The intoxicant is extracted from the coco plant, which originated in the Andean highlands of South America. Natives chewed the leaves or brewed them into a tea to combat fatigue for thousands of years before the Spaniards arrived on their doorstep. The pure chemical of cocaine hydrochloride was first extracted in the mid 1800s, and it was popular for both medical and legal recreational use for decades after.
In the early 1900s, medical professionals began to become alarmed at the negative health effects and addictions associated with this miracle powder, and its recreational use became illegal in 1914. Medical use is still legal in some circumstances, but it’s highly restricted.
Cocaine use dwindled for many years following this regulation, but a market for the drug exploded in the 1970s and 1980s, devastating communities. Soon after this, a new, cheaper form of cocaine emerged called crack cocaine that was more accessible to low-income individuals. More susceptible to drug abuse and addiction, many of these communities became trapped in a cycle of poverty, gang violence, and addiction. Today, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.4 million Americans struggle with cocaine abuse and addiction, though its general use appears to be on the decline.
This long history led to cocaine and crack cocaine having a long list of slang terms associated with the drug itself, its use, and the culture around it. New terms are frequently introduced as drug dealers attempt to stay ahead of police and DEA agents.
- Big C
- Candy or rock candy
These nicknames are often based on the appearance of the drug. Standard cocaine comes in the form of a white powder, though its color and texture can be altered by certain additives.
It’s also common for cocaine and crack cocaine to be mixed with other substances to intensify or alter the effects of either drug or to lessen the negative symptoms of cocaine use. Common substances mixed with cocaine are marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, LSD, and PCP. These mixtures come with their own nicknames, which include:
- Candy flipping
- Snow seals
- Speedball or spaceball
- Bumping up
Becoming familiar with the slang terms around illicit drugs like cocaine can help people know if their loved ones, particularly their children, are engaging in drug abuse. This requires frequently updating one’s knowledge as terminology is constantly changing to help users hide their habits from others.
Cocaine is a particularly addictive and harmful drug that puts users at risk of overdose and long-term health problems. Anyone who suspects they are addicted to cocaine should seek professional treatment, as quitting without help is a difficult endeavor that is unlikely to be successful.