(From the book: Cocaine the Legend by Jorge Hurtado)
A habitual chronic user can consume between 500 and 1000 milligrams in 24 hours. An occasional user will not be able to finish that quantity in weeks or months. After a long period of use, to obtain the original results, a double dosage increase or little more emerges. Few modifications are necessary from this average to reach the expected results. If the drug quantity is increased abruptly, unpleasant symptoms may appear, such as nausea, vomiting, muscular tension, severe anguish or states of panic.
One gram, directly injected into the bloodstream produces respiratory or cardiac arrest. On the other hand, when the average dose is not increased by much and the period of consumption is not prolonged more than what has been mentioned, once the drug has been metabolized completely, the delayed reactions can return with double the strength. There is fatigue, hunger and deep sleep.
The need for drugs, if any, does not necessarily produce the compulsive behavior to search for drugs. In some cases a strong rejection to the drug may occur, similar, to what happens with alcohol. If the usage is limited to one day, for example, the following day, barely perceptible symptoms of depression or anxiety may appear or simply an uncommon fatigue may occur. In other cases, there are no post-intoxicating symptoms. But as the dosage increases and it is repeated daily, the deprivation will be followed by proportional depression and anxiety that will tend to perpetuate the use. Nervous irritability and bad humor are frequent manifestations of this mode.
IIf the doses do not surpass the 60 to 100 mg. (aprox.) daily, and in between are many days of abstinence, generally there are no observable physical nor emotional consequences.
The same relationship exists between a person that drinks alcohol daily and the social or occasional drinker. The former will suffer a general progressive deterioration, while the latter will be considered a well adopted individual in a society where alcohol consumption is not only allowed but expected.
And just as it happens with alcohol or any other drug, there is another mode characterized by larger quantities of drug and periods of usage. This mode deals with true intoxication marathons, the type that lasts many days or cycles. In reference to this point I let Lucifer speak. He is a 37 year old, married, white male, who comes from a traditional family from La Paz. He has studied two years of psychology and received medical treatment under my supervision since 1985. He does not have prior medical-psychiatric or psychological treatment.
“ .I tried cocaine for the first time in 1972 in Mexico, when I was 23 years old. I did not notice any effect. Later, already in La Paz, in 1975, because my relationship with a group of artists and the great availability that there is in our country, I began to use cocaine in greater quantities.
Before 1970, I also consumed marihuana only sporadically, and mostly on weekends. At that time I had my first LSD (lysergic acid) experience. Later, I took Benzedrine for about a three month period. At present I do not take any amphetamines, because I consider them a lousy drug. I have used cocaine (hydrochloride) for 11 or 12 years. When I am in Bolivia I use it daily. I have two ways of using it. If I have a enough quantities, I use it for four days without sleep.
One can reach different levels in this manner than, for example, when one snorts for only one night. The quantity as well as the effect varies every 20 hours that pass. This means that I have three cycles of 20 to 24 hours each. Daybreak of the first cycle is the most critical of all, especially if I started early at night. Tension is very high. Night, that is all tranquillity and absent of ticking time, ends. The sun with its light, brings movement, noise, and schedules.
The latter is felt even if I have nothing to do during the day. This tension brought upon by the daylight, expresses itself generally with the difficulty to talk fluently, due to a hoarseness or a hardening of the vocal cords. The speed of thought does not correspond with the ability to speak, so one arrives at “amuquismo” or “mouth shut” which is quite common and usually starts around three o’clock in the morning. Sunlight hurts the eyes. Hearing becomes very sensitive; the street noises seem stronger than usual. This sensation is quite intense. If I feel tired, I use a higher dose than normal every ten minutes. When the tiredness fades, around eleven o’clock in the morning, in that state of mind there is little desire to go out. You are left with a serious facial expression due to the poor mental coordination; thoughts are quicker than normal and the body is adopting to that speed. It could be said that the “po” (coke) is massaging the encephalic mass for it to accept the speed and coordinate the functions between the body and the senses.
By four o’clock in the afternoon, tiredness arrives. It is counteracted by absorbing enough “po”, some three to four lines, of the same quantity used at eleven o’clock. Up until this moment I have had no desire to eat, but am extremely thirsty and have an equal desire to smoke. I am quite sparing in words and wish to be alone. Reading is one of my pastimes for these moments. Sometimes I have the tendency to be accelerated at morning and at the beginning of the afternoon. There is a tremor in my hands or internally. It is rare that before the first cycle that I leave the house, since one is in a complete mental state. There is the idea that one may not be able to act normally once out of known territory, or home. If one does go out, overcoming this idea, the moment you and close the door behind you, one adjusts to the outside hustle with little difficulty and does whatever must be done. This requires little practice and, of course, only if it is necessary.
Entering the second cycle, tiredness has been surpassed and one goes from one moment to another, into a very different state of mind. It can be said that the “po” has already finished massaging the encephalic mass and the coordination of mind, body and senses begins to occur. A state of alertness and quickness coordinated in the whole being is expressed quite free and extroverted. To go out and socialize is no longer inconvenient. The mental state is at a very fast pace, concrete and continuous. Because of this, it is easier to achieve objectives, to define and to plan. You must only remember that you are going quicker that any logic or analysis. By the 30th to 35th hour one can eat. Only the amount necessary should be eaten, without going beyond that point.
The quantity of cocaine used drops a little in relation to the day before and the laps are longer between dosages. If in the first cycle one snorted a line every ten minutes, in the second cycle it should be every 20 to 25 minutes. Between the 45th and 50th hour, another moment of tiredness arrives, which also goes away with an extra dosage of 4 to 5 of lines in about 20 minutes. The third stage is far more speedy. Once in it, one has the tendency to talk about abstract matters, philosophy or politics. Because the mind or the intellect acts too fast, it is difficult to hold any conversation with people that are not in the same state of mind. Because of that, one becomes sarcastic. It is not negative, but rather mocking. Sharp but not hurting. Jokes are made for everything. Near the 60th hour there is a great necessity for rhythm, and dancing becomes imperative.
Even the voice itself acquires melodic tones and the body becomes very elastic. It is imperative to have fun. The consumption clearly diminishes, it is only necessary to take a line every 30 to 40 minutes and sometimes even up to an hour or more.
The fourth cycle can be reached, but it is more satisfactory to finish it on the third. In the second and third cycle appetite is normal and there is no indication of paranoia, instead the opposite happens, there is a lot of security. Oral expressions as well as manifestations are intense. This fact is perceived by people around you. By the end of the third cycle, speech is faster and one must pay attention, otherwise one runs the risk of not being understood. In respect to sex, on the first day there isn’t a great physical response. Erection is not complete and only if one is lucky, they will arrive at an orgasm. On the other hand, on the third day, sexual activity is intense. There is a long, hard and continuous erection, eroticism is more intense and freer. Reading comprehension improves as the cycles pass. On the third day there is a better grasp than on the first day.
The recollection of the reading is permanent and much more clearer than without the effect of “po”. Conversation has higher levels than on the other levels. It can be said that thought is linear, it starts on A and finishes on A; clear and definite conclusions can be arrived at. Of course, to enjoy all this, the environment is very important. More than three people together under the same effect would find it difficult to experience harmony. Music and rhythm have a lot of importance. To do it between two persons or as a couple is ideal.
Above all it must not be combined with other drugs, such as alcohol, marihuana or any others. After eating , it is imperative to take a strong dosage, if not, sleepiness and fatigue dominate the body. Of course there is no better moment to inhale than after a meal. For these cycles one has to eat well and sleep long but no longer than 14 hours, or a strong feeling of heaviness will occur when waken up” (La Paz – Bolivia 1985)
” Lucifer’s report has neologisms that are not his exclusively. They belong to a kind of subculture that is conformed by psychoactive users:
The term “jalar” means to inhale cocaine through the nostrils. “Po” is a word derived from Portuguese and means powder (cocaine). “Lines” are some 80 to 100 mg. of cocaine crystal arranged in lineal form, usually over a mirror or glass. The observation of these “cocaine crystal marathon runners” allowed me to verify the absence of the withdrawal syndrome, the physical addiction and tolerance, that in these cases, due to the quantity and time of prolonged usage, should have presented itself.
To my surprise, I have been able to see that the withdrawal of the drug, whether by being forced to be away from it, by own will or any other reasons, was not followed by symptoms that indicate physical necessity of the drug, Hours after the intoxication has terminated, deep sleep occurs, which is only interrupted by biological basic needs, above all the need to eat voraciously. At the moments of vigil, the following may be observed: disorientation in regard to time, difficulties in evoking recent memory, and difficulties in concentration and in all high mental functions.
The emotional state is unstable with generally unjustifiable fleeting bursts of fury. The anxiety and depression levels are variable and increase later on. Nevertheless, at least in the cases I have observed, these states can be more or less manageable and do not prevent the social and familiar development of the habitual user. According to the previous personality, the psychological equilibrium, the physical state and the environmental conditions, can present themselves, during the course of excessive intoxication, typical cases of paranoid states or panic fits. Which we will see in depth with the study of cocaine base, because it is there and not here that the phenomena is the rule.
During these marathons of intoxication it is easy for the daily usage to surpass the four grams (I have seldom found dosages of 6 to 8 grs.). Following the withdraw phase, that may last days, weeks or months, the usage can be reduced to a gram a day, every other day or even weekly, with variable difficulties to overcome the need to increase the dosage. The habitual user that can achieve this control, can develop normally in their daily activities.
The abstinence intervals from this chronic modality, are invariably followed by a depressive rebound effect, that it is manifested by bad humor, irritability, permanent tiredness and prolonged dreaming. The post-cocaine depression and exhaustion states may be due to the psychological need to remain in levels of extra stimulation, such as the one the drug offers, or to an exhaustion of the norepinephrine and its precursors and of the organism energetic reserves. This, in return, forces the subject to search for a quick equilibrium, using the drug even more frequently which in turn deepens the exhaustion, closing the circle and establishing the psychological drug dependency.
In almost all cases where there is this type of abuse of cocaine chlorhydrate, I have been able to find within the habitual user’s previous history, depressive states of the most varied origins: exogenous and endogenous, losses in life, deficient social-economical adaptation, dependent personalities, low tolerance for frustration, etc.. These states in turn, create conditions for easy dependency if this kind of individual get into contact with the drug. Really, it is a desperate and intuitive search of treatment. An empiric, defective and uncontrolled self medication, which only results in the worsening of the previous depression. The absence of help or medical control and the poor quality of the drug, both a result of the drug being illegal, worsen the outcome.
Nevertheless, this phenomena is not privative of the leaf’s alkaloids. The same happens with tranquilizers, barbiturates, amphetamines and especially alcohol, which is consumed by a majority of the population. And just as not everybody that drinks occasionally becomes an alcoholic, neither does everybody that occasionally consumes cocaine crystal become cocaine addicts. For a dependency to exist, a potentially dependent subject is necessary. The drug, or object of dependency, is chosen because of its availability or easiness to obtain it, more than by the patient’s free choice. That is why the incidence of alcoholism is much higher, not only in Bolivia, but in the whole world. I had the opportunity to verify these facts through the study of cocaine crystal “social” users (moderates or occasional ones). The majority are people relatively equilibrated and socio-economically well adapted. Eighty percent belongs to the upper or upper middle class. More than 70% are between the ages of 20 and 40; the rest are older.
Almost all are professionals, artists, businessmen or successful politicians. The majority use hydrochloride with the same frequency that they use alcohol, as an antidote against drunkenness or to prolong the entertainment. A minimal percentage uses pure cocaine chlorhydrate to increase their physical or intellectual output, without mixing it with alcohol, as students do, to prolong their night working hours. Few young women use it to lose weight, meanwhile others like its aphrodisiac powers. We must mention the central role that cocaine plays in orgies that the inhabitants of the metropolis like to engage in. It is also difficult to imagine, for example, the long and exhausting days of dancing and continuous sex in the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro without the extra energy provided by stimulants.
Generally, between the “social” users of cocaine crystal, the quantity does not go over a couple of grams a month (30 to 50 mg. per dose). Its use is usually limited to weekends. Daily use is extremely rare; it is generally used only at night. In almost all the cases that are within this parameter, the use of cocaine does not represent a problem in the life of the subject. Some consulted me for other problems than for the use of drugs, generally for crisis or existential emergencies that they ought to overcome with my help. I learned of their habit casually during the analysis. In many cases, at the request of the family or family doctors that refer them to my care, the patients searched for information due to feelings of guilt or fear for their habit. Aside from this occasional use, that is considered just as “normal” or common as the use of alcohol, there exists another group with emotional problems that we discussed and that characterizes the campaigns against the “cocaine plague”. In any case, it would rather be about a plague of psychic unbalance, in many cases depression, that lashes out at the “civilized” world. Or can we refer to the elevated needs for quinine caused by a surge of malaria as a quinine epidemic?
General Conclusions Cocaine chlorhydrate besides it’s quality as a local anesthetic is a potent stimulant with possibilities for a quick action anti-depressive use far less toxic than amphetamines that at present are legal, aside from their proven toxicity. If we talk about an anti-depressive drug, we are talking about a medicine that, when administered, must be done carefully and under medical control. In any case, as I will discuss later on. If cocaine’s anti-depressive qualities are going to be dealt with, it seems to me that the use of extracts from the whole leave are more effective and safe. Researchers, such as Van Dyck and Robert Byck, state: “…deaths occurred by cocaine crystal use are very rare; there is little evidence of physical harm due to coca chewing; that its chemical derivative, cocaine, is a safe drug, provided that it does not get in hands of unbalanced people that can use it with self destructive aims”.
SOME SOCIAL ASPECTS ON COCAINE CRYSTAL USE
Even though Bolivia was one of the mayor coca leave producers, (today Peru is in front, and there are enough signs indicating Brazil as other mayor leave producer), the usage of its chemical derivative, cocaine crystal, has very little social significance. The cocaine crystal marathon runners form a small group of habitual users, that only due to legal or emergency reasons felt forced to visit me. Almost all of them, belong to socio-economic upper levels, and because of this they have enough time and money to dedicate themselves to such a dangerous occupation. Even if we take into account occasional users, the incidence is quite low in relation to other medical problems, such as alcohol, barbiturates and tranquilizers. This phenomena can be explained by the kind of trade that Bolivia has. There are thousands of rudimentary factories of cocaine paste in Chapare and Yungas that allow for access to this product for countless people of low socio-economic level. Cocaine crystals are available only from a few cocaine chemists, makers of a more expensive product, that does not have an economic incentive in the domestic market and is therefore exported almost immediately after leaving the laboratory. Thus establishing the so called “cocaine crystal ant traffic”, represented by a few kilos that the trafficker takes out of the country hidden in their luggage or body.