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Cocaine

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Cocaine is a derivative of the shrub Erythroxylum coca, which is found in South America. It is classed as a drug of abuse and is therefore schedule II in the United States where it is joined by other drugs such as morphine and opium.

Currently, cocaine is used in hospitals as a surface anesthetic. It acts by blocking nerve conduction and is used in the ear, nose, throat, rectum and vagina. When absorbed systemically, cocaine depresses the central nervous system, euphoria with indifference to pain and hunger and illusions of great strength, endurance and mental capacity.

It is contraindicated in cases of hypersensitivity to local anesthetics and should be used carefully in people with a history of drug abuse. Common side effects include ventricular fibrillation, myocardial infarction and central nervous system stimulation, though central nervous system depression is also common and life-threatening. It interacts with epinephrine and MAO inhibitors.

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