Cocaine, now an illegal and highly addictive drug, was not always viewed as a harmful substance, specifically in the natural form of the coca plant. Discovered by South American indigenous people, the coca plant was regarded for its medicinal, nutritional, and social purposes.
Ancient History of Cocaine
The use of the coca plant dates back to at least 5,000 years ago. South American Indians would honor “Mama Coca” as a kind goddess, believing she would bless them in their harvests.
Indians would chew on the leaves, obtaining cocaine found naturally in the plant. They believed the coca plant benefited by giving:
- Spiritual protection
- Contact to spiritual world
- Medicinal benefit
- Sexual benefit
- A way to measure time
The Spanish and Cocaine
When the Spanish came to South America they initially rejected the coca plant, likely because of the mysticism surrounding it. However, after the conquistadors removed the “gift of the gods,” they noticed a lack of effort in the mines and fields; to which the Catholic Church began cultivating the coca, passing it out up to three times a day for the workers. Inevitably, the Spanish returned to Europe in which it gained popularity known as “the elixir to life.”
19th Century and Cocaine
By 1814, the effects of the coca plant became so popular that a gentlemen’s magazine called for scientist to look further into its benefits. And by 1860, chemist Albert Niemann was the first to isolate the potent active-ingredient-alkaloid, in which he named it cocaine.
Soon after discovery of the concentrated cocaine form, it became widespread. In its powder state it would be mixed into cigarettes, alcohol, and was even prescribed to help with morphine addiction in which it ultimately backfired.
20th Century and Cocaine
By the turn of the 20th century, cocaine had reached the global market. It was grown commercially from Columbia to as far east as Japan. Cocaine had become embraced by nearly everyone; from the slave to people in popular culture such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even the Coca Cola Company used it in their early formulas where the only remnants of the product remain in its name.
As quick as cocaine became popular in society, the negative affects soon followed. People began relating cocaine abuse to gamblers and prostitutes- the bohemians of the world. Even racial attacks began to emerge as white women blamed cocaine influenced blacks as their attackers.
In 1914 the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act outlawed the sale and distribution of cocaine in the United States. One problem with the new act was that they incorrectly labeled cocaine as a narcotic, not a stimulant. Because cocaine was mislabeled, it was hard for prosecution since the physical attributes of the substance were unclear and debatable.
By 1970, the United States finally recognized cocaine as a controlled substance in the Controlled Substance Act, where suggested criminals could be rightly prosecuted.
Late 20th Century, Today and Cocaine
By the mid 1980s, cocaine in the United States had hit an all time high of nearly 6 million users that used the drug at least once a month. Because of the demand, price began to drop and more people were using the so-called “champagne drug.” Demand for cocaine also led to the development of crack cocaine, a cheaper manufactured form.
A survey in 2006 showed:
- 33.7 million Americans after the age of 12 have used cocaine at least once
- 1 out of 4 Americans had used cocaine between the age of 26 and 34
- In 2004, cocaine was the primary drug in Federal arrest cases
- In 2005, cocaine market in US exceeded $70 billion
Are You a Cocaine User?
Cocaine is one of the most widespread, addictive, and readily available drugs today. Regular use results in physical and psychological damage and dependence.
There are thousands of people that have used, gone through treatment, and now live normal, healthy lives. If you or someone you know is a cocaine user, most likely they are already an addict or are quickly becoming one.
There is hope… Please call our toll free number today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about cocaine addiction treatment. We are here to help.