Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine Dependence

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant drug derived from the coca plant, which is native to South America. Prior to synthetic local anesthetics, cocaine was used as a pain reliever during surgery due to its numbing effect.

Purified cocaine was used in the early 1900s in medicinal elixirs and tonics that were designed to treat illnesses. It was also one of the main ingredients of Coca-Cola before its addictive and dangerous nature was truly understood.

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II Drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration with very limited medical uses and high potential for addiction. Yet, it is still sold as a street drug to this day.

There is no safe way to use this drug as it is an illicit substance. It has the appearance of fine, white, crystallized powder and can be smoked, snorted through the nostrils, ingested, or mixed with water for injection.

Keep reading to find out about how cocaine dependence develops, and how to get effective forms of help!

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What Is Cocaine Dependence?

Individuals who abuse cocaine may not recognize their own issues as real issues. Cocaine dependence within an individual is someone who needs cocaine to manage their daily experience.

These individuals are forced to rely on cocaine and would not be able to properly function without it. Cocaine use leads to many lowered qualities of life and requires extensive treatments and therapies to properly treat.

It can cause individuals to lose control over their own life and struggle to maintain any form of stability.

How Addictive Is Cocaine?

How Addictive Is Cocaine

It is an extremely addictive substance. Although the physical withdrawal symptoms from cocaine are not as severe as other drugs, it doesn’t take long to become addicted to it due to the incredibly serious psychological dependence it creates.

In our brain, there are natural chemical messengers called neurotransmitters which are responsible for many different functions within our body. There are two specific neurotransmitters that cocaine affects called dopamine and norepinephrine.

Dopamine is responsible for the well-being of an individual as well as motivation. It is a core part of the reward or pleasure part of the brain. Norepinephrine is responsible for energy within the body.

It is a core part of the fight or flight experience and can increase blood flow. One of cocaine’s main functions is to inhibit the reabsorption of these two neurotransmitters within the brain. This causes excess amounts of them to build up.

The mass amounts of dopamine lead to euphoria or a ‘rush’ within an individual. The mass amounts of norepinephrine increase heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and energy within an individual.

These functions will eventually end. As cocaine temporarily elevates an individual’s experience, there is also a crash when the drug wears off, also known as a ‘cocaine comedown.’ This leaves an individual to crave more immediately after to achieve that high and get out of their low.

How Fast Does Cocaine Use Develop Cocaine Dependence?

Cocaine dependence can develop very quickly however, it varies from individual to individual. As addictive as cocaine is, it can develop in the first use but may take longer for certain individuals.

Other Risk Factors of Cocaine Dependence

Some of the individuals at risk of becoming dependent on cocaine can include:

  • Constant high-stress environments
  • Family drug addiction history
  • Biological makeup
  • Mental illness
  • Traumatic experience
  • Exposed to substance abuse young

These are not determining factors for individuals to be using cocaine. These factors simply mean that an individual is more likely to develop a dependence if they use cocaine.

How Does Cocaine Dependence Affect the Brain?

As cocaine inhibits the reabsorption of dopamine and norepinephrine, the constant use and abuse of these neurotransmitters become less effective within the body. They start to work less effectively.

The brain also becomes more resistant to smaller amounts of cocaine and requires larger amounts of it to produce the rush and euphoric feelings. This tolerance is a core part of how dangerous cocaine dependence is.

Tolerance leads individuals to take more of a toxic substance into their bodies to achieve the same effect. Excess amounts build up, causing euphoria but also resulting in desensitization to normal pleasures over time. This phenomenon is known clinically as anhedonia.

Short-term effects of using cocaine include:


  • Extreme energetic
  • Happiness
  • Alertness
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Hypersensitivity to sounds, lights, and touch
  • Paranoia


Cocaine’s effects depend on frequency, quality, and quantity of dosage. The method of use is also a factor. When large amounts are used, it is common for the user to experience paranoia, violent urges, or other unpredictable impulsive behavior.

The short-term effects of cocaine on the brain generally only last for 15 to 30 minutes. The effect is even shorter when smoked. After the desired effects have ceased, opposing effects set in as the body attempts to return to normal.

Intense depression often results as the brain’s receptors reel from the effects of dopamine oversaturation. The long-term effects of cocaine on the brain are not as “rewarding” as the short-term ones are.

While the immediate effects are what entices users to keep coming back for more, effects over a longer term are largely characterized by the negative, undesirable consequences of addiction. Long-term effects include:


  • Less sensitivity to natural rewards and pleasure sensations
  • Stress circuits become increasingly sensitive, promoting bad moods and feelings of unpleasantness
  • Preoccupation with getting and using more cocaine
  • Acquired tolerance necessitating increasingly more cocaine to produce the same feeling
  • Possible convulsions and extreme anxiety due to toxicity
  • Psychological effects like delusional thoughts
  • Psychological vulnerability to other drugs used along with or in place of cocaine
  • Hindered sense of smell accompanied by nosebleeds


How Does Cocaine Affect the Nervous System?

Cocaine is hard on the brain, causing unwanted effects on the nervous system as well. Here are some of the possible nervous system issues that can stem from cocaine addiction:


  • Neurological disorders
  • Bleeding within the brain
  • Movement disorders
  • Bulges inside the cerebral blood vessel walls
  • Impulsive actions
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Cognitive disorders


What Does Cocaine Dependence Do to Your Body?

Cocaine Dependence

There are numerous health problems that can occur within the body due to cocaine addiction. It can be dangerous for an individual to continue to be exposed to the toxic qualities of cocaine, especially with chronic cocaine use. Some of the risks and effects are:


  • Rapid weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart-related conditions
  • Altered sleep habits
  • Overdose
  • Psychological and physical withdrawals
  • Nose bleeds
  • Risk of HIV (when injected and sharing needles)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Mood disorders
  • Respiratory illness
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Multi-drug use
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Limited attention span
  • Decreased gray matter in brain


What Does Cocaine Dependence Do to Your Heart?

Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant that elevates the activity of the cardiovascular system. Along with the long list of possible health side-effects listed above, there are specific risks cocaine addiction poses to the heart and circulatory system:

  • Heart attack
  • Chest pain
  • Stroke
  • Inflaming of the heart muscle
  • Palpitations
  • The inability of the heart to contract
  • Ruptures of the aortic valve

What Does Cocaine Do to Your Nose?

When cocaine is introduced through the nasal passages (snorting), it can destroy tissues in the nose over time. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, some of the damage may entail:

  • Loss of the ability to smell
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irritation of the nasal septum
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Chronic inflammation of the nasal passages

What Does Crack Cocaine Do to Your Lungs?

Crack cocaine is a solid, rock-like form of cocaine that is most often smoked. It is more potent than powdered cocaine and enters the bloodstream through the lungs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, crack cocaine abuse deteriorates the lungs which can be seen in:

  • Chronic cough
  • Increased risk of lung disease
  • Asthma
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pains
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What are the Signs Of Cocaine Dependence?

If you suspect that you, or a loved one, is addicted to cocaine, there are some telltale signs to watch for:


  • An overly confident façade
  • Extreme good moods
  • Extreme bad moods
  • Euphoria
  • Excessive talkativeness
  • Erratic behavior
  • Excitability
  • Sneaky actions
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Change of friends
  • Dilated pupils
  • Frequent runny nose
  • Traces of powder on nostrils (known as ‘visible cocaine residue’)
  • Needle marks on arms or other veins
  • Extreme depression
  • Nosebleeds
  • Hallucinations
  • Accelerated pulse
  • Apathy


Cocaine users usually realize they are developing an addiction when they go from wanting the drug to needing it just to feel normal. When this point is reached, it is very difficult for the addict to overcome the addiction alone.

What Withdrawal Symptoms Does Cocaine Cause?


Individuals that recognize their dependence often have tried to stop cocaine use however, the withdrawal symptoms that come with cocaine make it close to impossible to stop without proper treatment.

Many of the cocaine withdrawal symptoms influence the psychological or mental state of an individual. The cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Intense cravings
  • Paranoia
  • Out of touch with reality
  • Anxiety

Cocaine Overdose

Abruptly quitting cocaine, especially after long-term use, leads an individual to face intense withdrawals and can take in too much cocaine too quickly to cope with their experience. They may also mix cocaine with other substances, such as alcohol, which puts them at an increased risk of overdose.

  • Decreased or ragged breathing
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature

Managing Cocaine Abuse

The best way to manage cocaine addiction is to receive substance abuse treatment at dedicated treatment centers. It is there that individuals can properly process the many difficulties they are experiencing.

As cocaine, and substance abuse in general, can introduce stress, anxiety, and other mental conditions within an individual, it is important to learn how to properly work through these conditions.

Meditation, breathing techniques, and paying attention to an individual’s own needs are all ways to avoid unwanted experiences and unneeded stress. Every individual has their own needs. Ignoring their own can lead to a lowered quality of well being and experience in their daily life.

Individuals must address and meet their needs to better avoid relying on a substance to maintain their wellbeing.

Forms of Effective Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

After a point, cocaine use is not often something an individual can simply stop. The drug takes hold of someone’s willpower as a result of the profound changes it precipitates in the brain. Thankfully, there are resources available to help kick the addiction.

Getting help at a professional center offers personalized addiction treatment options, which offers a better chance at success. Studies conducted on the matter conclude that longer treatment approaches yield better outcomes.

A medical detox is often the first step toward addiction treatment and recovery. It is important to remove the substance that an individual is struggling with before beginning addiction-specific treatment.

This allows for an individual to relearn how to properly function without the assistance of the substance. The detoxification process can take from 1-2 weeks to complete before an individual moves into addiction treatment.

Cocaine addiction treatment, as a stimulant addiction, is mainly treated with behavioral therapies. These therapies allow for individuals to rebuild healthy processing and learn how to properly work around and manage negative experiences.

Some of the core aspects of behavioral therapy include relapse prevention skills, stress management strategies, healthy boundaries with personal relationships, and the rebuilding of social skills.

For more information on cocaine addiction treatment near me, visit this article.

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Find Treatment for Cocaine Dependence: Here

Being reliant on cocaine can cause individuals to suffer even greater hardships. Trying to find the right treatment and assistance for you or a loved one can be difficult. Here at Find Addiction Rehabs, we make that process easy.

Whether finding a treatment center in your location or connecting you with recovery tools and resources, our hotline is available 24/7 to make sure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.

Cocaine is a very intense substance that is often overwhelming for an individual to manage. We can help find you the help you need to overcome this dependence. Call us now!

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