Cocaine is a potent and dangerous Central Nervous System stimulant, processed from the South American Coca Plant. Cocaine works by blocking the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain (a chemical messenger that assists in normal functioning of the Central Nervous System and is associated with pleasure and movement). Cocaine in it's powdered form is sniffed or mixed with water and injected. More recently users are smoking a freebase form of the substance termed Crack (so named for the "crackling" sound produced when the mixture of cocaine and sodium bicarbonate is heated).
At one time cocaine had a somewhat exclusive population of users. Today, with the advent of crack, it is cheaper and more widely available. We have a dangerous and indiscriminate scourge plaguing America and it's effects are reaching all across the country, from the ivory towers of wall street to the dead-end alleys of downtown metropolitan areas to the circle drives of suburbia.
Whether cocaine is used by injecting, snorting or smoking the same risks are involved. Although, the onset of addiction to cocaine may be much more rapid in the smoked form. Users will experience dilated pupils, increased body temperature, constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate and blood pressure. The euphoria felt by users is due to hyperstimulation, reduced fatigue and mental clarity.Other effects of cocaine abuse include restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. In addition to user reported and scientifically backed effects of the drug, sudden death can occur in rare occurences on the first use.
The tolerance factor (how much it takes to get "high") of cocaine makes the likelihood of compulsive and addictive use very likely within the first few uses, especially when used in the form of crack.
Prolonged abuse of cocaine may cause an acute paranoia that will make users withdrawn, suspicious and highly unpredictable. Alongside these tragic repurcussions is the likelihood of death as a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory failure.