Monday, August 21, 2006

Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system and an appetite suppressant, creating what has been described as a euphoric sense of happiness and increased energy. Though most often used recreationally for this effect, cocaine is also a topical anesthetic used in eye, throat, and nose surgery. Cocaine can be psychologically addictive, and its possession, cultivation, and distribution is illegal for non-medicinal and non-government sanctioned purposes in virtually all parts of the world. The name comes from the name of the coca plant plus the alkaloid suffix -ine.
The stimulating qualities of the coca leaf were known to the ancient peoples of Peru and other Pre-Columbian South American societies. In modern Western countries, cocaine has been a feature of the counterculture for well-over a century; there is a long-list of prominent intellectuals, artists, and musicians who have used the drug -- names ranging from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sigmund Freud to United States President Ulysses S. Grant. For many decades cocaine was a key ingredient in Coca-Cola. Today, although illegal in virtually all countries, cocaine remains popular in a wide variety of social and personal settings.


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