As the nights get a little colder and the electric blankets are hauled out from the back of the cupboard, so do the city’s sniffles increase.
Flu aside, we know that there is no shortage of Capetonians with year-round nasal issues, so let’s take a moment to discuss cocaine.
CNN have gone in-depth to reveal how and why the drug is so popular – “coke, toot, powder, blow” – and we’re going to join in on the fun.
First up a little history lesson:
[In the 1800’s] doctors also used cocaine as a topical anesthetic for nose, throat and dental surgeries, a practice still in existence today. Although rare, some physicians still use it to stop nosebleeds or to control pain and bleeding during minor nose surgeries, such as sinus surgery.
In the late 1800s, cocaine became famous as the primary flavoring [sic] in Coca-Cola. In the early 1900s, the soft-drink company replaced it with an extract of the coca leaves — sans stimulant.
Cocaine burst back onto the American scene in the ’70s as the “champagne of drugs”: expensive, with high status. At the time, no one knew of its inherent dangers, and according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as the price dropped over the next decade, nearly 6 million Americans used cocaine on a regular basis.
We break now to take a listen to cocaine’s national anthem, via JJ Cale. Hit play, read on:
Snort, smoke, inject?
The high of a small amount of cocaine has been described as completely euphoric, producing a physical lightness and a boost of self-confidence that can leave a user begging for more. The intensity and length of the high depends on the method of ingestion: snorting a powdered form or rubbing it into the gums, liquefying it and “shooting up” intravenously or smoking a base form known as crack.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that snorting a line of cocaine produces a slow-building high that lasts 15 to 30 minutes. Smoking crack speeds up the rush, but it fizzles out even faster, within five or 10 minutes. Injecting provides the fastest high, followed by an equally spectacular decline.
That decline ends with you under a bridge offering up sexual favours. Crack is whack.
And now for why you might have a problem:
Just how does cocaine cause addiction? By changing the brain.
Cocaine creates a euphoric high by flooding the brain with neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, some of the body’s main pleasure chemicals. It blocks them from being absorbed, creating a chemical buildup in the reward center of the brain. The result: a rush of energy, alertness and high-flying mood.
Being rewarded is additive, so users return for another hit. Studies show that as the brain is exposed to more and more cocaine, its reward center adapts, becoming less receptive to natural positives such as food or affection.
Might explain all the skinny, unhappy people roaming the CBD on a night out.
Let’s enjoy a few quotes from famous cocaine users:
“Cocaine made me talk forever. The most nonsensical rubbish that you could ever think of.” — singer/songwriter Elton John
“Eventually, alas, I realized the main purpose of buying cocaine is to run out of it.” — comedian George Carlin
“Of course cocaine is not addictive, darling. I should know; I’ve been doing it for years.” — actress Tallulah Bankhead
“I remember thinking cocaine was subtle, too, until I noticed I’d been awake for three weeks and didn’t know any of the naked people passed out around me.” — journalist P.J. O’Rourke
We all know an Elton.
To finish, some generally scary bad news:
Death from cocaine use is often via cardiac arrest, even among 20-somethings with no history of heart disease. That’s because cocaine increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting arteries, blocking the flow of blood to the heart.
Other dangers include an enlarged, inflamed heart or potentially deadly arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm.
Being a douche is also a common side effect, as well as an insistence on offering unwanted life advice.
Cool story, bro, now let me ply my body with alcohol in peace.
Winter is coming, Slaapstad, y’all behave now.
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