Although lifetime use among Tam HS District 11th grade students was at 5% in 2015-16, Cocaine recently has made a comeback in Marin high schools, especially among female students, for body image reasons. It is also prevalent on college campuses. Cocaine is an illegal powerfully addictive stimulant drug which looks like a fine, white, crystal powder. Street dealers often mix it with things like cornstarch, talcum powder or flour to increase profits. They also mix it with with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine.
People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder in water and inject it into the bloodstream. Some users inject a combination of cocaine and heroin called a “speedball”. Another popular method of use is to smoke cocaine that is processed to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine”). The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. This form of cocaine is called “Crack”, which refers to the crackling sound of the rock as it’s heated.
Duration. Cocaine effects appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. How long the effects last and how intense they are depend on the method of use. The high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes. People who use cocaine often take it in binges - taking the drug repeatedly within a short time, at increasingly higher doses to maintain their high.
Short-Term Effects. These include extreme happiness and energy, mental alertness, and hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch. Cocaine use can also result in irritability and paranoia. Some people find that cocaine helps them perform simple physical and mental tasks more quickly, although others experience the opposite effect. Large amounts of cocaine can lead to bizarre, unpredictable and violent behavior.
Other Health Effects. These include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, nausea, raised body temperature and blood pressure, faster heartbeat, heart attacks, tremors and muscle twitches, plus restlessness.
Long-Term Effects. These depend on the method of use. With snorting, a loss of sense of smell results with nosebleeds, frequent runny nose and problems with swallowing. With consuming by mouth, there is severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow. Other long-term effects of cocaine include being malnourished because cocaine decreases appetite, and movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, which may occur after many years of use. In addition, people report irritability and restlessness resulting from cocaine binges, and some also experience severe paranoia, in which they lose touch with reality and have auditory hallucinations.
Overdose. An overdose can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Many people who use cocaine also drink alcohol at the same time, which is particularly risky and can lead to overdose. Others mix cocaine with heroin, another dangerous and deadly combination. Some of the most frequent and severe health consequences leading to overdose involve the heart and blood vessels, including irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks, plus nerves, including seizures and strokes.
Addiction. Repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit (an adaptation to the excess of dopamine) and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, fatigue, increased appetite, unpleasant dreams, insomnia and slowed thinking.
Slang terms. Popular nicknames for cocaine include Blow, Toot, Coke, Cola, Crack, Snow, Rock, Baserocks, Yola, Yea and A-1.