Cocaine and its Highly Addictive Properties

cocaine addiction

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant, sold on the street as a fine white powder. It is derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant.  Users snort cocaine, rub it on their gums, or mix it with water to inject into the bloodstream. Sometimes cocaine is combined with other stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine, or dealers may mix it with other powders, such as flour or cornstarch, to increase profits. It is a commonly used recreational drug that can have devastating side effects, from instant death to long-term damage to the body.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive form of cocaine that has been processed into crystals. Users smoke the crystal, inhaling the vapors. Crack cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world.

Cocaine and its Effects

How ever it enters the body, cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, creating a “high” feeling of happiness, alertness, and high energy. It does so by circumventing the brain’s normal pattern of recycling dopamine. The brain usually releases dopamine as a response to a pleasurable stimulus and then recycles it. Cocaine causes the brain to release dopamine, but instead of recycling it, allows it to build up, creating a euphoric rush. This high can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the method used.

Cocaine’s effects are not limited to the brain, however. As a stimulant, cocaine causes:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate

Other side effects include paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch. The various methods of using cocaine damage the body in different ways:

  • Oral ingestion: damage to bowel from reduced blood flow
  • Needle injection: increased risk of hepatitis C, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens
  • Snorting: loss of sense of smell,  chronic runny nose, nose bleeds, difficulty swallowing

A cocaine overdose occurs when the user takes in more cocaine than the body can handle. An overdose can occur after the first use or any subsequent use. If treated immediately, recovery from an overdose is possible, but it can cause death by heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure, cerebral hemorrhage, or seizure. Cocaine users are also at risk for infection with HIV and hepatitis C, even if they are not injection users because they are more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Signs of Addiction

Frequent use of cocaine leads to both tolerance and addiction. Tolerance to cocaine means that the user will require a higher or more frequent dose to achieve the same high. Addiction means that the user will crave cocaine and suffer symptoms of withdrawal without it. Cocaine and crack addictions are some of the most devastating addictions, leading people to act in ways they would never have before their addiction. Addicts will go so far as to commit a crime, all to obtain the drug.

The first step in treating cocaine and crack addiction is to recognize the signs of addiction. A person addicted to cocaine may show the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Mood change
  • Insomnia
  • Denial
  • Poor hygiene
  • Loss of interest
  • Extreme weight loss

Treatment for Cocaine and Crack Addictions

Overcoming an addiction to cocaine is possible. Inpatient treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective. In this type of treatment, the user will aim to understand the cause of the addiction and learn how to approach the future more healthily, avoiding situations that may trigger drug use. We can help you or someone you love to overcome a cocaine and crack addictions. Call us at our toll-free number today.

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