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Examining the addictive properties of cocaine

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  1. Introduction
  2. Brief history
  3. Short term effects
  4. Cocaine addiction
  5. Long term effects
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

Throughout history human beings have been fascinated with chemicals and substances that alter the body's mental and physical states. Activities such as the chewing khat and smoking opium poppies have been exercised for hundreds of years in different cultures across the globe. Nevertheless, while humans have been known for consuming substances for recreational purposes, one can assume that each culture has had to deal with individuals who for some reason are unable to control their substance use. Until recently, little was known about the properties of addiction and as a result this type of abusive behavior was often attributed to a weakness in character or was thought to be the manifestation of negative supernatural forces. Only recently has science been able to provide a more intricate understanding of the physiological effects that drugs trigger within the body. In modern society, one drug that is very well known for recreational use is cocaine. This powdered substance is derived from coca leaves and it has become extremely popular both with recreational drug uses and the scientific community. Decades of misinterpretation allowed cocaine to assert itself as a popular drug for many generations, from the late 1800's straight through to modern times (Gawin: 1991). Several research studies have demonstrated that cocaine is a unique drug in terms of its addictive properties and the physiological effects which it produces in across several species.

[...] Gawin, F. (1991). Cocaine addiction: Psychology and neurophysiology. Science, 251(5001) Kalivas, P. W. (2004). Glutamate systems in cocaine addiction. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 23-29. Karch, S. (1999). Cocaine: History, use, abuse. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 92(8) Khantzian, E. J. (1985). The self-medication hypothesis of addictive disorders: Focus on heroin and cocaine dependence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142(11), 1259-1264. Kilts, C. D., Schweitzer, J. B., Quinn, C. K., Gross, R. E., Faber, T. L., Muhammad, F., et al. [...]


[...] What they found what that only 17% of the rats pursued cocaine infusions throughout all three of the tests (Belin et al: 2004). While there is little likelihood that humans will receive nose pokes or electric shocks during/after their cocaine infusions, negative consequences manifest themselves in other forms. These results are very interesting as it is similar to the average addiction rate for humans exposed to cocaine infusions. While cocaine addiction stems from recreational use, it quickly manifests itself as a focal point within the life of an addicted individual. [...]


[...] While the chewing of coca leaves was and still is a very popular route of administration, the South American tribes and communities who engaged in this behaviour were unaccustomed to many of the problems associated with modern cocaine abuse. This phenomenon is attributed to the fact that the chewing of the leaves allows for a slow infusion of the drug and prohibits large amounts of the drug from entering the blood stream (Karch: 1999). Cocaine's popularity grew abruptly in 1844 after Karl Koller discovered its local anaesthetic properties and after Sigmund Freud publicized cocaine as a miracle drug (Karch: 1999). [...]

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