Living: A Fire in the Brain

A Fire in the Brai

Drug laws, in the U.S. classify cocaine as a narcotic, along with opium, heroin and morphine. Yet the last three are "downers," which quiet the body and dull the senses, while coke is a stimulant, or "upper," similar to amphetamines. It increases the heartbeat, raises blood pressure and body temperature, and curbs appetite. Like a shot of adrenalin, coke puts the body into an emergency state.

Exactly how coke does that is something of a medical puzzle. But like other stimulants, even caffeine, it apparently intensifies the action of...

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