From High Up to Low Down
There has been a lot written about cocaine recently, especially with the advent of the internet. Distribution of articles and notes about it, where it comes from, how its use expanded after the 1960’s and much more can be found on the much-loved site, Wikipedia. The articles therein are written by anyone and everyone for publication to a wider audience. Much is said about its addictive properties, the downsides of its use, the heartbreak caused to families where a cocaine addict resides and the deaths from overdosing on it. I make no apologies for writing even more.
Originally, the leaves of the coca plant were chewed by native Peruvians (the Incas) but only during their religious ceremonies. The leaves released their potent contents in short order and helped the local population living high up in the Andes to breath more easily in the rarified air. In modern times mountaineers going very very high up use breathing apparatus, no need for coca leaves now.
The Incas were using cocoa 3,000 years before Christ, so one can say that cocaine has been around for a very long time. However, it is only in recent years that distribution of it has become so widespread it is now a real headache for anti-drug coalitions in Europe, the UK, and the USA.
In Europe, a German chemist (Albert Niemann) extracted cocaine from coca leaves in 1859 and by the 1880’s it was in medical use. Freud was also taking it himself, giving it to his girlfriend and others. Given the side effects of cocaine, one wonders how valid Freud’s discoveries in psychotherapy actually were.
Next came the use of coca leaves in the recipe for coca cola, the world-famous drink. Remember, “I’d like to teach the world to sing” advertisement. It was removed from the ingredients in 1903 due to public pressure.
While the high on cocaine can last for a few hours, the side effects are grim and can go on for several days. Some are similar to the effects of marijuana when the high wears off—hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, paranoia, tremors, convulsions, and sudden cardiac arrest can all occur. Cocaine is a very high-risk drug to mess about with—never mind what happens when the police raid your home on suspicion of dealing or distribution.
Just this week, 11 people were arrested for smuggling drugs valued at more than £650 million over the last four years. The arrests included Colombian nationals, various business premises, including a hairdresser, not to mention a money exchange bureau was raided by our National Crime Squad. Where did the laundered money go one might ask? According to the NCS, it went back to the drug lords in Columbia. This doesn’t mean British nationals were not involved. The release of information from the police is not a ’tell-all’ activity and rightly so.
With cocaine circulating amongst our population via distributors and dealers, knowledge about how its done can be invaluable to parents and teachers. This is especially true because they are typically the first ones to discover a child or teenager is experimenting with drugs, so they need all the help they can get.