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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a form of narcomania manifested by an abnormal, uncontrollable addiction to cocaine. Isolated cases of cocainism occurring after the therapeutic use of cocaine were first described in the 1880’s. In the early 20th century, cocainism became a “social disease” in Europe and was attributed to illegal trade in narcotics. Acute cocaine intoxication at first produces a condition of elation and garrulousness, in which perceptions acquire unusual sharpness. The mood then shifts and a person becomes tense and experiences fear and auditory and tactile hallucinations (for example, a sensation of ants crawling on the skin). Chronic use of cocaine (cocainism proper) results in physical and mental deterioration of the personality.

Cocainism was never widespread in the USSR. Cocaine abuse declined noticeably in Europe by 1960 as a result of prohibitions against its use and its replacement in medicine with nonaddictive pain relievers. The consumption of coca leaves is still a serious problem in countries where the plant is cultivated (Bolivia and Peru).


Strel’chuk, I. V. Klinika i lecheme narkomanii, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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