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Difference Between Cocaine and Amphetamine

cocaine-psychological-pdCocaine vs. Amphetamine

Cocaine and amphetamine are two different drug forms, with varying specific mechanisms of action. They are perhaps viewed with much confusion, because their general effects on the user are somewhat similar.

Firstly, cocaine is crystal-like in form or appearance, and is derived from the coca plant. It acts mainly to stimulate the CNS, or Central Nervous System, thereby causing a feeling of elation or euphoria. It can also act as a drug to suppress one’s appetite. It is one of those drugs that are known to have addictive properties. This is attributed to how greatly it affects the mesolimbic system.

It is ironic to note that cocaine in itself is an illegal drug. Its distribution and sale, especially for non medical or non government authorized purposes, is purely prohibited. However, it is also a known fact that cocaine is a drug that is widely used among many social classes and races throughout the world.

Amphetamine, like cocaine, is a drug that can induce euphoria. It increases one’s alertness and initial concentration by lessening the levels of fatigue. This increased wakefulness can however reduce one’s appetite. Because of this nature, the drug has been a popular fad for those who wish to lose weight and control their food cravings. Otherwise known as ‘speed’, amphetamine stimulates the nervous system, particularly the CNS. For medical reasons, it is used for the therapeutic management of ADHD, narcolepsy and severe cases of prolonged fatigue.

Other physical effects of using amphetamine includes: Pupil dilation, skin flushing, dryness of the mouth, headaches, heightened BP, increased heart rate and even erectile dysfunction among men. In more critical scenarios, convulsions may occur, most especially when the drug is taken in high dosages. Continuous drug abuse of such can also lead to heart attacks, which is also seen in cocaine overdose.

In terms of the more in-depth physical mechanism of cocaine, it can bind directly with a DAT1 transporter with greater efficacy than that of amphetamine. It also has a half life of only an hour, whereas amphetamine lasts from 12 to 13 hours.

Amphetamine can be taken in any of the following routes of administration: PO (oral), IV (intravenous), vaporization, rectal, sub-lingual (below the tongue) and also insufflation. Cocaine can be taken topically aside from PO, insufflation and intravenously.

Although both amphetamine and cocaine stimulates the CNS to cause euphoria, and possibly decrease appetite, these drugs differ in the following aspects:

1. Cocaine has greater efficacy than amphetamine.

2. Cocaine can be taken topically, unlike amphetamine.

3. Amphetamine has a longer half life compared to cocaine.

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  1. So in a nutshell, ritalin is “basically legal” cocaine? Correct? Oh, and without the serious health risks if used as prescribed. Great to know this is what we give children who have been poorly diagnosed with ADHD. It seems a though doctors are corrupting today’s youth just as much as society is. Wow! Preposterous.

    • Ritalin is not like legal cocaine.

      Ritalin contains Methylphenidate which is not exactly the same as the amphetamine mentioned in this article. Both can be used to treat ADD/ADHD symptoms… as well as some off label use for resistant treatment depression and narcolepsy.

    • The very first sentence says “Cocaine and amphetamine are two different drug forms”. ADHD medications are an amphetamine, and cocaine is NOT an amphetamine.

      And yes, the report also says “Amphetamine, like cocaine, is a drug that can induce euphoria”. This is NOT the same as saying they are the same thing. It is saying that they can have the same percieved effect on the user. For example, both Advil and Benadryl may make you sleepy (thats the percieved effect on the user). Just because the user percieves the same effect from differnt drugs, does not mean that they drugs are the same chemically, and doesnt mean the drug is processed by the body or brain in the same way.

      Please make sure you understand what you are reading before you 1) jump to conclusions and 2) spread misinformation.

      • Jay,

        You are correct. Methylphenidate, amphetamine, and various other phenethylamines are not the exact same things as cocaine. They have almost exactly the same effects, but they are not the exact same molecules. So, Ritalin is not legal cocaine. I agree. It just has the exact same effects as cocaine.

        LSD and ALLAD (which is legal) are different molecules, with almost the exact same effects. If a drug company started giving kids ALLAD, then that company could truthfully claim that they were not giving legal LSD to kids. That would be completely true: LSD and ALLAD are not 100% exactly the same thing. Of course, it would also be true that these companies were giving a chemical with almost the exact same effects as LSD to children.

        Personally, I don’t care if methylphenidate and ALLAD are legal or not. The one has the same effects as cocaine and the other the same effects as LSD. I think that’s reason enough to keep drug companies from selling these drugs at an enormous profit to the parents of sick children. Fortunately, despite its legality and status as a “research drug” ALLAD hasn’t yet been mass manufactured as a wonder drug for ADHD,. Of course, ALLAD isn’t massively addictive like methylphenidate (Ritalin) or the cocktail of amphetamines in Adderall, so there’s not as much money in getting kids hooked on it. I wonder if that has anything to do with why drug companies aren’t mass producing ALLAD for distribution to minors.

        • Amphetamines have been used to treat ADD for over 40 years and have been proven safe and effective. Patients taking amphetamines at medical doses are very unlikely to become addicted and, unlike amphetamine substitute drugs like methamphetamine, has been shown to improve brain function. You also do not experience euphoria, changes in mood or any of the other symptoms that characterize the “high” of cocaine when taking amphetamine at a clinical dose.

          The fact of the matter is that Amphetamine can greatly improve the quality of life of a person suffering from ADD and is safe, while cocaine has almost no known beneficial properties and is unsafe.

          • As a person with raging ADHD now on medication based on amphetamine, this is very true so thank you for posting the information, I will counter slightly that it does elevate you a little bit, so that effect is there but extremely minor, nothing like an actual high.

          • The only negative effect of cocaine stems its short half-life and high release of dopamine. Were it not for those two factors it wouldn’t be so mentally addictive and would still be widely used for its medical benefits.

          • You’re a fool and clearly have never taken either drug. Every kid who was prescribed adderal, that I know of, eventually abused it regularly and/or never stopped taking it. “Im not addicted, I just need to take it ALL THE TIME.”

            another victim of american sheople syndrom or ASS
            Amazingly, there is no pharmaceutical drug to treat this

      • Dont defend corrupt american medicine. We all know it is a very flawed system, more interested in having their hand in the lucrative drug business then actually saving or improving lives. The govt understands that consenting adults will do as they please, so they “prescribe medicine” to those unsuspecting and thise very hip to it’s functionality. Look at the whole war on Kratom, at it’s clear to see that the gov’t wants you to do their dope, so they’ll ban anything else as a schedule 1, making it unable to be researched- yet they’re reasoning for the ban? “We don’t understand enough about it”- DEA… Hahaa what a joke..just like you, you brainwashed shell of a being. Boo

  2. This article definitely misrepresents the psychopharmacology of these two drugs.

    Get better

  3. Its not the same.
    Coke lasts only a few hours,while amphetamine can get you high for almost days (especially if were talking methamphetamine).
    Being a regular consumer of all 3 (meaning that I know my shit) I can only say the highs are all the same,the only difference being that the coke high is shorter and more intense,of all 3. Amphetamine lasts the longest,and methamphetamine is basically a coke high that lasts as much as an amphetamine high. Tbh,its the perfect combination of the best features of coke and amphetamine (thats precisely the reason its so addictive).
    My advice: STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ALL 3. Once you go there theres no turning back. Being high is so beautiful that even if you wont take anything for years,youre gonna secretly long to get that feeling back.
    Once a junkie always a junkie,cause your mind is still on that thing.
    Its not that hard.
    Smoke some pot instead.

  4. Hi, I’m studying Drug / Alcohol abuse Counseling and doing a report on the Similarities / Differences of toxic effects. I agree to some of this and was wondering why nothing was mentioned about putting both in a schedule of groups 1 & 2, just wondering.

  5. Julie..i still believe ..amphetamines and coke addicts ..should pay police price.
    U give it wrong person..could be lethal
    Heroine..crystal meths… legal highs..
    And i saw cannabiss farm..in front my eyes
    But my daughter my daughter..untill arrested or caught..shes set me up with police..and…cons every one..never ever gets caught?

    Sam hates police..but can twist and turn the knife on family ?

    Thank you

    Toni goodhew

    • what are you talking about, please proof read, or find better education. You’ve contributed nothing to this thread.

  6. Toxic chemicals in brain..makes dissfunctional..and hallucination thoughts
    Also blood sweat and tears..
    Cold burn can set in…and ..fear..depression..anxiety..nurotic outbursts
    Paranioa…… vocies.
    I have give daughter counciling sesstion.wont make a difference in end shes kleptamaniac ?
    Arressted numerous times..gets off?
    She plays on physcosis to get attention seeking diploma you could applaus her shes so good ?
    Turns your doctors on you and …mental health if has two
    Shes outrun police since young child hood ?

  7. Toni Goodlew…were you high when you wrote those? Just curious.

  8. @colt Maybe, he looks like he was on something.

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