What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful and illegal drug, as well as a highly addictive stimulant. It is often used recreationally. On the street, cocaine appears as a fine white powder. Drug dealers often mix the drug with powder such as flour, cutting it, so they can make more profits. It may also be mixed with other synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl. This is particularly dangerous because it increases the risk of overdose. Cocaine addiction treatment is out there, click here to view our various forms of treatment options available.
How is Cocaine Used?
There are many ways individuals can use cocaine. When it is a powder, it can be snorted up the noise or rubbed on the gums. The powder can be dissolved and then injected directly into the bloodstream. Similarly, cocaine can be combined with heroin and injected. The combination of cocaine and heroin is referred to as a speedball. Cocaine can also be smoked or freebased. It must first be made into a “rock”, a crystalized form of the drug which is then heated. Individuals inhale the vapors into their lungs. This type of cocaine is called crack cocaine, or crack for short. It is called this because it makes a cracking sound as it heats. Crack can also be sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked like a cigarette.
What Does Cocaine Do To The Brain?
Cocaine addiction is a prevalent concern in today’s society. Long term use of the drug causes changes to the brain and its circuitry which can lead to cocaine addiction. Cocaine, like other drugs, overloads the amount of dopamine released in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical found naturally in the brain that controls movement and reward. The circuitry becomes accustomed to the increased levels of dopamine resulting from the use of cocaine. In a normally functioning brain, dopamine is recycled back into the same cell that releases it, which shuts down the signal between the nerve cells. Cocaine stops the dopamine from being recycled back in to the cells which means that large amounts of dopamine build up between the nerves. This dopamine prevents communication between the cells. The individual feels rewarded, and it encourages the individual to continue using cocaine. As the brain becomes accustomed to the dopamine, it stops reacting to it and the individual needs to use more cocaine to receive the same results.
What Are the Effects Of Cocaine?
When someone uses cocaine the effects on the body come on quickly and can last anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour. The intensity of the drug depends on the method of ingestion. For example, injecting and smoking it creates a faster high with strong effects, but don’t last as long. The high may subside in as quick as five to ten minutes. When it’s snorted, however, the high can last fifteen to thirty minutes. Cocaine can help people feel like they can handle physical and mental tasks quickly. Using large amounts of cocaine often causes bizarre and violent behavior.
There are a number of both short-term and long-term effects of cocaine on an individual. Some of the short-term effects include increased mentally alertness, high energy, extreme happiness, and euphoria. Cocaine users are extremely sensitive to touch, sound, and sight. They are highly prone to being irritable. Additionally, they may suffer from paranoia or have unreasonable distrust. Cocaine use can impact other aspects of your health such as constricting blood vessels which decreases blood flow. A cocaine user often has dilated pupils, nausea, and an irregular or fast heartbeat. They also have restlessness, tremors, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.
Long-term effects also impact users of cocaine. These effects differ based on how an individual typically uses the drug. For those that snort cocaine, they lose their sense of smell and suffer from frequent nosebleeds and runny noses. They may also have problems swallowing. Those that smoke cocaine may suffer from a constant cough and respiratory distress such as asthma and pneumonia. While those who ingest cocaine through their mouth often have problems with their bowels. Frequently their bowels decay because of the reduction in blood flow. Those who use needles and inject cocaine have a much higher risk of contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. They may get other blood borne diseases or infections in their soft tissue. These users suffer from collapsed veins and scarring on their skin.
Another long-term symptom of cocaine use are movement disorders. After prolonged use, an individual can get Parkinson’s disease. This disease may not show itself for many years after use. Those who inject the drug are not the only ones susceptible to contracting HIV. Cocaine impairs the judgment of the user and they are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as unprotected sex without considering the consequences.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms Of Cocaine?
Withdrawal from any drug is difficult and the more you use the worse these symptoms become. Repetitive drug use changes an individual’s brain chemistry and how the circuitry functions, which leads to cocaine addiction. After continual use, an individual needs more and more of the drug to feel the high or even just to feel normal. Often times, the withdrawal symptoms are so bad, the individual cannot tolerate it. What are the signs of cocaine addiction? Symptoms include, but are not limited to, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Individuals may have bad dreams and impaired thinking, as well as an increased appetite.
What Happens When Someone Overdoses on Cocaine?
Someone can overdose on cocaine the first time they use it. The worst scenario being that the user dies. Other health risks that might occur during an overdose are irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, or seizures. Additional, an individual might have trouble breathing during an overdose. They may hallucinate, become extremely anxious, or become incredibly agitated. Their blood pressure and body temperature might also increase. An overdose is a serious medical concern and should be treated immediately. In the event of an overdose first responders or those in an emergency room will work to stop any seizures that are occurring and attempt to restore blood flow to the heart or brain.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
There is always help available, but it works best if the person with the cocaine addiction wants help. Becoming a recovering addict is challenging and requires constant work, but possible. The individual first needs a detox to get all of the drugs out of his or her system. Then, they can enter an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility. To date, there are no medications available for the treatment of cocaine addiction, however, that does not mean that alternatives aren’t available. The individual should participate in therapy sessions, such as cognitive based behavioral therapy. They should have motivational incentives, so they receive rewards for remaining drug free. Patients should develop a contingency plan for what they do when things become overly challenging and they contemplate relapse. In order for success to be achieved there has to be a healthy outlet for individuals. For more information on cocaine addiction treatment, click here to view our various forms of treatment options.
Those seeking freedom from cocaine addiction should join a recovery group based in his or her community, like a 12-Step program. In therapy the individual should begin to understand why they turn to cocaine in an effort to change the behaviors. Support of family and friends is crucial during this time, as someone with a cocaine addiction can feel lost, sad, and alone. With that being said, your support system should consist of people who will not lead you back into your addiction. If you or someone you love has a cocaine addiction, get help. It is never too late and everyone deserves a chance.