Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that comes from the coca leaves. For centuries, South America people chewed and ingested the coca leaves to get the extra energy needed for farm works. The drug also helps them breathe in thin air in high altitude mountain areas.
Currently, the US government labeled cocaine as a Schedule II drug, meaning that the drug contains addictive properties. However, doctors can still use cocaine in their medical procedure as a local anesthesia in surgeries for the eye, ear, and throat. The drug typically sold in the black markets as a fine, white and crystalline powder.
Drug dealers often mix or (‘cut’) cocaine using readily available materials like talcum powder, cornstarch, flour, baking soda to increase their profits. Some users even mix cocaine with another drug like heroin and call it a ‘Speedball’.
The purified form of cocaine, cocaine hydrochloride was first extracted from the plant more than a century ago. During the early 1900’s, purified cocaine was used as the main ingredient for various elixirs and tonics. These so-called ‘medicinal’ tonics believed to treat several diseases. Cocaine was even the main ingredient in the early recipe of the famous Coca-Cola drink.
Before the discovery of local anesthetic, the medical community used cocaine to block pain in some surgical procedures. However, several types of research emerge indicating that the potent stimulant can cause damage in the brain functions and its structures.
Users usually snort, smoke and inject cocaine. It is a fast acting drug which can immediately felt within 2 seconds to minutes after the last dose. It usually lasts between five minutes to ninety minutes. This can result in mental effects such as:
Opioids are a group of drugs derived from the Asian poppy plant. They affect the central nervous system and the spinal cord. Experts designed these drugs as chemically similar to interact with opioid receptors in the brain.
These type of drugs are used as pain management medications and generally safe if taken for a short period of time. Doctors often prescribe the drugs after a surgical procedure to help them deal with the pain. However, even when prescribed legally the drugs can still produce tolerance and euphoria. Some users manage their way misusing the drug, either taking it longer or in higher doses. Drug overdose and deaths are common in opiate abuse.
Opioids bind the opioid receptors in the brain that controls pain, digestion and other bodily functions. Once these drugs flooded the brain’s receptors they weakened the person’s perception of pain. However, they also affect the reward system of the brain, producing euphoria which the users seek. Some people fall pray into this euphoric feeling and eventually get addicted to opiates.
It somehow leads in taking the prescription drug longer and in higher doses as the addiction develops. This put the users at a higher risk of serious health problems, drug overdose even death. The best way to avoid opiate addiction is to follow the strict prescription of doctors and take it only as needed.
Opioid addiction is on the rise, and opioid overdose deaths are a common scenario in emergency rooms nowadays. These drugs can repress the breathing process of the user, in an overdose scenario, the heart completely stops beating.
To sum it up and for the information of those who are in drug detox, cocaine does not belong to opiates as it acts as a stimulant. Opiates, on the other hand, bind receptors in the brain to dull pain, in some opiates it acts as a sedative. There are several more differences between the two drugs.
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Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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