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In Drugs & Addictions

Cocaine-What is it? The Signs and Dangers of Cocaine Use

cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is extremely addictive. Those who use cocaine experience short-term feelings of euphoria and energy. There are a number of potentially dangerous physical effects, including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure as well as potential overdose when using cocaine.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is extracted from coca leaves and was originally made to be a painkiller. When the word cocaine is used it is referring to the drug in a crystal or powder form that is typically sniffed through the nasal passages or smoked; however, some people may ingest the drug by rubbing into their gums. One of the most serious ways to ingest cocaine is by injecting it. Powder cocaine is usually mixed with other substances, such as sugar, corn starch and/or talcum powder. It is also often mixed with other drugs, such as amphetamines and/or a local anesthetic.

How Does Cocaine Produce a “high”?

Cocaine is considered to be one of the most dangerous types of drugs known to man. Once you begin taking the drug, it is virtually impossible both physically and mentally to stop, without professional help. Cocaine stimulates the receptors (nerve endings) within the brain causing a euphoric feeling as well as a quick tolerance to the drug. Eventually it takes higher and more frequent doses of the drug to obtain the same euphoric feeling that was originally experienced.

Common Street Names for Cocaine

Cocaine is a multibillion-dollar, worldwide enterprise with users of all economic levels, ages and occupations. Cocaine is one of the most trafficked, illegal drugs in the world and the statistics continue to show little to zero decrease in the amount of trafficking. Cocaine has a vast array of street names, including, blow, C, dust, coke, nose candy, toot and snow.

Is cocaine physically addictive and What are the Dangers of Cocaine?

Although methamphetamine is the number one drug with the highest psychological dependence, cocaine is a close second. The time limit for developing a tolerance to the drug is extremely quick, often after only one or two uses.Using cocaine can result in a variety of serious as well as life-threatening physical affects. The use of cocaine can lead to stroke, heart attack, bleeding in the brain (cerebral hemorrhage), respiratory failure and even death. Children whose mothers were addicted to cocaine during pregnancy are frequently born as cocaine addicts themselves and they are at a higher risk of developing birth defects as well as other serious health problems.

Long and Short-term Cocaine Effects

The short-term effects of cocaine include a short-lived, but intense high, which is immediately followed by edginess, depression and a craving for more of the cocaine. Most people who use cocaine frequently do not sleep or eat correctly and they often experience muscle spasms, convulsions and an increase heart rate. Using cocaine even for a short period of time can cause paranoid feelings, hostility, anger and anxiety, even when the person is not high on the drug. Regardless of how much or how often cocaine is used, it significantly increases the risk of stroke, seizures, heart attack and/or respiratory failure; all of which can lead to sudden death. Other short-term effects may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations,
  • Hyperexcitability and/or irritability
  • Intense euphoria
  • Disturbance in sleep patterns
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Erratic, bizarre and sometimes violent behavior
  • Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin

Long-term Effects of Cocaine Include:

  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Serious risk of infectious diseases and/or abscesses if the cocaine is injected
  • Severe depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Tactile hallucinations
  • Sexual problems
  • Reproductive damage
  • Infertility -male or female
  • Disorientation
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Delirium and/or psychosis
  • Death

Causes of an Addiction to Cocaine

There are a variety of reasons that may lead someone to become addicted to cocaine, including genetic, biological, environmental and psychological. In most situations it is a combination of several factors. Some theories relating to the cause of cocaine addiction include:

  • Genetic theories have shown that someone who has a relative with addiction problems has a higher chance of developing an addiction themselves. The risk becomes even higher if the addiction is in a first degree relative, such as a parent.
  • Biological factors, such as a change in the brains function and structure has been linked to addiction. This is primarily the result of low dopamine levels, which triggers the need to abuse substances in order to have or regain a pleasurable feeling.
  • Environmental theories indicate that individuals who are raised in an unstable home environment has a greater chance of developing addiction problems. Life stressors, such as death, traumatic events and/or child abuse often lead an individual to self medicate with the use of drugs and/or alcohol, which in turn leads to substance abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

There is a large range of signs and symptoms that may indicate an addiction to cocaine. The signs and symptoms can include psychological, physical, mood and behavioral changes.
Psychological symptoms may include:

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Decreased need for sleep and an increased in sleep after usage
  • Headaches
  • Muscle twitches
  • Decreased appetite and/or malnutrition
  • Abnormal heart rhythms and/or Increase in heart rate
  • Chronic runny nose and Nosebleeds
  • Nasal perforation
  • Increase in body temperature and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tremors
  • Extreme cravings

Mood symptoms may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Panic and/or fearfulness
  • Irritation

Behavioral symptoms may include:

  • Talkative
  • Increase in energy
  • Stealing and/or frequently borrowing money
  • Erratic and bizarre behaviors
  • Violence
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Reckless and risky behaviors

Cocaine Withdrawal

The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal vary from person to person; however, some of the symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Agitation
  • Muscle pain
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Extreme craving for the cocaine

During withdrawal the craving for cocaine is often very intense and may be the most difficult symptom. Many people who are going through cocaine withdrawal feel that if they only use it one more time they will be able to get through the withdrawal symptoms. However, this is the worse thing you can do, as it will only lead you to do it one more time again and again.
Although it is possible to go through the withdrawal process by yourself, it typically has better results when you seek professional help. One of the most important factors of quitting cocaine is to have a positive attitude regarding your withdrawal as well as the recovery process. Treatment centers are available to help you through the withdrawal as well as give you the tools you will need for a successful recovery.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Making the choice to get help for a cocaine addiction is the healthiest and the most beneficial decision. The primary goal for treatment programs designed for cocaine addictions is to guide you through a safe detox and to teach, promote and encourage abstinence. The first step when you enter a treatment center is completely cleansing your body of the harmful toxins, the process may take as little as a few days to as long as a few months to completely rid your system of cocaine. The treatment will begin when your body has overcome the detox.

Cocaine treatment centers are well supervised facilities that will provide you with a monitored and safe detoxification. After the initial impact of the withdrawal, you will need observation and encouragement to control the cravings. While in a treatment center you will be provided with counseling, education that is vital for recovery and group therapy.

It is important to continue with outpatient therapy after completing the inpatient program. Outpatient therapy will help you to continue on the road to recovery and provide you with the tools you will need to overcome the temptations to use again. The temptations will be there, so it is important to find a local NA/AA group to help you through the temptations. Both the outpatient treatment center and the inpatient treatment center will be able to provide you with a great deal of information regarding tips to help you stay sober.

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