Cocaine is an illicit drug that continues to be a problem within the United States and across the world. The drug is derived from the coca plant that is found natively in South America. This is where the main production and distribution of cocaine typically begins and then spreads from South America.
Many will find the drug in a white powder form or an off-white form that is chunkier. The street names for cocaine can range from powder, nose candy, blow, snow and many other names. The drug produces a short period of euphoria, energy and talkativeness. There are also potentially dangerous physical effects that can follow the use of cocaine such as increased heart rate and blood pressure leading to more sever health conditions.
How is Cocaine Abused?
This drug can be abused in a variety of ways such as snorting, smoking or injecting it into the bloodstream. The form of cocaine that is smoked is generally called crack, which usually looks like a rock crystal. If one is injecting the drug into their bloodstream, it first has to be dissolved into water so it can take on a liquid form. However, the most common method of administering the drug is snorting lines of it through one’s nasal passages.
The length and high feeling produced from cocaine depends on which way one has taken the drug. If one is injecting the drug, even though the high hits you more rapidly it does not last as long. This is true for smoking the drug as well. The high will usually last between five to ten minutes. While if one simply snorts the drug, the high can last for up to thirty minutes.
Most commonly people abuse this drug in a binge pattern, which is just taking the drug over and over again within a short period of time. While on this binge, the amounts of cocaine that are being administered generally increase to higher dosages by the end. This pattern of abusing cocaine leads to addiction to the drug very easily. Eventually, the individual that is abusing the drug in this fashion will show uncontrollable drug seeking and their brain will begin to think the drug is necessary for daily functions.
How Cocaine Addiction Can Affect the Brain?
The drug is known as a strong central nervous system stimulant that tends to raise levels of dopamine in the brain, which is the hormone that regulates pleasure and movement. This unusually high increase in dopamine levels prevents the brain from performing its normal functions. Usually the brain naturally produces dopamine, sends it to a neuron receptor and then recycles the hormone to shut off the signal between the neurons.
When one is abusing cocaine though, the brain is unable to recycle the dopamine and a surplus builds up between the neurons. This increase of dopamine that cannot be recycled is what causes the high feeling when one is abusing cocaine. The problem is that the amplified dopamine signals within one’s brain disturbs the natural brain communication and can change the way the brain produces its’ natural hormones.
With continued use of cocaine and eventually an addiction developing in one’s life, one can have long term changes in the way their brain produces any of its natural hormones; specifically dopamine. In addition to drug addiction creeping into one’s life, an individual will begin to build a tolerance level for the drug. This is partly due to the body becoming accustomed to the amounts of cocaine one is administering and the frequency of abuse. Once one has a tolerance to the drug, the addiction has taken full effect; one will begin to increase the amount of the drug taken rapidly. This increase in usage can lead to many physiological or psychological effects related with the drug itself and drug addiction.
The Effects of Cocaine Addiction
There are a number of different effects cocaine can have on an individual. When one chooses to abuse drugs, their behaviors change and their physical appearance may begin to deteriorate. The following are a few effects caused when one is consuming cocaine on a regular basis:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Decreased appetite – that eventually leads to malnourishment
- Regular sniffling – loss of smell, nose bleeds, runny nose
These are just a few of the physiological and psychological effects cocaine can have on an individual. When one is on a path of destruction due to their addiction to cocaine, one can experience heart attacks, stroke or respiratory arrest. These are the most severe effects cocaine can have on a person.
In addition to these effects from cocaine, there is a whole different type of side effects experienced when one decides to mix cocaine with another harmful substance. Many will mix cocaine and alcohol together for a more enjoyable experience, but when mixed a person’s liver produces a metabolite called cocaethylene. The production of cocathylene intensifies the euphoric feelings cocaine gives an individual, yet comes with a greater consequence: increased likelihood of sudden death.
Other individuals may decide that mixing cocaine and a central nervous system depressant, such as heroin or prescription pain killers is a good idea. Since these drugs have opposite effects when taken separately, when taken together the brain is being told to speed up and slow down all at the same time. This method is often referred to as “speed balling.” This kind if administration of mixed drugs can lead to a cardiac arrest and ultimately death.
Addressing Cocaine Addiction and Seeking Treatment
When one has been abusing cocaine for a period of time and is displaying some of the above symptoms, someone may begin to take notice that there is a problem at hand. Cocaine addiction can sometimes be difficult to detect due to users going on binges and then slightly cleaning up their act for short periods of time. The main issue comes down to having the person confront their drug addiction, along with agreeing to enroll in a treatment facility.
One successful way of addressing the person’s addiction is generally to sit them down and show the person all of the issues that have come into their lives due to their cocaine addiction. Once the facts are laid out in front of the individual, there is no room for the addict to justify how these negative consequences occurred within their life. This will allow them to see that cocaine has become an issue and a cocaine addiction really does exist and needs to be treated.
The individual may not know what to do about their addiction and feel trapped forever within it’s’ constraints, but this is where you offer treatment options for the person to overcome their addiction. There a number of different treatment options available, you just need to ensure you do your research and find the best one to suit the addict’s needs.
Our drug facility in Albion, Michigan, Freedom Treatment Center specializes in helping addicted individuals overcome their addiction to cocaine. The methods used at our facility are innovative and help one detoxify their body and then restructure their mind, so they are capable of using it without needing the drugs to function. By focusing on both the body and the mind, Freedom Treatment Center’s program encompasses every aspect of the addict’s life that was affected by their cocaine addiction and led them to their addiction in the first place. The success of our clients is accomplished through the physical detoxification, along with the life skills that help the addict learn how to function in everyday life again, but this time without using drugs to get through the day. The main goal at our facility is to ensure long lasting success for each person. If you or a loved one is suffering from a cocaine addiction, do not hesitate to contact one of our addiction specialists today and learn more about how we can help you overcome a cocaine addiction!
[Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse]