What is Cocaine?
Table of Contents
- What is Cocaine?
- A Brief History of Cocaine Use
- What are the Types of Cocaine?
- How is Cocaine Used?
- How Does Cocaine Affect the Body?
- Understanding Cocaine Addiction
- Risk Factors for Developing a Cocaine Addiction
- What are the Side Effects of Cocaine Use?
- The Additional Dangers of Cocaine Abuse
- Signs of Cocaine Overdose
- What Does Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me Provide?
- Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me: What are Effective Programs?
- Aftercare Programs and Maintaining Long-Term Abstinence
- Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me, or Nationwide, Now!
- Medically Reviewed By
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that is currently considered a Schedule II substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This means that, while it poses a high risk for addiction, it can be administered by a clinical professional in specific cases.
Derived from the leaves of the coca plant commonly found in South America, cocaine usage has become widespread in the U.S. due to its stimulant effects. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 5.2 million individuals ages 12 and above reported having used cocaine within the past twelve months.
A Brief History of Cocaine Use
By the early 1900s, cocaine hydrochloride – the purified form of this substance – served as the main active ingredient in remedies used to treat numerous ailments and illnesses. This drug was also used by surgeons as a means of blocking pain for quite some time before the development of safer anesthetic alternatives.
As more research became available on the risk of addiction posed by this drug, however, its medical usage rapidly began to decrease. Unfortunately, this form of drug use had already established a lasting presence within the U.S., with cocaine addiction remaining a prevalent issue in this country today, leading many to search for ‘cocaine addiction treatment near me.’
What are the Types of Cocaine?
There are two main types of cocaine that individuals may abuse, including its water-soluble salt form (powder cocaine), and its water-insoluble form (freebase cocaine). This drug may be referred to by various nicknames, including “crack” or “rock,” “coke,” “blow,” and many others.
Drug dealers often mix this substance with talcum powder, cornstarch, or other powdered substances that are similar in appearance to cocaine. They may also use synthetic versions of this drug, such as procaine, or disguise amphetamines as cocaine, allowing them to increase their profits; often, unfortunately. at the expense of their customers’ safety.
How is Cocaine Used?
There are several ways in which cocaine users engage in this behavior, of which can produce varying effects and consequences. These methods include:
- Inhaling it through the nostrils, referred to as snorting cocaine.
- Ingesting it orally, either through swallowing the substance or rubbing it on the user’s gums.
- Smoking cocaine, which can only be done when it is in its crystalized or freebase form.
- Dissolving its powdered form in water, and injecting it directly into the veins.
Some individuals prefer to smoke or inject this substance, as this allows them to achieve a faster and more intense high. Some cocaine users may also mix it with heroin, another highly addictive illicit drug, as this yields an even stronger (and more dangerous) high.
When smoking crack, this can only be done through using the powdered form of this drug. This is produced through mixing its base form with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. This is then boiled down, removing the hydrochloride, and turning it into a smokable ‘rock’ form.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Body?
As an addictive stimulant, cocaine primarily impacts the body’s central nervous system. This is done through the changes it makes to the chemical structure of an individual’s brain which, depending on the severity of one’s addiction, can be permanent.
Specifically, cocaine increases an individual’s dopamine levels, producing a large amount of this chemical within the parts of the brain that control their reward responses and intrinsic motivation.
The effects of cocaine on the body can be particularly problematic for young adults who use this substance. After all, their brains and bodies are still developing; a process, of which, can be significantly impaired by an addiction of any kind.
Understanding Cocaine Addiction
Because cocaine has such a significant impact on an individual’s dopamine levels, it does not take long to develop a physical dependence on it. For many cocaine addicts, it is not uncommon to find themselves unable to experience happiness or satisfaction without using this substance.
It is important to understand that addiction is a complex disease, and is rarely ever the result of an individual’s desire to purposely practice habits that are harmful (both to themselves and others). Rather, it is usually a culmination of environmental factors and underlying mental issues that lead to an individual’s engagement with substance abuse.
This can make it incredibly difficult to overcome a cocaine addiction (or any other form of addiction), especially if these individuals do not have access to, or the means of, seeking out professional help. Thus, even if there is a genuine desire to become sober, many people will continue to abuse cocaine despite the consequences their drug addiction may have.
Risk Factors for Developing a Cocaine Addiction
One thing that must be understood about addiction is that anyone can become dependent on a substance, regardless of their life circumstances. However, there are several factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing a substance use disorder.
Thus, it may be helpful for individuals to know these risks, so that they are able to be aware of and proactively avoid them. Some of these may include biological factors, such as:
- Genetics. Having a family history of addiction can significantly contribute to an individual’s likelihood of forming a cocaine dependence (or any addiction).
- Stage of Development. For those who engage in alcohol or drug abuse early in life, it is more likely that they will continue these behaviors into their adulthood. This is because they are establishing this habit during a pivotal point in their development. Furthermore, as their brains are still developing, the usage of harmful substances can significantly impair and/or alter this growth process.
- Tolerance Levels. People have different levels of tolerance to certain substances, including cocaine or other drugs. Thus, some individuals may require less interaction with a specific drug in order to develop a dependency on it.
- Mental Health Disorders. Several mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, or other behavioral disorders, may increase an individual’s likelihood of using drugs as a form of self-medication, thus increasing their chances of becoming addicted to them.
- Gender. Drugs can affect male and female bodies in different ways. Furthermore, these individuals typically differ in regard to the reasons why they start using in the first place. For example, women are more likely to use drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medication, while men may begin engaging in substance use socially, ultimately developing an addiction in the process.
- Ethnicity. Ethnicity can play a factor in addiction, predominantly due to difficult socio-cultural conditions, which can not only propagate drug use but negatively impact the treatment of and consequences faced in response to this behavior.
Certain environmental conditions may also pose a greater risk for substance abuse, including:
- Home Environment. An individual’s home life serves as a major contributor to their risk for developing an addiction. Unstable homes, as well as a lack of or oppressive parental involvement in an individual’s life can significantly increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in substance abuse.
- Drug Availability. Increased availability of illicit drugs, whether at home, school, or within the community serves as a key risk factor for a person’s abuse of these substances.
- Increased Stress. Particularly for individuals who have dealt with significant stress from early on in their lives, whether in the form of physical abuse, exposure to violence, poverty, or otherwise, these conditions may result in an increased risk for drug abuse.
- Peer and Social Pressures. Being surrounded by individuals who engage in poor behavior, such as drug abuse, can be a significant influence on a person’s own likelihood of developing these habits.
- Academic Factors. For students who struggle with significant pressure to perform well academically, or who attend a school with a significant drug culture, this can increase the chances of their engaging in substance abuse whether as a coping mechanism or as a means of increasing their performance abilities or achieving social acceptance.
What are the Side Effects of Cocaine Use?
Cocaine addicts usually begin using this drug due to the euphoric rush it produces. This substance may also cause increased mental alertness, a boost in energy, or feeling more sociable. However, this high is relatively short-lived, generally lasting from a few minutes to an hour.
Once this brief pleasant period ends, individuals may find themselves experiencing several negative side effects. These, of which, can be either short-term or long-term, as well as physical or mental in nature.
There are several short-term effects that are associated with cocaine use, which can vary in their severity. These may include:
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Experiencing paranoia
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to fall asleep
- Increased aggression
- Constricted blood vessels
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Tremors or twitching in the muscles
Because the short-term effects of cocaine abuse tend to subside relatively quickly, this may lead to individuals continuously using this substance several times within a brief period of time. This, unfortunately, often results in the development of long-term (and more severe) side effects, including:
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Heart attacks
- Inflamed heart muscles
- Aortic ruptures
- Ulcers and gastrointestinal tears
- Damage to the liver and kidneys (including kidney failure)
- Impaired cognitive and motor functions
- Dangerously high blood pressure
- Acute coronary syndrome
The Additional Dangers of Cocaine Abuse
There are several dangers associated with cocaine abuse, some of which are not associated with its direct impact on the body.
For example, it is extremely common for other substances to be mixed in with or disguised as cocaine by drug dealers. This can make it easier for consumers to accidentally ingest a lethal dosage of cocaine (or disguised substance).
There are also several hazards that can come with the various methods in which cocaine can be administered. Smoking crack, for example, presents the risk of burns, as this process involves the use of open flames.
Smoking cocaine can also result in “crack lung,” which refers to the damage this method causes to an individual’s lungs, resulting in a number of complications including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Complete respiratory failure
When it comes to injecting cocaine, this practice can further increase an individual’s risk of overdose. Furthermore, using unsanitized drug paraphernalia can result in the spreading of infectious diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, or skin infections.
Signs of Cocaine Overdose
Unfortunately, overdosing on cocaine is far too common with this form of drug abuse. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 20,000 people died in the U.S. from a cocaine overdose in 2020 alone.
In the event that an individual takes too high a dosage of this substance, this can result in their experiencing a heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, or seizure.
This presents an undeniable need to understand the signs of overdose, whether in oneself or in others so that these deaths can better be prevented. When it comes to cocaine use, signs that may indicate an individual is overdosing include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pains
- Increased anxiety or panicked feelings
What Does Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me Provide?
There are several drug addiction treatment programs available today, which may offer a variety of approaches to addiction recovery. These may include more holistic or religion-based methods of addiction treatment or those that are more clinically based in their approach to recovery.
When it comes to cocaine addiction treatment, individuals may find it difficult to determine which drug rehab centers and programs will work best for them. Thus, it can be extremely helpful to know the different types of drug abuse treatment programs, and which of these may work best to treat cocaine addiction.
Most addiction treatment services will follow a Continuum of Care (COC) approach, which prioritizes seven levels of care in treating cocaine use disorders (or any other form of addiction). These include:
- Residential / Inpatient Treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Outpatient Treatment
- Aftercare Programs
There are several factors that may influence what addiction treatment programs an individual will need to participate in when attempting to overcome cocaine abuse, including:
- The severity of their cocaine addiction
- Simultaneous abuse of other drugs
- External limitations (i.e. familial or work obligations)
- Existence of co-occurring disorders
For those who are unsure about what cocaine rehab programs are best suited to their needs, speaking with their doctor or a professional treatment provider may help them narrow down their options.
It may also be helpful to have their cocaine addiction treated using several different treatment programs and approaches, rather than solely relying on one method.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Several forms of drug use can produce severe withdrawal symptoms, many of which may be physical in nature. Cocaine withdrawal, while capable of producing physical side effects, primarily causes mental symptoms.
Of course, these can still be just as difficult (if not more so) to deal with. Thus, it is highly recommended that individuals struggling with this form of substance abuse seek out treatment through professional cocaine rehab programs, rather than recover on their own.
Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include:
- Poor concentration
- Slowed cognitive functions
- Slowed activity or easily becoming fatigued
- Decline in sexual interest
- An inability to feel pleasure
- Depression or anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Muscle aches
- Nerve pain
- Cocaine cravings
- Increased appetite
Because of this, it is generally recommended that individuals seek out treatment facilities that offer medically supervised detoxifications. These can not only allow them to recover in a safe environment, but it may increase their chances of maintaining long-term sobriety.
When participating in a detox program, individuals will receive constant supervision in order to ensure they remain medically stable during this withdrawal process. This process will also include a specialized diet designed to bring their body back to a regulated state.
Individuals may also be given controlled medications designed to help manage and prevent more intense withdrawal symptoms. These can additionally help them to avoid cocaine relapse, as well.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), simultaneous drug abuse and mental health disorders (co-occurring disorders) are extremely common within the U.S..
This is because individuals who are struggling with a mental health condition often use substances as a form of self-medicating their difficult emotions. For individuals who are struggling with co-occurring disorders, finding cocaine rehab centers that offer mental health treatment in addition to cocaine addiction treatment can be extremely beneficial.
Furthermore, after completing the initial stages of their addiction recovery process, engaging in behavioral interventions and/or seeking out a behavioral therapy treatment provider may help individuals better maintain their sobriety.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me: What are Effective Programs?
In addition to more clinical cocaine addiction treatment programs, there are several alternative options for treating drug abuse that individuals can look into. These may include:
- Contingency management. When participating in a contingency management program, individuals will engage with a reward system designed to encourage their abstaining from drug use, by providing incentives for good behavior (i.e., passing a drug test).
- 12-Step Addiction Treatment Programs. For those who are more religious or spiritually open, participating in a 12-step treatment program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) may help them to better maintain their sobriety.
- Non-12 Step Alternative Addiction Treatment Programs. For individuals who are not religious, or want to pursue a more self-directed path to overcoming addiction, non-12 step alternative treatment programs may be more helpful in their recovery process.
Aftercare Programs and Maintaining Long-Term Abstinence
When it comes to treating cocaine addiction (or any other form of addiction), this recovery journey does not end once the individual has completed their stay at a cocaine rehab center. For many people, this can result in their entering a transition period back into regular life that they might not be prepared for.
In these cases, participating in aftercare programs may be extremely helpful in preventing cocaine relapse, and allowing these individuals to readjust to everyday life. These programs may include:
- Recovery support groups
- Mental health services (i.e., behavioral therapy)
- Peer mentoring groups
- Community outreach programs
Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me, or Nationwide, Now!
Whether to cocaine or any other substance, if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and are ready to seek treatment, know that you are making the right choice, and help IS available. Here at Find Addiction Rehabs, we know how difficult it can be to find the right addiction treatment centers and resources; but that’s why we are here.
With our hotline available 24/7, one of our representatives is ready at all times to connect you with cocaine rehab centers that are dedicated to serving your personal care needs. Or, you can use our drug and alcohol rehab directory on the Find Addiction Rehabs website to find a rehab center or treatment provider near you.
Taking that first step to recovery can be scary, but you don’t have to do it alone. Call today, and let us help you get started on the path to achieving a happy, healthy, and successfully sober you!
Brandon is a highly skilled content writer and behavioral health marketer with over a decade of experience. In his own words: in my work with Find Addiction Rehabs, I have dedicated my expertise to a cause close to my heart – substance abuse recovery. Through my passion for the field, I’ve successfully compiled a track record of crafting compelling content that educates, inspires, and supports those on their recovery journeys.