An addiction to cocaine has the complication of a person’s refusal to believe there is a problem. Cocaine (blow, coke, crack, flake and snow) is a potent stimulant drug derived from the processed leaves of the coca plant. Used recreationally for its euphoria, happiness and energy-inducing effects, cocaine activates the brain’s reward circuit by binding to the neurotransmitter dopamine in the central nervous system. It is a highly dangerous drug, regardless of frequency of use.
Cocaine is highly addictive as it can be snorted, injected or smoked. While all three methods lead to addiction, each produces different effects due to differences in the amount of time it takes for cocaine to reach the brain. The faster cocaine travels to the brain via the bloodstream, the more powerful the high. Injecting and smoking cocaine produces the most intense hights, but only lasts five to ten minutes. Smoking is thought to increase compulsive use the most. Snorting produces a weaker high that can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Consequently, cocaine is often abused in binges, or repeated, increasingly higher doses taken in a short period of time to avoid the post-high crash. Like most drugs, long-term users develop a tolerance to cocaine, or need to consume larger amounts to get the same pleasurable effect they experienced when they first starting using the drug.
Cocaine increases blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. Users often experience dilated pupils, abdominal pain, nose bleeds and nausea. Side effects like twitching, paranoia, and impotence increase with usage. Prolonged use of cocaine can profoundly alter the user’s behavior as well. Especially over time, cocaine triggers paranoia and aggression. (Smoking crack-cocaine can also cause extremely aggressive behavior.) Serious side effects can occur even in first-time users.
Repeated cocaine use can leads to a host of shorter-term health issues. They nausea and vomiting; anxiety and paranoia; insomnia and irritability; convulsions or seizures; loss of appetite and dangerous weight loss; cold sweats; nose bleeds and nasal passage damage; lung damage; chest pain; sore throat; asthma; hoarse voice; shortness of breath; and an aching, flu-like syndrome.
Chronic cocaine use also severely damages one’s appearance and long-term health. Cocaine increases one’s risk of developing rare autoimmune diseases, connective tissue disorders, kidney diseases, renal failure and more. Cocaine also causes involuntary tooth grinding, which can deteriorate tooth enamel and lead to gingivitis. Some also experience restlessness, depression, mania and anxiety, both during usage and between usages. Cocaine puts people at risk for heart attacks, strokes, respiratory failure and seizures, all of which can result in sudden death.
Rehabilitation & Recovery
Treatment of cocaine addiction is complex and must address a variety of emotional, social and behavioral problems in order to be effective. Cessation of cocaine can cause depression, making addiction even harder to overcome. We are here to help! Hopes Gate begins with a comprehensive analysis of the psychological roots of a person’s dependency on cocaine. It is important to determine whether the individual had problems before starting to use cocaine, or if the drug itself caused the addiction. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven to be a valuable tool for recovery.
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