Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. The pure chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, has been an abused substance for more than 100 years, and coca leaves, the source of cocaine, have been ingested for thousands of years. Cocaine in its simplest form is one of the oldest drugs known to man. Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder, known as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. Street dealers generally dilute it with such inert substances as cornstarch, talcum powder, and/or sugar, or with such active drugs as procaine (a chemically-related local anesthetic) or with such other stimulants as amphetamines.
The short-term physiological effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts the user's high, but may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. These users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or, with repeated doses, a toxic reaction closely resembling amphetamine poisoning. Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately after a single dose. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. The high from snorting is relatively slow in onset, and may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes.
An appreciable tolerance to cocaine's high may develop, with many reporting that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first experience. Some users will frequently increase their doses to intensify and prolong the euphoric effects. Use of cocaine in a binge, during which the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, leads to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This may result in a full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations.
Between October 1, 2004 and January 11, 2005, there were 1,314 Federal offenders sentenced for powder cocaine-related charges and 1,205 sentenced for crack cocaine charges in U.S. Courts. Approximately 98.2% of the powder cocaine cases and 95.2% of the crack cocaine cases involved trafficking. Between January 12, 2005 and September 30, 2005, there were 4,242 Federal offenders sentenced for powder cocaine-related charges and 4,077 sentenced for crack cocaine charges in U.S. Courts. Approximately 98.4% of the powder cocaine cases and 95.3% of the crack cocaine cases involved trafficking.
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