Cocaine Addiction: Where does the Problem Lie?

By Miriatu

The 21st Century has been predominated with inventions, in almost every domain. This has caused many people to develop new interest and hobbies. This new way of living has been difficult for most people, due to the recent economic meltdown and several job losses which have resulted in depression and the sense of frustration. The world has recorded the highest (and still increasing) rate of depression, which have forced several people to turn to substances as a means to put away or overcome depression. This has seen the growth of the number of people addicted in taking several, illegal substances with cocaine and alcohol heading the list.

Cocaine has pleasurable stimulant effects, for which it remains a powerful and highly addictive, yet control substance, as it has some laws governing its use as a vasoconstrictor and pain reliever, in association with some medical procedures. However, its use in most cases is illegal.  

One of its main activities is in the brain where it causes an increase release in the amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine helps the brain to enhance positive feelings and thus change in behaviors. This is mainly what causes the high affinity or potential for cocaine use and brings about its addiction. After the intake of cocaine, you may experience some desired effects such as elevated mood, increased energy and confidence, feelings of euphoria, and grandiosity; inflated self-esteem.

The fact that this drug has some desired effects has caused many to abuse it in a bid to increase their performance or reach out to certain goals. For example, it decreases the need for sleep, which causes some people to abuse the substance to study, stay alert, or to accomplish a difficult task. Also, cocaine is said to decrease appetite, for which many have used it to help them lose weight.

A recent study showed that about 14 percent of all admissions to drug abuse therapy programs were for Cocaine abuse. The majority of these individuals (over 70 percent) also smoked crack and abused other drugs. Presently, there are no FDA-approved medications for treating Cocaine addiction and the withdrawal symptoms; however, there are a number of effective Cocaine addiction treatments available.

When it comes to substance use, they are two terms that are always confusing, tolerance and addiction.

  • Tolerance is used to refer to a situation whereby the body needs larger amounts of a drug (in this case cocaine) to achieve the same feeling or effect due to the fact that the body has built up a resistance to the substance. When used continuously for a long period, the body becomes dependent on, or use in the presence of cocaine to generate any good feelings.

Addiction on the other hand is the situation whereby you develop a habit or obligation to keep using a substance in the face of personal and professional problems caused by the substance use. Signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Abandoning and neglecting life priorities.
  • Taking risks that are not worth it or that a reasonable person wouldn’t take, such as stealing to have enough money for drugs.
  • High rate of troubled or problems in your relationships because of more emphasis on abusing cocaine.
  • Entanglements with the legal system.
  • The desire to keep on taking cocaine irrespective of the negative consequences.


Causes of Cocaine Addiction

There are many factors that have been associated with the cause of cocaine addiction. Many of them are thought as working together (never in isolation). These factors may comprise of genetic, environmental, brain chemistry, and psychology.

People born into a family where their first-degree relatives (parents or sibling) are addicted to this drug are more likely to become addicted themselves. To others, who may have been born void of the normal neurotransmitters that control pleasurable activities may turn to cocaine use in an attempt to self-medicate this symptom.

The environment is not left out. People born in an environment where cocaine is easily abused or where it is found easily, with many addicts are more likely to be addicted with cocaine. Also, people who start taking cocaine early in life may easily become addicted later in life. Cocaine addiction is also common with people suffering from some forms of mental disorder. Others are said to use cocaine to pick up themselves during depression or when they are about to engage in some risky activities. Other causes of cocaine addiction include:

Physically stimulation of key receptors

Cocaine is said to physically stimulate nerve endings in the brain. These nerve endings rapidly generate a euphoria to which users quickly develop a tolerance. Such effects can only be the cause by more frequent and higher dosages.

Affects neurological systems in your brain

Cocaine use, particularly repetitive use, can alter systems linked with memory, pleasure and decision making. When someone is addicted, their tenacity to resist urges becomes impaired, making it difficult to quit. All stimulants act to improve the extracellular concentrations of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Stimulant drugs can impede the transport of these neurotransmitters. By this it means that the ingredients in Cocaine, when inhale into the brain of those who take Cocaine, penetrates into the brain and reinforces the grip of addiction to the extent whereby, discontinuing the taking of Cocaine becomes extremely difficult. This is one of the most major causes of Cocaine addiction.


This includes sensitization (accelerated drug response) and tolerance (reduced drug response). Physical consideration to the effects of Cocaine can happen after just a few uses. This results in requiring more and more of the drug to get the same effect. This explains one of the causes for which people get addicted to Cocaine. It can therefore be deduced that, venturing into Cocaine with the intention of taking it just once and afterward quit could be very risky and likely going to end up in fatalities. This implies that everyone is at risk for Cocaine addiction and not a particular group. Factors that raise your risk of Cocaine addiction are: family history of Cocaine or other drug dependence, addiction to alcohol or other drugs as well as mental illness such as depression. Cocaine addiction can occur very rapidly and be very difficult to break. People addicted to Cocaine may resolve to go to whatever lengths, through very odd situations just to get the product and will continue to use it even when it negatively affect their job performance, education and their relationships with others. Other forms of Cocaine, such as crack can cause feelings of depression and anxiety, lasting for weeks. Most attempts to stop these drugs usually fail because the underlying depression can be so strong, making the drug addicts to result to using more Cocaine in an attempt to curb his depression.

Side Effects of Cocaine addiction

The side effects of Cocaine addiction, mainly depend on the method of ingestion. Once this drug is abused, it causes some unwanted reactions to the subject. The effects of Cocaine are almost immediate, but they disappear after a few minutes to an hour. The duration and severity of the effects depend on the approach of use. These effects can either be grouped as short-term effects (as short a 7 seconds after cocaine intake), long-term (after about 3 months of continuing cocaine used) or lasting effects (do not go away). Some of the short-terms symptoms and side effects cocaine addiction include:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Irritability
  • Vertigo
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Permanent damage to the lungs
  • Perforation of the nasal cavities
  • Muscle twitches or tics
  • A tolerance for the drug, requiring large amounts to get high
  • Increased body temperature
  • Heart attack
  • Loss of interest in education, activities or family
  • Frequently in need of money
  • Increased heart rate
  • A desire to keep using even when health disorders arise
  • A negative impact on quality of life, employment and friendships
  • Dilated pupils
  • Spending ample money and time looking for Cocaine
  • Death
  • Psychosis and hallucinations
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Strained relationships
  • Missed work
  • Increased time away from family
  • Stealing, lying, and financial problems
  • Serious skin infections and abscesses
  • Contracting bloodborne diseases such as Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Unusual energy followed suit by ample sleeping
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Erratic behavior and Frequent mood swings
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • An inability to stop or reduce usage
  • Disappearing for binge sessions
  • Runny nose or frequent sniffing
  • Weight loss
  • Increased susceptibility to illness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Perspiration or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Ulcers
  • Perforation of the stomach and intestines
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Changes in friends
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Talking rapidly, all depicts the signs of Cocaine with fatal consequences of Cocaine addiction

Apart from the short-term health effects of Cocaine use, there are equally a good number of long-term health effects of Cocaine use, which typically rely on the method of use and comprise the following:

  • Inability to perceive smells
  • frequent runny nose
  • swallowing difficulties
  • severe bowel deterioration
  • decreased blood flow
  • higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, as well as other blood borne infections. Cocaine users place themselves at risk for HIV because Cocaine impairs judgment, which can result in risky sexual behavior with infected partners
  • malnourishment due to reduced appetite
  • movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.
  • Restlessness
  • intense paranoia
  • irritability 

Lasting Health Effects of Cocaine Addiction

These effects represent the lasting health risks and fatal effects cocaine has on the abuser's physical health. They include:

  • Chronic, extreme fatigue.
  • Unrelenting headaches.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Significant weight loss.
  • Bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis from unsafe injection use.
  • Heart arrhythmias and heart attack.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Widespread ischemic vascular disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Seizures.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Death.

Side Effects of Cocaine Overdose

There have been a good number of deaths resulting from cocaine overdose. Large amounts of Cocaine can cause an unpredictable, violent and bizarre behavior. An overdose happens when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that leads to serious, fatal symptoms or signs, or death. This is a common phenomenon since the addiction itself is enough stimulants for anyone to take more of it. The risk of cocaine overdose is increase in situations where the drug is taken in combination with other substances such as alcohol or other drugs. The side effects cocaine overdose includes:

  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Stroke.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Sudden death.

Cocaine and heroin combination creates serious risk of overdose and in most cases, leads to death of the subject. Treatment of cocaine overdose consists of:

  • Restoring blood flow to the heart (heart attack)
  • Restoring oxygen-rich blood supply to the affected part of the brain (stroke)
  • Stopping the seizure

Monitoring is required by parents, guardians, and caregivers of people addicted to cocaine to prevent them from overdosing themselves.

 Opportunistic Infections with Cocaine

The frequency of HIV, Hepatitis, TB, chicken pox, and other viral infections are said to increase in people using cocaine and other drugs. According to studies, Cocaine was said to interfere with the immune system which resulted in an increase reproduction of the HIV virus and other opportunistic infections. HIV infected people who take Cocaine are also associated with an increased risk of co-infection with hepatitis C, a threatening virus of the liver.

 Cocaine withdrawal Symptoms and Effects

The effects of Cocaine in the human system are quite serious. While the majorities are doing everything to stay away from Cocaine, even those who have been addicted to it are seeking every possible way to stop taking Cocaine. It should be noted here that cutting off or stopping the use or consumption of Cocaine has a few effects known as the effects of Cocaine withdrawal. This is not meant to discourage you from the good decision to quit Cocaine. On the contrary, it is to guide you and give you insights on certain encounters you may experience in the course of quitting Cocaine. Addicted users who stop using Cocaine will undergo an initial crash, known as withdrawal. The withdrawal signs of Cocaine can be intense and difficult due to cravings and uncomfortable side effects. The effects of Cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression

The withdrawal symptoms of Cocaine are sensational. There are no physical withdrawal signs from Cocaine, which is the reason for people at times trick themselves into thinking they aren't addicted to it. All addictions occurs in the brain. Even though there are no physical withdrawal symptoms of Cocaine, Cocaine still satisfies the criteria of addiction. People have serious problem controlling how much they use, as well as they advance to use even though it has negative consequences to their life. The emotional withdrawal symptoms of Cocaine are:

  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Mood swings
  • Variable energy
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Poor concentration
  • Sleep disturbances

Withdrawal from Cocaine can cause severe discomfort. And this can cause a strong will to use the drug all over. Even when withdrawal symptoms have subsided, sudden cravings are common. Support systems such as family, friends, treatment facilities and other people recovering from addiction, can assist you push through this stage. Many organizations such as the Cocaine Anonymous provide useful resources to those recovering from Cocaine addiction. However, if you are searching for a support group in your community, you may look for it online or better still, talk with your healthcare provider. All of these mechanisms can help remedy the effects of Cocaine withdrawal.


Treatment of Cocaine addiction

To diagnose a Cocaine addiction, your healthcare professional will need to know your present health history and usage. Furthermore, they will do everything to determine the degree of your dependence and will suggest treatment of Cocaine addiction variables. A user who wants treatment will have to commit to stopping. Cocaine addiction is regarded as a crucial psychological disease, which involves environmental, social, mental, physical, and familial factors. There are a good number of recovery methods or programs used for treatment of Cocaine addiction that help to combat all these components. These include residential treatment programs which help to cover all dimensions of addiction. These programs can last for many weeks to a year. And they often include support groups, therapy or vocational rehab. Also, there are also:

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral treatment programs show promising results in helping people through Cocaine addiction. Therapy can be carried out on an outpatient basis or as part of a residential treatment scheme. Interventions basing on attitude are often used along with medications. Behavior treatments include rewards for meeting goals related to stopping use, and cognitive behavioral treatment, which teaches learning processes that help you continue not using. This type of treatments (in particular, cognitive-behavioral treatment) has been shown to decrease Cocaine use and prevent relapse. These types of treatments are especially effective in outpatient and residential settings.

Medicine-based Therapy

A drug-based therapy refers to medications administered to treat Cocaine dependence by physiological means. This type of treatment uses medications that may mimic the substance of abuse in question, but to a decreased or different dimension. The doses of these medications are decreased (or 'tapered') over time, hence 'weaning' the patient off drug reliance and permitting them to work on abstinence and recovery from addiction. An emerging form of drug-based therapy for Cocaine dependence is methylphenidate therapy. This medication is recommended to treat ADHD, as well as Cocaine due to its neurological effects. The reason is to mitigate the need for Cocaine, and thus dependence, over time. You should remember that any medically assisted treatment for this type of addiction is very program specific, and that there is no universally accepted program.

Other types of Cocaine addiction treatment comprise of the 12-Step programs which include counseling, residential programs, motivational incentives, and community-based recovery groups (e.g. the Cocaine Anonymous). When treating Cocaine addiction, a comprehensive method that uses a combination of treatments is ideal. A professional Cocaine rehabilitation program can be a designed treatment program that is specific to your individual needs and assign you a team of specialists who can assist you on the road to recovery. The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) has released the statistics that describe the rate of recovery from powder Cocaine addictions. This statistic points out that, about 70% of those treated either significantly decreases their rate of consumption or stop completely within 6 months. If you are therefore concerned about Cocaine consumption, we recommend you to see a health care professional or a local support group about the various ways to help cut out addiction.

In addition, there are a good number of alternative treatments which can be used to help overcome the addiction to Cocaine. Such treatments include exercise, acupuncture, hypnosis, and herbs. However, there is a need for more studies to determine the effectiveness of these methods for addiction to Cocaine.


Funtioning and Effectiveness of Cocaine

Cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits controlling movement and pleasure. Normally, the brain releases dopamine in these circuits in response to potential wages, like the flavor of good food. It then returns into the cell that produced it, cutting off the signal among nerve cells. Cocaine stops dopamine from cycling, resulting in its accumulation between nerve cells. This wave of dopamine ultimately disrupts normal brain functioning and results in Cocaine’s high.

Cocaine may be found in the form of a white powder, paste, or solidified and rock-like (the latter also referred to as "crack cocaine"). Whatever the form, cocaine is a strong stimulant that can provide a rapid-onset, rewarding high, speeds up various physiologic processes through its central nervous system effects, and influence both short- and long-term mental health.

This drug can either be administered by snorting, smoking and/or injecting. The powdered form of Cocaine can be inhaled through the nose (snorted) or dissolved in water and then injected straightaway into a vein. It can equally be injected just beneath the skin (known as “skin popping”), which raises the duration of the high and can also lead to infection or other medical disorders. The method by which this drug is administered may in many ways influence the effects and duration of the effects of cocaine. Smoking or injecting Cocaine releases solid and quicker, but shorter-lasting effects above snorting. The effects from smoking Cocaine could range 5 to 10 minutes while that from snorting may be 15 to 30 minutes.



Although Cocaine is being campaigned against and fought tremendously by the US Federal States Government as an illegality, alongside the series of effects its inflicts on the health of its users, not leaving out the several socioeconomic problems brought about by its consumption, tens of thousands, mostly youths, are on a daily basis going after Cocaine and becoming Cocaine addict. The taking of Cocaine has and is still transforming so many people into serious addiction to the drug, thereby raising the percentage of Cocaine addiction. An important problem statement to be raised at this point is, are the majority of people who through their individual choices decided to take Cocaine mindful and conscious of its consequences?

Furthermore, it should be made clear here that, although Cocaine is given the appeal of “a drug,” nevertheless, it is called a drug from the negative point of view compared to other legally approved drugs that are used as solutions to treat people from many diseases and make them well again. In a nutshell, Cocaine abuse has no potential benefits whatsoever, no matter the illogical reasons often advanced by those who take it. And if you have been persuaded by a friend to take Cocaine all for the purpose of getting you high, do regrettable things that could earn you a jail sentence, put your health at stake, please resist that temptation. This article is therefore aimed at putting in your disposal basic information on Cocaine addiction as well as to play the role of a help guide.


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