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CRACK COCAINE A once-in-a-lifetime experience?

The high from crack cocaine is intensely rewarding. But the experience is short-lived. Such immense well-being is unsustainable because its mechanisms don't subvert the systems of homeostatic feedback inhibition of the brain. So it's reckless to try crack cocaine at all - at least until one's death-bed - because its euphoric effect is so extraordinarily hard to forget. If one succumbs to curiosity, and finds out what one is missing, then the rest of one's life may pall in comparison. For there is nothing in life that's naturally so enjoyable as crack. Tragically, the user's family and loved ones may suffer the price of pleasure almost as severely as the addict.
So is a crackhead inescapably doomed to an early grave? Or are there ways (s)he can escape from the abyss?

Perhaps. Most of the GIs who got hooked on unmistakably physically addictive heroin in Vietnam kicked the habit when they returned to the USA. The veterans quit, often without undue difficulty, because most of the "conditioned cues and reinforcers" associated with narcotic drug-use in South-East Asia were missing back home.

Thus a complete change of environment, especially a holiday in the company of supportive family and (drug-free) friends, can help break a user's self-destructive cycle of coke-binges. The brain is given time to recover. Cue-elicited craving is a major cause of relapse in recovering coke-users. Indeed this cue-elicited craving may even increase during the first few months of withdrawal.

Good food, particularly an idealised stone-age diet [fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholemeal bread, pasta, rice etc] should help. Regular vigorous exercise is useful as well [and probably Faith In Jesus, though this isn't always a realistic goal]. Another option is joining Cocaine Anonymous.

More controversially, "cocaine vaccines" may soon be licensed. They are designed to induce drug-specific antibodies in the bloodstream. In theory, cocaine-specific antibodies which sequester the drug before its passage into the brain will prevent the relapsing user getting high. Perhaps children "at risk" will be vaccinated at an early age. The possible coercive use of "vaccines against pleasure" raises profound ethical problems.

Cocaine addicts motivated to quit might consider a course of the antiepileptic drug vigabatrin (Sabril), though it isn't licensed in the USA. Vigabatrin is an irreversible inhibitor of gamma-aminobutyric acid transaminase (GABA-T). GABA-T the enzyme responsible for the catabolism of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Feedback inhibition between the "feel good" dopaminergic and GABA-ergic neurotransmitter systems explains vigabatrin's therapeutic "antidopaminergic" action. Vigabatrin is a relatively safe drug. Even so, its use sometimes causes colour vision defects; the most common adverse side-effects reported are sleepiness and fatigue.

A future option for cocaine addicts who want to quit may be taking a dual dopamine/serotonin releaser. PAL-287 is a rationally-designed drug aimed at treating stimulant dependence while having minimal "abuse potential" of its own. Much more research will be needed before it ever gets a product license.

Another future option may be the benztropine analog JHW007. It serves as a functional antagonist to cocaine. JHW007 has a high affinity for the dopamine transporter with minimal cocaine-like subjective and behavioural effects.

Some drug-pundits recommend Total Abstinence from chemical assistance: "Just Say No." The ex-addict is encouraged to renounce "unnatural" chemical highs altogether. This course of action may indeed be prudent given our bug-ridden genome and current crop of misbegotten street drugs. Unfortunately, opting to embrace godliness, hard work and clean living isn't always the recipe for a happy life either.

For many cocaine-users have a pre-existing psychiatric disorder - even by the touchstone of today's impoverished conception of mental health. In effect, such users are self-medicating, even if they ostensibly take cocaine hedonistically "for kicks". Such users need more effective medicine to flourish. So in place of cocaine, the option of taking one or more clinically therapeutic mood-brighteners [e.g. desipramine (Norpramin), a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor; venlafaxine (Effexor), milnacipran (Ixel) or duloxetine (Cymbalta), dual-action serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors; perhaps a glutamate-enhancing agent such as modafinil (Provigil); or more daringly, amineptine (Survector), a dopamine reuptake inhibitor; and/or anti-anxiety agents e.g. benzodiazepines] may be considered instead.

Alternatively, if the user wishes to Say No To Drugs completely, then a "natural", gentle mood-brightener and anti-anxiety agent, hypericum (St John's wort), may be taken indefinitely. Unfortunately, this traditional herbal medicine is not a dependable remedy for deep melancholic depression - coke-induced or otherwise.

S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is another natural antidepressant. But its efficacy in treating cocaine-induced depression is untested in controlled clinical trials.

Inevitably, present-day mood-brighteners, whether herbal or clinical, won't stand comparison with tomorrow's revolutionary designer-drugs. Nor do they deliver the rapturous but addictive rush of a fast-acting euphoriant. Contemporary therapeutic mood-boosters yield desperately little joy compared to the lifetime of genetically pre-programmed superhealth on offer to our descendants. But our legacy DNA didn't design us to be happy. So for now, the dirty chemical stopgaps licensed for use in contemporary clinical medicine are often better than nothing at all. Read More......

A Spoonful of Sugar?

The coca leaf doesn't travel well. By the time leaves sent by early colonists in South America reached Europe, they had lost much of their potency. So for centuries the plant remained litte more than a curiosity of interest only to obscure European botanists. The active alkaloid of the coca plant, cocaine, was first isolated from coca leaves by the German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke (1828-1890) in 1855. Gaedcke published his discovery in Archives de Pharmacie; he called it "Erythroxyline".
An improved step-by-step purification process was described by Albert Niemann (1834-1861) of Gottingen University in 1859. Niemann called the compound "cocaine"; and the name stuck. He was awarded a PhD; his dissertation was published in March 1860 as a slim volume called On a New Organic Base in the Coca Leaves. Niemann writes of its "colourless transparent prisms...Its solutions have an alkaline reaction, a bitter taste, promote the flow of saliva and leave a peculiar numbness, followed by a a sense of cold when applied to the tongue." Niemann had discovered that cocaine acted as a local anaesthetic. He died a year or so later in mysterious circumstances. The exact molecular formula of cocaine (i.e. C17H21NO4 ) was elucidated in 1863 by Niemann's colleague Wilhelm Lossen (1838-1906). In 1894, German chemist Richard Willstaetter (1872-1942) was awarded his doctorate from the University of Munich for discovering the its structural formula.

The commercial production of purified cocaine gained momentum only in the mid-1880s. Its greatest medical value was in ophthalmology. Eye-surgery stood in desperate need of a good local anaesthetic. This was because in eye operations it is often essential for a conscious patient to move his eye as directed by the surgeon - without flinching. Viennese ophthalmologist Karl Koller (1857-1944) discovered that cocaine was ideal for the task. From 1884, news of his successful experiments travelled round the world. The military took an interest as well. In 1883, German physician Theodor Aschenbrandt administered cocaine to members of the Bavarian army. It was found that the drug enhanced their endurance on manoeurvres.

Aschenbrandt's study was published in a German medical journal. The report was read by a young Viennese neurologist, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Freud was to play a significant role in the development of the Western cocaine-industry. "I take very small doses of it regularly and against depression and against indigestion, and with the most brilliant success", he observed. Drug giants Merck and Parke Davies both paid Freud to endorse their rival brands. Freud wrote several enthusiastic papers on cocaine, notably Ьber Coca (1884). He talks of "the most gorgeous excitement" animals display after receieving injection of a cocaine "offering". And in humans, cocaine induces...

"...exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person...You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work....In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug....Long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue...This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcohol....Absolutely no craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug..."
Freud concluded Ьber Coca by recommending seven conditions for which cocaine pharmacotherapy might prove valuable:

as a mental stimulant
as a possible treatment for digestive disorders
as an appetite stimulant in case of wasting diseases
as a treatment for morphine and alcohol addiction
as a treatment for asthma
as an aphrodisiac
as a local anaesthetic
It was Freud's fourth recommendation that caused the most controversy. Cocaine is no longer prescribed as an antidote to morphine addiction.

Taken in an oral solution as Freud had envisaged, cocaine was indeed less likely to be addictive than when administered by the intravenous route. The euphoria induced is delayed; and it may be less intense and even subtle. A lot of the cocaine is broken down in the liver before it reaches the brain. However, hypodermic needles were starting to become widely available in the 1880s. Morphine addicts soon discovered that subcutaneous injections of cocaine yielded a quick, potent and addictive high. Before long, many users became hooked on cocktails including both. Using cocaine to cure morphine addiction, Freud later ruefully admitted, was "like trying to cast out the Devil with Beelzebub." Read More......

Vintage Wine

According to the Sears, Roebuck and Co. Consumers' Guide (1900), their extraordinary Peruvian Wine of Coca...

"...sustains and refreshes both the body and brain....It may be taken at any time with perfect safety...it has been effectually proven that in the same space of time more than double the amount of work could be undergone when Peruvian Wine of Coca was used, and positively no fatigue experienced....."
Some 99% of contemporary Western users mix cocaine and ethyl alcohol. Cocaine and alcohol combine to form another hugely reinforcing compound, cocaethlyene. Coca-use only really took off in the West when it was blended with an alcoholic beverage.

The real soaraway success in Europe was Vin Mariani. Launched in 1863, it was an extremely palatable coca wine developed by the Corsican entrepreneur, Angelo Mariani (1838-1914). Mariani first tried his new tonic on a depressed actress. The results were spectacular. She soon told all her friends. Mariani himself wrote a book eulogising coca; and he gathered artefacts of, and material on, the coca-loving Incas. At home, he collected coke-taking paraphernalia. He also took up amateur horticulture and cultivated the coca plant in his garden.

Coca wine made Mariani famous. Vin Mariani rapidly became the world's most popular prescription. Writers loved it. Anatole France, Henrik Ibsen, Йmile Zola, Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, Robert Louis Stephenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other literary luminaries all indulged freely. Composers such as Massenet, Gounod and Faurй gratefully honoured the Corsican druggist in their music. Vin Mariani was celebrated by royalty as well: by Queen Victoria; King George 1 of Greece; King Alphonse XIII of Spain; the Shah of Persia; and by William McKinley, President of the United States.

A devotion to Vin Mariani transcended petty differences of religious dogma. The Grand Rabbi of France, Zadoc Kahn, was moved to exclaim: "My conversion is complete. Praise be to Mariani's wine!" Pope Pius X was an enthusiast, as was Pope Leo XIII. He gave coca wine an official seal of approval by awarding Angelo Mariani a special gold medal. In recent years, however, the Vatican has felt unable to reiterate its original endorsement.

John Pemberton (1832-1888), the Atlanta-born creator of Coca Cola, was a keen pharmacist and coca-lover. He sought to combine the ultimate medicine and perfect drink in one glorious cocktail. Pemberton based his original drink on Vin Mariani. It was said to be "a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs". "Pemberton's French wine coca" proved singularly popular with American consumers. Coke was soon touted as "an intellectual beverage"; though not on the basis of controlled clinical trials.

Atlanta introduced Prohibition in 1886. So Pemberton had to replace the wine in his recipe with sugar syrup. Thus 'Pemberton's French wine cola' became 'Coca-Cola: the temperance drink'.

Official approval of coca-based tonics began to wane towards the end of the century. Unfortunately, people who were prescribed cocaine to combat morphine dependence were becoming addicted to both.

In 1904, America's gathering moral panic about Drug Abuse led the manufacturers to remove the cocaine from Coca-Cola. It is now official Coca-Cola Company policy to deny the existence of cocaine in their orginal world-winning formula. The US Government later tried to compel the company to drop the name 'Coca-Cola' too. After protracted legal argument, the name was saved; but traditionalists claimed the drink itself never quite recaptured its original glory. Read More......


Cocaine is habit-forming. It is potentially dangerous when indulged in to excess.
If rats or monkeys are hooked up to an intravenous source of heroin, they will happily self-administer the drug indefinitely; but they still find time to sleep and eat.

If rats or monkeys can freely self-administer cocaine, however, they will do virtually nothing else. Captive animals continue to press their drug-delivery lever for as long as they are physically capable of doing so. Their fate is similar to an intracranially self-stimulating laboratory rodent. Within weeks, if not days, they will lose a substantial portion of their body weight - up to 40%. Within a month, they will be dead.

Urinary Detection Times
in trace amounts DETECTION PERIOD
resulting in positive test
Benzoylecgonine 2-4 days 2-4 days
Chronic Use up to 3 weeks up to 3 weeks
Amphetamine 2-5 days 1-3 days
Methamphetamine 2-5 days 1-3 days
Cannabis (THC)
Casual Use 2-7 days 1-5 days
Chronic Use up to one month up to six weeks
Phencyclidine (PCP)
Casual Use 2-7 days 2-7 days
Chronic Use up to 30 days up to 14 days
Codeine 2-5 days 1-3 days
Morphine 2-4 days 1-2 days

The world's first drug-testing scandal occurred in 1876. Competitive long-distance walking had become a popular sport. American Edward Weston challenged the English champion to a 24 hour race. The contest was held at the Agricultural Hall in the North London Borough of Islington. The effete Englishman gave up after a mere 14 hours and 66 miles. The American carried on walking for the full 24 hours and 110 miles. It later transpired that Weston had being chewing coca leaves - "Peruvian marching powder" - throughout the race. There was an outcry; but Weston kept his title. Read More......

Coca In Bloom

There are around 250 species of erythroxylon plants. At least 20 produce cocaine. Only two of them, erythroxylon coca and erythroxylon novogranatense, typically yield enough cocaine to justify commercial cultivation.
Chewing leaves of coca normally induces a pleasant and subtle sense of well-being. Other routes of administration may exert a more dramatic impact on the user; and pose substantially greater risks to health.

Yet sensitivity to coca-extract varies. Paola Mantegazza (1831-1910), an Italian physician working in northern Argentina in the 1850s, seems to have been unusually receptive to its properties:

"...I sneered at the poor mortals condemned to live in this valley of tears while I, carried on the wings of two leaves of coca, went flying through the spaces of 77, 438 words, each more splendid than the one before...An hour later, I was sufficiently calm to write these words in a steady hand: God is unjust because he made man incapable of sustaining the effect of coca all life long. I would rather have a life span of ten years with coca than one of 10 000 000..(and here I has inserted a line of zeros) centuries without coca."

The capacity "of sustaining the effect of coca all life long" will indeed not come from God - nor from godliness. Nor will it come from wholesome living and clean thoughts. This is because we are born with a "hedonic-treadmill" of mood-regulating negative-feedback mechanisms in the CNS. The hedonic treadmill is vicious. It prevents us from subverting our gene-driven "set-point" of emotional well/ill-being by cosmetic lifestyle-adjustments.
Fortunately, the application of designer-drugs, nanotechnology and gene-therapy promises eventually to get rid of suffering and malaise altogether. If we choose to abolish them, then the metabolic pathways of unpleasantness can be edited out of existence.

Better still, our genetically-enriched successors will be able to enjoy life-long bliss far richer than anything a drug or plant-extract can induce at present. The well-being of our descendants will be deeper, more diverse, more intense and (perhaps) more empathetic than anything physiologically accessible to drug-naïve mortals today. In the new reproductive era ahead, genetic disorders such as ageing and a capacity for aversive experience are destined to disappear into the evolutionary past. For tomorrow's paradise-engineers will rewrite the human genome to serve our own interests rather than selfish DNA.

But large-scale genetic-rewrites take time. The use of biotechnology to abolish suffering throughout the living world - and a possible Post-Darwinian Transition to paradise-engineering - will take many centuries, perhaps even millennia. And on the whole, we want to be happy right now.

Unfortunately, recreational drugs like cocaine offer only a deadly short-cut to nirvana. Read More......

Flower Erythroxylon Coca

Coca leaves have been chewed by South American Indians for many thousands of years to induce a mild and long-lasting euphoria. Anthropologists have speculated that the word coca derives from the pre-Incan Tiwanaku word khoka - meaning "the plant". The Aymara word q'oka means "food for travellers and workers".
The Incas in particular venerated coca. They used coca in magical ceremonies and initiation rites; for divination and fertility rituals; and to heal their physical and psychic woes. Two of the Inca emperors named their wives after the leaf - the honoured consorts were given the plant's sacred title, Mama Coca. The only object ever carried by the Inca emperor himself was a coca pouch. He wore it around his neck close to his heart.

In the Inca period, the elite regarded the sacred leaf as far too good for ordinary Indians. The invading Spanish conquistadores were more practical - and cynical. Intially coca use and cultivation was denounced, especially by the Catholic Church, for its destructive influence on the native populations. Coca was banned as an agent of idolatry and sorcery, "strengthening the wicked in their delusions, and asserted by every competent judge to possess no true virtues; but, on the contrary, to cause the deaths of innumerable Indians, while it ruins the health of the few who survive."

But the invaders were impressed at coca's efficacy as a stimulant: "The herb is so nutritious and invigorating that the Indians labour whole days without anything else." The Spanish needed native labour in their silver-mines. Work in the mines was extremely arduous; and taking coca reduces appetite and increases physical stamina. Hence there was a great surge in coca-use and the number of coqueros (coca-chewers).

Pope Paul III (r. Oct. 13, 1534 - Nov. 10, 1549) stated in his encyclical entitled "Sublimus Die" that Indians were not to be robbed of their freedom. He wrote "Notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians [of the New World] and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved..." Read More......

Hard Rock

Millions of years of evolution by natural selection has endowed the brain with a cruel web of negative-feedback mechanisms to regulate our moods, emotions and degree of well-being. Taking refined 'recreational' euphoriants, notably cocaine or the amphetamines, sends a signal to the brain that indicates, falsely, the impending arrival of an immense evolutionary benefit.
After the drug-fuelled high comes the crash. Genetically-driven feedback-inhibition kicks in. Cocaine-withdrawal causes a protracted biochemical abstinence-syndrome marked by craving, melancholy and anhedonia. Neuronal release of dopamine declines. So does the number of mesolimbic dopamine transporters. The spontaneous firing of dopamine cells decreases. Chronic cocaine dependence may cause long-lasting functional deficits in the frontal cortex as well.

The hedonic treadmill punishes naive attempts to get high. Read More......

Crack Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful constrictor of blood vessels and a local anaesthetic. It is also a potent psychostimulant. The physical effects of cocaine on the user include excitement, alertness, tachycardia, pupillary dilatation, raised body-temperature, hypertension, brochodilation, enhanced glucose availability, and increased motor activity - all part of the "fight or flight" syndrome.

Taking cocaine also also gets you high. Its half-life in the plasma, however, is only 50 minutes; and the euphoria soon fades. Freebase/crack users desire more of the drug far sooner than users of the hydrochloride salt.

The rewarding properties of cocaine derive mainly from its effects on the neurotransmitter dopamine. The dopamine system is involved in the control of mood, motivation, cognition, locomotion, sexuality and endocrine function. There are only some 30-40 thousand dopamine neurons in the brain, but both the axons and dentrites of the dopamine neurons are unusually well arborised - with as many as 100,000 synapses for each dopaminergic neuron. Their distinctive morphology reflects dopamine's role in the "encephalisation of emotion".

Cocaine induces elation primarily by blocking the dopamine transporter. The blockade increases the availability of free dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure-centres of the brain. Degree of transporter occupancy is correlated with the intensity of euphoria. Higher doses and faster routes of administration create vivid memories and intense cravings. But the biological substrates of pure pleasure remain elusive. Investigation of the possible final common pathway of pleasure in the brain continues. Endorphins and enkephalins activating receptors in the ventral pallidum apparently play a role too, as does the orbitofrontal cortex.

Recent research highlights the role of the sigma1 receptors in cocaine-induced euphoria. Co-administering a sigma1 agonist makes taking cocaine even more enjoyable. Sigma1 agonists like igmesine are also under investigation as potential antidepressants. Conversely, taking a sigma1 receptor antagonist makes cocaine use unrewarding.

Whatever its mechanisms, and unlike most clinically-approved mood-brighteners, cocaine is a pro-sexual drug. Taken before sex, it can induce prolonged and intense orgasm. Cocaine-induced lovemaking, however, is not especially warm or empathetic. Read More......


Cocaine can be manufactured by converting tropinone into
2-carbomethoxytropinone, reducing this to ecgonine,
and then converting the ecgonine to cocaine.
This isn't as easy as it sounds. Read More......

Rat coca

Read More......

The Vials Of Crack

Who invented crack?
No one knows for sure. One story credits its discovery to a chemist of the Cali cartel. An early epidemic of crack use occurred in the Bahamas from 1980; Bahamian hospital psychiatry departments recorded a surge of admissions from severely disturbed and psychotic users. In 1983, crack use filtered across the Florida Straits. It took hold in Miami, followed by New York. The first newspaper report of the phenomenon appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1984, Within a year, crack use had swept across inner city ghettoes throughout America. The first "crack babies" were born.

Crack is actually a less pure variety of free-base cocaine. Unlike old-fashioned free-base, however, its production doesn't involve any flammable solvents. Unlike the hydrochloride salt, free base cocaine vapories at a low temperature. This makes it suitable for smoking.

Crack is usually made by mixing two parts of cocaine hydrochyloride with one part baking soda (sodium bicarbonate: NaHC03) in about 20 ml of water. The solution is then heated gently until white precipitates form. Heating is halted when precipitation stops. The precipitate is filtered and retained. The precipitate may then be washed with water; this procedure is usually omitted in the street product. The product may then be dried for 24 hours under a heat-lamp. Crack is then cut or broken into small 'rocks' weighing a few tenths of a gram.

The traditional method of taking cocaine in the West involves snorting the hydrochloride salt. But absorption through the nasal mucosa is relatively modest. This is because their surface-area is small and cocaine is vasoconstrictive. Classic freebase, on the other hand, is smoked and inhaled directly into the lungs. Therefore much higher doses are possible. Inhalation is followed by an intense euphoric rush. The euphoria doesn't last long. The user becomes irritable and craves more of the drug.

Chronic cocaine-use causes a decrease in the production of enkephalin, one of the brain's natural opioids. This in turn causes a compensatory increase in the number of mu-receptors. The number of unoccupied mu-receptors may be associated with the craving and abstinence syndrome.

After chronic exposure to cocaine, the number of post-synaptic dopamine receptors in the CNS is reduced. The amount of dopamine transporter protein is increased. Tolerance to cocaine's effects does exist over prolonged use; but the extent of this physiological adaptation is relatively modest. The cocaine-user still gets high; but in the absence of cocaine, his pre-synaptic neurons sequester dopamine in the synaptic cleft with greater efficiency. This may induce depression, and sometimes profound despair.

No one ever feels contented after taking cocaine. They just want more. Read More......

Erythroxylum Cataractarum

In its native habitat, the coca plant is resistant to drought and disease. Coca is a small shrublike tree that doesn't need irrigation. Its leaves are green, oval and tough. Its flowers are small and greenish white. A red fruit is produced with a single seed.
The introduction of coca to England was pioneered early in the nineteenth century by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. However, the coca plant has yet to find a place in orthodox Western horticulture.

The growth of Net-based ecommerce in the early Twenty First Century nonetheless spurred an upsurge in demand and supply among horticulturalists across the globe. Gardening enthusiasts who visit Cocomama (2003) are told: "If you're interested to grow coca plant for hobby, research or conservation purposes, feel free to order the seeds."

In the 1980s, millions of drug-naïve Americans were introduced to "decocainised" coca tea imported from South America. The legitimate cultivation of Peruvian coca, and also the production of all Peruvian cocaine licensed for pharmaceutical export, was controlled by the government's own National Enterprise Of Coca. In a bid to expand and diversify its product range, the National Enterprise Of Coca promoted the benefits of coca in the form of a wholesome traditional beverage. This state-sponsored export-drive was successful: overseas demand proved brisk. From 1983, 'Inca Health Tea' sold especially well in the North American market. Lemongrass and other flavours were added to cater to American palates. Soon matй de coca could be bought in tea-shops and grocery stores in US cities.

Matй de coca is indeed an agreeable and invigorating mood-brightener. Matй de coca is also extremely benign: patients at the San Francisco National Addiction Research Foundation, for instance, were encouraged in the 1980s to drink as much mate de coca as they desired to help wean themselves off cocaine. When consumed in generous quantities, coca tea is remarkably good at easing drug-cravings. However, this is because the average "decocainized" tea-bag contains 5 milligrams of cocaine. Read More......

Erythroxylon Coca Farmer

Coca can be harvested four times a year. Traditionally, chewing the sacred leaf promotes contact with the spirit world. Chewing or smoking coca leaves invigorates the user, allowing him to absorb the plant's magical powers and protect body and spirit alike. Ancient Peruvians used coca as a local anaesthetic before trepanning - the hazardous surgical technique of drilling a hole in the skull to relieve various physical and psychic woes.
In traditional Indian cultures, Mama Coca was accounted a benevolent deity. She was regarded as a sacred goddess who could bless humans with her power. Before the coca harvest, the harvester would sleep with a woman to ensure that Mama Coca would be in a favourable mood. Typically, a decoction of coca and saliva was rubbed onto the male organ to prolong erotic ecstasy.

Tales of the aphrodisiacal properties of cocaine eventually reached the Old World too. In his journal of 1794, Hipolito Unanue writes of "coqueros, 80 years of age and over, and yet capable of such prowess as young men in the prime of life would be proud of."

Later authorities made no less extravagant claims. In Der Kokainismus (1926), Swiss psychiatrist Hans Maier records: "After a night of sexual prowesses, compared to which the seven labours of Hercules were a mere nothing, I fell asleep, only to be immediately awakened by the renewed demands of my insatiable partner. I was able to verify on myself the degree to which cocaine renders women incapable of achieving sexual relation. Orgasm follows orgasm, each one further increasing the intensity of the desire. The most sexually potent man must eventually give up the hope of satisfying such a woman. There was nothing to do but flee in self-preservation."

Such purple prose may mislead the unwary. Cocaine is not an aphrodisiac if taken in large quantities over prolonged periods. Indeed chronic cocaine use may suppress erotic behaviour altogether. This is because taking pure cocaine is typically more pleasurable than having sex. Captive animals given the opportunity to enjoy unlimited quantities of both will initially be more sexual active. But they end up focusing entirely on the cocaine. This pattern of behaviour is also the common experience of humans who pass from casual recreational use of the drug to become cocaine addicts. Read More......


Cocaine is the world's most powerful stimulant of natural origin. South American Indians have used cocaine as it occurs in the leaves of Erythroxylon coca for at least 5000 years. Coca-chewing promotes clarity of mind and a positive mood. Traditionally, the leaves have been chewed for social, mystical, medicinal and religious purposes. Coca has even been used to provide a measure of time and distance. Native travellers sometimes described a journey in terms of the number of mouthfuls of coca typically chewed in making the trip. This was a "cocada" - the time or distance and man could walk before a coca pellet was exhausted.
Physical constraints ensure that even the most ardent coquero can get only a modest amount of cocaine into his bloodstream. Coca-induced heart-attacks and strokes are thus extremely rare among traditional users. In recent decades, however, there have been changes in cocaine's route of administration, patterns of usage, the technology of cocaine production, and typical dosages.

There are four basic routes to coca intoxication:

chewing the leaves. Coca consumption was originally the prerogative of the Inca elite. Today, most of the natives indulge as well. Coca is also consumed as the highly esteemed matй de coca. Drinking coca-tea tends to soothe the stomach; so it's good for digestive problems. Matй de coca is less likely to induce jitteriness than coffee. It is also rather more effective as a mood-brightener.

cocaine sulphate - pasta, basuco, basa, pitillo, paste. This is the low-grade stuff that reaches the urban slums of South America. The sulphate is the intermediate stage between the coca leaf and the finished cocaine hydrochloride crystal. Coca leaves are stripped from the plant. They are put into plastic pit with a solution of water and dilute sulphuric acid. A bare-footed man will climb into the pit; step on the mess; and shove it around with his hands. In South America, coca paste in commonly mixed with tocacco and smoked.

cocaine hydrochloride - an odourless, white crystalline powder. It has a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is a stable, hydrophilic salt. Thus it can be snorted and absorbed through the nasal mucosa. Absorption at around 20-30% is still relatively poor. It is limited by the drug's tendency to cause vasoconstriction. Making cocaine hydrochloride is quite complicated. The pasta is first washed in kerosene. It is then chilled. The kerosene is removed. Gas crystals of crude cocaine are left at the bottom of the tank. Typically, the crystals are dissolved in methyl alcohol. They are then recrystallised and dissolved once more in sulphuric acid. Further washing, oxidation and separation procedures involve potassium permanganate, benzole, and sodium carbonate.

freebase/crack cocaine. The idea of smoking cocaine isn't new. Drug company Parke, Davies introduced coca-cigars as long ago as 1886. But heat degrades rather than vaporises cocaine hydrochloride. So coca-cigar sales never took off. Smokeable cocaine in the form of the base rather than the salt didn't become widespread in the US for another hundred years. Freebase/crack is derived from cocaine hydrochloride which has been chemically treated with ammonia or baking-soda to free the potent base material from the salt. Free-base was originally produced by a dangerous four-or-five step process in which the hydrochloride salt was heated with water and a volatile liquid such as ether. Base cocaine in the form of 'crack' is safer to produce; but it is no less addictive. Crack/free-base itself is indissoluble in water, so it can't easily be injected or sniffed. Instead, it is usually smoked from pipes; burnt on a piece of tin foil; or mixed with tobacco and perhaps cannabis in a smokable joint. The euphoric rush comes within a few seconds - even faster than from intravenous cocaine hydrochloride. Initially, the user may experience a profound sense of power, mastery, cleverness and uninhibited desire. Orgasm is intensified. Extravagant hyper-sexuality and rampant promiscuity are common. The exhilaration usually starts to fade within a few minutes. Cocaine is rapidly metabolised in the blood and liver. Its typical half-life is 30-90 minutes. Soon, the crackhead desperately craves another hit. Profound depression may occur if it is denied. Descent into the abyss has begun.

During crack-cocaine binges, addicts may become utterly drug-obsessed. The obsession is so all-consuming that food, money, sleep, loved ones, morality, any sense of responsibility, and even survival-instincts may be eclipsed. Users may smoke crack at fifteen-minute intervals for some 72 hours without pause for sleeping or eating. A "crash" inevitably follows; and a profound melancholy.
Thus crack-cocaine is neither a wise nor effective choice of long-term mood-brightener. Read More......


Cocaine is an integral part of the world economy. Its street price reflects the competitive pressures of today's global marketplace. In the past few decades, cocaine has become a significant export-earner for many poor South American countries, notably Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. South America currently exports some 1000 tons of refined cocaine per year. Smugglers can be quite ingenious. In recent years, US federal narcotics officials have seized $450,000 worth of cocaine moulded into dog kennels; and detained a consignment of sickly boa constrictors stuffed with cocaine-filled condoms.
Cocaine is now a leading export earner for Jamaica. Phil Sinkinson, Britain's deputy high commissioner to the island, was asked (2nd Jan 2002) on BBC Radio 4 Today programme to comment on newspaper claims that one in every ten air passengers travelling from Jamaica to the UK was a cocaine carrier or "drug mule". He replied: "Probably an estimate on the low side."

In the twentieth century, coca was grown commercially in Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Malaysia and Japan. The first cocaine cartel was formed, not in Colombia, but in Amsterdam. Founded in 1910, the Cocaine Manufacturers Syndicate included pharmaceutical giants Merck, Sandoz and Hoffman-LaRoche. At present, however, most production occurs in clandestine laboratories in South America.

The cocaine trade continues to spawn eyebrow-raising alliances. Declassified documents now available at the CIA web site disclose that in the 1980s CIA operatives teamed up with cocaine dealers in the fight against Communism.

In 1979, the people of the small Central American country of Nicaragua overthrew the US-backed Samoza dictatorship. To the dismay of US policy-makers, the Nicaraguans then elected a left-wing government. Investigative journalist Gary Webb [Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion; June 1998] first revealed how profits from cocaine sold in Los Angeles and Miami were used by the CIA to fund - and buy guns for - the anti-Communist Contra rebels. Suitcases stuffed with coke-tainted US dollars were dispatched to Nicaragua to foment insurrection and civil war.

According to Internic records (1998), contact details for the domain cocaine.com still belonged to the CIA, although the accuracy of the whois record has been challenged. Read More......

Coca Negra

Cobalt and ferric chloride are virtually undetectable masking-chemicals.
They are mixed with pure cocaine - perhaps 40% - and later separated out.
In South America, customs' officers often use sniffer dogs that have been turned
into canine junkies. This ensures the dogs will avidly sniff out contraband narcotics.
Not only customs' officers rely on animal assistance. Dogs have recently
been used as "mules" by cocaine traffickers. Read More......

The Tools Of The Trade

Cocaine-merchants rely on weighing equipment whose accuracy of calibration is open to variation.
A 1994 survey by the General Accounting Office suggested
that in the previous year around one million US citizens
had used cocaine at least once a week.
Current usage estimates are broadly similar. Read More......