Cocaine is now predominantly used for nasal and lacrimal duct surgery. The major disadvantages of this use are cocaine’s potential for cardiovascular toxicity, glaucoma, and pupil dilation. Medicinal use of cocaine has decreased as other synthetic local anesthetics such as benzocaine, proparacaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine are now used more often. If vasoconstriction is desired for a procedure (as it reduces bleeding), the anesthetic is combined with a vasoconstrictor such as phenylephrine or epinephrine. Some ENT specialists occasionally use cocaine within the practice when performing procedures such as nasal cauterization. In this scenario dissolved cocaine is soaked into a ball of cotton wool, which is placed in the nostril for the 10–15 minutes immediately before the procedure, thus performing the dual role of both numbing the area to be cauterized, and vasoconstriction. Even when used this way, some of the used cocaine may be absorbed through oral or nasal mucosa and give systemic effects. An alternative method of administration for ENT surgery is mixed with adrenaline and sodium bicarbonate, as Moffett’s solution.
Cocaine is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 15 or 30 minutes to an hour. The duration of cocaine’s effects depends on the amount taken and the route of administration. Cocaine can be in the form of fine white powder, bitter to the taste. When inhaled or injected, it causes a numbing effect. Crack cocaine is a smoke-able form of cocaine made into small “rocks” by processing cocaine with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. Crack cocaine is referred to as “crack” because of the crackling sounds it makes when heated.
Cocaine use leads to increases in alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, increased energy and motor activity, and increased feelings of competence and sexuality.
How Is Cocaine Used?
The powdered form of cocaine is either inhaled through the nose (snorted), where it is absorbed through the nasal tissue, or dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream.Crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine”) that can be smoked. The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are absorbed into the blood-stream through the lungs. (The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated.)