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Drugs of Abuse

Drug Type: Cocaine

Cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride or cocaine HCL) and Crack Cocaine (Cocaine HCL, baking soda, dissolved in water and heated) are stimulants.

Other Names: Cocaine: Powder, nose candy, blow, soft, snow, coke, base, speedball (cocaine mixed with heroin), hooter, "do a line" (inhale cocaine), Yeyo (spanish), white horse, toot

Crack Cocaine: Hard, freebase, baser, crack, rock, ball, cookies, 8-ball (refers to eighth of an ounce of cocaine-approx. 3.5 grams)

NOTE: Crack cocaine supposedly gets its name from the crackling sound it makes while being smoked.

What it looks like:

Cocaine powder is grainy, ranging in color from white to off-white to yellowish.

Crack Cocaine has a rock-like, chunky consistency and ranges in color from off white to beige, yellowish or brownish.

How it is used: Cocaine is most commonly snorted. Cocaine can be injected or smoked, which is also known as freebasing. Crack Cocaine must be smoked. It is not water soluble.

Effect of the drug: The effects from cocaine use are felt immediately and last one to two hours. Crack cocaine use provides a high that is incredibly potent, due to the way it is ingested. The effects of crack cocaine are felt almost instantly, quicker than any other drug. The "low" that follows this incredible "high" is what drives the user to seek another dose, or "hit" of crack cocaine. The effects of crack cocaine use last about fifteen minutes.

Effects include:

  • Increased alertness, euphoria, and excitation
  • Increased blood rate/pulse
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite

Negative Effects/Overdose Effects:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucination
  • Heart disease
  • Brain seizures
  • Mental illness (cocaine psychosis)
  • Convulsions
  • Death- Can result from a first time use if the user has significant health conditions, such as a heart problem. The dosage necessary to cause an overdose varies from person to person.

Note: Using crack cocaine during pregnancy results in the birth of cocaine-addicted babies commonly referred to as "crack babies". Crack babies have lower birth weight, more birth defects and slower mental and physical development than the average baby. Crack babies are at greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (SIDS)

What to look for:

  • Nervousness and anxiousness
  • Agitation and/or excitability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sore throat (for smokers)
  • Sleeplessness
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Nosebleeds (for cocaine snorters) or runny nose
  • Burn marks, injury to fingers (for crack cocaine users from holding a lighter or other heat source under the crack cocaine rock for extended periods) or unexplained burns on body, caused by smoking powder cocaine with ether (freebasing), which is extremely volatile when heated.
  • Paranoia or hallucinations, violent erratic behavior or suicidal tendencies
  • Sudden lack of interest in sleep, food, family
  • Sudden drop in performance at work or school
  • Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine include irritability, depression and muscle aches

Paraphernalia Associated with Drug Use:

  • Clear plastic bags are commonly used for transporting larger amounts of drugs.
  • Tiny plastic baggies with a seal, like a miniature "Ziploc" bag are favored by drug dealers for packaging small doses, or "hits" of cocaine. Baggies come in all sizes, colors and designs.
  • Glass vials are used for storing powder cocaine
  • Razor blades are used for cutting the cocaine.
  • Straws or anything that can function as a straw are used for snorting cocaine (such as a dollar bill or empty ball point pen casing).
  • Scales (triple beam, handheld, digital varieties).indicate drug dealing is probably occurring.
  • Cutting agents, Inositol, mannitol, lidocaine, laxatives, local anesthetics in powdered form are popular substances added to, or "cut" with pure cocaine to increase the drug dealer’s product and increase profits. They are legally sold and will usually be labeled. These items have some legitimate use, but a large amount on hand would be inconsistent with personal use.
  • Mirrors are used for doing "lines" of powder cocaine, and can also withstand a heat source being applied if necessary (freebasing)
  • Strainers are used to get the lumps out of powder cocaine and any cutting agent that a drug dealer is adding.
  • Spoons (a "coke" spoon) holds a small dose of powder cocaine. Also, the spoon can withstand a heat source and may be used by those who are injecting cocaine.
  • Burnt foil could be used either as a way to smoke crack cocaine or to heat up powder cocaine for injecting or smoking.
  • Crack pipes are used to smoke crack cocaine. Crack pipes are homemade pipes, often fashioned out of mini liquor bottles or soda cans. Look for a hole punched in the center of the soda can or bottle. A crack pipe assembly may include the pipe, copper mesh scouring pads (known as "Brillo" pads), metal rods, and pieces of rubber. The copper mesh is used as filter and to hold the crack cocaine rock in place. The rod is used to position the crack cocaine rock, and the rubber or other material is used to plug any opening in the pipe. This blocks the flow of air out of the pipe. Usually large openings in the pipe are blocked and a very small hole is punched in the makeshift crack pipe. The smoke from the burning crack cocaine rock is inhaled through the small hole.
  • Disposable cigarette lighters from which part of the metal assembly has fallen off indicate that the lighter was lit for a long period of time, consistent with what happens when a crack cocaine smoker uses a lighter as a heat source.

Potential for Abuse: Cocaine and crack cocaine remain extremely popular despite their dangerous reputations, with the United States consuming approximately 70% of the world’s cocaine supply. Crack cocaine provides a high that is so powerful that most first-time users are instantly addicted. Cocaine and crack cocaine users experience a powerful psychological addiction to the drug. Compounding the problem is that cocaine and crack cocaine are not difficult to find. They can usually be purchased from dealers on street corners. However, this accessibility does not come without a price. Because of the incredible amount of money at stake, there is a great deal of violence associated with street level drug sales and the act of selling and purchasing drugs is a dangerous and often deadly activity. Although cocaine is relatively cheap (a standard "hit" costs about ten dollars), a cocaine user’s habit quickly becomes expensive. Rarely can a cocaine user afford his or her habit. Therefore, cocaine addicts frequently steal, rob, and/or commit acts of prostitution to get money for cocaine. These acts result in self-destruction, and devastate the family unit, as well as the community.

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