis A & B
Injecting cocaine is one of the routes of administration that is noted to be very risky in terms of HIV and other blood-borne disease transmissions. When an HIV-infected person shares a needle with the group, the whole group may be infected with the same disease in the coming days. Snorting and smoking cocaine can also be at risk for HIV when the coils smoked by individuals are shared.
Cocaine disrupts normal communications in the brain as it stimulates the nervous system to increase the levels of dopamine production. Dopamine plays a significant role in the brain cells functions, however; instead of allowing it to recycle itself, cocaine produces more and more dopamine to react with neurotransmitters in order to create the euphoric effect. This instance that happens inside the brain during cocaine abuse will cause long-term changes to the brain functions. Aside from addiction, this will cause psychological damage that will cause hallucinations, insomnia, paranoia, and troubles in sleeping. In the long run, a person may suffer from severe mental illness.
Cocaine Addiction Facts
According to research teenagers are more prone to cocaine addiction. A survey done in schools shows that teenagers aged 12 to 17 years old have been exposed to cocaine in the past month before the survey was administered. Youth usually abuse cocaine with other drugs, which is referred to as polydrug use.
Polydrug use happens when abusers combine two or more drugs such as using cocaine while drinking alcohol. What kids did not know about it is the danger of mixing two drugs together. Research has shown, that consuming two or more drugs all at once, will produce a substance in the liver known as cocaethylene. This substance makes polydrug use a very risky action. In fact, these have caused many deaths than cocaine alone.
Despite the persistence and prevalence of drug abuse in the western countries, drug testing shows that the number of youngsters and adults abusing cocaine have relatively decreased in number. According to records, there is a significant drop in cocaine abuse in the recent years from 7.2 percent to 6.0 among adults and youths.
Youth exhibiting unusual habits and behavioral changes have been found positive through cocaine drug screening. These changes brought by abusing cocaine have actually pushed the government to prohibit the use of cocaine.
Because of its effects on people, cocaine is considered to be a hard drug. People who are caught to be trafficking cocaine will face some penalties. Younger people and adults who are caught to be positive in cocaine drug testing will hold varying liabilities. Despite this, demands for cocaine are very high in the black market. Coca leaves and other cocaine products are usually sold at $100 per tons.
In the past years, cocaine has been very helpful in treating many kinds of diseases. But because of its euphoric effect, nowadays, cocaine is very popular as a recreational drug or club drug which the youth commonly abuse during parties and nights out. The furtive sale of cocaine in the United States is very common in poorer inner-city markets.
When crack was introduced, cocaine used among youths even surged, which then marked a significant height of use in the early 2000s. By then, crack also became very popular in the UK and then in Australia.
Europe has the second largest consumption of cocaine next to United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. According to research, there are approximately 12 million Europeans who are abusing cocaine. Young adult abusers who are found to be abusing cocaine accounted for 87.5 percent while 0.5 percent has used cocaine in the last month.
The United States is considered to be the second largest number of cocaine consumption. According to research, 1 out of 4 Americans between the age of 16 and 34 used cocaine in their lifetime. Youth, however, accounts for the most number of abusers; of which 8.2 percent are reported to have experienced abusing cocaine in the past years. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), more than 3.7 million Americans have been abusing cocaine in the past years; 1.7 percent of which are aged 12 years and above. Just in 2001, many African- Americans have been convicted of cocaine abuse.
Drug Testing on Cocaine
Drug testing on cocaine is basically administered through the use of cocaine testing kits. There are three basic ways to know whether or not a person has abused cocaine: urine testing, hair follicle test, and the saliva test.
Cocaine drug testing basically tests for the cocaine metabolites which are absorbed into the bloodstream in order to confirm a diagnosis of poisoning or assist a forensic investigation. The interpretation of cocaine drug test result, however; needs a careful interpretation since inhalation of cocaine can be passive or active.
New Federal Cut-off level
Confirming cocaine positivity through the drug testing kits follows the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guidelines for the new federal cut off of drug metabolites in the body. As of October 2010, the new federal cut off for cocaine initial test is 150 ng/ml while the confirmatory test should be 100 ng/ml.
Passive Inhalation of Cocaine
Passive inhalation of cocaine may be obtained when the subject happens to inhale cocaine smoke from a primary source or a group of addicts who are smoking cocaine. This can result in a false positive result that is why the interpretation of cocaine drug test result needs to be done very cautiously.
Some lawyers use this as a defense to save subjects from further sentences and penalties. The penalties for passive inhalation are generally lighter than active inhalation.
Dermal absorption happens when drugs are absorbed by the skin through the bloodstream via the cell membranes. In a study done by Baselt, dermal absorption can alter the results of cocaine drug testing kits. In this study, a 5-mg dose of cocaine applied to skin actually resulted in 55 ng/ml in the drug testing administered after 48 hours.
In another study by Elsohly, the subject holding a paper bill which was previously immersed in 75 percent of cocaine hydrochloride, produced low levels of cocaine metabolites during the drug test.
How to help someone with a cocaine abuse problem
It is best to let the user’s family decide on what program will be best for him or her to recover from cocaine addiction. The family’s realization is the first step in any type of treatment is extremely important.
Here are some tips that can help people whose friend or family member is under cocaine addiction:
Know and understand cocaine
It always helps to know what kind of battle you are planning to conquer. Understanding what cocaine does to one’s body will give you a better overview of what someone is going through.
Do your research by readings books, online journals, or by consulting with specialists. When a drug addict finally acknowledges the problem, it will be easier for you to explain the things that can happen out of his or her decision to quit using the drug.
Keep your communication lines open
Usually, drug addicts try doing drugs because they feel lonely. When a family member is going through drug addiction, make sure that you are doing your best to reach out and initiate the discussion of what is currently happening.
While this works best even before the onset of addiction, you should still make the person feel that he or she is not alone. Communication is always an effective way of helping someone make plans for the better.
Create a motivational incentive within your home
Motivational incentive strategy works best in the earlier stage of cocaine addiction. However, the cocaine user should be consulted first before doing this so that it would not look like you are only doing this because the user is interested to get the incentives you are offering.
The user should be mindful of his or her decision to quit using the drug, and this strategy will greatly help in the process.
Seek help from specialists
If you think that a drug addiction case needs intervention, then maybe you are absolutely right. Consulting a specialist to help your family member succeed the battle of drug addiction can be the best decision you can make. A specialist will be able to create a good treatment program for someone who needs help.
Which Prescription Drugs Can Cause a Positive Drug Test Result for Cocaine?
While you may be familiar with the illegal drug cocaine and some of its effects, what you may be less clear about is the fact that some prescription and over the counter drugs have similar qualities to cocaine that can bring up a false positive drug test result for its use. What sort of drugs can produce this effect?
One of the most prominent ones is a drug used to treat cancer known as Brompton’s Mixture, a combination of cocaine and morphine that acts as a potent pain treatment. Some antibiotics, including amoxicillin and ampicillin, have also been said to have this effect.
Among the over the counter drugs that have this effect are drugs that contain pseudoephedrine (as these drugs often require a signature to purchase due to their use for making meth, they could be considered a prescription drug) and some other prescription and over the counter preparations for cold and cough treatment.
Dextromethorphan, a drug used for cough suppression, can give a false positive for PCP; some over the counter weight loss preparations can give a false positive for amphetamines and Vicks inhalers can produce a false positive for methamphetamines.
Though many of these can be ruled out by performing a gas chromatography or mass spectrometry test to verify the positive result (and many locations do perform this precaution), you would be advised to be quite clear on the use of any of these drugs when undergoing drug testing in the event that the location uses only the immunoassay test for their results. If the drug or topical anesthetic has a title that ends in “caine” or “cain”, there may be a very good chance that it can have this adverse effect on the drug test, and so you should ask your doctor if there would be a reason for concern. Some of the drugs used for eye drops in an ophthalmology office can also produce a false positive for instance.
Many negative results can occur if the drug testing you undergo uses only the immunoassay and a positive result occurs. This can mean anything from losing your job to being in legal trouble over the matter. If you are not sure if your medications contain ingredients that can produce these results, it is best to discuss it with your doctor.
Get a listing of the ingredients and any drug warnings associated with it so that you can inform the drug testing location in the event of a false positive, and request a second drug test to verify the results. When you are asked to list any drugs you may be taking at the time of drug testing, it is wise to list anything you may be taking, whether they are everyday items such as a nutritional supplement or over the counter and prescription medications that you might not feel could give a positive result. The more open and honest you are about it, the more willing the testing will be to take your word on the matter.