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             Cocaine is a substance that has been around for thousands of years and still remains highly abused today.
             Cocaine is the psychoactive agent found in the leaves of the coca plant. Coca has been grown and cultivated by the South American peoples for over a thousand years. The Incas and other Native Americans ingested cocaine by chewing coca leaves or making them into tea.
             The Native Americans of the Andes used coca to treat many medical problems including: muscle pains, rheumatism, asthma, stomach ulcers, and a variety of other disorders. A paste made of coca leaves was used to treat skin sores, headaches, reduce the swelling of wounds, and treat gum disease. Today cocaine is occasionally used for nasal and oral surgery. That is the only legal use of cocaine in the United States.
             Cocaine is used in various forms. The first is powder, which is usually snorted through the nostrils, and is absorbed in the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Powder is also injected by either putting cocaine into water and injecting it or melting cocaine and injecting it. The second form is crack cocaine or “freebase” which is the solid form of cocaine and is smoked. The third form is coca paste, which is usually found in South America and not the U.S., and is smoked like crack.
             Cocaine’s effects are euphoria, increased energy and mental activity, relief from boredom, a reduced desire for food and sleep, increased sociability and talkativeness, feeling capable, competent, vigorous, and more able to work, feeling good about oneself, and greater clarity of thought. Cocaine’s effects when snorted begin within a few minutes, peak within 15 to 20 minutes and begin to disappear within an hour. Cocaine’s effects when smoked or injected begin within a few seconds, and only last from 5 to 10 minutes. After the effects wear off the user usually feels depressed, anxious, and has a severe craving for the drug.