The most recent statistics show that international seizures of cocaine have continued to increase and now total 756 metric tons, with the largest quantities of the drug intercepted in South America, followed by North America.
Cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world.
According to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine is also the second most commonly used illegal drug in Europe. Among young people, an estimated 7.5 million have used cocaine at least once in their life. 3.5 million in the last year and 1.5 million in the past month.
In the United States, cocaine continues to be the most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network by hospital emergency departments. There were 448,481 emergency department visits involving cocaine reported in 2005.
The word cocaine refers to the drug in a powder form of crystal form. The powder is usually mixed with substances such as corn starch, talcum powder and/or sugar or other drugs or amphetamines.
Extracted from coca leaves, cocaine was originally developed as a painkiller. It is most often sniffed, with the powder absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. It can also be ingested or rubbed into the gums. The more rapidly absorb the drug into the body, abusers inject it, but this substantially increases the risk of overdose. Inhaling it as smoke or vapor speeds absorption with less health risk than injection.
Once a person begins taking the drug, it has proven almost impossible to become free of its grip physically and mentally. Next to methamphetamine, cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug. Physically it stimulates key receptors within the brain that, in turn, create a euphoria to which users quickly develop a tolerance. Only higher dosages and more frequent use can bring about the same effect.
Cocaine causes a short-lived, intense high that is immediately followed by the opposite – intense depression, edginess and a craving for more of the drug. People who use it often don’t eat or sleep properly. The drug can make people feel paranoid, angry, hostile and anxious – even when they aren’t high. Cocaine use can lead to death from respiratory failure, stroke, cerebral hemorrhage or heart attack. Children of cocaine-addicted mothers come into the world as addicts themselves. Many suffer birth defects and many other problems.
Today, cocaine is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar enterprise. Users encompass all ages, occupations and economic levels, even schoolchildren as young as eight years old. Despite its dangers, cocaine use continues to increase – likely because users find it so difficult to escape from the first steps taken down the long dark road that leads to addictions.
For the person with a drug problem, there are real solutions to addiction. Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program that utilizes the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, has a success rate of more than 75% (www.narconon.org).
The best solution, however, is not to begin using drugs in the first place.
To find out more about drugs visit www.drugfreeworld.org.