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What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a purified extract from the leaves of the Erythroxylum coca bush. Cocaine can be absorbed through the skin although most readily through exposed soft tissue and thin skins such as lips, gums, and eyes. Different chemical processes produce the two main forms of cocaine:
1. Powdered cocaine (commonly known as "coke" or "blow") dissolves in water. Users can snort or inject powdered cocaine.
2. Crack cocaine (commonly known as "crack" or "rock") is made through a chemical process that leaves it in its more basic form. Crack cocaine is smoked.
Cocaine impacts the user’s brain. It interferes with neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that nerves use to communicate with each other. Cocaine blocks norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed. It is this chemical buildup between nerves that causes euphoria or feeling high.
The Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine users often describe the high as a euphoric feeling and often experience an increased sense of energy and alertness, an elevated mood, and a feeling of supremacy. On the other hand, many cocaine users also report feeling irritable, paranoid, restless, and anxious. Cocaine's immediate effects wear off in 30 minutes to two hours. Signs of cocaine use include dilated pupils, high levels of energy and activity, and excited, exuberant speech. Smoking or injecting cocaine results in a faster and shorter high, compared to snorting it. The effects the day after using cocaine can be similar to the symptoms of flu. Although cocaine is a stimulant, its side effects can restrict blood flow to parts of the body and may result in dehydration. Cocaine abuse can lead to acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which may result in sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizure followed by respiratory arrest. Some users will increase their doses to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects. While tolerance to the high can occur, users can also become more sensitive to cocaine's anesthetic and convulsant effects without increasing the dose taken. This increased sensitivity may explain some deaths occurring after apparently low doses of cocaine.
Cocaine’s Effect on Sexual Experiences
Users commonly take cocaine before having sex because, as stimulant, it can make people feel confident, alert and sexy; it's a rush of adrenaline. Cocaine use has been linked to increased sexual activity, a greater number of sex partners and unprotected sex. It has also been associated with a higher than normal incidence of STDs. Cocaine users having multiple partner sex were 1.5 times more likely to be HIV positive compared to cocaine users who were not engaging in sex with more than one partner.
Although cocaine has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, end up having the reverse effect. It increases sexual desire while impairing or delaying orgasm. However, a symptom of heavy cocaine abuse is a massive decline in sex drive and activity. Chronic cocaine use can impair sexual function in men and women. In men, cocaine can cause delayed or impaired ejaculation.
As mentioned above, cocaine can be absorbed through the skin, especially through soft tissue. Cocaine users who have experimented with cocaine to genital contact report that it has a pleasant numbing anesthetic effect. However, it is not recommended to rub cocaine on any exposed tissues or the mucous membranes of the genitals because any adulterants in the powder may not interact well and cause dangerous side effects. Moreover, condoms are highly sensitive to different substances, and their effectiveness may be reduced by stimulants such as cocaine.