Originally used for medical purposes, cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the coca plant in Columbia. It is among the most commonly abused illegal substances worldwide – indeed, millions of people are addicted, and millions more have experimented with it at some point in their lives.
The powder form of cocaine is most commonly snorted, while the more potent, hard-rock form of cocaine known as crack can be smoked. According to recent government data, more than 900,000 people met the criteria for a cocaine dependency or abuse diagnosis in 2014.
Many people who abuse cocaine do so to obtain a euphoric high and boost of energy. Unfortunately for the user, however, effects wear off quite rapidly (often less than half an hour) so repeated use is necessary to maintain a high.
Using cocaine during binges in this manner can quickly result in dependence, tolerance, and overdose. Also, using cocaine in conjunction with other drugs, such as opioids, is far more dangerous than using cocaine on its own.
Once a dependence on cocaine has developed, it becomes extremely challenging to quit the habit. Dependence is a condition in which the user’s brain has become adjusted to the presence of a drug and is unable to function without it.
Frequently seen with dependence is tolerance – an effect of the brain’s propensity to reduce response to a substance after repeated exposure.
Cocaine abuse is not as easy to recognize, like say, alcohol addiction, because it is illegal and done in private. However, signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse may include the following:
A person who is dependent on cocaine may also engage in behavior previously not seen before, such as withdrawing from favorite hobbies or activities and operating in a deceptive manner. He or she may trouble with relationships, school, or employment, and be incurring financial or legal difficulties as a result of use.
Also, cocaine addiction can result in a variety of problems that continue after use, such as the development of ulcers, appetite loss and malnourishment, and brain hemorrhages. Mental problems such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and impaired memory and decision-making abilities are also common.
Finally, cocaine use can result in life-threatening cardiac problems, such as inflammation around the heart, stroke, or aortic ruptures. This is also true of cocaine’s less pure form crack.
Cocaine has potentially lethal stimulant effects that can cause the body and brain to shut down and lead to organ failure.
Typical signs of a cocaine overdose include the following:
If you believe that you or someone you know is experiencing a cocaine overdose, please call 911 immediately.
Fortunately, cocaine addiction is a treatable condition using a variety of therapeutic techniques, including detox, medication, behavioral therapy, and counseling. Receiving treatment gives those suffering from cocaine addiction the best chance to recover, prevent relapse, and reduce the possibility of detrimental long-term effects.
Our center offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to cocaine addiction that is customized for each individual. Here at our center, we can address the underlying causes of addiction and ensure the patient is safe and comfortable during this powerful life-changing process.