Using Cocaine as a Preworkout: Is It Safe?
Although cocaine is a Schedule II drug per the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it is primarily abused as an intoxicating substance. This stimulant is famous as a white powder that is snorted through the nose, although there are other methods of abuse, such as smoking crack cocaine.
The drug is derived from the coca plant, which grows in South America. As a rarely used prescription drug, it is topically applied as a local anesthetic for small procedures. As an addictive chemical, however, cocaine is used as a stimulant, which creates euphoria, a sense of intense attentiveness, greater physical energy, high blood pressure and heartbeat, and mental stimulation. When not used in extremely limited medical situations, cocaine is highly addictive, very dangerous, and physically harmful.
Cocaine and Exercise
Cocaine’s cultural heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, but the drug is seeing a resurgence among athletes and others who work out a lot because, as a stimulant, it can be viewed as a performance enhancer. Other stimulant drugs like Adderall have been abused to increase physical energy for workouts and decrease appetite, so the body rapidly loses weight without feeling malnourished.
Cocaine also acts almost immediately on the brain, binding to receptors in the brain in about 15 minutes after the first dose is snorted. This means that athletes and intense bodybuilders may abuse the substance right before putting their bodies to work.
Cocaine is viewed by most sports agencies and overseeing organizations as a dangerous, banned substance. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) lists cocaine under stimulants as a banned substance, along with caffeine, Ritalin, Adderall, bath salts, and some nutritional supplements with stimulant chemicals. In fact, some of these supplements contain such potent stimulants that they are referred to as gain cocaine.
Athletes have a history of abusing cocaine as a performance enhancer. The first reported instances of cocaine abuse among athletes occurred in 1904 in the Olympics. Cocaine was officially banned by most sports organizations, including the NCAA and the Olympics Committee, in 1985. That year, 17 percent of athletes abused cocaine, either to enhance their workouts or recreationally, and often both. By 1997, the number dropped to 1.5 percent. Unfortunately, professional athletes, “weekend warriors,” and people just enthusiastic about the gym are all beginning to abuse cocaine again.
Unlike other dietary supplements, cocaine specifically hits the brain, then leaves the body, very quickly. In a few days, there is hardly a trace of the drug per most drug tests. For example, in 2016, a heavyweight boxing champion admitted he abused cocaine to treat his depression and incurred greater physical energy as a side effect. In 2017, a French rugby player reported that cocaine was abused during recovery sessions and trainings between sporting events, specifically because the drug, combined with a corticosteroid, was essentially untraceable.
Most of cocaine’s sought-after effects are mental, including increased emotional and mental energy. The drug also increases blood pressure and heart rate, so more blood pumps through the body. In the short-term, this can increase a person’s physical energy, but on a long-term basis, this is extremely bad.
Cocaine increases the risk of:
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Shaking and twitching that becomes chronic
- Insomnia or night terrors
- Refusal to sleep
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Rapid weight loss
- Abnormal vision
- Increased violence toward oneself or others
- Mood swings and rage
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Sudden death from a stopped heart
Of course, cocaine is also very addictive, so people who abuse “a little” of it are still at risk of abusing more and more until they feel like they need it, compulsively acquire it, and experience physical, mental, financial, and legal problems as a result.
People who work out and want to lose weight or gain a lot of muscle should focus on their health during this process. Although some people may say they abuse “a little bit” of cocaine to help them focus or feel more energetic, there is no safe amount of this drug without medical supervision in a hospital before surgery. Never abuse any amount of cocaine before working out, as a way to lose weight, or to improve mood; the drug does not offer a safe approach to these goals.
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