Cocaine Addiction

The Battle of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is an insidious, powerful drug that is classified as a high abuse and high dependency risk stimulant. The United States is currently the largest importer of cocaine on the globe, with over 1.5 million Americans ingesting cocaine at least once a month. Behind marijuana, cocaine is the second most common illegal drug in the United States, with 15 percent of all Americans over the age of 12 experimenting with the drug at least once in their life. It is estimated that 5,000 people try cocaine for the first time every single day. Because of its highly addictive qualities, an alarming 75 percent of the individuals that try cocaine become addicted.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Addiction

Although levels of cocaine addiction have declined since their peak in the 1970s and 1980s, it still remains a significant issue in our present society. Cocaine may produce pleasurable short-term effects of euphoria, energy, and confidence, but it comes with a long list of hazardous physical side effects that can cause potentially fatal results. With such a high prevalence, it is possible that you or someone close to you are silently suffering from a cocaine addiction. Please read on to find out more about the battle with cocaine addiction, and how those addicted can win the war.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a naturally occurring substance that is produced within the leaves of the coca plant. Although it was initially utilized for medicinal and surgical purposes, the drug has evolved in recent decades to become a major drug choice for illicit and recreational use. The most common method of ingestion of the drug is through snorting the cocaine powder into the nasal cavity. It can also be injected directly into the bloodstream, ingested into the mouth, or rubbed on the individual’s gums. When cocaine is processed into the rock form of crack cocaine, it is capable of being smoked and delivering a more immediate, intense high. Effects and symptoms of cocaine addiction often vary depending on how the user ingests the drug.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Since cocaine is a strong stimulant of the central nervous system of the body, the drug causes an excessive release of high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is directly related to sensations of pleasure and associated with the reward system of the brain, which makes it extremely addictive. When this dopamine builds up within the brain, the chemical causes constant stimulation of the brain’s sense of reward until the cocaine begins to wear off.

As a result, the user experiences intense and immediate feelings of euphoria after ingesting the cocaine. If the user snorts or consumes the cocaine, the high usually lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes. When the user smokes crack cocaine, the high only lasts approximately five to ten minutes maximum. However, the residual effects from the drug can continue for at least one to two hours following ingestion. Some of these short-term effects include:

  • Constricted blood vessels and dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Stress on the heart and other organs of the circulatory system
  • Boosts in energy, alertness, and focus
  • Decreased appetite, restlessness, insomnia, and/or impotence
  • Mood swings causing irritability, anxiety, paranoia, and anger
  • Increased chance of risky behaviors, such as sharing needles infected with hepatitis or engaging in intercourse that leads to sexually transmitted diseases

Those who suffer from a cocaine addiction and prolonged use of the drug can have a number of even more dramatic long-term health problems. Some experience the development of a disorder referred to as severe paranoia, which is a temporary state of extreme paranoid psychosis. Users with this condition often experience both tactile and auditory hallucinations called “coke bugs” that cause them to lose touch with reality. Some of the most common health problems resulting from cocaine addiction are:

  • Ulcers in the stomach lining from ingesting cocaine by mouth
  • Gangrene (tissue death) in the bowel resulting from reduced blood flow
  • Serious heart problems, including heart disease, heart attack, and cardiac arrest
  • Irritability, mood disturbances, anxiety, and depression
  • Convulsions, seizures, and strokes
  • Damage to the nasal septum, loss of sense of smell, or frequent nose bleeds from snorting
  • Difficulty breathing, lung damage, lung cancer, and respiratory failure
  • Unusual or unpredictable behaviors that may lead to violent acts
  • Sexual dysfunction, reproductive damage, and infertility
  • Overdose and sudden death

There are no drugs that take a user down faster or harder than cocaine or crack cocaine. Once an individual becomes addicted to the drug, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on their next high. Once people become addicted, they will sell their soul for another fix and allow cocaine to control their entire lives. Cocaine addicts tend to withdraw from family members, friendships, school, work, and social activities that they once enjoyed. Cocaine can have tremendously detrimental effects on the physical, psychological, emotional, and social lives of these addicts.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is exhibiting these distinct warning signs as the result of a cocaine addiction or dependency, the time is now to seek help. Users can quickly build up a tolerance to the drug and accidentally overdose when increasing their intake to achieve the same desired high effects. In order to prevent more potential damage and risk to the addict’s health, it is important that they receive the treatment they need with trained medical or mental health professionals.

The best way for treating a cocaine addiction successfully is through an inpatient drug rehabilitation center, where the addict can receive the medical and psychological treatments that are necessary to overcome the tough fight against cocaine addiction. Within a safe and caring environment, cocaine users are able to undergo cocaine detox to rid their body of the drug. Although withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and intense craving are still experienced, the specially trained staff is able to minimize their discomfort. Therapy and relapse prevention strategies within the inpatient treatment facility also dramatically increase the user’s chance of remaining cocaine-free in the bright future.