In 2014 alone, an estimated 1.5 million Americans were cocaine users.1 Despite its dangerous effects on mental and physical health, cocaine is commonly abused by millions all across the nation. It’s illegally manufactured in other countries and distributed throughout the U.S. Our Delaware drug and alcohol treatment center is sharing the history of cocaine and how it became one of the most commonly used drugs in the nation.
Throughout the history of cocaine use, many have become hooked on this drug due to its stimulative side effects. As a central nervous system stimulant, cocaine has been used as an anesthetic because it created a numbing sensation and constricted blood vessels by inhibiting nerve activity in the brain. However, it can also create an intense high, which is what it’s best known for today. While its effects on the CNS make it practical for medical use, it also has a high potential for abuse. Cocaine prevents dopamine from going through its natural cycle, causing it to build up until it floods the brain. Chronic use causes a chemical imbalance in the brain in which it becomes accustomed to this frequent surge of dopamine. A person who does not undergo a cocaine detox to quit will eventually develop an addiction to it.
Because the effects of a cocaine high are usually short-lived, users ingest it frequently to maintain this feeling. The most common side effects of cocaine include:
Long-term cocaine abuse also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, contracting diseases and viruses like HIV and Hepatitis C as well as overdose. Any one of these conditions could be life-threatening. At Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware, we offer a residential treatment program in Milford that keeps patients onsite where they can receive 24-hour care as they recover. We also incorporate various forms of individual and group therapy in our rehab programs to ensure patients are given every tool they need to achieve long-lasting sobriety.
The history of cocaine in America began in the Andean highlands. Cocaine is derived from a plant native to South America. After the end of the Inca Empire, the Catholic church advised Spanish authorities to eliminate all production and use of cocaine in Bolivia and Peru because they believed the practice reflected pagan religious beliefs. Despite the church’s belief that cocaine’s ability to increase stamina and strength was the work of the devil, the new colonial empires set their sights on cultivating this drug anyway. They realized that cocaine increased the indigenous people’s ability to work longer hours, work faster, and require less food.4 By 1627, coca leaves were treated like any other form of agriculture. Cocaine use hadn’t expanded beyond the Andean region until German chemist Albert Niemann isolated pure cocaine, or cocaine alkaloid, from coca leaves.4 However it wasn’t until 1883 when a German army physician named Theodor Aschenbrandt prescribed cocaine to soldiers during training to keep them awake that cocaine’s side effects were recognized in the medical field.2
In July of 1884, Sigmund Freud was on the hunt for a new medical discovery to begin his career and eventually set his sights on learning more about cocaine. Because people were not aware of cocaine’s effects on the brain or body at the time, it was well-received publicly and even became an ingredient in Coca-Cola. Even Freud wrote a book praising cocaine called Uber Coca.2 In 1884, Dr. William Alexander Hammon, the Surgeon-General of the U.S. Army at the time, supported the medical use of cocaine during a New York Neurological Society meeting.3
Throughout the 1900s, various unregulated medications and tonics containing different ingredients including cocaine and opium were sold to the public. By 1902, over 200,000 Americans were addicted to cocaine.3 It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the side effects of cocaine use were realized. From 1887 to 1914 starting with Oregon, 48 states slowly introduced regulations regarding cocaine.4However, this wasn’t enough. Cocaine and other drugs like morphine could still be prescribed. Certain neighboring states also continued to sell these drugs, allowing corrupt doctors to purchase them from different states, bring them over, and prescribe them to their patients. It wasn’t until the 1980s that stricter drug regulations were established in the U.S.
The brief history of cocaine has exposed its deadly side effects and supports the need for efficient cocaine treatment in all of the U.S. As a facility that offers drug and alcohol treatment in Delaware, we understand how important it is to offer safe and comprehensive forms of addiction care to those struggling with this disease.
Those who are battling drug addictions and alcoholism can get help at Banyan Delaware. Call us now at 888-280-4763 for more information about our levels of care