Coca is any of the four cultivated plants, members of the family Erythroxylaceae. These plants are native to western South America, where they are grown as a cash crop in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Coca plants are even cultivated unlawfully in other areas.
There are many traditional uses (medical, nutrition, and religion) for Coca plants, allowing it to play a role in many Andean cultures. However, Coca is best known throughout the world for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. Coca leaves have a low alkaloid content, between 0.25% and 0.77%. If the leaves are chewed or brewed into a coca tea and drank, it does not produce the intense high (euphoria, megalomania, depression) people will experience with cocaine.
Starting in 1885, Coca leaf extract was used in Coca-Cola products. By 1929, all cocaine products within the drink being completely eliminated. Coca-Cola was known to be one of the worlds most addictive drinks at this time, giving consumers increased energy in a soda drink.
The plant is also used in Coca tea, which is produced industrially from coca leaves in South America by a many different companies. The leaves of the Coca plant are also found in a brand of herbal liqueur called “Agwa de Bolivia”, as well as a natural flavouring ingredient in Red Bull Cola.
Sings and Symptoms:
When Coca leaves are chewed or used for drinking purposes in a tea, they do not produce an intense high. However when using several solvents and a chemical process known as acid/base extraction, cocaine, alkaloids, can be extracted from the Coca plant fairly easily. This creates a powerful stimulant and anaesthetic, the drug Cocaine. At one point, Cocaine was used as a medical anaesthetic, however today it is best known as an illegal recreational drug.
When in powered form, cocaine is most commonly snorted to create an intense high, with euphoric effects. Common signs of snorting cocaine, the most popular method of ingestion, include:
- loss of the sense of smell
- difficulty swallowing
- a chronically runny nose
Another form of Cocaine is crack, which is cocaine processed into a rock crystal and then smoked. Crack has lower purity levels and wider potential for introduction of other dangerous chemicals, putting long-term crack cocaine users at risk of experiencing more dramatic symptoms. Signs of crack cocaine abuse often increases due to the amount or frequency of use, often including:
Prolonged use of cocaine or crack cocaine can quickly result in the individual developing a tolerance to the drug, requiring increased amounts to achieve the desired effects. This puts the individual at an increased risk of overdose. As the frequency of cocaine use increases, the individual will begin to develop a dependency to the drug, when abruptly stopping its use they will experience uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. There are many serious health risks involved with a cocaine dependency, which include:
- heart problems
- respiratory effects
- nervous system problems
- digestive problems
- contracting HIV and other diseases (caused by injecting the drug, sharing needles)
- serious skin infections
- severe allergic reactions
Cocaine abuse and addiction are serious medical diseases that are extremely difficult to address, requiring treatment within a Rehab Center. Using individualized care, each patient will undergo a wide array of treatment services tailored to their individual recovery needs. These treatment services often include but are not limited to:
- Medical Detox
- Individual Counseling
- Group Counseling
- Behavioral Modification Therapy
- Family Counseling
- Educational Lectures