Derived from the Erythroxylon coca bush, commonly found in several South American countries, cocaine is a member of the stimulant family of drugs.
How do you use it?
Cocaine is most commonly snorted, but it can also be rubbed into the skin or mixed with water and injected. "Freebasing" is another available method of use, which involves purifying the cocaine by heating it and smoking the residue.
Snorting the drug is the safest method, although, it can cause damage to your nose and sinus glands. Crack, a smokeable form of cocaine. has recently risen in popularity due to its low cost. Although this is the quickest way to get high, it is also the most dangerous, because users often have no way of knowing what solvent was used in the process.
What are the effects on the body?
Cocaine causes an increase in body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Users' pupils are often dilated, and mental alertness is high.
Western sociology professor Paul Whitehead warned that cocaine addicts are also frequently addicted to depressants.
"At the end of a cocaine run, what [users] end up having to do is take a depressant to come down from the cocaine and then be able to sleep," he said. "So, one of the things about cocaine addiction is it is very often tied to an addiction and overuse of tranquilizers of various kinds. You get this cocaine-up and this barbiturate-down that can create a lot of damage."
How does it feel?
As a stimulant, cocaine causes the user to experience immediate feelings of euphoria, well-being and confidence. Users often become very alert and talkative, and usually find their appetite decreases.
"Coke makes me aggressive, not necessarily violent although I've seen that in other people but like I can take on the world," says one cocaine user.