Cocaine And Morphine
Cocaine and Morphine
Cocaine and morphine are two illicit substances that have been constantly abused and evolving over the past 150 years in the United States and around the world. Cocaine was first synthesized in 1855 but was not recognized for its medicinal effects until 1880 (History of Cocaine). Cocaine got its first major endorsement from none other than Sigmund Freud who promoted it as a safe and useful tonic to help cure depression and impotence (History of Cocaine). In 1886 it was further popularized when John Pemberton marketed a new soft drink that would give you energy as well as produce a euphoric feeling; Coca-Cola. Up until the early 1900’s, when it was banned by the Dangerous Drug Act of 1920, cocaine was used in numerous cure all tonics, medicines, and elixirs for its numbing properties and euphoric effects (History of Cocaine).
Morphine, similarly to cocaine, was used in tonics and elixirs throughout the 1800’s to help relieve pain. First isolated in 1803, Morphine was discovered by German pharmacist F.W.A. Serturner. He named the Opium based drug Morpheus, after the god of dreams (Morphine Facts). Morphine began to grow in popularity and was being used for everything from pain relief to cough suppression and, ironically enough, to help cure Opium addiction. During the American Civil War, morphine was used frequently as a surgical anesthetic and would be sent home with soldiers as a pain reliever. This overuse of morphine caused over 400,000 soldiers to fall to “Army Disease”, Morphine addiction. Morphine was constantly abused, despite legislation making it illegal without a prescription, until Heroin was introduced (Morphine Facts).
Cocaine and Morphine are produced when chemicals are extracted and synthesized from naturally occurring plants; the poppy seed and the coca leaf. Cocaine production, due to the rarity of the coca leaf, takes place exclusively in three countries; Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru (Edwards). It is known to be the only naturally occurring local anesthetic (Simon). Morphine on the other hand has become a pharmaceutical grade chemical and has begun to be produced synthetically (Edwards). The evolution of these drugs has been rapid and very efficient due to advances in science as well as experimentation done by the producers. Despite legislation passed as well as modern knowledge that these substances will cause you bodily harm, demand still remains at an alarming high.
Not only have the drugs themselves been changing ever since their introduction, so have their methods of delivery. Both morphine and cocaine were originally orally administered drugs being absorbed either through the stomach or through soft tissue mucus membranes such as the gums. As knowledge of the human body advanced, people began to search for quicker more efficient forms of delivery into the blood stream (Morphine Facts). The most effective method of delivery for morphine is intravenously; injecting directly into the blood stream (Takayanagi). The effects of the drug are seen almost immediately and last for a long period of time. Morphine is also capable of being smoked once turned into a combustible form or being administered through a rectal suppository. The effects when smoking are also seen almost immediately due to the absorption into the blood through the lungs (Morphine Facts).
Cocaine users and producers also sought out more effective methods of delivery to help enhance their highs. The drug was first administered orally when native South American’s would chew on the coca leaves and experience energy and euphoria (History of Cocaine). Eventually it was synthesized, turned to powder, and marketed as cocaine. Cocaine powder began to be snorted around the beginning of the 19th century. When you snort the drug the mucus membranes in your nasal passage absorb the drug much quicker and provide much faster delivery to the brain than when you would take it orally (Edwards). Around the 1970’s a method of purification was developed where you would turn the cocaine powder from an acid to a base by mixing it with baking soda and heating it; this was known as freebase (History of Cocaine). Freebase cocaine is a liquid that can be injected or solidified and broken into pieces and smoked called crack. Smoking crack is said to be the most potent and addictive method of administration into the human body (Edwards).
Recently, morphine has undergone much scientific research for while it is horribly addictive it is still a very effective pain reliever. Scientists have been finding new ways to chemically synthesize and alter the drug to make it less addictive, have fewer side effects, and to be more potent. Dr. Peter Crooks, Ph.D. of the University of Kentucky has developed such a drug that he says, “Will reduce these side effects because its long duration of action allows it to be used less frequently,” (Lopez). He also says that the new analog will not create the same changes in the central nervous system therefore making it safer for patients with respiratory problems (Lopez). Due to these changes in the drug and the fact that it is becoming increasingly harder to attain, the street demand for morphine has been reduced dramatically. Currently, we see doctors and hospital workers as the major abusers of this drug while the street demand for morphine has since shifted to heroin (Morphine Facts).
Cocaine on the other hand has only become more potent and in higher demand on the streets. US attempts at slowing the pipeline of cocaine into America have been a success and a failure all at once. While Colombian production of cocaine is down one-third, the amount of cocaine reaching the United States is still about the same and the prices are even cheaper (Suo). This unbelievable statistic is largely due to an act known as cutting; mixing in other powders such as sugar, glutamine, or baking soda in with the cocaine to add more weight (Edwards). Once this cocaine reaches the hands of dealers its probably cut once again and then often times turned into the highly addictive drug, crack. Crack’s demand, being one of the most highly addictive substances, has only been on the rise since its introduction in the 1970’s while demand for powder cocaine has remained stable over the past five years (History of Cocaine). The supply of cocaine, while falling slightly, is still meeting the large demand the United States has and then some.
Over the next 30 years I see Cocaine use and Morphine use following very different routes. Crack is not a drug it is an epidemic; it has ruined millions of lives and will continue to do so until it is completely removed from out country. Cocaine, while not as highly addictive as crack, also has a steady if not rising demand in our country that will only subside if the supply is completely removed. It can be disputed whether or not morphine is more addictive than cocaine or crack but what cannot is which is more readily available in the streets.
On the other hand, I see morphine use on the steady decline. Primarily, since morphine is a pharmaceutical drug, it is a much more difficult for people to come in contact with it. Recreational use of morphine is even diminishing today; the primary users are doctors or people with access to pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, the demand for opiates is still very strong; heroin has replaced morphine as the most addictive opiate plaguing the world today.