Cocaine; from Scarface to Pulp Fiction, to Forrest Gump, this drug has worked its way into our pop culture and is now almost seen as an 80’s movie staple. if it was made or is set in the 80’s, Cocaine is probably referenced at least once.
However, cocaine is a lot more than just the drug of the 80’s and is actually one of the more interesting, and dangerous, drugs in the world. It has a long, fascinating history, and is even just a strange drug and general. Read on to find out ten of the many weird cocaine facts.
1. Kuka, the Gift of the Gods
The earliest known instance of recreational cocaine use goes back to the days of the Inca, who would chew or eat the leaves of the coca plant to get high. This is even where the name comes from. Believe it or not, there was an Inca goddess named Mama Kuka, which technically translates to ‘mother coca.’ In Inca mythology, cocaine was a gift from the gods, and the name reflects that. In fact, today cocaine and the coca plant are derived from the Inca form.
2. Cocaine is very addictive, but maybe not as fast as we’ve been led to believe
Though cocaine addiction can happen rapidly, It’s not as severe as some reports say. Statistically speaking, if you take cocaine once, there’s a 75% chance at least that you won’t ever try it again.
Unfortunately, that fourth guy is in for a world of trouble, which brings me to one of my other cocaine facts.
3. Cocaine is dangerous…but in really weird ways
When we think of drug-related deaths, we think of somebody overdosing, but that doesn’t often happen with cocaine.
Don’t get me wrong, cocaine is literally the most dangerous illegal drug on the market, causing three times the amount of deaths than any other illegal drug does. However, if that was solely based on overdoses, it’d probably lag behind some of the others in death toll.
The vast majority of cocaine-related deaths are caused by actions taken in an altered state, like driving a car, or because it was combined with another drug.
Cocaine is a powder keg of a drug in that it reacts with a few other substances. One example is heroin. This combination is known as a speedball, which, if it works, will give you a very quick, very intense high. If it doesn’t, it can kill you pretty much instantly.
Another nasty combination is cocaine and alcohol. The reason this causes so many fatalities is that it makes the effects last longer, meaning you are in a dangerously altered state for extended periods of time.
Plus, cocaine is a stimulant, so prolonging its effects means that you have a quicker heart rate and blood flow for longer periods of time.
4. The whole rich guy cocaine addict trope has some merit to it
Cocaine comes in two main forms, powder and crack. Crack is much cheaper, and more addictive, but powder cocaine is still used by twice as many people as crack.
This is probably because crack acts quickly and ends quickly, lasting about 10 minutes at most, whereas powder cocaine produces a high for at least 15 minutes. You also crash a lot harder from crack than powder.
5. Cocaine causes brain damage
Unlike alcohol or tobacco, cocaine’s main effect is on the brain. Instead of developing ulcers or lung cancer, cocaine users are more likely to experience depression or anxiety as well as antisocial symptoms or even other mental conditions.
6. Modern cocaine traces its roots to the Victorian era
Cocaine was first introduced to non-indigenous peoples in the 19th century. Its first use in America can be traced back to the 1880’s. The French, on the other hand, were using it as early as the 1860’s.
7. Men react to cocaine than women do
On average, cocaine tends to act faster in men. Men also report intense reactions more often than women, citing both good trips and bad trips.
8. You can be born addicted
Though this isn’t nearly as common as the media panic of the 80’s would have you believe, cocaine does do horrible things to babies if women use it while pregnant.
Babies are often born underweight, premature, and with brain damage. They can also be born already addicted to cocaine.
Sadly, this is still happening, and at least 100,000 children are born every year with cocaine addiction.
9. Early on, we tried using cocaine as a medicine
In the late 19th and early 20th century, we started recommending cocaine to treat all kinds of things, from asthma to, ironically, substance addiction. Keep in mind, the medical standards back then were almost non-existent.
During this time, you didn’t have to have eight years of college to be a doctor. You more or less had to just hang a ‘doctor’ sign on your door and you were in business.
Naturally, this meant that a lot of swindlers were selling cure-all’s made of everything from cocaine, to opium to literal snake oil–hence the now-famous term.
In our ancestors’ defense, it was a little while before we realized that cocaine doesn’t seem to cure anything, is highly addictive, has horrifying effects and can kill you.
10. Famous Victorian cocaine users
Back at the time of its re-discovery, cocaine garnered a lot of supporters and users, some of which you’ve probably heard of. They include Sigmund Freud, Sherlock Holmes, Robert Louis Stevenson–and probably doctor Jekyll, whose ‘elixir’ is described similarly to cocaine–and Alistair Crowley. To be fair, at least two, possibly three, of those mentioned above used multiple substances
Cocaine facts and fictions
Cocaine is a fascinating drug and an incredibly dangerous one. It is the most deadly illegal drug out there, and also one of the oldest. Most of the danger comes from the effects it has on the brain, and the ways it interacts with people or even other drugs.
From being a medicine and a stimulant for writers to being a ‘rich man’s drug,’ and even a gift from a goddess, according to the Inca, cocaine has had quite a journey.
If you or anyone you know needs help overcoming addiction, we encourage you to visit this rehab center and learn about their program.