From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- A stimulant narcotic in the form of a white powder that users generally self-administer by insufflation through the nose.
- Any derivative of cocaine.
Cocaine is obtained from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system and an appetite suppressant, giving rise to what has been described as a euphoric sense of happiness and increased energy. It is most often used recreationally for this effect. Nonetheless, cocaine is formally used in medicine as a topical anesthetic, specifically in eye, nose and throat surgery.
In modern Western countries, cocaine has been a feature of the counterculture for over a century. There is a long list of prominent intellectuals, artists, politicians, and musicians who have used the drug, ranging from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sigmund Freud to former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.
Its possession, cultivation, and distribution are illegal for non-medicinal and non-government sanctioned purposes in virtually all parts of the world. Although its free commercialization is illegal and has been severely penalized in virtually all countries, its use worldwide remains widespread in many social, cultural, and personal settings.