Cocaine is usually sold as a powder. It can also be ‘washed up’ into crack cocaine, a smokable form of the drug.
The British pop artist Robbie Williams has described cocaine as God’s way of letting you know you’ve got too much money. If a cocaine habit gets a hold of you, you don’t have too much for too long.
So what’s this ‘ere charlie all abaht, then?
Like most drugs, cocaine comes from a plant. The coca plant. This plant grows in South America. Yes, until 1902 it was the real thing that went into that globally successful brand of soft drink. The coca content was replaced with caffeine (until the advent of caffeine-free cola). Like cocaine, caffeine is of course a stimulant drug.
If you wanted to get a buzz from the plant you’d need to chew a few leaves, and the mildly stimulant properties would give you a lift. Where it is grown and harvested, many people still do chew the leaves. The vast majority of cocaine is consumed in an entirely different way. Most people’s introduction to charlie involves a tightly rolled banknote, a line of finely chopped white powder and a nostril.
and then just for good measure, the other nostril…
…and then a rubbing of the wetted finger over the remaining crumbs, and over the gums.
a cold, chemical, numbing taste that hovers at the back of your throat, as the high unfolds and you are your very own number one fan. Funny, happy, laughing, menacing, delightful, tough, big, scary, outrageous, saucy, sexy, flirty, dirty, giggly, groovy, nasty, fast and sparkly, towering, masterful…well, whatever you want to be, really. Confident. With a very big capital C. Full of energy. Life and soul. You are the chosen one. For as long as it lasts, which is usually a maximum of thirty minutes…
What goes up..
…and before the coke’s wearing off, it’s time for some more. Someone using coke over the course of an evening can start to become compulsive about needing a little bit more, a little bit more, a quick line, a little toot…high doses can cause confusion, disorientation, and a belief that having another line will sort everything out. Even after relatively small doses cocaine use can produce feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression and paranoia. High doses increase the likelihood of these after-effects.
Some people say that they can use coke and feel fine the next day. No ‘hangover’ at all. They like the way they get high, it wears off, they’re back to normal. Not like other drugs that can leave you feeling all wired and twisted.
Everybody’s different. It’s just worth taking a moment to say that if you use cocaine and think the world’s meaningless and full of worthless bastards who occasionally seem like they’re ganging up on you, there may be a connection. Although it may mean that the world is indeed full of worthless bastards, and it might just be your turn to be picked on.
Aside from the psychological impact of the cocaine come-down, other common after effects are hunger and tiredness. As cocaine will reduce your appetite and reduce tiredness, two of the things you are probably unlikely to do if you’re using cocaine are eat properly and sleep.
And so, my dear Watson, pray tell…
What risks have we found here, Sir?
Regular cocaine use will lead to interrupted sleep patterns, anxiety and paranoia. It can cery quickly become a reinforcing cycle of behavior regularly using cocaine might find themselves feeling unwilling or unable to cope in a particular context unless they’ve had some charlie. It might be a work, home or social context, or another context, or several contexts…they might get stressed out and irritable when they’re not using. Occasional weekend ‘social’ use might become regular weekend use, if a party seems to go with less of a ‘bang’ if charlie’s not in the picture. Someone using every weekend can soon start to find that the weekdays become something to get through until the next weekend. And the weekend starts earlier. And lasts longer. Pretty soon you’re having a quick blast in the pub on a Wednesday, or before an important meeting that you want to be on top form for, or whatever other reason you’ve found to absolutely reasonably justify to yourself that this is not a problem, I’m in control here, and it’s just a little something to help me get through the day and it’s not like I inject or anything. It’s not like I get ill here. I mean, shit, it’s no different to smoking a cigarette really.
And of course it’s not inevitable. It’s just really easy, if you can afford it. For some people, they know they’ve had enough when they’ve run out of money. If you’ve only got enough for half a gram then half a gram will have to do you. If you can afford a lot more than that – well, why not?
There is no physical dependence associated with cocaine. Someone using it regularly will not become ill if they stop using. People often experience a compulsion to take more, though, and can start to feel unable to have a ‘good’ time unless they are using cocaine.
‘Crack’ is also cocaine. It’s cocaine delivered in a highly potent and rapidly absorbed form. Some people chew coca leaves, some people sniff the powdered crystalline refined alkaloid cocaine hydrochloride and some people smoke the freebased alkaloid in the form of crack. Just like some people like to look at the full moon on a summer’s evening and others like to strap themselves to the top of an enormous hydrogen-fueled rocket that travels at four times the speed of sound to go have a closer look for themselves. And then burn-up on re-entry, parachute in from 20,000 ft and end up bobbing about in the midst of a vast ocean feeling a little lost and wondering when the last bus home is.
Crack is a smokable form of the same drug. It’s not just smoking cocaine – burning cocaine powder destroys the drug. Mixing cocaine with the right household chemicals to produce a smokable form, similar to (and much easier to produce than) freebased cocaine is the science of making crack. Rock. Wash. Stones. When crack is heated it produces a smoke containing cocaine which usually has a purity above 90%. When the smoke is inhaled it passes into the bloodstream through the lungs and quickly reaches the brain. Quickly as in within a heartbeat or two.
…and within a few minutes the high is peaking, leveling, estimated time for re-entry is fifteen minutes…on my mark…10…9…8…
“I wonder when the last bus home is?”
This is of course the edited version of the experience. The splosh >>> bus transition is separated by as many blasts on the pipe as cash and time allows. The high is all of the high of cocaine, only more so. Immortal, untouchable. Omnipotent. And oh! for such a searingly short time. The compulsion to have more of that is massive. The come-down is like stepping off a bus. And then finding that the bus is floating several hundred feet above a dark, sinister, menacing place that is dark, and deep and bad. And it has your name on it. And there is absolutely no doubt about it, the world is absolutely definitely meaningless and full of worthless bastards who are ganging up on you just to press home the point about how pointless it all is and they can just fuck off. Bastards. I’ve just about had a fucking nuff of those sad little gits. I could go on…
The comedown from crack is far more distressing than the comedown from cocaine powder. Mood swings, irritability, anxiety and paranoia are common.
I’ve met regular crack users who have developed a smack habit after taking heroin on a regular basis to reduce the impact of the come down from the crack they’re using on a regular basis. It can all get very, very messy, very, very quickly. When you get into regular use it’s easy to blow hundreds on crack before you leave the house in the morning.
Unless you can’t afford it.
I guess that might be why some people are suggesting that there might be a link between crime and drug use. It kind of makes sense to me.
‘ello ‘ello ‘ello
In the UK, cocaine is controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class A, Schedule 2 drug.
Other Class A drugs include heroin and LSD.