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Cocaine Addiction

Reputed to aid intelligence and alertness, cocaine use is also commonly associated with erratic behavior, paranoia, and anxiety.  As the high wears off, addicts often experience very low crashes, overwhelming users with a depressive state and/or intense level of aggravation. Although physical withdrawal symptoms may be hard to notice, the drug’s absence sparks and overwhelming craving for cocaine.

The impact of cocaine use stretches far beyond the dangerous physical effects to social decisions and dubious choices made while under the influence, such as risk-taking, promiscuous sexual activity and criminal activity.

Cocaine addiction warning signs

Some of the psychological effects of cocaine use are mental alertness, paranoia, and illusions of invincibility. Once cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream, users will feel more uninhibited and impulsive. Even first-time cocaine users can experience fatal seizures or heart attacks.

Physical effects of cocaine use

  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils (eyes look like black holes)

Psychological effects of cocaine use

  • Intense euphoria
  • Mental alertness
  • Paranoia
  • Illusions of invincibility
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability or restlessness

Cocaine addicts experience very low crashes when the cocaine high wears off, sending many into depression and an intense state of aggravation. As with most drugs, the crash or withdrawal is the part of what motivates addicts to continue their drug use.

Risks associated with cocaine addiction

Abusing cocaine has a variety of adverse effects on the body. Not only is the drug itself dangerous, but the substances used to dilute it for increased street profit – cornstarch, sugar, talcum power, or other substances – make it impossible for the user to know what he is ingesting.

Over time, a tolerance to the cocaine high may develop, leading users to increase their dose to intensify and prolong the euphoria.

Repeated exposure to cocaine causes the brain to adapt, making it less sensitive to natural reinforcers, and causing a tolerance to develop.

Health risks for the cocaine user

  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Nosebleeds and/or a chronically runny nose
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Heart attacks
  • Respiratory failure
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Sudden death

Social risks associated with cocaine use

  • Engaging in dangerous social and sexual activity
  • Stealing or committing crimes to obtain money for cocaine
  • Low “crashes,” or states of severe depression, when the cocaine high wears off
  • Combining cocaine use with the use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Overwhelming craving for cocaine once its effects wear off in the brain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is so powerfully addictive that an individual cannot “predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to want or use the drug.”

Cocaine addiction treatment

Generally the treatment process for crack and cocaine parallels treatment for most other drugs.

Detox is defined as the removal of the substance from the body and it is vital to the recovery process. Virtually all addiction treatment centers require detoxification before treatment can begin.

The most important part of the treatment process is complete commitment to sobriety from the addict.

Depending on the length of abuse and severity of the addiction, there are different drug rehab programs to treat the specific addiction. Most drug rehab centers offer at least outpatient and residential drug rehab programs.

For addicts with less severe addictions, outpatient drug rehab may be appropriate, allowing the addict to return home at the end of the day.

Residential treatment

Some users may have more severe cocaine addictions, requiring more intensive drug rehab programs, such as residential drug treatment. In residential drug rehab programs, addicts live in a drug- and alcohol-free environment with other addicts while receiving high-intensity drug rehab treatment under the care and supervision of trained addiction professionals and counselors.

Researchers are trying to develop medications to alleviate the severe craving associated with cocaine addiction, as well as a vaccine that would sequester cocaine in the bloodstream and prevent it from reaching the brain.

Cocaine: What is it?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports “cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin.”

Cocaine is derived from the South American coca plant and is sold in two forms.

Cocaine hydrochloride fine white powder, which is snorted or mixed with water and injected intravenously

Crack cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.

Some common street names for cocaine are: coke, snow, flake and blow. Learn more about cocaine and its origin.

There is no cure for cocaine addiction – only treatment, including counseling, therapy, and support. Treatment provides tools to abstain when faced with stressors, triggers, and the temptation.

Have questions? Let our trained counselors help. Call now.

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