Last updated: September 25, 2023
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant classed as a Schedule 2 drug under the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Controlled Substances Act. It has a high potential for abuse due to its addictive nature. The Schedule 2 drug class is recognized as having medical use. Cocaine is cleared for use as a topical local anesthetic for the upper respiratory tract. It can also be used to reduce bleeding of the mucous membranes in the nasal cavities, mouth, and throat.
However, 0ver time, scientists developed more effective products for these purposes. Now, physicians rarely use cocaine to treat patients here in the United States. It’s found all over the black market though. This means that, technically, it may be found as easily as on the street corner, convenience store parking lot, or a park. Crack cocaine, a derivative of cocaine, is also a powerful stimulant. Its name comes from the crackling sound that it makes when heated for smoking.
Many people actually use crack cocaine instead of its powder form because it costs less. However, both drugs create a strong sense of euphoria, known as a rush—in a short amount of time. The exact length of time that it takes for the drug to reach the brain depends on the dose and the way its ingested into the body.
Is there a difference between them?
The only real difference between cocaine and crack is the way they’re produced. Cocaine is derived from coca leaves. The plants grow in South America. In white powder form, cocaine is pure hydrochloride salt. Crack cocaine is made by combining cocaine with water and baking soda—or ammonia when used for freebasing. It’s then heated to take out the hydrochloride. What’s left after it cooks down is a substance that can be smoked.
Dealers often combine cocaine with other substances, such as cornstarch or baking soda to increase profits. Other drugs get cut into the mix too. Amphetamines or synthetic opioids, which seem to equate to fentanyl these days, are added to give the merchandise an extra kick. It’s intended to entice repeat business, however, it also increases the risk of their customer suffering an overdose instead.
Moreover, since crack cocaine is derived from cocaine in powder form, it is likely that some other type of drug is mixed in with it as well.
Common street names
Both cocaine and crack cocaine have numerous street names. Back in the day, of course, the names represented code words. Today, we all know many of the street names.
- Soda Cot
Short-term side effects
People who use cocaine or crack can experience the same short-term side effects which are:
- Enlarged pupils
- Elevated body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Erratic or violent behavior
- A sense of euphoria
- Narrowed blood vessels
- Change in heart rate
Some users experience the following:
- Muscle twitches
As the euphoric feeling wanes, users often experience a sudden “crash” back into reality. Oftentimes, they immediately use again to ward off the unpleasant experience of suffering extreme agitation or feelings of depression.
Long-term side effects:
The long-term health effects of using both cocaine and crack cocaine are serious and include:
- Lung damage
- Worsened asthma
- Reduced blood flow to organs
- Weight loss
- Heart problems
Moreover, it’s also important to note that snorting the powder form of the drug over a long period of time can lead to a unique respiratory syndrome. Chronic snorting can lead to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.
Signs of addiction
Someone suffering an addiction to cocaine or crack will continue to use the drug even after negative consequences have occurred. These consequences range from family and relationship problems to health issues and can even include legal problems.
Recognizing the signs of crack or cocaine addiction may help you to determine if an employee is suffering and in need of help.
In addition to short-term and long-term effects, the signs of an addiction are:
- Inability to fulfill job obligations
- Frequently absent
- Distancing themselves from co-workers
- Exhibiting signs of withdrawal which includes:
- Increased appetite
- Complaints of insomnia or bad dreams
- Slowed thinking and delayed response times
People who use crack or powdered cocaine and then stop suddenly or decrease their use can experience withdrawal symptoms. This happens because the brain forms a physical dependence on the drug. In other words, it becomes accepting of the drug deeming it “normal” to be in an altered state of mind.
Withdrawal from cocaine or crack doesn’t typically induce life-threatening situations.
Signs of overdose
However, 0ver time the brain builds up a tolerance to cocaine and crack cocaine. Subsequently, in order for users to experience the effects to which they’re accustomed, they must continually increase the dosage. This, of course, increases the risk of overdosing on the drug.
Signs of overdose include:
- Heart problems, such as chest pain or an irregular heartbeat
- Irregular breathing
- High blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
- Anxiety and agitation
If an employee is experiencing an overdose, contact 911 immediately. Don’t waste any time. Their risk of dying may be greater due to the fact that authorities are finding fentanyl in nearly all types of confiscated street drugs.
If you suspect an employee of using
If you have a drug-free protocol in place, follow your procedure for reasonable suspicion. The first step usually entails having management document the signs and symptoms displayed in detail. After documentation is complete, management should approach the individual and explain the situation. Lastly, the conversation should end by requiring them to show up for a drug test at an appointed place and time.
If the results of the test are positive, it’s likely that your next step will be to terminate the employee. However, please remember, nobody wakes up one day announcing their plans to become a drug addict. Showing concern and offering them information as to where they can get help for their addiction could be the catalyst that causes them to get into treatment.
Share with them that you care about them and are concerned for their well-being. It could give them all the hope they need to succeed.