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Cocaine is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant, but it can also be chemically synthesised. It is a stimulant drug, as well as a potent local anaesthetic.
Coca leaves have been used for thousands of years in South America for religious, mystical, social and medicinal purposes.
The active chemical was isolated in 1855, and purified and named cocaine in 1860. By the end of the 1800s, cocaine was used in a number of medicines, as well as being an ingredient in the soft drink Coca-Cola.
The drug was banned from use in medicines and beverages in the United States in 1914.
Crack is a particularly pure form of freebase cocaine. It often comes in the form of small lumps known as 'rocks'. Crack cocaine is rarely seen in Australia.
Cocaine sold on the street is often cut or diluted with other substances, such as glucose, lactose or baking powder.
Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.
Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues. There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.