Outline Thesis Statement: Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that has gratifying yet dangerous short term effects, and devastating long term effects. The problems related to cocaine abuse have an effect world wide; therefore it is a problem that society cannot ignore.
From High Class to Skid Row
History of Cocaine
Why so Much Abuse
Short Term Effects Physical
Long Term Effects Physical
From High Class to Skid Row- INTRODUCTION
Today Cocaine and Crack can be found in almost every city and is used by people of all walks of life. During the 1970’s and mid 1980’s cocaine use was at its peak. It was the drug of choice for the rich and famous and was part of what some called a glamorous life the “Champagne of Drugs”. Around 1985 came the arrival of a new form of cocaine, called crack. This new smoke able form became the drug of choice on the street.
Crack has more intense and faster effects than the traditional forms of cocaine use, which are primarily snorting and injecting. Crack which is cheaper to produce became accessible to people of all socioeconomic statuses. Cocaine in the form of crack is now more widely abused (Levinthal, 2002, 83-5). Cocaine in any form has had devastating effects on society, yet has been glamorized by media, especially in the movie industry.
History of Cocaine
The earliest documented use of some form of cocaine was around 500 A.D. In South America coca leaves have been chewed for centuries to combat fatigue and hunger (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 2). “Cocaine is derived from small leaves of the coca shrub (Erythroxylon coca), grown in the high-altitude rain forests and fields that run along the slopes of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes in South America” (Levinthal, 2002, 78). Import of it to Europe began around the 1700’s (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 2). In Europe it was used for toothaches, digestive problems, and even timidity.
By the 1850’s the chemical of the coca plant was isolated, and Alfred Niemann named it cocaine after noticing it had an anesthetic effect on his tongue (Levinthal, 2002, 78). Sigmund Freud promoted it for the treatment of mental problems and depression. Soon after, some negative effects were discovered and this caused a decrease in use. The effects included addiction, poisoning, and mental problems. In the early 1900’s its use became prevalent in drinks, tonic, and cure alls. It was an ingredient in the first coca-Cola beverage. Its use increased after being outlawed in 1914 in the U.S. (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 2-3). “Today, cocaine is a Schedule 2 Drug, meaning that it has high potential for abuse, but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries” (What is Cocaine, 1).
Why So Much Abuse?
In the modern world there is so much demand to go and do and to be the fastest and the best. How does one keep up? Drugs seem to be too often the “quick fix” for this problem. It is common to use something to boost one’s abilities. Some people use stimulants, steroids, and whatever means they can meet the need to be better. Others may want a rush that will surpass any natural high. As we see it may be easy for some to be sucked in to the belief that a drug will do for them what they cannot do for themselves.
Thus, cocaine is introduced; it meets the need at first then makes the user its slave. “Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain” (What is Cocaine, 1). “The drug introduces a sense of exhilaration in the user primarily by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the midbrain” (In Search, 1). Supremacy is what individuals who have used the drug call the initial feeling that they get (Parents, 1). The initial euphoria is followed by a crash (In Search, 1). This crash creates the need for more, and the body becomes dependant on the drug. With the demands on society it seems obvious that people would choose something to subsidize their own energy, but it is a very big price to pay for this short term gratification.
Short Term Effects
As mentioned above, many users begin using the drug for its immediate stimulating effects. These effects also come with a price; this price can be extreme, to the point of death.
“Fast heartbeat and breathing and increases in blood pressure and body temperature occur after using a small dose of cocaine… Large amounts (more than 100 milligrams) can cause bizarre, erratic, or violent behavior. Physical symptoms may include blurred vision, chest pain, nausea, fever, muscle spasms, convulsions, and death from convulsions, coma, heart failure, or brain failure that causes breathing to stop” (Stevens, 2002, 1-2).
As can be seen the use of cocaine affects the entire body. An important fact to mention is that the effects do depend on how the cocaine is administered. Snorting the drug does not have as intense an effect as does smoking it in the form of crack however the effects last longer. This can be 15 to 30 minutes from snorting and 5 to 10 minutes from smoking. Also it is important to note that increasing use increases health risks and increases the risk of addiction, which brings us the psychological effects (NIDA InfoFacts, 1). Another major physical risk is to the fetuses of pregnant mothers and to breast feeding infants. The physical effects of addiction, developmental problems, structural abnormalities, and brain damage are devastating (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 8-9).
The continued use of cocaine can result in increased risk of things like irritability, paranoia, and restlessness. This can also result in full blown psychosis and auditory hallucinations (NIDA InfoFacts, 1). “New cocaine users often try cocaine to increase productivity at work and in other areas of their lives so that they can work longer and harder. While these results may seem promising in the beginning, increased tolerance and dangerous life choices often follow repeated cocaine use” (Cocaine Effects, 2001, 1). It is important to note again that cocaine is highly addictive, which means the brain can become dependant upon it. The more a person uses the harder it if for them to function without it.
Long Term Effects
Many of the same effects that were previously mentioned as short term effects also occur as long term effects. However, they are often more intense as the amount used and the duration of use increases.
The risks that a person incurs are associated with the method of us. People who snort cocaine develop nasal problems including holes and inflammation. Those who inject increase their risk for HIV and other blood transmitted diseases, as well as infection. Crack users increase the risk of lung cancer, and respiratory infections. No matter how cocaine is used there is increased risk of “heart attacks, chest pain, respiratory failure, strokes, and abdominal pain and nausea” (Stevens, 2002, 2). “Cocaine toxicity affects the cardiovascular system, liver, and brain. Chronic heavy use appears to impair mental dexterity, verbal memory, and problem solving skills for up to a month after using the drug” (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 7).
Depression is often caused by long term cocaine use. Instead of getting high the abuse has to have cocaine to not feel depressed. The high is replaced by “restlessness, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, paranoia, sleeplessness…weight loss…psychosis… and delusions” (Stevens, 2002, 2). “Chronic users may develop cocaine psychosis… They may develop the uncomfortable sensation that feels as if bugs are crawling under their skin” (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 7). Violent and erratic behavior also is a result of long term cocaine use (Cocaine Effects, 2001, 1).
The social effects of cocaine abuse can be individual or social. The abuse by individuals can have devastating ripple effects socially. The individual affects family and community; the nation and entire world are affected by cocaine use. These problems can include struggles with crime, law-enforcement, work and financial problems, and a break down in communities (Mind-Altering Drugs: Cocaine, 2000, 8). As stated, the social effects of cocaine use are far reaching and are devastating.
It is easy to get lost in numbers and to dramatize some things; however, I feel it is important to note some valuable statistics to reaffirm the prevalence that the problem of cocaine abuse has on society. “In 2002, an estimated1.5 million Americans could be classified as dependant on or abusing cocaine in the past 12 months, according to the NSDUH. The same survey estimates that there are 2.0 million current (past month) users” (What is Cocaine, 2). “In 2002, 33.9 million Americans age 12 and over reported lifetime use of cocaine, and 8.4 million of these reported using crack” (NIDA InfoFacts, 2). While cocaine had peaks in use in 1979 and 1985, there has been a steady amount of use throughout the 1990’s (Substance Abuse, 2001, 15, 35).
While some may believe that the tonics and elixirs that were popular at the turn of the century are a thing of the past there are some countries that are still developing similar cocaine products. It is almost humorous yet very sad to think that we did not learn from the problems these products caused in the past. “Today, some experts cautiously advocate the use of cocaine in low potency lozenges and gum… A Peruvian company is currently (2003) developing Cocamel, a cocaine-and-caramel sweet”; this is expected to be a popular seller, similar to the original Coca-Cola (Cocaine for Sale, 1).
Cocaine abuse in any form is a dangerous “game” that leads to destruction. It is clear to see that no matter what the reason for using it; the costs dramatically outweigh the benefits. As can be seen, from its earliest uses there have been consequences that have resulted in societal rejection for any use other than medical. Cocaine is highly addictive and hazardous. As pointed out earlier, death can occur with the first use of the drug, or with any subsequent use without notice.
The effects of cocaine abuse whether they are physical, psychological, or social are long lasting and far reaching. If we as a society do not do something to prevent the spread of cocaine and crack abuse, history is bound to repeat itself again and again.
References Cocaine Effects. 2001-2004. .
“Cocaine for Sale: Caveat Emptor”. .
In Search of the Big Bang. What is Crack Cocaine?.
Levinthal, Charles F. Drugs, Behavior, and Modern Society. 3rd Edition. Boston. Ally and Bacon. 2002.
Mind Altering Drugs: Cocaine: A Guide to the History, uses and Effects of Psychoactive Drugs. 3rd Edition. Madison, WI. Hazelden Wisconsin Clearinghouse. 2000.
NIDA InfoFacts. “Crack and Cocaine”. 19 Nov. 2004. .
Parents. The Anti-Drug. -Drug Information .
Stevens, Lise M. “Cocaine Addiction”. JAMA. 2 Jan. 2002. Vol.287, Iss.1.
Substance Abuse: The Nation’s Number One Health Problem. Key Indicators for Policy: Update. Princeton, NJ. RWJF. Feb. 2001.
What is Cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Research Report Series. 13 Oct. 2004.
Day Eight: Anti-drug Commercials Objectives/Concept:
Identify activities that are more fun and safer than using drugs.