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Ways Cocaine is Used

The ways cocaine is used in the United States has begun to change over the years. Any route of cocaine administration can lead to the absorption of toxic amounts of the powerful drug, which can potentially lead to emergencies that could result in sudden death; thus, there is no safe way to use the highly addictive stimulant. Repeated cocaine use via any route of administration can produce a powerful addiction and other adverse health consequences.

The most basic ways cocaine is used are oral, intranasal, intravenous, and through inhalation. The slang terms for these various routes of cocaine administration are "chewing," "snorting," "mainlining," "injecting," and "smoking" (which includes freebase and crack cocaine).

When cocaine is administered orally, it can take up to a hour for the drug to enter the user's bloodstream. Typically, only about a third of an oral dose of cocaine is actually absorbed into the user's bloodstream; although the onset of orally administered cocaine may be slow, the effects of the drug are generally sustained for up to one hour after the peak effects are reached.

The most popular ways cocaine is used in the U.S. is reported to be through sniffing and snorting the drug in powdered form. When cocaine is administered in this way, the potent stimulant is readily absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the sinuses. Nosebleeds are a common side effect of snorting cocaine, and are due to the irritation and damage to the mucus membranes of the nose by foreign particles and adulterants that are commonly used to cut cocaine, and not by the drug itself.

One of the most potent ways that cocaine is used is through intravenous injection. Injecting cocaine provides the user with the highest blood levels of the drug within in the shortest period of time; effects from this form of cocaine administration often include a ringing in the ears that may occur for up to 5 minutes after the drug has been injected. Some cocaine users mix the stimulant with heroin before injecting it, which is commonly referred to as a "speedball", as the effects of these two drugs are reported to complement each other.

Another one of the common ways in which cocaine is used is by smoking it, as in the form of a rock crystal (crack cocaine). Smoking or freebasing crack cocaine is most commonly accomplished through using a pipe that is made from a small glass tube; people who smoke crack cocaine will also sometimes use a soda can that has small holes in the bottom of it. The effects of crack cocaine that has been smoked will generally only last for a period of about 10- 15 minutes.

Many cocaine users also like to rub the powder along the gum line, or onto a cigarette filter which is then smoked, which numbs the gums and teeth; hence the slang names of "numbies" and "gummers." This particular way of using cocaine is mostly done through using the small amounts of the drug that remain after snorting this powerful stimulant.