The History Of Cocaine

Name and Origin

Being derived from the leaves of the coca plant, it is a crystalline tropane alkaloid, and its name is derived from “coca” and the alkaloid suffix “-ine”- forming the name of one of the most recognized drug names today: Cocaine. This drug is both a stimulant and suppressant, together creating a euphoric sensation of happiness and energy. There are also unfortunately negative side effects to the use of this drug, effects which in some cases require hospitalization or drug treatment for cocaine addiction.

The coca plant was originally found in South America, where natives chewed on the raw leaves which produces mild stimulus similar to the effects of a strong coffee. Traditionally the coca plant was used for medicinal purposes for energy, anesthetics, and to help blood clotting. It was believed to help heal ailments such as asthma, ulcers, malaria and indigestion, as well as an aphrodisiac and to improve longevity.

Due to the characteristics of the coca plant- which provides many essential nutrients, is rich in proteins and vitamins, and can grow where many other plants can’t- it is quite possible that the consumption of the coca leaves was a matter of survival for many. Coca was primarily grown in the Andes, where it is difficult to grow nutritious plants and where the extra energy boost and pain relieving qualities came in handy due to the high altitudes.

The original use of the coca plant as a nutritional, medicinal, and spiritual source is not to be confused with today’s abuse of cocaine in injecting, snorting and smoking of the isolated alkaloid. Today’s abuse of cocaine will often lead to addiction which in many cases requires the involvement of a cocaine rehab treatment center.

The Isolation and Integration

The alkaloid was first scientifically isolated from the coca plant by Albert Neiman in 1860, when it received its name of cocaine. Soon after it was used as an anesthetic, where it found its way into the hospitals and its use was fairly common by doctors everywhere during the following years. In some places it was already available in powder form. It was recommended to recovering alcoholics, and even mixed into popular beverages such as Coca-Cola*, wine, and found inside cigarettes.

Well known psychologists such as Freud believed in the use of cocaine, and even storybook characters like Sherlock Holmes glorified its use. It was described as a magical drug. The way it actually worked was by interfering with the reuptake of chemicals such as dopamine (found in the midbrain), and creating a sense of exhilaration.

Cocaine had become not only accepted as an enhancing ingredient, but held an essential role in world economy. Today, most drug rehab facilities offer assistance to those in need of cocaine rehab.

*Coca-Cola stopped using coca leaves in their product in 1903, as soon as it was discovered to have adverse effects on the brain. Due to these adverse effects, and the addiction this drug brings on, numerous cocaine rehab treatment centers are available today.

An Unhealthy Drug

Coca was commercially grown world-wide in places such as Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan, but even to this day coca grown for cocaine is mostly produced from underground labs in South American countries, where it has become a major source of income since the 1980’s.

It was actually in 1914 that cocaine came under control in the United States through the Harrison Narcotic Act, which regulated the distribution of coca, and specifically addressed cocaine in Section 6, even though cocaine is not a narcotic. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act officially made cocaine illegal in the United States as a Schedule II drug, DEA 9041. Cocaine is a serious drug which causes serious addiction. In fact, most drug treatment centers offer help for those caught up in its cycle of addiction.

Many people argue that cocaine is not addictive simply because there are no physical withdrawal symptoms. This is untrue, as it is highly psychologically addictive and is one of the most abused drugs in the United States today. Cocaine is often used with sedatives such as alcohol or heroin to balance the high thrill that cocaine brings. In fact, because there is such abuse of this drug, cocaine rehab is widely available for those seeking recovery from cocaine addiction.

Cocaine has been introduced to us in many forms, with many ways of being taken. A few of its common street terms are blow, nose candy, powder, All American drug, aspirin, Bolivian marching powder, Carrie Nation, ice, snow and white powder. The three basic forms of doing cocaine are to snort, smoke or inject it through a needle. Each form provides a different experience. The effects of snorting begin within a few minutes, and usually last between 15-30 minutes depending on the size of the dose. Smoking brings on fast and intense results, but they fade almost as fast. Cocaine injected directly brings on immediate and intense effects. Due to the intensity and instant effects of smoking and injecting, these methods create a high likelihood of addiction and overdose. Cocaine addiction treatment is available in numerous areas due to its severe effects on the body.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.