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Cocaine Mule

“Cocaine – a high-priced way of getting high – has a mystique,” writes WebMD:

Called “the caviar of street drugs,” Cocaine is seen as the status-heavy drug of celebrities, fashion models, and Wall Street traders. Movies like “Blow” and books like Killing Pablo sensationalize the business and use of cocaine.1

“David Nutt, the former [British] Government drugs tsar…has said that the banking crisis was caused by too many workers taking cocaine,” writes Nick Britten for The Telegraph:

Prof Nutt said that too many bankers who took the drug were “overconfident” and so “took more risks” and said that not only did it lead to the current crisis in this country, but also the 1995 collapse of Barings bank.

He said cocaine was perfect for their “culture of excitement and drive and more and more and more”, adding: “Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess. It is a ‘more’ drug.” 2

WebMD continues:

The reality of cocaine hits after the high. Cocaine has powerful negative effects on the heart, brain, and emotions. Many cocaine users fall prey to addiction, with long-term and life threatening consequences. Even occasional users run the risk of sudden death with cocaine use.…

About 14% of U.S. adults have tried cocaine. One in 40 adults has used it in the past year. Young men aged 18 to 25 are the biggest cocaine users, with 8% using it in the previous 12 months.…

Deep in the brain, cocaine interferes with the chemical messengers – neurotransmitters – that nerves use to communicate with each other. Cocaine blocks norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed. The resulting chemical buildup between nerves causes euphoria or feeling “high.”…

Some people describe other feelings tagging along with the high:

  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • restlessness
  • anxiety…

Cocaine is responsible for more U.S. emergency room visits than any other illegal drug. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs — and can even cause sudden death. Here’s what happens in the body:

  • Heart. Cocaine is bad for the heart. Cocaine increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The result can be a heart attack, even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also trigger a deadly abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia.
  • Brain. Cocaine can constrict blood vessels in the brain, causing strokes. This can happen even in young people without other risk factors for strokes. Cocaine causes seizures and can lead to bizarre or violent behavior.
  • Lungs and respiratory system. Snorting cocaine damages the nose and sinuses. Regular use can cause nasal perforation. Smoking crack cocaine irritates the lungs and, in some people, causes permanent lung damage.
  • Gastrointestinal tract. Cocaine constricts blood vessels supplying the gut. The resulting oxygen starvation can cause ulcers, or even perforation of the stomach or intestines.
  • Kidneys. Cocaine can cause sudden, overwhelming kidney failure through a process called rhabdomyolysis. In people with high blood pressure, regular cocaine use can accelerate the long-term kidney damage caused by high blood pressure.
  • Sexual function. Although cocaine has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, it actually may make you less able to finish what you start. Chronic cocaine use can impair sexual function in men and women. In men, cocaine can cause delayed or impaired ejaculation.

After using cocaine regularly for an extended period, dependence (addiction) develops. When dependence is present, stopping cocaine suddenly leads to withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine are more psychological than physiological. Typically, cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • depression and anxiety
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • increased craving for cocaine
  • physical symptoms including aches, pains, tremors, and chills

Cocaine withdrawal is rarely medically serious. In certain people, withdrawal from cocaine may cause suicidal thoughts. Typically, withdrawal symptoms from cocaine addiction resolve within one to two weeks. However, intense craving for cocaine may return, even years after the last use.3

MedlinePlus notes that “Using cocaine with alcohol is a common cause of drug-related death.” 4

Canadian website Northern Life warns of toxic cocaine cut with the veterinary drug Levamisole:

Cassie Pearson, the HIV/IDU outreach lead for the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth,…said illicit drug manufacturers and cartels cut levamisole into cocaine because it is relatively cheap.

“They’re cutting it because it makes it lighter and fluffier.”

According to the New England Journal of Medicine the drug is also speculated to enhance the euphoric effect of cocaine.

But when levamisole is mixed with cocaine it has been linked to necrosis, killing skin tissue, and neutropenia, a disorder that reduces a person’s white blood cells, making them more susceptible to infections.

“We’re seeing flesh-eating, especially when it’s injected,” Pearson said, describing the effects of the necrosis5.


1 “Cocaine Use and Its Effects,” Mental Health Center, WebMD, at and (retrieved: 13 April 2013).

2 Nick Britten, “Financial crisis caused by too many bankers taking cocaine, says former drugs tsar,” The Telegraph, 14 April 2013, at (retrieved: 14 April 2013).

3 “Cocaine,” WebMD, (retrieved: 13 April 2013).

4 Cocaine, MedlinePlus, at (retrieved: 13 April 2013).

5 Jonathan Migneault, “Veterinary drug Levamisole blamed for gruesome wounds on users’ skin,”, 3 December 2013, at (retrieved: 3 December 2013).

See also

The Truth About Crack, Foundation for a Drug Free World, at (retrieved: 13 April 2013).

Nick Britten, “Financial crisis caused by too many bankers taking cocaine, says former drugs tsar,” 14 April 2013, at (retrieved: April 2013).

Related videos

“Drugs, Inc. : The Cocaine Producer,” NationalGeographic video at, (retrieved: 14 April 2013). (Watch it here)

“How Drugs Work 3/3 – Cocaine (BBC Three),” TroublesVictims video at, (retrieved: 14 April 2013). (Watch it here)

“100 to 1: Fixing Crack Cocaine Disparity,” VOAvideo video at, (retrieved: 4 August 2012). (Watch it here)

“How the CIA Helped Create the Crack Epidemic,” antihostile video at, (retrieved: 27 August 2012). (Watch it here)

“The CIA, Drug Trafficking and American Politics: The Political Economy of War,” The Film Archive video at, (retrieved: 14 April 2013). (Watch it here)

“Locked Up Abroad S06E06 – Cocaine Mule Mom,” Sammy Badbwoi video at, (retrieved: 14 April 2013). (Watch it here)

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