Cannabis, Coca, & Poppy:
Nature’s Addictive Plants

Coca

Coca in a tropical field and coca anatomy illustration

Introduction

Coca, which is mainly grown in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, is a highly addictive drug that is processed in jungle laboratories where the coca is extracted from the leaves to produce cocaine. Until the early 1900s, cocaine was commonly used in Western medicine as an anesthetic because of it numbing ability. However, in the 1970s cocaine reemerged as an expensive, high status drug of abuse. Cocaine increased throughout the U.S. when the forms of cocaine began to vary and it became more widely available and cheaper.

Due to its chemical make-up, cocaine is a highly addictive drug that the body processes as a stimulant. Because the body begins to rely on the stimulant, there are long term health problems that individuals may suffer from. These problems include stomach ulcers, severe depression, inflammation or palpitations of the heart, and bleeding in the lungs. Cocaine can also affect the function of the brain and its ability to regulate stress and mood.