While everyone is keeping a watchful eye on the opioid epidemic today, cocaine has been making a stealthy comeback. This cocaine resurgence is especially troublesome for African-Americans, as cocaine has been a more significant problem than heroin for non-Hispanic black Americans for the past 20 years. However, other demographics suffer cocaine-related problems as well. Let’s take a look at the history of cocaine in the U.S. to get a better idea of why a cocaine comeback is such a concerning issue today.
Origins of Cocaine and Its Widely Praised Medical Uses
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant found in South America. Thousands of years ago, local inhabitants chewed the leaves or brewed them into a tea. They enjoyed the heightened energy and increased alertness the leaves provided.
Fast forward to 1839 when German chemist, Albert Niemann, isolated the active ingredient in the coca leaves and named it cocaine. Later, in the 1880s, Sigmund Freud praised cocaine as useful in treating morphine addiction and depression. Cocaine was also used as an anesthetic during eye surgeries. Practitioners began administering cocaine at high concentrations and soon noticed side effects of intoxication. As many as 13 deaths from cocaine intoxication were reported during a seven-year period.
Also of interest during the 1880s, cocaine was used in numerous medicines and was an ingredient in the popular soft-drink known as Coca-Cola. The soft-drink contained about 60 mg of cocaine in each 250 ml bottle.
Cocaine Sparked the Beginnings of Drug Control
After the discovery of serious side effects from cocaine, the Hague International Opium Convention added cocaine and heroin to the drug control treaty in 1912. This was the beginning of drug control laws in the U.S. and other countries. The Hague Convention also sparked the Harrison Act in 1913, which is the foundation of U.S. drug law in the 20th century.
Today, thousands of organizations and government-sponsored agencies are advocates for drug control laws. For instance, we now have the Controlled Substance Act, which classifies drugs according to their potential for abuse. Under the CSA, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and is not an approved medication in the U.S.
How Cocaine Affects the Human Body
When cocaine reaches the bloodstream, it interferes with the way the brain produces dopamine. Dopamine controls pleasure and pain and is referred to as the reward center of the brain. Cocaine causes an increased level of dopamine that results in increased feelings of pleasure, well-being, and other effects. Cocaine can also work as an anesthetic by blocking communication between nerve cells. When applied to mucous membranes, cocaine produces a numbing effect to the area involved.
Cocaine users primarily “snort” the powdered form of the drug into the nostrils. This form of ingestion provides a quicker high than most other methods. The drug is injected, smoked, or rubbed on the gums by some users. According to the NIH (National Institute on Health), any method of cocaine administration can lead to toxicity. Large amounts of cocaine can result in heart attack, stroke, or seizures which can lead to sudden death.
What Makes Cocaine so Popular?
Despite the abundance of information available regarding cocaine, many people still consider it to be safer than other drugs. Many, songs and movies promote cocaine use, depicting it as an accepted recreational drug. It’s no wonder we are witnessing a significant cocaine comeback that is leaving lives in devastation.
Cocaine became popular in the 1970s and was known as the “glamour drug.” It was widely and openly used by entertainers, business professionals, and other elites. Today, hundreds of tons of cocaine are trafficked into the United States by drug cartels from Columbia and other areas.
Facts About the Cocaine Comeback
More than 5.7 million people used cocaine in the 1980’s. But, the number dropped to about 3.1 million and has not been over 2 million since 1991.
- In 2014, about 913,000 people met the criteria for cocaine dependence, according to NIH.
- In 2016, 63,632 people died from drug-related causes, which includes opioids, cocaine, heroin, etc.
- From 2015 to 2016, cocaine use saw a 52.4% overall rate increase among deaths involving the drug.
- The majority of cocaine-related deaths are a result of fentanyl-laced cocaine, according to the CDC.
These facts point out that cocaine is not as safe as many people believe it to be.
What to Do When Cocaine Isn’t Fun Anymore
As with any mood-enhancing substance, eventually, cocaine’s effects diminish. When this happens, the user needs more of the drug to get the desired high. Over time, cocaine abuse can adversely affect a person’s quality of life in every aspect. Don’t let this happen to you. If you are having problems with cocaine abuse or would like more information about the cocaine comeback, contact us today. We can help you find a way to take back control of your life.