Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Cocaine comes in two forms:
Powder cocaine is a white powder (which scientists call a hydrochloride salt). Street dealers often mix cocaine with other substances like cornstarch, talcum powder, or sugar. They also mix cocaine with active drugs like procaine, a chemical that produces local anesthesia (a local anesthetic that causes you not to feel pain in a specific area of the body) and with other stimulants like amphetamines. Powder cocaine can be snorted up the nose or mixed with water and injected with a needle. Sometimes, powder cocaine is rubbed onto gums or other tissues in the body.
Crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal that people smoke. The term “crack” refers to the cracking sound the rocks make when they are heated. To make crack, the powder cocaine is mixed with ammonia or baking soda and water and then heated to produce the crystal. Crack is smoked in a small glass pipe. The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are absorbed into the blood through the lungs.
In order to keep the “high” going, people may take the drug repeatedly within a short period of time, at increasingly higher doses.
Because a cocaine high usually doesn’t last very long, people take it again and again to try to keep feeling good. Once addicted, people who are trying to quit taking cocaine might:
- Act nervous and restless
- Feel very sad and tired
- Have bad dreams
- Not trust people and things around them
- Feel a strong need to take cocaine