• Roger D. Weiss
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is an alkaloid derived from the leaves of Erythroxylon coca, a shrub found in the eastern highlands of the Andes Mountains. Coca leaves, which contain cocaine in concentrations ranging from 0.6% to 1.8%, have been chewed by the inhabitants of this region for medicinal, religious, and work-related purposes for at least 1,500 years. The local anesthetic properties of cocaine were initially described by Sigmund Freud and Karl Koller in 1884; the drug is still widely used for topical anesthesia of the upper respiratory tract. However, the most common reason for cocaine use today is recreational; the drug is a central nervous system stimulant and a powerful euphoriant. It is because of this property that cocaine abuse has become widespread.

Further reading

  1. Fischman MW, et al. (1976): Cardiovascular and subjective effects of intravenous cocaine administration in humans. Arch Gen Psychiatry 33: 983–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Siegel RK (1977): Cocaine: recreational use and intoxication. In: Cocaine 1977, Petersen RC, Stillman RC, eds. Washington DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse research monograph 13Google Scholar
  3. Weiss RD, Mirin SM (1984): Drug, host and environmental factors in the development of chronic cocaine abuse. In: Substance Abuse and Psychopathology, Mirin SM, ed. Washington DC: American Psychiatric PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Weiss RD, Mirin SM (1987): Cocaine Washington DC: American Psychiatric PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Wise R (1984): Neural Mechanisms of the reinforcing action of cocaine. In: Cocaine: Use and Abuse, Grabowsky J, ed. Rockville Md: National Institute on Drug AbaseGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

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  • Roger D. Weiss

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