What Are Cocaine Abuse and Addiction?
Cocaine is an
extremely addictive and poisonous drug. People who are addicted to cocaine will
frequently do whatever it takes to get more of the drug, regardless of the
risks or consequences. Using cocaine can cause serious health problems and may
lead to death, usually from cardiac arrest, stroke, or seizure. About 15
percent of people in the U.S. have tried cocaine (National Institute on Drug
Abuse [NIDA]). Cocaine is also known as coke, C,
flake, snow, crack, or blow. It is derived from the coca plant, which is native
to South America.
Cocaine is a
stimulant. It primarily impacts the brain, leading to feelings of extroversion
and euphoria. Addiction to cocaine can develop very quickly, even with minimal
use. An addiction can be both physical, meaning
that the user’s body craves the drug, and mental, meaning that the user
strongly desires the effects of the cocaine.
cocaine use can lead to psychiatric disorders.
Cocaine can be consumed
in a variety of ways: for example, it can be inhaled through the nose, injected
into a vein, or taken orally. Cocaine can also be smoked after being processed
into what’s known as crack cocaine. Addiction can occur quickly from any of
What Are the Effects of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction?
For a short time, cocaine creates
pleasant feelings in the body. It causes the brain to release neurotransmitters
such as dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. This dopamine surge is responsible
for a transient pleasurable feeling. Cocaine can also minimize the user’s
need or desire for sleep and food.
These effects are what make it so difficult to stop. Users begin to
crave this feeling, although the high from cocaine lasts for only several
minutes to an hour.
users and people who use large amounts begin to experience paranoia, panic,
hallucinations, aggression, irritability, anxiety, impaired judgement, and
repetitive or bizarre behaviors. Impaired judgement can have grave consequences,
such as HIV contracted from sharing needles or risky sexual behavior, as well
as suicidal or violent thoughts.
can cause long-term mental and physical problems. The method of using cocaine
determines where the health complications are located. For example, snorting
often causes respiratory failure and nosebleeds. Other health complications
from cocaine use and addiction include:
- unhealthy weight loss
- heart arrhythmia
- increased heart rate
- heart attack
- chest pain
- respiratory diseases
- abdominal pain
- weakened immune system
- hepatitis (common with injections)
- gangrene of the bowels (common with
who are dependent on cocaine often develop a tolerance that lessens their
ability to feel the drug’s effects. This leads to using more, which leads to graver
effects on the body.
What Causes Cocaine Addiction?
is caused by using cocaine. Cocaine is highly addictive, so even infrequent use
can lead to addiction. Changes in the brain from cocaine use, specifically
regarding dopamine and the reward system, can bring on addiction.
Who Is at Risk for Cocaine Addiction?
Anyone who uses
cocaine is at risk for developing an addiction. The best way to prevent an
addiction is to avoid the drug in the first place.
People with a
family history of cocaine or other drug dependence and those who grow up in
certain social or economic situations could be more at risk. Also, a person who
abuses alcohol or other drugs or who has a mental illness may have an increased
risk of cocaine dependence.
What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?
Signs and symptoms of cocaine dependence and addiction include:
- a tolerance for the drug, requiring large
amounts to get high
- an inability to stop or reduce usage
- withdrawal symptoms when usage stops
- a desire to keep using even when health
- a negative impact on quality of life, relationships,
- spending excessive time and money looking
for more cocaine
- psychosis and hallucinations
- irritability or anxiety
- disappearing for binge sessions
How Is Cocaine Addiction Diagnosed?
To diagnose a
cocaine addiction, your doctor will discuss your current usage and health
history. He or she will try to determine the degree of your dependence and will
suggest treatment options. A user who wants treatment will need to commit to
How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
is a complex disease, with physical, mental, social, environmental, and
familial factors. Treatment plans must address all these components. In some
cases, hospitalization may be required during the withdrawal phase.
While there are
no medications designed specifically to treat cocaine addiction, some
medications with other purposes can be helpful, such as antidepressants.
treatments show promising results for helping people with through cocaine
addiction. Done either on an outpatient basis or as part of a residential
treatment program, interventions focusing on behavior are often used in conjunction
with medications. Behavior treatments include motivational incentives (MI),
which are rewards for meeting goals related to abstaining from the drug, and
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches addicts learning processes that
help them stay abstinent.
several weeks to a year, residential treatment programs work to cover all
facets of addiction. These programs often include support groups, vocational
rehab, or therapy.
Other solutions to help
overcome your addiction include exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, and herbs,
although the safety and efficacy of each is mostly unknown.
What Are the Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal?
who attempt to stop using cocaine will undergo an intense initial crash. Effects
of cocaine withdrawal include fatigue, hostility, paranoia, anxiety, agitation,
sleep disturbances, depression, and other mental challenges. Withdrawal from
cocaine can cause intense discomfort, and this can bring about a strong desire
to use the drug again.
withdrawal symptoms have subsided, sudden craving are common, especially in
situations where using was customary.
What Is the Outlook for Cocaine Addiction?
People who use
cocaine are at an increased risk for premature death or serious health
complications. Quitting is the only way to minimize or eliminate these risks.
Prolonged use leads to tolerance, which requires higher doses to feel the
effects. Higher doses increase the user’s risk of death or severe complications,
such as psychosis.