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. This has 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. Several people seem not to be worried by the fact that the intake of Cocaine into their system has great consequences most especially on their health first and personality, yet a lot of people are turning into a Cocaine addict by each passing day. Although Cocaine is being campaign 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, particularly among youth. 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 negativist 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 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.


b). Causes of Cocaine addiction

Addiction has risen tremendously on illegal substances accompanied by serious, in some cases fatal negative reactions, both on the users and the society. Like a handful of areas where people are held down by addiction, Cocaine is not an exemption. Cocaine is one of the most dreaded drugs known to man. Once a person starts administering the drug, it has proven nearly impossible to become free of its grip, mentally and physically. Several reasons exist to support the causes of Cocaine addiction of those who take it. Thus, let’s look at some of the effects and causes of Cocaine addiction.

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

Today, Cocaine is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar network. Users include people of all ages, professions and economic levels, as well as children of school ages as young as eight years. Cocaine use can result in death from respiratory (breathing) failure, cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) or heart attack and stroke. Children of Cocaine-addicted mothers come into the world as addicts themselves. Many suffer birth defects and several other problems. Despite its dangers, Cocaine use continues to increase likely because users find it so difficult to desist from the first steps taken down the long dark road that resulted to addiction.

ii). Cocaine 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.

iii). Repeated exposure to Cocaine results in neuroadaptation

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. Anyone who uses Cocaine is at risk for getting addicted. 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. Animal studies have depicted that animals will work very hard (press a bar over 10,000 times) for a lone injection of Cocaine, choose Cocaine over water and food, as well as take Cocaine even when this behavior is judged. Animals must have their leeway to Cocaine limited in order not to take toxic or even lethal doses. People addicted to Cocaine behave likewise. They will 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.

C). Signs and symptoms of Cocaine addiction

          Cocaine is a powerful and addictive drug, programmed by the federal government as a high abuse, high reliance risk stimulant. Symptoms of Cocaine abuse alternate based on the method of ingestion. 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. Common signs of snorting Cocaine, the most known approach of ingestion, include:

  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • A chronically runny nose

A form of Cocaine with the street name crack is processed into a rock crystal and then smoked, most frequently using a pipe. Given the lower purity level and wider potential for introduction of other poisonous chemicals, long-term crack Cocaine users may witness even more dramatic signs and symptoms of Cocaine addiction. The addiction to Cocaine can also result in behavioral or personality changes. These changes are usually signs of increases in the frequency or the amount used:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • A tolerance for the drug, requiring large amounts to get high
  • Loss of interest in education, activities or family
  • Frequently in need of money
  • Unusual energy followed suit by ample sleeping
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Erratic behavior and Frequent mood swings
  • An inability to stop or reduce usage
  • Withdrawal symptoms when usage stops
  • A desire to keep using even when health disorders arise
  • A negative impact on quality of life, employment and friendships
  • Spending ample money and time looking for Cocaine
  • Psychosis and hallucinations
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • 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
  • Changes in friends
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Strained relationships
  • Missed work
  • Increased time away from family
  • Stealing, lying, and financial problems
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Talking rapidly, all depicts the signs of Cocaine with fatal consequences of Cocaine addiction

            Apart from these signs and symptoms of Cocaine addiction, a person can overdose on Cocaine. An overdose happens when the person uses too much of a drug and has a toxic reaction that leads to serious, fatal signs or death. An overdose may be intentional or unintentional. Death from overdose can happen on the first use of Cocaine or unexpectedly afterward. Several people who use Cocaine also consume alcohol at the same time, which is particularly risky and can amount to overdose. Others mix Cocaine with heroin, another horrible and dangerous combination.  Some of the most constant and intense health consequences leading to overdose involve the heart and blood vessels, couple with irregular heart rhythm and heart attacks, and the nerves, alongside strokes and seizures. Because Cocaine overdose often leads to a heart attack, seizure or stroke, as well as first responders and emergency room physicians try to treat the overdose by treating these defections, with the aims 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

All these signs and symptoms of Cocaine addiction enlisted above should be watched out for by users.

d). Health effects of Cocaine use

          The health effects of Cocaine are apparent for those who take Cocaine. It is important to consider the health effects of taking Cocaine before attempting it. 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. The health effects of Cocaine use consist of:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Elevated body temperature as well as blood pressure
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Tremors and muscle twitches
  • Restlessness

Apart from the above mentioned health effects of Cocaine use, the health effects of Cocaine can be partitioned into both the short-term and long-term health effects. Short-term health effects of Cocaine include:

  • Extreme happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia-extreme as well as baseless distrust of others

For some people, Cocaine intake allows them to perform simple mental and physical tasks faster, even though to others, it’s detrimental. Large amounts of Cocaine can cause an unpredictable, violent and bizarre behavior. 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. Smoking or injecting Cocaine releases a solid and quicker, but shorter-lasting high above snorting. The high from smoking Cocaine could range 5 to 10 minutes while that from snorting may be 15 to 30 minutes.

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:

  • Snorting: Inability to perceive smells, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing.
  • Consumption by mouth: severe bowel deterioration from decreased blood flow.
  • Needle injection: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, as well as other blood borne infections. However, even people engulfed with non-needle Cocaine use place themselves at a risk for HIV because Cocaine impairs judgment, which can result in risky sexual behavior with infected partners

Other long-term effects associated with the use of Cocaine include malnourishment. This is due to the fact that Cocaine reduces appetite, and other movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. These effects actually appeared after many years of usage. Restlessness, intense paranoia and irritability have also been reported in people taking Cocaine.  

Cocaine, HIV, and Hepatitis: In some studies, the incidence of HIV malaise was said to increase with the use of Cocaine. According to such study, Cocaine was said to interfere with the immune system which resulted in an increase reproduction of the HIV virus. 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.

e). effects of Cocaine withdrawal

          The effects of Cocaine in the human system are quite horrendous. While 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. Therefore, it should be noted here that cutting off from taking 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

Post-acute withdrawal: The post-acute withdrawal symptoms for Cocaine are similar to those of other drugs:

  • 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.    

f). consequences of Cocaine addiction        

          Cocaine is a known stimulant, which causes an increase heart rate and a constriction of the blood vessels. These changes may result in a stroke, heart attacks, or high blood pressure. There is a recorded high occurrence of heart attacks in young patients without any history of heart disease cause by Cocaine.  This has caused emergency room physicians to consider Cocaine as one of the first diagnoses in any emergency case involving people between the ages of 15 and 40 years.

Cocaine is an important cause of cardiac attack. Cocaine causes your hearts to speed up, as well as in some situations go so fast that it obviously stops. What is especially deadly about the consequences of Cocaine addiction is that there is no correlation between how many times you have used Cocaine or how much you used, as well as when you will suffer a cardiac problem. A handful of people die after their first attempt. Other individuals have taken Cocaine hundreds of times, and then fall dead on the very next attempt. Some university athletes who rapidly drop dead are discovered to have died from Cocaine induced cardiac problem. As with every drug, the most significant consequences of Cocaine addiction are emotional, social as well as psychological. But with Cocaine they happen faster and harder than with several drugs. If you are a Cocaine addict, you are not supposed to wonder why you have hurt your family and friends.

f). Treatment of Cocaine addiction

            To diagnose a Cocaine addiction, your health care professional will make known 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 used for treatment of Cocaine addiction that help to combat all these components.

i). Treatment facilities

Residential treatment programs work 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.

ii). Behavior treatment

Behavior treatments 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.

iii). Medications

While there are no medications programmed specifically to treat Cocaine addiction, some medications with other purposes can be helpful, such as antidepressants.

iv). Alternative therapies

There 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.

v). Pharmacological therapies

A pharmacological (or 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 pharmacotherapy for Cocaine dependence is methylphenidate therapy. This medication is recommended to treat ADHD, as well as is the same to Cocaine in terms of neurological effects. However, the effects of methylphenidate actions on the brain for a longer period, but elicit less extreme reactions, in relations to Cocaine. The reason is to mitigate the need for Cocaine, and thus dependence, over time.

Note here that, any medically assisted treatment for this type of addiction is very program specific, and that there is no universally accepted program.

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. Behavioral treatments (in particular, cognitive-behavioral treatment) have been shown to decrease Cocaine use and prevent relapse. These types of treatments are especially effective in outpatient and residential settings. Other types of Cocaine addiction treatment comprises of the 12-Step programs which include counseling, residential programs, motivational incentives, and community-based recovery groups (example the Cocaine Anonymous). When treating Cocaine addiction, a comprehensive method that uses a combination of treatments is ideal. A professional Cocaine rehab can tailor a 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 for various ways to help cut out addiction.

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