When cocaine is introduced to the body it triggers dopamine production in the brain, a substance that gives its users a sense of extreme pleasure. This feeling of euphoria encourages the user to take more and become dependent on the drug. Not only is use continued to experience the dopamine-induced high, but they will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit.
Symptoms associated with cocaine addiction are in most cases behavioral. These signs include: finding yourself wanting to use more of the drug, feeling guilt after use, continually thinking of how to get the drug, a sense of paranoia when you cannot get drug and finally being unable to stay on detox even when you desire.
Understanding cocaine use and abuse
When a user continues to use cocaine for a long time, there are chances that the drug will impair their nervous system and brain functions, inhibiting memory, pleasure, as well as decision making. Once these brain functions begin to fail, it becomes more difficult for the process of cocaine detox because the individual may become incapable of making sound decisions.
For some users, use of cocaine can quickly create a strong addiction to the drug making it very hard to simply experiment with. In fact, a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology indicated that cocaine addicts would choose the drug over food. This strong addiction often makes it difficult to quit without help as those addicted find themselves using it despite the apparent adverse side effects.
Cocaine is known to react quickly with the body system to produce a euphoria that may last for about 15 minutes to one hour. These effects depend on the mode of ingestion. When cocaine is smoked the impact can be felt after about 30 minutes while an intravenous injection can take only about five minutes.
But what makes cocaine such a powerful stimulant?
Dopamine: Use of cocaine stimulates the production of dopamine, a chemical in the human brain responsible for pleasure. Excessive use of cocaine will result in the brain releasing more of this chemical thus giving the individual a sense of euphoria. Too much exposure to this product will eventually make one want to experience that feeling all over, hence the brain will prompt the need for the trigger.
Corticosterone hormone: The stress hormone in the body makes the body vulnerable to addiction. Studies have found out that when an individual who is stressed up uses cocaine, the high levels of stress hormone in the body will create a severe addiction to the drug. This is likely because of the feeling of relaxation that cocaine will bring to the brain function making one want more of that feeling instead of being bogged down by stress.
Prefrontal Cortex: This is the control center of the brain responsible for decision making and self-control. Cocaine abuse inhibits proper functioning of the prefrontal cortex making it hard for an individual to understand the effects of continued cocaine use.
Health effects of cocaine use
Continued cocaine use can lead to the following side effects:
Anxiety – People who continually use cocaine will often remain anxious most of the time. The simulative nature of the drug causes this anxiety.
- Cocaine users may experience nose bleeding – Users who snort cocaine may experience nose bleeds as their nasal cavities are damaged from restricted blood flow. Long-term users may develop ‘holes’ in their septum requiring surgery.
- Extreme tiredness and reduced activity – Cocaine abuse creates franticly paced highs, but also hard crashes. During the periods after a high, the user will often experience low energy levels making the users less productive especially as they continue to use more.
- Heart attack – Continued use of cocaine can result in damage to cardiac muscles, inflammation of the muscles and even rupture the aorta. The results of this are heart palpitations, extreme stress on the cardiovascular system and eventually death. In some cases, even without long-term addiction, overdoses of cocaine can experience a fatal heart attack..
- Increases the risk of stroke and brain damage – Since dopamine, the hormone produced as a result of cocaine, interferes with typical cardiovascular functions, the risk of users experiencing a stroke or brain damage is increased.
- Kidney damage – As one continues to use cocaine, the kidneys become inflamed and, from the stress of blood filtration, may begin to fail.
- Contracting infectious diseases – Cocaine abusers have an increased risk of developing HIV and Hepatitis. It is not uncommon to find cocaine addicts sharing one needle to inject the drug. Binges of cocaine and the lows of addiction often lower hygiene standards to a point where contracting a disease is more common.
- Impairment in logic, critical thinking, and attention span – As one continues to use cocaine, cognitive functions and self-preservation are impaired resulting in the inability to make sound decisions. In the throws of addiction, many cannot think critically and have a shorter attention span.
- Tooth decay – Prolonged use of cocaine will result in tooth decay not just due to the chemical compounds found in the drug, but because hygiene has taken a backseat to acquiring the drug. You will most likely discover that people who use the drug for a more extended period have issues with their teeth.
Statistics on cocaine use
Here are some statistics about cocaine use:
- Adults between the ages of 18-25 abuse cocaine more than any other age group, though people of all ages engage in cocaine abuse.
- In the year 2008, the national drug abuse warning network reported that in about 40% of the emergency cases are as a result of cocaine abuse.
- In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million cocaine users aged 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population).
- 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found out that about 5 million people were reported to have used cocaine at one point in their lives. The study also indicates that approximately 1.75 times more men than women abused cocaine during the year.
- In 2014, according to the NSDUH, an estimated 913,000 Americans met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for dependence or abuse of cocaine.
Importance of cocaine addiction treatment
Cocaine addiction like many addictions, can be overwhelming to face on one’s own. It’s important that an abuser Find the right treatment for addiction that treats their addiction individually and safely. Below are some of the things you should seek in effective addiction treatment.