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Cocaine Addiction

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a derivative of the leaves of the coca plant that is found in South America. Available in a white powder form, cocaine gained the notorious reputation of being the most abused illicit drug in all American states. 

Belonging to the class of drugs called stimulants, cocaine possesses anesthetic qualities and can block pain and change the brain’s perception. Cocaine mechanism of action involves causing long-term alterations to brain chemistry, making it the perfect drug to result in a chemical dependence on the users. 

Cocaine uses included anesthesia purposes until the beginning of the 20th century when the medical community discovered the higher likelihood of patients developing a cocaine addiction.

Abusers take cocaine in three main forms: snorting the fine white powder, rubbing the powder onto the gums, and injecting the liquid form of the powder solution directly into the bloodstream. Another method that is widely used is to freebase crack cocaine (cocaine turned into a solid rock crystal), smoking through a glass pipe.

The original formula of Coca-Cola also contained tiny amounts of cocaine, which is now eliminated.

Cocaine also goes by these street names:

 
  • Coke
  • Blow
  • Rock 
 
  • Crack
  • Snow
 
 

Cocaine Intoxication

Prolonged use of cocaine creates a chemical dependence, which is hard to shake, and the users cannot discontinue drug use. Furthermore, they experience strong cravings for higher doses. 

Also, based on how the drug is taken, the high or euphoric feeling the users get may remain only for 5-30 minutes. So, the vicious cycle repeats; countless people fall victim to cocaine addiction and it may very late when they realize their problem. As much as dangerous as drug abuse is, it is even worse when taken in a combination of cocaine and alcohol or other drugs. 

Unknowingly, addicts may be buying cocaine that is laced with additional substances, like synthetic opioids, amphetamines, and fentanyl, which raises their chances of suffering a deadly cocaine overdose.

Cocaine abusers may face potentially dangerous health complications, especially cardiovascular issues like ischemic heart disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and aberrant heart rhythms. Injecting cocaine can lead to infections or inflammation of the heart valves. Cocaine effects on the heart include damaged lining of the chambers. Cocaine-induced cardiotoxicity symptoms may include aortic rupture and inflammation of the heart muscle.

Chronic in cardiac function reductions cause poor life quality and a decline in health. Heart failure, heart stroke or damage, and brain damage may result from increased interruptions in the blood supply. Finally, your kidneys may also give away as a result of your prolonged use of cocaine.

Cocaine And Other Drugs

Typically, doing cocaine is a herd activity, where people of all sorts of environments come together to snort or smoke drugs. So, it is highly possible that one user may be using more than just cocaine. Most people use cocaine along with alcohol or marijuana, and people who indulge in these activities usually may be addicted to more than one substance. This stage is known as polydrug abuse, effects of cocaine in long-term become more fatal if there is a drug overdose. 

Taking heroin and cocaine combinedly is known as speedballing, one of the most hazardous drug combinations of all time. Alcohol can act as a trigger for recovering cocaine addicts. So, it is always crucial that you abstain from using alcohol when in recovery. 

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

The allure behind consuming is the powerful stimulating effect achieved when cocaine works on the central nervous system (CNS) of the body.

For an ordinary person, the neurons in the brain release dopamine as a response to exciting situations. Dopamine goes back to the neuron after communicating this message. Since cocaine alters brain chemistry, dopamine refuses to return to the neurons. So, the cocaine user remains in a pleasurable state for a much longer time.

Cocaine side effects include:

  • Happiness and euphoria feelings
  • More energy even for a short time
  • Mental alertness and improved confidence
  • Paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity

Long-term abuse of cocaine makes the users develop and exhibit:

  • Headaches and seizures
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Nosebleeds and lung issues
  • Loss of appetite

If the user continues to abuse cocaine for months of years, they lose control of their faculties, and their risk of contracting Hepatitis or HIV increases.

Cocaine Effects On The Brain

Cocaine is one of the most addictive illegal drugs, second only to heroin. It also is on the second spot on the list of most harmful drugs. This powerful stimulant can create massive changes in the brain in a short span, which is the main reason why people get addicted to cocaine so quickly.

Individuals with addiction may resort to anything to obtain the drug – this has included the selling of their children, as reported in many cases. People alter their lifestyles so they can afford cocaine parties and binges. They part with tens of thousands of dollars to buy cocaine. In extreme cases, people have gone bankrupt, ruined their familial relationships, and committed suicides.

The stronger your addiction, you see the more cocaine effects on your nervous system. Your brain cells you lose in the fight. The basal ganglia, which is the brain’s reward center, gets enlarged in cocaine users. However, for individuals that already have larger basal ganglia, the size may have contributed towards their addiction. The drug takes charge of the person’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors until their cocaine dependence turns into a compulsion. 

On the other hand, many people who use cocaine regularly may not get addicted; so, it stands to reason that the attraction for cocaine use can come from genetic factors. Researchers discovered that certain key mechanisms in the brain may explain the reason for cocaine’s addictive potential.

How To Spot The Signs Of Cocaine Addiction

One of the most prominent cocaine effects on eyes anyone can detect is they are red, almost bloodshot. It can be difficult for cocaine abusers to realize that they are addicted. Sometimes, it falls on the people near them to help them detect this and get them the needed medical assistance as soon as possible. 

With early detection, they can stop their cocaine experimentation and prevent it from turning into dangerous cocaine addiction. 

Here are some classic physical signs of cocaine effects on liver:

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils that may look entirely black
  • Loss of appetite and interest in food
  • Sudden, inexplicable weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness, increased alertness, or sudden bursts of energy
  • Insomnia
  • Nasal congestion
  • Lack of focus and attention
  • Talkativeness, fast speech, or skipping from topic to the next very randomly
  • Extreme mood changes

However, it is wise to note here that many of these physical effects are also caused due to some reasons other than cocaine use. Cocaine effects on neurotransmitters may mimic the symptoms of mania, bipolar disorder, etc. Finding these underlying issues is also crucial to give them the best treatment possible. Take them to a healthcare professional who can see to it that they get a proper psychiatric evaluation.

Psychological and Psychosomatic Changes

Cocaine side effects on body may be physical, but manifest due to emotional disturbances, including:

 
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitches, tremors
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea 
 
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Panic, paranoia 
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
 
 

Some cocaine users that are still in the beginning phase may catch cold and other infections more easily than they did before. Since they begin to compromise their immune system, their bodies have lower defenses, and they may be facing frequent or chronic illnesses over time.

Paraphernalia Used To Take Cocaine

Many novice users do not have the means or knowledge to hide the evidence. They leave the paraphernalia anywhere around the house or hide them haphazardly. 

Some of these items may be:

 
  • Powdery residue
  • Tightly rolled up paper or dollar bills
  • Glass, metal, or plastic straws
  • Tourniquets or ropes to tie their hands before injecting
 
  • Pipes, special pens, vaporizers, or tubes
  • Razor blades
  • Syringes
  • Small spoons
 
 

Behavioral Changes

Since addiction starts as a compulsion, no matter what the consequences, users have to get their hit. When they can’t, they behave erratically.

Some of these strong effects of cocaine on behaviors may come out as:

  • Skipping bill, grocery, or rent payments 
  • Being absent to school or work
  • Refusal to discuss or even accept their addiction
  • Roaming in circles where people use cocaine
  • Expressing their inability to stop or they feel they are out of control

Cocaine binging leads to several startling psychological developments, behavioral or mood changes, and social isolation. Many cocaine abuse emergency room visits are actually caused by cocaine-induced episodes of psychosis. These psychotic symptoms range from delusions to visual hallucinations, or a feeling of bugs crawling on the skin, etc.

Cocaine Withdrawal & Detox

Although understanding the psychological aspect of a person’s abuse tendencies is crucial, it is more important to get them immediate treatment. If addicted people go for long without taking cocaine, they go into a withdrawal mode that lets them face challenging symptoms. 

In order to achieve sobriety, the first step is to eliminate these effects of cocaine withdrawal, in a process called detox, which has to be done under the guidance of doctors. Once this is finished, they formulate a complete recovery plan to ensure your safety and health. 

 

  • https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  • https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851032/

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