Cocaine is another
stimulant, like the amphetamines. In fact, it'd be hard to tell
turtle from its speed-boosted
brother (or sister). Except instead of arriving shell-shocked,
it'd be cracked.
That's a joke--sort of. But there's
nothing funny about the damage that cocaine
can do. And it does a lot of that.
Like other stimulants, cocaine
speeds up the brain and body, increasing alertness
and heart rate and blocking appetite. Effects don't last as long,
though--usually less than an hour. Unfortunately, problems can
last a lot
Since it acts on the brain's
pleasure centers, cocaine can produce serious dependency. It
can also interfere with basic body functions, including heart rate. For some users, it can even stop heart contractions altogether. And when the heart
person stops--doing cocaine
and everything else.
There are two basic forms of cocaine, powder and crack, and they're used
in two different ways. Powder is usually sniffed, while crack
is smoked. Even though both contain
the same drug, the fact that crack is smoked only compounds its risks.
Why? Because it's smoked, rather than being absorbed into the body more
slowly, crack squeezes its effects into a much smaller span
of time. It shrinks a one-hour cocaine high into three minutes, which results in a faster-developing
It also illustrates the main
difference between powder cocaine users and crackheads.
Powder users may watch their dreams turn to dust,
but crackheads see theirs go up in smoke.