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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices

The Facts about Cocaine

Please title this page. (Page 5)

Cocaine is an addictive substance which comes from coca leaves or is made synthetically. This drug acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system.

Cocaine appears as a white powder substance which is inhaled, injected, freebased (smoke), or applied directly to the nasal membrane or gums.

Cocaine gives the user a tremendous "rush." These chemicals trick the brain into feeling it has experienced pleasure.

Slang terms for cocaine include: Coke, crack, dust, snow, blow, flakes, bloke, bernice, and dream.

Physiological effects include:

  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • increased blood pressure
  • nausea
  • weight loss
  • tremors
  • insomnia
  • rapid breathing
  • twitching
  • fever
  • pallor
  • impotence
  • dilated pupils
  • cold sweats
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • seizures
  • nasal congestion.

Personality effects include:

  • lying
  • stealing
  • superior attitude
  • less ambition
  • argumentativeness/short temper
  • job problems
  • denial of responsibility
  • depression
  • confusion
  • increased number of accidents h
  • hallucinations
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • poor concentration
  • loss of interest in sex
  • flattened and dulled emotions.

Health problems include:

  • Ulceration of the nasal membrane
  • cardiac arrest
  • respiratory arrest
  • physiological seizures
  • lung damage.

The effects of cocaine occur in 15-20 minutes and disappear in about I hour. The immediate effects are what make cocaine so addicting. The user is willing to endure the lows in order to experience the highs.

Cocaine is highly addictive. Every use of the drug makes the addiction stronger. This addiction can begin almost immediately following the first use. The addiction to cocaine is very strong, therefore, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur when a person is not using the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms include: Extreme irritability sluggishness nausea disorganized thinking. Although these symptoms may cause discomfort for a brief period of time, the benefits for a person who stops using the drug greatly outweigh an addiction to cocaine.

These benefits include improved health and greater enjoyment of everyday activities.

Pregnant and using cocaine? You risk:

  • Increased incidence of miscarriage
  • increased incidence of premature labor
  • fetal addiction/withdrawal after birth
  • prenatal strokes due to fluctuations in blood pressure
  • kidney and respiratory ailments
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • in males, cocaine may attach to the sperm causing damage to the cells of the fetus.

The Extent of Use: The 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that 11.3% of those surveyed (aged 12 and older) had used cocaine. Of these, .2% used cocaine once a week or more. 2.2% used in the past year and .6% used in the past month.

In 1992, there were approximately 119,843 emergency room episodes related to cocaine use. Of these: 3.2% were between the ages of 6-17 24.8% were between the ages of 18-25 39.5% were between the ages of 26-34 26.7 1% were 35 and older.

Among these emergency, cocaine-related incidents: 13.55% of the patients were white 56.25% of the patients were black 28.04% of the patients were Hispanic.

Deaths Related to Cocaine: Cocaine in combination with other drugs, was directly related to 3,464 deaths. Among these cocaine-related deaths: 49.61% were male 35.48% were female.

If you suspect a problem with cocaine and/or other drug use, please contact the National Drug Information Treatment and Referral Hotline at (800) 662-HELP(4357). They can supply you with: Printed materials treatment services in your state referrals for treatment alcohol treatment services adolescent and family services in your state.

Reprinted by permission:Connecticut Clearinghouse. a program of the Wheeler Clinic. The Connecticut Clearinghouse is funded by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.


As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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