Cocaine is the second most popular illegal recreational drug in the United States, second only to marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, cocaine is powerfully addictive. Cocaine affects the brain and nervous system immediately upon ingestion. Its popularity is due to the intense sense of elation and euphoria that it can cause. Its addictive qualities are due to the fact that at fifteen minutes to an hour, a cocaine high doesn’t last as long as that derived from other recreational drugs, so its users follow up the initial hit with more and more. The danger of becoming addicted increases exponentially as regular use increases. There are currently over a million regular users of cocaine in the US who seriously need to go through a complete drug rehab process.
Cocaine is derived from the coca leaf, which is found in the jungles of South America and has been chewed by the indigenous people there for more than a thousand years. The coca leaf has nutritional value but also has an obvious narcotic effect. In the mid-nineteenth century, European chemists learned how to isolate cocaine from the coca leaf and how to use it for medicinal purposes. Cocaine was used for a time as a topical anesthetic in eye surgery, and it still does retain some limited usage in medical procedures.
Cocaine soon found its niche as a recreational element, although at first it wasn’t known to be addictive, and so it was heavily marketed. Wine treated with coca leaves had a brief bout of popularity and no less an authority than Sigmund Freud touted its advantages over alcohol. As rumored, cocaine was indeed a small part of the initial recipe for Coca-Cola; although the company ceased using coca leaves with any trace of cocaine, the name stuck. It wasn’t until the early years of the twentieth century that cocaine was recognized as the destructive influence that it is. However, cocaine was not outlawed or prosecuted until the early 1970s.
In the 1980s, the introduction of crack cocaine became an epidemic that devastated the inner cities of the US. At the same time, cocaine in its ‘sniffable’ powder form was notably popular in upper-class circles. Cocaine has always been a drug with a diverse demographic. After a period of reduced notoriety, cocaine hit another spike in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It remains a popular party drug to this day.
The issue is that the party can quickly become a habit ad its withdrawal is particularly harsh since it leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, and craving. Regular cocaine use invariably leads to feelings of paranoia and inconsistent mood. The potential of fatal overdose is ever-prevalent.
If we talk about practical solutions, the best way to avoid addiction to cocaine and its other inherent risks is to avoid it in its entirety. For some people, even using one time can lay the foundation of an addiction that is tough to beat. Luckily, there are drug rehab programs available, which have been designed specifically for cocaine addicts.