Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Author: Shernide Delva
Cocaine is a very addictive stimulant drug that produces an intensive short-lived high. Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Cocaine. Cocaine causes euphoria, energy and talkativeness. It’s potentially dangerous physical side effects are raising heart rate and blood pressure.
How Cocaine is Used
The powdered form of cocaine is typically inhaled through the nose where it is absorbed through the nasal issue. It also can be dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream. Crack is a form of cocaine processed to make a rock crystal that can be smoke. The crystal is heated to produce vapors that when smoked, stream through the lungs. The term “crack” comes from the cracking nose produced as the rocks are heated.
Injecting or snorting cocaine delivers the drug rapidly into the bloodstream resulting in a stronger quicker high. The high from snorting cocaine can last up to 15 to 30 minutes while the high from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes.
Because of the brief high associated with cocaine use, people who use cocaine sustain their high by engaging in a binge pattern. They constantly are snorting cocaine to maintain the high euphoric feeling. This repetitive binge pattern makes it easy to fall into an addictive cycle. Users can develop a chronic relapsing disease caused by changes in the brain.
Effect of Cocaine on the Brain
Cocaine affects the central nervous system through increasing dopamine levels responsible for regulating pleasure and movement. Dopamine usually is a response to potential rewards like the smell of good food. When dopamine is release, it typically goes back to the cell that released it.
Cocaine stops this process from happening. Instead of being recycled back into the cell, cocaine causes excessive amounts to build up in the neurons. This excessive release of dopamine in the brain causes the characteristic high.
Over time, repeated use of cocaine changes the brain chemistry by altering the natural reward system which leads into addiction. Also, abusing cocaine can build a tolerance to the drug. Many users report not being able to obtain the same high and pleasure as they did from their first exposure.
Negative Heath Effects of Cocaine
Short Term Effects
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Persistent runny nose (cocaine drip)
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Irritability and restlessness
- Teeth grinding
- Cold sweats
- Tremors and muscle jerks
- Nasal and sinus problems
- Panic and psychosis
- Bronchitis and chest pain
- Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
- High blood pressure
- Heart Attacks
- Liver, kidney and lung damage
- Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
- Respiratory failure if smoked
- Severe tooth decay
- Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility
- Severe depression
- Tolerance and addiction (even after just one use)
In severe situations, cocaine can cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are a result of heart stopping (cardiac release) followed by arrest of breathing.
Cocaine is more dangerous when combined with other drugs like alcohol or opiates. The combination of cocaine and heroin carries a high risk of fatal overdose.
The majority of cocaine users are polydrug users so typically a variety of treatment options would have to be tailored to each person depending on their other drug addictions.
Cocaine addiction may leave you feeling helpless but help is available. Therapy and medication can provide successful treatment. Cocaine does not have the same withdrawal symptoms physically found in alcohol or heroin withdrawal however the psychological symptoms are comparable.
Symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Unpleasant Dreams
- Suicidal Thoughts
Treatment may include prescribing medication to normalize sleep patterns and control anxiety.
Detox: During this stage, doctors will assess how long you have been using cocaine and the amount of cocaine that is in your system. You will take a drug test and meet with an intake counselor. These results are confidential and are used to develop a treatment plan that will best serve you. You may be given medication to assist with the detox process in a safe comfortable way.
Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment involves giving clients a high level of care while they are in recovery from cocaine use and addiction. Individuals will have their essentials provided for, including their meals. Workshops, therapies and group activities are involved to address different characteristics of addiction. Healthy coping methods are taught to ensure success in living a healthier lifestyle.
Aftercare: After rehab, there is still help on the outside. Individuals are encouraged to continue seeking therapies and many facilities offer alumni programs to keeping contact with everyone. It is recommended that one implements different tools to set them up for success.
If you suffer from cocaine addiction, do not wait to get on the right track. Cocaine addiction is harmful and can be destroying your relationships with the ones who love you most.
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