Cocaine: An Overview

Dec 12, 2012

Cocaine Overview

Cocaine use is a widespread problem in our country and the drug is becoming even easier to obtain. It is made from the coca plant and is available in different levels of purity. Like other illegal drugs, cocaine is an addictive substance that negatively affects the health of people who use it.


The high associated with cocaine gives the user an initial sensation of euphoria and movement, followed by an increased sense of energy. However, a cocaine high is short-lived compared to other stimulants, like meth, and a user must repeat their dosage often to maintain it. As tolerance builds up, larger amounts of the drug are needed to produce a high, which increases dependency.


Cocaine is a stimulant that increases the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for providing pleasurable feelings. Cocaine causes so much dopamine to build up in the brain that normal communication is inhibited, which affects the performance of the whole body. This can cause long-term damage to the brain that worsens over time as a dependency is formed.


Cocaine can be injected intravenously or snorted up the nose. The most commonly used and least expensive form of cocaine is called “crack.” Crack is cocaine that has been processed to make rock crystal that can be smoked. Cocaine is then absorbed through the lungs, producing an almost instantaneous high. Although crack is the most popular form of the drug, it is a very dangerous form. Because it has been concentrated, crack is easier to overdose on and provides a violent reaction when mixed with other drugs. It is also more habit-forming than regular cocaine.


Although the levels of reported cocaine abuse are declining in recent studies, this drug still poses a problem to the health of our population. Other drugs have become less expensive, but cocaine is still widely used by those who have built up a tolerance to other drugs. Once a cocaine habit is formed, its strong addictive properties make it difficult for a person to stop using.

Cocaine Overview

Cocaine and Emotional Instability

Scientifically, society is highly aware that cocaine is physically damaging. We are also aware that it is a highly addictive substance that produces a hyperactive high that gives people a tremendous amount of energy while causing internal damage to their circulatory systems. However, recent studies are also reaching a conclusion that cocaine is very emotionally damaging, particularly when it comes to negative emotions. The studies conducted on this subject are fascinating and tragic, all pointing to the need for further work to be done.

Study in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, a study was conducted by various Dutch and German scientists this year. Hoping to garner further knowledge about the effects of cocaine on the human mind, scientists gathered a sample pool of college students who used cocaine fairly regularly. During the studies, they gave certain students a placebo pill, while others gave a 300 mg tablet of cocaine. Using facial emotion recognition technology and measured brain activity, the scientists administered biochemical tests that measured responses to basic emotions. The scientists not only found the usual responses to cocaine but also found that those who took cocaine weren’t able to recognize negative emotions remotely as well as the group that took the placebo.

Negative Emotions

Those test subjects that took cocaine had a tremendously difficult time recognizing negative emotions such as anger and sadness in other individuals, or even in themselves. This effect is similar to certain mental illnesses that also inhibit emotional awareness, which has dark side effects of sociopathy and schizophrenia. This effect happens because cocaine causes unnatural fluctuations of dopamine levels in the brain. All of these factors make sense, due to the highly social nature of cocaine use, as it gives the user a great deal of energy and the ability to only recognize positive emotions

Emotionally Damaging Effects

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is a good thing, though. Our ability to recognize negative emotions is highly important to the human experience and our development as individuals. In order to live balanced lives, we must be able to know and understand those feelings in ourselves, as well as others. Otherwise, we will suffer significant damages to social skills, empathy, and awareness. Once off of cocaine, the users will also begin to feel like there is only negative emotions, by contrast. This is a spiritually damaging and self-fulfilling cycle that will only serve to build further dependence on cocaine.