Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Cocaine, Brains and Society

Drug: Amphetamine

Name: Benzoylmethylecgonine

Street name: Cocaine, Coke, Charlie, Blow, Pepsi, Crack, Snow etc

Appearance / taste: White crystalline powder with a bitter numbing taste

Symptoms: Fast heart rate, sweating, large pupils, euphoria, agitation

Street value in Australia: $250 – $400 per gram depending on purity

What is Benzoylmethylecgonine, more commonly known as Cocaine? Cocaine is extracted from a leaf of an Erythroxylon bush that originally was found in Peru and Bolivia and was originally used as a local anesthetic. Cocaine is mostly snorted, smoked or injected to produce an intense and extremely addictive ’high’. Generally the ‘high’ refers to a heightened sense of euphoria where everything is amazing, self confidence and higher sociability – depending on dosage. Around 15 – 19.3 million people have used cocaine once.

So how does Cocaine affect our brain? Once cocaine is ingested, the sympathetic nervous system is activated by increasing the synaptic level of norepinephrine (neurotransmitter) as well as increased amount of dopamine that is released. With the excessive amount of norepinephrine and dopamine, the transport proteins are blocked thus the catecholamine transmitters are removed from the synapse and the transporters are forced to operate in reverse. With an increase in dopamine, there is a part in the forebrain (limbic) that promotes drug craving. This craving causes a user to constantly use the drug until it becomes an addiction.

As a 21 year old who frequents many raves and loves a good boogie in clubs that are known for drugs, I get to use my partially completed Arts degree and analyse the social upbringing and the stigma that surrounds cocaine – or more broadly drugs. Society says drugs are bad and the people who do cocaine are practically heartless criminals who has no life (well according to Today Tonight at least). Yet, I’ve met many budding engineers, doctors or accountants who have stable jobs and love to get loose on the weekend and snort a few lines. Which is why my perception of drug abuse in general has changed. Yes drugs are bad (in most cases) and yes (according to my mum) people who do drugs are ‘wild children who did not get the wooden spoon enough growing up.’ But how is it, that these people who are considered pillars of their family or communities are automatically considered criminals or bad because they choose to recreationally use drugs? In keeping with the topic of cocaine so I do not go off on a tangent, cocaine is destructive and not to mention also illegal. Cocaine abuse affects work and social life as well as family and community life as well. But why do it? Well, while the original use for cocaine may have been for the purpose of local anaesthetic, it is has now become more of a recreational habit for people seeking dangerous thrills in life. The highly addictive nature of cocaine allows users to continually use it until they abuse it and either go broke or end up in hospital. If you ask individuals who have used/ use cocaine, they will either tell you that they use it because they bored and they want to escape their boring reality. And by taking cocaine, they are able to create a bubble of happiness where everything is perfect and nothing bad can happen to them (this all depends on the person, state of mind and the level of addiction they have).

All in all guys, Cocaine is bad. Don’t do Cocaine.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

ChartsBin statistics collector team 2010, Current Worldwide Annual Prevalence of Cocaine among Adults, ChartsBin.com [accesssed 15th Aptil 2016]

Hartney, Elizabeth (2016). What Do the Effects of a Cocaine High Feel like? [online] Health. Available at: http://addictions.about.com/od/cocaine/a/What-Do-Cocaine-Effects-Feel-Like.htm  [accessed 15th April 2016]

National Institute of Drug Abuse (2010). What is cocaine? [online]. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine  [accessed 15th April 2016]

Rebec, G. (2012) Cocaine and Amphetamines. eLS [online] Available at: http://www.els.net/WileyCDA/ElsArticle/refId-a0000042.html [accessed 15th April 2016]
Image source:  http://41.media.tumblr.com/60c6218947a4ce5e56b2c29727686431/tumblr_nc9sd9Pl4s1to519to1_500.jpg   

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3 comments on “Cocaine, Brains and Society

  1. claudiablain
    April 27, 2016

    The title caught my attention and I thought the beginning was strong, the profile set out at the very beginning was unique and introduced the topic well. The first paragraph appears well researched and set out. The personal feel in some parts made it easier to read and relatable. However, I did find myself disengaged about half way through due to the length of the paragraphs.

    I found the second paragraph was slightly difficult to follow, a diagram or photo could aid this. Pictures and smaller paragraphs could assist to break the content down into smaller pieces which are easier to read, follow, and flow together better.

    I didn’t feel like your stance on cocaine was entirely clear until the end, so I was slightly confused as to whether the blog was for or against cocaine.

    Although the topic has been clearly researched, I feel like specific references to facts or hyperlinks throughout the post could assist in reiterating and strengthening the statements. Maybe you could provide links to studies that support your stance.

    I’m not sure if you have already mentioned this in a previous or more recent blog post, but I would be interested to read your opinions on medicinal drugs.

    Like

  2. sebastiandayhenri
    April 29, 2016

    I like the way you brought the topic into real world examples, of how people in the real world use this substance. However, I completely agree with your stance, in that the use of cocaine can cause extreme levels of addiction and dependence and cause serious problems in peoples lives.

    In history, cocaine has had many uses in the medical field (evidence based or not) with Sigmund Freud claiming it treated depression and indigestion, and being used within toothache drops among many other examples, interesting read here: http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/cocaine-circa-1860-1900.html

    Today, doctors have found that the topical use of cocaine can be used as an anesthetic during surgery, and can also constrict blood vessels (vasoconstriction) which results in reduced swelling and bleeding. Nothing else has been found to have quite the combination of these two properties, more info here: http://www.medicinenet.com/cocaine_hydrochloride-topical/article.htm

    The medical use of such a potentially damaging drug is a hot debate, and would need to be seriously regulated. What do you think about this? Do you think as a society we would be able to capitalise on the potential benefits of this substance, or is it simply to dangerous and tempting for people to abuse it recreationally?

    Like

  3. davisjonathan
    May 31, 2016

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug. A lot of substances like cocaine are often misrepresented in society, and your tackling of real-life scenarios of people who work day jobs using it as an escape is, rather worryingly, accurate. Personally, using a narcotic as an escape, and an expensive one at that, for recreational use is alarming – is it because of its instant effects? The rush of euphoria? Is it used because of peoples impatience to find solace and a temporary escape from reality a “normal” way? Or a “hey you seem tense, take this” bad-crowd type of addiction?

    The mentioning of cocaine use and abuse brings up an interesting point; at what point do we have to define a body/mind-altering substance so dangerous that it is “illegal”? Marijuana has been in plentiful recreational use for quite literally centuries or even millennia, is becoming decriminalised around the globe despite its long-term international (with a few exceptions) outlawing. But that could just potentially be due to the widespread use and appreciation for cannabinoids, each generation showing the next how to cultivate, germinate, and harvest, with technique getting better and better each time.

    Could we, in our lifetimes, see the decriminalisation of cocaine? Probably not. But could we find other purposes for the different structures within the cocaine molecule itself (as you mentioned with the natural anaesthetic properties)? Now that’s a possibility. If people were desperate enough to cold water extract opiates from crushed up X-codone pills, I have the belief that those who wish to go to homeopathy and natural medicines will separate the active analgesic from a cocaine mixture.

    Or you could just buy Nurofen for $3 a packet of 24, not ~$300 per gram. Who knows. All in all, your article raises many interesting and controversial points and concerns – very much like a personalised blog should do!

    Like

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 11am, Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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