Cocaine Addiction Treatment
- 1 Cocaine Addiction Treatment
- 2 What is Cocaine?
- 3 Why Do People Abuse Cocaine?
- 4 How Cocaine Addiction Affects Your Body
- 5 Signs of Cocaine Addiction
- 6 How Cocaine Addiction is Treated
- 7 What Does Cocaine Do to Your Heart?
- 8 What Does Cocaine Do to Your Nose?
- 9 How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?
- 10 How Does Cocaine Affect the Nervous System?
For decades, cocaine has been thought of as a harmless party drug that people take to fit in and have a good time. But like all illegal drugs, cocaine is far from harmless. Not only is it extremely addictive, it can also cause many different negative health effects. Over time, cocaine abuse changes the way that your brain works. Cocaine makes your brain release a flood of dopamine which creates euphoric emotions, or a “high”. But the longer you abuse cocaine, the harder it is for your brain to release dopamine naturally. This makes your brain crave cocaine in order to release dopamine and make you feel good, and is what leads to addiction.
As a street drug, coke can be found as a fine, snowy, crystal powder which is commonly known as White, Toot, Snow, Sniff, Sneeze, Paradise, Nose Candy, Mojo, Flake, Dust, Coke, Crack, Charlie, C, Blow, Binge, Bernice, or Aunt Nora. Street dealers usually cut or dilute coke with non-psychoactive substances such as flour, baking soda, talcum powder, or cornstarch to boost their profits.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is an addictive drug that is made from coca plant leaves, which grow in South America. These leaves are processed multiple times, often with toxic chemicals like gasoline, until all that is left are small white rocks. This is what is called crack cocaine, which can be smoked with a small glass pipe. Crack cocaine can be processed even further until it is a white powder, the form of cocaine most people think of. This powder is usually inhaled through the nose, or “snorted”, but it can also be dissolved in water in order to be injected into a vein.
Individuals abuse and get addicted to two types of cocaine: the freebase or water-insoluble cocaine base and the water-soluble hydrochloride salt. The powdered water-soluble hydrochloride salt is sniffed or injected while the water-insoluble cocaine base is smoked.
The freebase type of the drug is prepared by mixing coke with baking soda or ammonia, then heating the solution to evaporate the hydrochloride to leave a smokable crystal. This mixture produces a crackling sound when being smoked, hence crack cocaine.
Why Do People Abuse Cocaine?
Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs called stimulants. This means it makes you feel like your body is sped up, making you feel more energetic, happier, and excited. This happens because of the flood of dopamine that cocaine makes your brain release. Dopamine is called a “feel-good” chemical, because it is what makes you feel happy and relaxed. When you use cocaine, you may feel:
- Joy, euphoria, or extremely energetic.
- Less inhibition, similar to drinking alcohol.
- A feeling that your thinking is extremely clear.
- A sense that you are more in control.
- More self-confidence.
- A desire to be more talkative and social.
When it comes to illegal drugs, cocaine is one of the quickest to exit your system. That means that a cocaine high does not last very long. People who snort cocaine are usually high for anywhere from five to 30 minutes. This leads many people to try injecting cocaine instead. This can make a high last as long as an hour. But with the longer high come even more serious risks to your health. Most people who resort to injecting cocaine are already addicted to this dangerous drug.
How Cocaine Addiction Affects Your Body
Many people start taking cocaine because of how energetic and alert it makes them feel. While cocaine does speed up your brain functions, it also speeds up some of your bodily functions. Cocaine can cause increased heart rate, an irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. All of these conditions can lead to a heart attack, which becomes a serious risk the longer you abuse cocaine. It can also have other short-term health risks, including decreased appetite, weight loss, high body temperature, and problems breathing. Long-term risks include kidney damage and even a stroke. Some of the most serious risks of cocaine addiction come with injecting this drug. Many people who inject cocaine become careless about using clean needles. Using needles that are contaminated can cause serious skin, muscle, and bone infections that need medical treatment. And if you resort to sharing needles, you are at an increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis. Both of these conditions require life-long treatment, and can lead to death if not properly managed.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
For many people, it can be difficult to tell whether or not they have an addiction. It can be even more difficult to spot an addiction in your loved ones, as many people are good at hiding drug problems. But cocaine addiction has a number of different signs that you can look for in either yourself or in a loved one you are worried about. These signs include:
- Extreme Mood Swings
When someone uses cocaine, they become very energetic, chatty, and social. But when their high wears off, they often swing into a negative mood. This can include depression, anger, and aggression.
- Money Problems
Cocaine is one of the most expensive illegal drugs. This is due to how much processing it requires, as well as the fact that it must be smuggled into the U.S. from South America. This means that people with a cocaine addiction spend a lot if not all of their money in order to get high. And if their addiction is affecting their ability to work, they may resort to stealing in order to be able to pay for their drugs.
- Changes in Physical Appearance and Health
Cocaine abuse causes many different health problems, as we already discussed. The most obvious signs that someone is addicted to cocaine are chronic nosebleeds, runny nose, extreme weight loss, loss of smell, needle marks on the arms, and skin infections.
- Changes in Mental Health
Because of the way that cocaine addiction changes your brain, many people experience negative mental health symptoms as well as physical ones. These can include paranoia, anxiety, depression, and even psychosis. These symptoms can manifest both when the person is and is not high.
- Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone who is addicted to cocaine stops taking it, they will experience withdrawal. These symptoms are a result of your brain craving drugs in order to regulate your dopamine levels. While cocaine withdrawal is not life-threatening, it can be very unpleasant to deal with, which leads to most people continuing to use cocaine in order to feel better.
How Cocaine Addiction is Treated
As with all addictions, the best way to be successful in overcoming an addiction to cocaine is to get help at a rehab facility. These places can offer specially-designed treatment programs to help those addicted to cocaine quit using for good. Although there are no FDA-approved drugs for treating cocaine addiction, studies have shown that a combination of medical and behavioral treatments is the most effective in treating cocaine addiction. Most treatment programs will begin with detox, so that they can help you to get all of the drugs out of your system. And with the support of full-time medical staff, you will have the advantage of being able to receive medical treatment that lessens withdrawal symptoms. The next step of recovery will be behavioral therapy. There are many different types of therapies available, so your rehab center will work with you to decide which is going to be the most effective at helping you to learn how to cope with stress and avoid drug use triggers.
Going through a rehab center doesn’t automatically lead to a successful recovery. Patients need to ensure that whatever center they choose offers more than just a cocaine detox program. Going through therapy helps you to deal with the cause of your cocaine abuse, learn new life skills, and even be prepared to confront future relapse. All of these aspects are critical in helping you to stop abusing cocaine and get back on track to a drug-free life.
What Does Cocaine Do to Your Heart?
Cocaine affects your cardiovascular system adversely. It results in the contracting of the blood vessels in your body and increases your blood pressure. These also include all the blood vessels that take blood to your heart. Narrowed arteries, increased blood pressure, and heart rate leads to a heart attack or attacks and death of different cells of your heart. Additionally, coke stimulates your alpha as well as beta receptors which leads to an increased force of contraction of your heart and makes your heart pump faster.
What Does Cocaine Do to Your Nose?
The most notable effect of long-term use of sniffed cocaine is damage to your nose. It creates a hole in your septum (a septal perforation), a condition that is caused by sniffing or snorting cocaine via your nose. Your nose’s blood supply vessels are also shut off if you sniff coke for a long time. This process of closing off blood vessels is called vasoconstriction.
When these vessels shut off, less oxygen is supplied to the tissues in your septum lining. With low oxygen, your septum starts to die; once it dies, it cannot support the cartilage underneath and these cartilages die. Your entire nose can collapse to coke use.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?
Cocaine begins to affect the brain within seconds – and these effects can last for about 5 to 30 minutes. When you smoke or inject cocaine, it travels swiftly into your blood and brain. The high of snorting is also rapidly felt and lasts for about 10 minutes. Your brain’s normal uptake of hormones that are involved in pleasure and desire is inhibited leading to a short-lived feeling of euphoria.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Nervous System?
The NIDA has indicated that coke affects your nervous system in two ways:
- It stimulates the production of dopamine that enters the hollow spaces between neurons, ultimately flooding your brain with neurotransmitters. This can lead to euphoria as well as impaired decision-making.
- Long-term use damages the dopamine receptors, which means that you can continue to take the drug but not feel its effect. You can no longer experience feelings of reward or pleasure.