Benzoylecgoninmethylester, cocain, cocaIn, cocaina,
d-cocain, erythroxylin, kokain, methylbenzoylecgonine,
methylbenzylekgonin, (±)-methyl- [3J3benzoyloxy-
2a( 1aH,5aH)-tropancarboxylate], 0benzoyl-
[(- )-ekgonin] -methylester, 3-benzoyloxy8-
methyl-8-azabicyclo [3.2.1] octan-2-carboxylicacidmethylester,
3J3 -benzoyloxy-2J3 -tropancarboxylicacid-
Autobahn, blow, C, candy, charlie, coca, coca pura
(Spanish, "pure coca»), coco, coke, cousin, donuts,
doppelter espresso, flake, koks, la blanca, lady
snow, la rubiecita, line, linie, mama coca, nasenpuder,
nose candy, peach, perica, puro (Spanish,
"pure»), schnee, schneewittchen, schniefe, schnupfschnee,
sniff, snow, snowwhite, strasse, strasschen,
Empirical formula: C17H21N04
Substance type: coca alkaloid
The cocaine molecule is structurally related to
tropine and other tropane alkaloids (Roth and
Fenner 1988, 311*). Today, cocaine is the most
consumed psychoactive plant constituent in the
world. Pure cocaine (as a base) is not water soluble
but can be dissolved in alcohol, chloroform,
turpentine oil, olive oil, or acetone. Cocaine salts
are water soluble.
In 1860, the German chemist Albert Niemann first
isolated cocaine from the leaves of the Peruvian
coca bush (Erythroxylum coca). The German
pharmacist Friedrich Gaedeke (1855) may have
represented the alkaloid before this. By around
1870, cocaine was being used as an agent of
pleasure, and it was employed at this time to treat
alcohol and morphine withdrawal as well as
melancholy. The ophthalmologist Karl Koller, a
friend of Sigmund Freud, introduced cocaine as a
local anesthetic for eye surgery in 1884. Hermann
Goring's use of cocaine was famous, and Adolf
Hitler, who also used other stimulants (cf. strychnine),
is thought to have consumed cocaine as well
(Phillips and Wynne 1980, 112).
Later, other substances derived from cocaine,
including eucaine, procaine (= Novocaine), tetracaine
(= Pantocaine) (1930), lidocaine (= Xylocaine)
(1944), mepivacaine (= Scandicaine) (1957),
prilocain (= Xylonest) (1960), bupivacaine (1963),
and etidocain (= Duranest) (1972), were also used
as local anesthetics (Busch and Rummel 1990;
Schneider 1993, 19*). Holocaine was also regarded
as a substitute.
The goal of chemists and pharmacologists to
carve out the effective core of the cocaine
molecule and retain the desirable and remove
the undesirable effects was achieved in an
exemplary manner with the synthesis of procaine
(1905). (Busch and Rummel 1990, 490)
In 1923, Willstadter and his coworkers worked
out the complete synthesis of cocaine. The precursors
are succindialdehyde, methylamine, and
mono-methyl-J3-keto-glutarate. However, this synthesis
has never achieved pharmaceutical importance.
Practically speaking, all of the cocaine used
in the pharmaceutical industry is derived from the
coca plant. In 1976,410 kg of cocaine were legally
extracted for this purpose (Taschner and Richtberg
Production and Use
An analysis of thirteen South American Erythroxylum
species found that cocaine is present only
in Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense
(Holmstedt et al. 1977). Hair analysis of
Egyptian mummies has revealed the presence of
ecgonin, the first metabolite of cocaine, which indicates
that the ancient Egyptians either consumed
cocaine or an unknown African plant that metabolizes
to ecgonin (Balabanova et al. 1992*).
The coca plantations that are the source of
cocaine are known as cocales. Bolivian huanaco
leaves (Erythroxylum coca var. coca) are preferred for
cocaine production because they are the highest
yielding. With good chemicals and chemists, it is
possible to produce 1 kg of pure cocaine from 100
kg of coca leaves. In the early 1980s, some 100 tons
ofpure cocaine were exported from Colombia alone.
The entire process of cocaine production, as
well as the smuggling routes, the cartels, and everything
from the connections between politicians
and the cartels to the consumption of cocaine
even by politicians in the White House, has been
documented in countless reports on the radio and
television and in magazines and well-researched
books (Morales 1989). It is difficult to escape the
impression that the cocaine saga is one of the bestknown
stories of our times but one that is officially
ignored. Our leaders still act as though the
Mafia is using the white powder to corrupt and
dominate the world. In reality, the chief benefactors
of the billion-dollar business are the banks
and the countless politicians and law-enforcement
personnel involved in the trade (Sauloy and Le
The snuffing of crystallized cocaine appears to
have been discovered in North America at the
beginning of the twentieth century and spread
from there. Shortly after 1900, pure cocaine was
being ingested together with betel and lime in
India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Java. The use of
cocaine as an athletic doping agent began in the
1940s (Fiihner 1943, 195*). Little has changed
since that time. Cocaine dealers still find some of
their best customers in the soccer stars of the
German first league and sports heroes in the
Basuko is dried cocaine base (an intermediate
step in the production of the pure alkaloid).
Sucito, or joints made of basuko, have been
smoked in Colombia since about 1930 (Siegel
1982b, 274). Cocaine is usually produced as a
hydrochloride but sometimes also as an oxalate or
hypochloride (HCL). Street cocaine is almost
exclusively cocaine HCL. Most of the illicit cocaine
available in Europe is only about 30% pure, as the
expensive pure drug is usually "cut:' The substances
that are most commonly used to "cut"
• Inactive additives: milk sugar (lactose), grape
sugar (glucose), baking powder, talc (talcum),
borax, cornstarch, innositol, mannitol
• Active additives: speed (amphetamine, fenetyllin,
ritalin) and "freeze" (novocaine, benzocaine),
PCP ("angel dust"), methedrine,
pemoline, yohimbine, lidocaine, procaine,
tetracaine, caffeine, quinine, heroin (Taschner
and Richtberg 1982,65; Voigt 1982,84)
A «line" of cocaine typically contains between 20
and 100 mg of cocaine, depending on the purity of
the substance and the consumer's preference.
Many users consume between 2 and 3 g in a day or
night. It is said that «the first line of the day is the
Cocaine has been called the champagne of drugs,
the drug of high society, the drug of the rich, et
cetera, and. it is certainly most often associated
with the wealthier classes. As a result, consumption
of the drug has taken on a strong social
character. Cocaine is rarely used by one person
alone. When it is taken with others, the consumption
follows a rather well-defined ritual. The person
providing the costly substance lays out several
lines (preferably on a mirror), then takes a
currency note (often of high value) and rolls it up.
One end of the rolled bill is placed in a nostril and
held with one hand, while the other hand is used
to press the other nostril closed. Half of one line,
or a small line, is then snuffed into the nostril. The
person then switches nostrils and snuffs the
remaining powder, after which the mirror is
passed to the next person. This circle may be
repeated several time, and it is customary for each
of several participants to prepare lines from their
The cultural significance of cocaine in the modern
world cannot be overlooked. Artists, musicians,
and writers use it as a stimulant, while highly paid
computer experts, software engineers, and programmers
would hardly be able to keep up with
the demands of their jobs without their «coke."
Stockbrokers, financial gurus, and election staffers
may use cocaine until they are ready to collapse.
Even some of the soccer stars who jog into the
stadium sporting T-shirts with such incongruous
imprints as «Keine Macht den Drogen" C(No
Power to Drugs") are high as a kite on cocaine.
According to several estimates, the highest per
capita consumption of cocaine is found in Silicon
Valley and on Wall Street.
The first literary treatment of cocaine is found
in the Sherlock Holmes novel A Scandal in
Bohemia, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published
only two years after Koller's discovery (Phillips
and Wynne 1980, 45). In this book, the astonishing
abilities of this brilliant detective are attributed in
part to his use of cocaine. By the time of the following
novel, The Sign of the Four, Sherlock
Holmes is injecting the pure alkaloid intravenously
The most famous novel of the British writer
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,
was written in only four or six days and nightswith
the assistance of the magic powder, of course
(Springer 1989,8; Voigt 1982,38).
The novellas of the expressionist poet Walter
Rheiner (1895-1925), in which he referred to the
drug as «the eternal poison" and «the loved and
hated poison," played a great role in shaping the
image of demonic seduction by pharmaceutical
cocaine (Rheiner 1979).
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the
physician Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) wrote and
published numerous poems about cocaine (of
which he was very fond) that at the time were
deemed rather shocking (Benn 1982; vom Scheidt
1981, 401). Many other authors have also been
inspired by cocaine, including Georg Trakl,
Thomas Zweifel, Josef Maria Frank Fritz von
Ostini, Klaus Mann, and Jean Cocteau (Springer
Cocaine is also the subject of many novels. The
classic cocaine novel, Cocaine, was written by
Pitigrilli (= Dino Serge, 1927). The drug has often
been treated within its current criminal context
(Badekerl 1983; Fauser 1983), while other novels
have been written from a futuristic perspective (Boye 1986). The "coke scene" has also provided a
rich source of literary inspiration (McInerney
1984; Ellis 1986).
The composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
wrote his opera Arabella while under the influence
of cocaine (Springer 1989,8; Timmerberg 1996).494
Countless compositions have had cocaine as their
subject, including Cocaine IiI, for a mezzosoprano
and four female jazz singers, by the
contemporary composer Nancy van de Vate (CD
Ensemble Belcanto, Koch, 1994). From the 1920s
to the 1940s, the white powder fueled the work of
especially jazz and blues musicians, and Chick
Webb, Luke Jordan, and Dick Justice even gave it a
musical treatment ("Cocaine Blues").
Veritable blizzards of cocaine have passed
through the brains of many of rock music's greats,
who then set their experiences with the "fuel" to
music. A few examples are Country Joe McDonald
("Cocaine"), Black Sabbath ("Snowblind"), Little
Feat C'Sailin' Shoes"), the Rolling Stones ("Let It
Bleed"), Jackson Browne ("Cocaine"), and David
Bowie ("Ziggy Stardust").
The "hippie" band known as the Grateful Dead
sang about the white powder in their song
"Truckin'," one of their few hits to make it onto the
charts. Eric Clapton's interpretation of J. J. Cale's
song "Cocaine" became a worldwide success and
has been played millions of times over. The reggae
artist Dillinger released an album named Cocaine.
The drug also left its mark on the German music
scene, influencing or even appearing in the music
of Hannes Wader, Konstantin Wecker, Abi Ofarim,
and T'MA a.k.a. Falco ("Mutter, der Mann mit
dem Koks ist da" ["Mother, the Man with the Coke
Is Here"]; BMG Records 1995).
Cocaine has been the subject of at least one
theater work: The American playwright Pendleton
King wrote a piece entitled Cocaine that was
produced for the stage in 1917 (Phillips and
Wynne 1980,93 ff.).
The medicinal applications of cocaine were
discovered only a short time after the isolation of
the molecule itself. Cocaine was initially used for
local anesthesia495 in ophthalmology and dentistry,
and infiltration anesthesia was developed just
a few years later (Custer 1898). Because analogs
(e.g., procaine) were developed that produce
specific effects with no psychoactive side effects,cocaine is rarely used as an anesthetic today.
|Pharmacology and Effects
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system,
especially the autonomic (sympathetic) system,
where it inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters
noradrenaline, dopamineA neurotransmitter associated with movement, attention, learning, and the brain’s pleasure and reward system., and
serotoninA monoamine neurotransmitter, biochemically derived from tryptophan, that is primarily found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, platelets, and central nervous system (CNS) of humans and animals. It is a well-known contributor to feelings of well-being. and increases the time in which they
remain in the synaptic cleft. Cocaine has a powerful effect upon the peripheral nervous
system, which explains its efficaciousness as a local
anesthetic. It has strong stimulant and vasoconstricting
properties. Very high dosages of cocaine
are said to be able to induce hallucinations, an
effect that is frequently noted in the neurological
literature (Pulvirenti and Koob 1996,49) as well as
in prose and poetry (Rheiner 1979, 27).
Hallucinations (of nonexistent people, images,
flickering lights) often occur during nights in
which dosages of 2 to 3 g have been taken. For
many people, cocaine also dispels fear. It stimu1ates
a need for alcoholic beverages at the same
time that it strongly suppresses the effects of
alcohol. A similar dynamic applies to nicotine.
In a certain sense, there is something unsatisfying
about the effects of cocaine. A person may
sense that satisfaction could be achieved if the
effects could possibly be increased. However, using
more cocaine does not produce an enhancement
of its effects.
Just as coca was and is employed in South
America as an aphrodisiac, cocaine has a similar
use in the West. Cocaine's reputation as an aphrodisiac
can be traced back to Sigmund Freud (1884)
and has been repeatedly confirmed in the
At a high level of intoxication, central
excitation sets in with characteristic shivering,
an initial state of euphoria that turns into
delirium and hallucinations. For women, the
stimulation ... not infrequently has an erotic
character and has resulted in later accusations
of sexual misconduct against the operating
physician. (Fiihner 1943, 196*)
Some psychiatrists believe that cocaine stimulates
the "sexual center" of the brain (Siegel
1982a). For many users, cocaine is inevitably
associated with sexuality (MacDonald et al. 1988;
Phillips and Wynne 1980,221).
Cocaine relaxes and opens the sphincter
muscles, which makes anal penetration easier as
well as substantially more pleasurable. However,
cocaine (much like ephedrine) often has an
adverse effect on erectile function and consequently
leads to temporary impotence (cf. Siegel
The addictive potential of cocaine has been the
subject of much debate. This issue does not appear
to be oriented toward the user as much as it
reflects the current legal situation. In recent years,
there have been efforts to develop a vaccination
against "cocaine addiction." Of course, the
research in this area is conducted on rats (Hellwig
1996). The effect of cocaine on the brain is also an
object of much research, since studies that
confirm the adverse effects of cocaine are likely to
receive financial support from the government. Studies that do not have a political agenda are the
exception rather than the rule (Volkow and Swann
People who use cocaine frequently suffer from
a runny nose ("coke sniffles") the following day.
Users may counteract this undesirable and
unpleasant aftereffect by rinsing their nose with a
saline solution (e.g., with medicinal salts). Many
users rub vitamin E oil in their nose, a practice
said to regenerate the highly irritated mucous
membranes in the nose (Voigt 1982,72). Although
cocaine can be very helpful in dealing with an
acute attack of hay fever, chronic use can actually
contribute to the condition.
Crack or Free-Base Cocaine
In the German press, crack has been portrayed as
"death for a few dollars," "the devil's drug from the
U.S.A.;' et cetera. The general idea seems to be that
"cocaine was a miracle, but crack, crack was better
than sex" or "cocaine was purgatory-but crack is
hell" (in Wiener 6 : 65,66).
Crack, which is also known as base, free base,
baseball, rocks, Roxanne, and supercoke, is
nothing more than smokeable free-base cocaine
(Siegel 1982b). In other words, crack is cocaine in
the form of a free base (Pulvirenti and Koob 1996,
48). It can be obtained from an aqueous solution
of cocaine hydrochloride to which an alkaline
substance (such as sodium carbonate) is added.
The cocaine salt is transformed into the pure base,
or, in other words, the pure substance. It can then
be purified with ether, causing the cocaine to
crystallize out. Crack is usually "smoked" (i.e.,
vaporized and inhaled) in glass pipes. A typical
dosage ranges from 0.05 to 0.1 g. The effect is very
similar to that of snuffed cocaine but is much
Although crack is a derivative of cocaine, there
is little comparison between the mild and
mostly stimulating cocaine inebriation and
the effects of the short-term crack high, which
can literally bowl one over. Whereas cocaine
produces a euphoric sensation of great concentration
and razor-sharp intelligence for
about 20 to 60 minutes, crack lasts for only
three to five minutes while giving the consumer
an incredibly strong kick with regard to
physical sensations as well as the euphoria of
absolute omnipotence. Of course, this has
resulted in many myths, including one that
crack is particularly pure. (Sahihi 1995,37*)
Ethnologists have begun using the field
methods typical of the discipline to study the
"crack phenomenon;' which appears to be a
typically American product (Holden 1989).
"Crack life" is a reflection of the problems in
American society and reveals deep social fissures and cultural anomalies. For users, the "crack way"
is an important form of identity formation. Crack
is frequently found together with prostitution, as
"addicts" may accept it as a form of payment for
sexual services (Carlson and Siegal 1991).
On the street, the following substances may be
used as substitutes for cocaine or crack in times of
shortage: procaine, caffeine, benzocaine, phenylpropanolamine,
lidocaine, and ephedrine (Siegel
Commercial Forms and Regulations
Cocaine hydrochloride is available through the
pharmacy trade. The German Drug Law lists
cocaine as a "narcotic drug in which trafficking is
allowed but which may not be prescribed"
(Korner 1994, 42). In the United States, the Controlled
Substances Act classifies cocaine as a
Schedule II substance.
See also the entries for Erythroxylum coca,
Erythroxylum novogranatense, atropine, and
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