Overview Of Crack Cocaine Essay

1229 words - 5 pages

Behind Crack Cocaine
Cocaine is a widely known drug derived from the leaves of coca plants which acts as a psychostimulant. Julien, Advokat, and Comaty (2011) explain how when processed, cocaine can be made into cocaine hydrochloride, known as powdered cocaine, or into crack cocaine, another form of cocaine created by mixing powder cocaine with a weak base. Its composition changes into rock form with a lower melting point than that of regular powder cocaine, therefore, allowing the drug to be inhaled or smoked when heated. The name crack cocaine comes from the sound it makes when set alight (p. 399). Crack cocaine is quickly inhaled into the lungs, immediately into the bloodstream then straight to the brain, all within seconds. Once in the brain crack cocaine and cocaine have almost the exact effects. Crack cocaine acts on the ventral tegmental area which is responsible for the housing of dopaminergic neurons. These neurons travel to different parts of the brain and release dopamine. Because cocaine has the “ability to block the active reuptake of these neurotransmitters[dopamine]”, dopamine is unable to be reabsorbed by the transporter, which results on uninterrupted stimulation between the neurotransmitter and the receptor (Julien et al., 2011, pg. 403). These increased levels of dopamine intensify the psychostimulant effects of cocaine. This high, however, will only last approximately 10 minutes and when dopamine levels decrease, the user will hit a phase of depression or “feel irritable and uncomfortable,” which leads users to want more in order “to avoid this discomfort and ‘recapture’ the initial high” (Morton, 1999, pg. 110). As the user continues to aim for such high, their intake to achieve the desired high state may become larger and a dependency on the drug could rise.
Even though the user consciously made a decision to inhale crack cocaine that first time, the continuation of cocaine use will eventually result in an addiction. Although it may be possible, hardly any users develop an addiction from the first time they try cocaine. It is not until the user is excessively taking in doses of cocaine that the body starts to build a dependency and even when not physically around the drug, the body will get a sensation of craving. In order to understand the biological aspects behind the craving sensation, a number of studies were conducted in rats and later in human subjects. In their 3 session study, Ito, Dalley, Robbins and Everitt (2002) investigated “the role of dorsal striatal dopamine innervation in well established drug-seeking behavior under the control of a drug-associated cue” (p. 6247), cue referring to a light conditioned stimulus. The rats are caged in 6 different chambers containing 2 levers each. The active drug lever is used to indicate the beginning of a session, followed by the illumination of a red, house light which lights up whole chamber. After the levers are removed, a drug stimulus light or light conditioned...

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