Cocaine is a powerful, addictive drug derived from the leaves of coca plants, which are native to parts of South America. While it does have some use in modern medicine, particularly as a local anaesthetic, cocaine is more widely known as a street drug that comes in varying strengths and most often appears as a white powder. 
Users can consume cocaine in different ways: snorting through the nose; rubbing it into their gums; smoking the powder; or diluting the powder and injecting it into the bloodstream.  The drug increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, causing the user to quickly experience extreme happiness, energy and mental alertness. However, on the other side of the coin, users can also experience hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch; irritability; and paranoia. 
In order to maximize their profits, street-level dealers will often take pure cocaine and mix it with fillers, such as corn starch, talcum powder or flour. They may also mix it with other drugs, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl, without their buyers’ knowledge. This blend of cocaine and opioids is a dangerous one, as buyers don’t know exactly what they’re getting or how strong it might be. 
+ WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF COCAINE?
The coca plant grows wild in the Andes Mountains of South America; indigenous people of the area have been using it for thousands of years. They would chew on the leaves to increase their endurance and to combat the effects of high altitude.  In the 1800s, coca was exported to Europe, where scientists figured out how to isolate the drug from the leaves. Later, it was mixed with wine to create a drink that was popular in Europe. Soon, Americans started making their own drinks using coca extracts, including John Pemberton, who created Coca-Cola.  Today, Coca-Cola does not contain any cocaine. The Stepan Company of Maywood, N.J., is the only company in the U.S. authorized to import and process coca plants , from which it produces a flavoring agent for Coca-Cola. The cocaine that the company extracts from the leaves is sold to Mallinckrodt, a pharmaceutical company in St. Louis, which is the only company in the U.S. licensed to purify cocaine for medical use. 
+ WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCAINE AND CRACK COCAINE?
While cocaine comes in the form of a white powder, crack cocaine is a solid rock, which can be coloured white, cream, tan or light brown. These rocks are formed by combining powder cocaine with water and another substance, usually baking soda, and boiling the mixture. Crack cocaine is smoked, as heat releases vapours that can be inhaled and allows its active chemicals to be absorbed into the bloodstream faster than snorting powder cocaine. However, the high doesn’t last as long. The name “crack” is derived from the crackling sound that is often produced when the rocks are heated. 
+ WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF COCAINE USE?
Aside from the effects mentioned earlier, other short-term effects of cocaine use may include: constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; nausea; heightened body temperature and blood pressure; rapid or irregular heartbeat; tremors and muscle twitches; and restlessness.  Long-term effects of cocaine use may include: fatigue; headaches; abdominal pain; nosebleeds (due to damaged nose tissue from snorting); weight loss; bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis from unsafe injections; cardiac arrest; strokes; seizures; and respiratory arrest. 
+ HOW CAN A COCAINE ADDICTION BE TREATED?
Without the drug, cocaine users can experience withdrawal symptoms, including: fatigue; depression; restlessness; anxiety; increased hunger; increased paranoia , bad dreams; and slower thinking.  These symptoms can be managed, however, through a number of different methods. Inpatient detoxification may be needed to get the drug out of the user’s system in a short period of time.  Others may benefit from being in a residential-based treatment centre, where they live full-time and are able to focus on recovery.  Outpatient treatment allows a patient to live at home and go on with their daily routines while attending treatment – like individual or group therapy sessions – on a regular basis.  While there are currently no medicines approved to help treat cocaine addiction, there are ongoing studies looking into medicines used to treat other addictions to see how effective they might be in this case.