Cocaine, also known as 'blow,' 'c,' or 'nose candy,' is a central nervous system stimulant that people abuse for its euphoric effects, such as hyperstimulation, increased stamina, and mental clarity. Cocaine comes in two primary forms: a powder, which can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected, and a rock form known as crack, which is heated, producing a vapor that can be smoked. The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that there were approximately 637,000 new cocaine users in the United States in 2010.
According to data from Monitoring the Future, during 2010:
- 6.6 percent of college students reported using cocaine at least once during their lifetimes
- 3.5 percent of college students reported cocaine use in the past year
- 1.0 percent of college students reported cocaine use in the past month
Cocaine is the most powerful natural stimulant, and users are at risk for significant physical and emotional consequences. People who abuse cocaine may experience psychological symptoms, such as restlessness, anxiety, paranoia, and irritability. Physical symptoms include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Moreover, users who inject the drug may contract or transmit infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Cocaine use can lead to cardiac arrest, seizures, and respiratory arrest'even in first-time users. According to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, cocaine was responsible for more than 480,000 emergency room visits in 2008'more than any other illicit drug. During 2007, close to 235,000 people sought treatment for cocaine abuse or addiction, representing 12.9 percent of those who sought treatment for drug abuse. The vast majority of those seeking professional help'72 percent'were crack cocaine users.
People who engage in prolonged use of cocaine are at high risk for dependence and may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. Tolerance is also possible, requiring increased doses to achieve the same effects the drug gave them the first time they used it. Those with cocaine dependence often require treatment services, such as inpatient drug rehabilitation.
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