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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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4 Comments

  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.

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