Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
Easily accessible and relatively affordable, cocaine has become the third most abused substance in the USA, behind alcohol and heroin. Despite its glamorization as a popular party drug, cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. Millions of people use cocaine recreationally for its jolting and euphoric effects, but the fast-paced high of this drug is followed by a debilitating crash. The need to regain the high often leads to a whirlwind of addictive behavior and severe consequences. Cocaine addiction is a grim reality that should not be taken lightly, and it demands immediate attention. Fortunately, RehabNear can assist people who are ready to defeat their addictions and begin a drug-free life.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant narcotic that is most commonly sold in a white powder form or a powdery clump that’s partially broken down. It can be inhaled through the nose, smoked, injected with a needle, rubbed into the gums, or swallowed. A variant of the drug, known as crack cocaine, which looks like rocks or crystals, is more commonly smoked and can be even more addictive than the standard form. Crack cocaine is an excess substance created during the process of making pure cocaine. It’s known as a cheaper and dirtier version of the drug. When ingested, cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) unleashes high levels of dopamine in the brain, giving an immensely euphoric high to the user.
The feeling is short-lived, leaving those who use it wanting more after the quick high subsidies. This cycle often leads to cocaine addiction. Pure cocaine has a unique smell and taste. The powder is made after extracting the active ingredient alkaloid from coca leaves and mixing it with sodium bicarbonate and bleach. When purchased on the street, cocaine is very often diluted or “cut” with any number of other chemicals like detergents, amphetamines and silicon. Those who use this impure cocaine are even more at risk of developing cocaine addiction and overdosing, as there is usually no way to determine which hazardous ingredients are being ingested. In its purest form, cocaine is derived from the coca plant (Erythroxylon coca.) For a period of time, cocaine was used medically in the United States as a surgical anesthetic in the late 19th century and gradually went on to become a household drug.
One of its most infamous mainstream uses was as an ingredient in Coca-Cola and other popular beverages, like wines. It was eventually banned for a time until it resurfaced as an abused drug in the 1960s. In the ’70s and ’80s, cocaine became a fixture in the party scene as well as during the time of disco and rock’n’roll. It also became widely accepted in social settings, not unlike marijuana and alcohol. As awareness of the dangers of the drug became apparent, its popularity finally saw a dip in the 1990s. However, this substance still claims thousands of lives every year and sends tens of thousands into the downward spiral of cocaine addiction. Due to its consistency, dealers tend to sell cocaine in small, tightly wrapped or twisted-up plastic bags. Cocaine is one of the most expensive drugs on the market, so cocaine addiction is also very expensive. Due to its high cost, the average person who uses it likely holds only small amounts at a time.
When sold on the street, cocaine tends to come in grams or ounces. Larger stocks of the drug are sold in heavyweight plastic bags or dense, rectangular units of plastic wrap. These are referred to as “bricks.” You may find cocaine in a solid, chalk-like form as well, which can be easily broken down into the eventual powder. The powder is usually then formed into thin lines or “bumps” to be snorted up the nose. Because of the high demand for the drug and its nondescript appearance, dealers tend to mix it with similar light powders to take advantage of buyers. These powders may include:
- Baking soda
- Laundry detergents
- Boric acid
- Local anesthetics
- Talcum powder
Street cocaine may contain certain additives that actually speed up or intensify the high. Dealers add cheap substances to extend their supply and maximize their profit. Impure cocaine can appear off-white, pinkish or brownish depending on the ingredients. Crack cocaine takes on more of a crystalline or rock-like consistency. It varies in color from white to yellow to pale rose. This substance has a growing reputation as a hyper-potent and addictive drug that is dangerous due to its affordability and availability. Someone who becomes addicted may find themselves turning to crack as an inexpensive way to feed their cocaine addiction, which can greatly exacerbate health risks and the severity of their dependence.
Different Forms of Cocaine
The two most commonly found forms of cocaine are hydrochloride salt and ‘freebase’. While each type has different and specific modes of action and effects, both are dangerous and addictive.
Hydrochloride salt: This is cocaine in powdered form. It is the white crystalline substance commonly seen in pop culture, such as magazine photos, videos, and film. The ‘line’ of coke people snort off a mirror is cocaine hydrochloride salt.
Hydrochloride salt is water-soluble, so it can be dissolved in water and taken by injection, or snorted or rubbed onto wet membranes to dissolve in the mucous and cross over into the bloodstream. Cocaine taken in the form of the hydrochloride salt takes a longer time to produce physiological and neurological effects than cocaine taken as freebase.
Common street names for powdered hydrochloride salt of cocaine include coke, blow, snow, C and flake.
Freebase cocaine: Freebase is a form of cocaine in which the alkaloid base has not been neutralized with an acid to form a salt; hence the base is said to be ‘free’. Compared to the hydrochloride salt it is much less soluble in water but more stable at higher temperatures so that it can be smoked. It is also better at crossing the blood-brain barrier so that its stimulating and euphoric effects can be felt much faster – within ten seconds of inhaling. Freebase cocaine also tends to be relatively free of impurities and additives often found in the hydrochloride salt, which, along with its fast action and high potency, makes it more appealing to regular cocaine users, but also more dangerous.
A common type of freebase cocaine is ‘crack’: cocaine that has been processed from powdered salt into freebase form. The street name derives from the crackling sound it makes when smoked. To remove the hydrochloride and transform it from salt to base, dealers usually heat it with baking soda, ammonia, and water. It’s quite inexpensive to make or buy, and this helps to make it popular on the street.
Both forms of cocaine pose severe risks. Besides being highly addictive, cocaine can affect the heart and respiratory organs, and can also damage the structure of the brain.
Is Cocaine Addictive?
Cocaine is considered highly addictive and one of the most habit-forming substances on the planet. As soon as the drug enters the brain — whether through inhalation, smoking or injection — it warps the brain’s pathway and its production of certain chemicals related to pleasure and stress. The person who uses it then associates certain positive feelings with memories of their cocaine high and naturally starts to crave another fix in hopes of recreating the sensation. Stress triggers can also set off these cravings, which can vary from person to person. This is why cocaine addiction often ensues substance abuse.
How Addictive is Cocaine?
There is no telling when cocaine addiction can take hold. Cocaine, particularly cracks cocaine, can lead to addiction after just a single use. The person misusing the drug may forego school, work or personal obligations in order to seek out more of the drug. The restlessness and anxiety that occur between uses can quickly become overwhelming and lead to a complete loss of judgment. Due to that loss of judgment, some people may ruin their financial stability as they chase the next high. They may also rapidly develop a tolerance to the drug, which means that it takes a stronger dosage to achieve the same euphoric effect. With cocaine, in particular, this tolerance can develop and remain in place even after prolonged periods of abstinence.
Whether this behavior develops over the course of a week or steadily over several months, it eventually comes at the cost of a person’s professional, social and emotional stability. In addition to the destructive behavior a cocaine addiction may cause, the physical hazards of the drug can lead to binge sessions in which the person consumes copious amounts in a single sitting as a way to overcompensate for their stress as a perceived sense of self-reward. A cocaine binge can cause someone to lose sight of how much they are taking and put themselves, and others, at a great risk. Drug overdose is not an uncommon outcome of cocaine binging, and it can lead to permanent internal damage or death.
Is Cocaine Physically Addictive?
Historically, physical cocaine addiction may not develop as quickly as other narcotics, like heroin. However, a psychological addiction and repeated exposure can pave the way for severe physical dependence and traumatic withdrawal symptoms. On average, cocaine addiction develops over the course of a year in people who use the drug on a regular basis.The faster the drug reaches the brain, the more likely a person is to develop abusive tendencies. Snorting cocaine involves a longer journey through the body and to the brain than inhaling smoke. Those who smoke it, therefore, have a greater chance of cocaine addiction. This is also why crack is generally considered more likely to cause addiction. However, that does not make powder cocaine any less of a threat. Regardless of how it’s used, a cocaine addiction can ensue.
Cocaine Addiction Symptoms
If you suspect a loved one or friend of being a user, early recognition can help you to intervene to prevent them from becoming dependent on the drug. Some common signs of cocaine abuse are easily recognised, but other symptoms may not obvious. If you are a user, you should be aware of symptoms and warning signs that indicate your levels of use are dangerous. The following are typical signs of cocaine use:
- Increased agitation
- Loud demonstrative enthusiasm
- Unnecessary hyperactivity
- Common cold symptoms – such as sniffing or nose bleeds
- Frequent loss of concentration and focus
Cocaine abuse can damage heart muscle. People who inject cocaine often suffer from inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis). Prolonged cocaine use can also cause kidney damage.
Even people who regard themselves as ‘recreational users’ may be at risk of neurological changes that impact their lives. Many recreational cocaine users suffer decreased ability to control and regulate behaviour, poor motor coordination, diminished response to environmental stimuli and problems completing simple, everyday activities.
What are the Causes and Effects of Cocaine Abuse?
We provide reliable information and resources that help substance abusers – and their friends and family – to overcome their habits and start a drug-free, healthy life. Our experts have put together materials to help you understand the adverse effects of cocaine use, so you can quit and discourage other potential users.
What causes cocaine abuse? There is no single cause attributed to any type of substance abuse. Studies have implicated causative factors varying from heredity to simple escalation of recreational experiment.
Common factors include:
- Genetic- You’re at higher risk if a senior family member is a cocaine user
- Biochemical or neurophysiological disposition – some individuals have brain structure or chemistry that predisposes them to substance abuse
- Peer pressure and social influences
- Traumatic experiences that lead to drug abuse
- Work pressure
- Unchecked medical dispensations
While cocaine use is often associated with pleasurable effects in the short term, its long term effects are highly deleterious. They include:
- Personality changes
- Mood swings and outbursts of anger and poor behaviour
- Reduced appetite
- Anxiety and depression
- Legal issues
- Financial issues
- Broken relationships and lost friendships
- Associated health complications; respiratory, heart and kidney diseases
- Overdose, sometimes leading to death
Psychological signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse
Negative and damaging psychological effects of cocaine abuse can persist for long periods without proper medical care. Regular cocaine users are at high risk of mental health issues, such as:
- Dependence and depression: The discomfort of not using cocaine causes anxiety and depression that forces users to seek and ingest the drug. You will most likely be moody when you don’t use cocaine.
- Emotional isolation from family and friends
Addiction treatment teams should always include a mental health professional, as addiction has both physical and psychological components.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine causes a temporary, intense ‘high’ that is quickly followed by the opposite – depressed mood, edginess and a continued craving for the drug. The following are common, short-term effects of cocaine use:
- Intense euphoria
- Increased heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure
- Contracted blood vessels
- Loss of appetite
- Increased breathing rate
- Dilated pupils
- Mood swings, violent behaviour and irritability
- Panic and psychosis
- Seizures, convulsions and sudden death if there is an overdose
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine
As your tolerance for cocaine increases, it becomes necessary to take larger quantities of cocaine to achieve the same level of ‘high. Unfortunately, prolonged use of the drug increases dependence and leads to several dangerous side-effects in the long-term:
- High blood pressure, leading to heart failure, stroke and death
- Irreversible damage to the blood vessels of the brain and heart
- Destruction of nose tissues (for people who snort cocaine)
- Damage of heart muscle linings
- Severe tooth decay
- Liver, kidney and lung complications
- Heightened risk behaviour
- Delirium or psychosis
What are the Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal and Overdose?
As with other addictive substances, withdrawal from cocaine is immediately followed by severe side-effects. In cases of unsupervised withdrawal and/ or without professional medical supervision, withdrawal can be dangerous.
Cocaine withdrawal is what happens when an addict suddenly reduces or stops using cocaine altogether, resulting in a series of physical and psychological consequences that make the withdrawal process distressing, difficult and potentially dangerous.
Physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Severe cravings
- Loss of appetite
- High fever
- Mood swings
A cocaine overdose is not uncommon, especially among users who mix the drug with substances such as alcohol or benzodiazepines to increase tolerance and enhance the ecstatic effect. Common symptoms of an overdose include:
- Frenetic energy levels
- Talking too much
- Panic attacks
- Vomiting/ abdominal aches
- Tremors in arms and legs
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
In the long run, a cocaine overdose can lead to severe health problems, such as stroke, kidney failure and respiratory disorders.
How Do I Find Help for a Cocaine Addiction?
If you are addicted to cocaine and looking for help, cocaine rehab centers can provide you with the best chance of beating your addiction. Cocaine rehab centers offer you medical expertise and counseling. Their experts will give you the proper nutrition and medications you need to detox and allow you the time to rest and get healthy. Treatment options include both inpatient and outpatient care. At inpatient rehab centers you receive around-the-clock care and are removed from access to cocaine. These can provide people with the structure they need to get sober.
Residential Rehab Centers
The severity of your drug use is often the determining factor in deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Some people abuse drugs to the point where their lives suffer, and they should seek treatment. Addiction is a physical disease that requires professional treatment. Over time, your body becomes more tolerant to cocaine use, so you take more of the drug to achieve the same effects. After taking cocaine for extended periods, your body becomes dependent on it. You physically need the drug. Addicts are people with these dependencies, and they should seek help at cocaine rehab centers.
Treatment at cocaine treatment facilities will always be private and confidential. These centers want you to be as worry-free as possible during your stay. Keeping your stay private should ease your mind about people in the general public finding out about your treatment.
Another common concern is whether or not you will have a private room. Many cocaine rehabilitation programs do not allow people to have their own rooms, although higher cost programs are more likely to offer this amenity. Having a roommate may prevent you from falling back into negative behaviors. Although you may have a roommate, treatment centers will do whatever it takes to ensure your privacy and comfort.
28- or 30-Day Addiction Rehab Program
If you or someone you love is having a hard time quitting drinking or abstaining from drug use, you might want to consider a 28-day or 30-day drug rehab. One-month rehab centers give you a chance to get and stay clean without requiring a long-term commitment.
Inpatient treatment can occur over periods of 30, 60 or 90 days. Normally, longer treatment is needed for patients struggling with a more advanced addiction. However, longer treatment is beneficial to anyone looking for help with their addiction. The minimum stay at inpatient cocaine rehab centers is usually 30 days. If you progress in the first 30 days but still need more treatment, many centers offer extensions at a discount if they believe it will benefit you.
During rehab you can expect a certain number of things to happen. During intake, you will be evaluated both physically and psychologically to determine if you have any other medical problems, what drugs you are taking if you are taking others in addition to cocaine, or whether you have any mental issues like depression or anxiety. It is important, to be honest during this process, so you can receive the best possible care.
After you have been admitted, the next few days you will detox. During this time, you will receive medical attention, nutritious food and plenty of rest. After detox, you will participate in therapy. Group therapy is shown to be effective in treating addiction. You will also receive plenty of time to exercise and eat well in order to heal your entire body. You will ultimately learn how to change your life.
Cocaine rehab centers can be expensive. The good news is that many of these centers accept health insurance. In addition, many rehab centers offer to finance, so you can pay for your treatment over time. Many centers are willing to work with you so finances will not be a huge barrier to you getting treatment.
If you need more information on cocaine rehab centers, call us today.
I Want to Find an Executive or Luxury Rehab Center
If business concerns have stopped you, a family member or a friend from getting assistance for a drug or alcohol problem or behavior-related addiction, executive rehabilitation programs may be what's needed. Combining top drug, alcohol or behavior addiction treatments with the freedom of computer and cell phone access, an executive or company president can get treatment in comfort and style.
Much current substance and behavior addiction treatment facilities feature the nicest amenities you'd expect in 4 and 5-star hotels, with your success and enjoyment being the primary goals. From 5-star chef-prepared meals and fine linens to gym facilities and in-house massage therapy, you can get the greatest drug, alcohol or behavior addiction treatment for yourself, your family member or your friend while relaxing in comfort. For help locating the perfect luxury treatment programs for cocaine addiction, call our toll-free hotline as soon as possible.
Considerations for Treatment
Many people have difficulty deciding whether they should stay home or travel for their treatment. Staying local keeps you in a familiar area, but it may also keep environmental triggers around. Traveling gets you away and gives you the opportunity at a fresh start, but it can be more expensive and takes you away from the support of family and friends.
You must also consider what will happen after treatment. Cravings for cocaine are likely to pop up from time to time, and you must have a plan for how to deal with them. Joining a group like Cocaine Anonymous helps many people stay sober. It is also a good idea to start new hobbies to build a fulfilling life with no need for drugs.
It is also important for you or the addict to be ready to go for treatment. While it is not necessary for treatment to be voluntary to work, the more willing someone is to participate in treatment, the more likely it is to be effective. Once a person admits he or she has a problem and wants to fix it, that person is ready for treatment.
When beginning a cocaine treatment program or searching for one for a loved one, there are many things you should learn about. There are various important aspects of treatment that should be understood to the fullest of your abilities. Learning about detox, types of cocaine rehab centers, inpatient versus outpatient care, and programs to follow after you leave treatment helps make the transition process easier. If you are trying to help a loved one overcome an addiction, learning about interventions and having one for the addict could be what your loved one needs to finally seek out treatment.
No matter what, it is important to understand that it is never too late to get help. You still have much of your life in front of you, and you can mend the relationships broken by your addiction. Your addiction is a physical disease that requires treatment to get better.
Record Amount of Cocaine Seized During 2016 https://www.thefix.com/record-amount-cocaine-seized-during-2016.
Cocaine (Powder) http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/cocaine.asp.
Warning of extra heart dangers from mixing cocaine and alcohol https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/nov/08/cocaine-alcohol-mixture-health-risks.