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Cocaine

Cocaine powder, freebase and crack are all forms of cocaine. They are stimulants with powerful, but short-lived effects. Stimulants temporarily speed up the processes of your mind and body. ‘Freebase' cocaine and ‘crack' cocaine, can be smoked, and so can reach the brain very rapidly in high dosage. Snorted powder cocaine is absorbed more slowly. Hence, smoked freebase or crack tends to be much stronger and more addictive than snorted powder cocaine. However, all forms of cocaine prepared for injection (whether powder cocaine or crack) can also reach the brain rapidly in high doses and so can be very addictive too.

Slang: Street names for drugs can vary around the country. For powder cocaine - coke, Charlie, C, white, Percy, snow, toot. For crack - rocks, wash, stones, pebbles, base, freebase.

The Risks

• After a big night on cocaine, it's not unusual for people to feel like they've got the flu.
• Some people are over-confident on it and so may take very careless risks.
• The hit from coke doesn't last long and from ‘crack' lasts even less. When the effects start to wear off there can be a very strong temptation to take more, partic ularly with the long ‘come down', the crash period can happen days later.
• Crack and cocaine powder users have died from overdoses. High doses can raise the body's temperature, cause convulsions and respiratory or heart failure. Risk of overdosing increases if crack is mixed with heroin, barbiturates (sedatives) or alcohol.
• Cocaine is highly risky for anybody with high blood pressure or a heart condition. Perfectly healthy, young people can have a fit or heart attack after taking too much coke and you may know you've got a pre-existing heart condition.
• Those who get into cocaine very often find they begin to crave it more. And because the effects wear off so quickly, cocaine and crack become an expensive habit to keep.
• Using cocaine a lot makes people feel depressed and run down.
• People who use crack or coke regularly often develop serious problems with anxiety and paranoia. It's a known cause of panic attacks.
• Large or frequent use of coke tends to knock sexual desire on the head.
• Cocaine can bring previous mental health problems to the surface. If a close relative of yours has had serious mental health problems, it's possible there might be an increased risk for you in taking cocaine.
• Injecting any drug can cause vein damage, ulcers and gangrene, particularly with dirty equipment. Sharing of needles and other injecting works can help the spread of HIV and hepatitis virus infections.
• It's easier to overdose if you're injecting your cocaine. Cocaine is a local anaesthetic and it deadens pain at the injection site. This makes it harder for users to notice the damage they may be doing.
• Using cocaine with other drugs or alcohol (whether with depressant or stimulant substances) can substantially increase risk of side-effects.
• Alcohol and cocaine together can be particularly dangerous as the substances interact in the body to produce a toxic chemical. The risks further increase if other drugs are taken as well.
• Injecting a mixture of cocaine and heroin, known as a ‘speedballing' is a dangerous cocktail - with potentially fatal results.

• Taking cocaine when you're pregnant can damage your baby. It may cause miscarriage, premature, labour and low birth weight babies. Babies born to mothers who keep using throughout their pregnancy may experience a withdrawal syndrome after delivery.
• Heavy crack users may take heroin to try to dull their cravings. As a consequence, some crack users have become dependent on heroin as well.
• Regularly smoking crack can cause breathing problems and pains in the chest. Smoking anything damages the lungs.

 

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