Cocaine Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment
Disguised behind a veil of exclusiveness and a high-class profile, cocaine is among the top 3 illegal drugs used in the United States. Also known as “the caviar of the streets,” cocaine can be highly addictive and present dangerous, even lethal, side effects after prolonged use.
Cocaine has had waves of popularity in the United States, often times being portrayed as such a popular option that its danger is severely downplayed. Cocaine is a drug that is generally easily accessible, with much of the younger population of teens and young adults having access to multiple networks capable of selling it.
Cocaine is extremely addictive and has multiple methods of delivering it into the bloodstream, allowing it to cater to the user’s recreational need. While there has been some use for cocaine in medical capacities (such as pain regulation) in the past, these uses have widely been outlawed due to the dangers associated with the drug and the availability of substitutes that work much better.
Trying cocaine can be a slippery slope, especially when considering the dangers that are present with even the first dose. The human body can produce a tolerance to the drug immediately, often leading to higher doses and more frequent use. This is the main reason cocaine is so dangerous and addictive.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant most commonly found in South America. Colombia is considered the largest exporter of illegal cocaine, however Chile, Peru, and Bolivia also export a significant amount each year. Regulation of illegal cocaine production is difficult in these regions due to jungles and rugged mountain terrain, as well as the power South American drug cartels hold.
Although the naturally occurring coca plant is the first ingredient in cocaine production, the remainder of the process is far from natural. These leaves are soaked in gasoline and eventually mixed with chemical compounds such as acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and hydrochloric acid.
Cocaine can come in various forms, but it is most commonly portrayed as a white, powdery substance that is snorted through nasal passageways. Other methods of cocaine usage include dissolving the powder into a liquid and injecting it, smoking rock crystals of cocaine (also known as crack cocaine), or combining it with heroin in a mixture also known as ‘speedball.’
Cocaine is referred to by many names on the street, including:
- White powder
For many decades, cocaine has been portrayed as a drug for the upper-class and celebrity crowd. It is very expensive to purchase cocaine, which is why many individuals who suffer from cocaine addiction can also be struggling with significant debt, financial difficulties, or gambling addiction.
According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adults in the age group of 18-25 were the most common cocaine users in the United States. 1.4% of young adults answered ‘yes’ when asked if they had used cocaine in the past month.
In the late 1990s, cocaine usage spiked among high school aged kids with as many as 5% of that age group admitting to using cocaine in the past 30 days. In 2015, studies show that that number has dropped to 1.1% of 12th graders and 0.8% of 10th graders that had used cocaine in the past month.
According to a 2011 study performed by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), cocaine use was involved in over 500,000 of the 1.3 million ER visits associated with drug use. This means that in almost half of all emergency medical visits related to drug usage, cocaine was a factor.
Why Is Cocaine Addictive?
Cocaine interacts with the body through rapidly increasing dopamine levels in the brain which give the user a euphoric high. Dopamine is the naturally occurring chemical released by neurons in the brain that is directly influenced by reward motivated behavior. Dopamine is what makes us feel good after doing something that benefits us biologically, such as eating food or stimulating pleasure.
When cocaine is introduced into the brain, your body responds by increasing these dopamine levels to an unnatural level. While this increase can cause the user to feel heightened emotions of joy and pleasure, it also confuses the brain when it comes to determining what level of dopamine is natural.
Each time cocaine increases the dopamine in your brain, your body is tempted to think that this level of dopamine is the new norm. The danger in this is that continuous use and increased doses would be required to maintain this level of dopamine for any extended period of time.
On the adverse side of this, when your brain lacks the additional dopamine stimulus that cocaine is able to provide, your body will recognize this drop in dopamine levels as abnormal which can lead to negative emotions such as depression, anger, and anxiety. Despite the fact that your dopamine levels would be back to their natural state at this point, your brain will crave additional dopamine stimulus which will keep a user coming back for more.
Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use
Cocaine produces an almost immediate high in users, which is part of what makes it such a popular recreational drug. This high is short-lived, usually lasting only 5-10 minutes when smoked, and 20-30 minutes when snorted. This generally leaves the user wanting several doses in one period, with each dose increasing to combat tolerance the brain has built to the dopamine levels.
Cocaine can be very dangerous, even when only used sporadically and in controlled amounts. Some short-term effects of cocaine use can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Intense cravings for more cocaine
- Muscle spasms
- Increased heart rate
In some cases, no matter how much cocaine is taken, a user can experience a seizure from these convulsions. Cocaine drastically increases an individual’s likeliness to suffer from a stroke, heart attack, or seizure. The frequency and amount of cocaine taken in these scenarios does not matter, each dose is as dangerous as the last.
Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use
In individuals with a history of prolonged cocaine use, it is apparent the continuous short-term effects have taken their toll. Users often report symptoms of mental illness from the constant paranoia, anger, anxiety, and depression associated with short-term use. Loss of appetite can also lead to malnourishment and other ailments related to lack of proper nutrition.
With long-term cocaine users, tolerance is often very high. This means their doses are likely much larger than short-term users, and they use far more frequently. With this increased usage, some side effects can be magnified to a fatal level. These effects include:
- Delirium or hallucinations
- Intense depression
- Tooth decay
- Respiratory diseases
- High blood pressure
- Strokes or blood clots
- Heart attack
- Depletion of nasal passageways (when snorted)
- Permanent damage of the liver and kidneys
Get Help For a Cocaine Addiction Today
If you or a loved one has a cocaine addiction or abuse problem, you don’t have to fight it alone. Our addiction specialists can help you find a treatment plan that matches your methodology, environment, and goals. Call the number above today to learn more about your road to recovery.
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Drug Enforcement Administration – Cannabis, Coca, and Poppy: Nature’s Addictive Plants
Journal Of The Royal Society Of Medicine – Cocaine: History, Use, and Abuse
Medscape – Neurologic Effects of Cocaine
National Institute on Drug Abuse – What is Cocaine?
National Institute on Drug Abuse – What is the Scope of Cocaine Use in the United States?