Cocaine’s a street drug which active ingredient is derived from coca leaves, found in South America. While it’s a schedule one illegal substance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse records that over 14% of the American population over the age of 12 have tried cocaine at least once. This powerful stimulant is a white powdered substance that is snorted, injected, or cooked to solid form (crack) for smoking. It’s commonly used for it’s euphoric, energy-lifting effects. But, the high cocaine produces last only minutes, resulting in continuous use. This binge use can quickly lead to both psychological and physical dependence. Fortunately, treatment is proven to be effective in helping individuals break free from cocaine addiction.
What is Cocaine?
A stimulant, cocaine is sold on the streets in a white powder. Users either snort the substance, melt it down to inject it into the bloodstream, or smoke it. Additionally, when this powder is combined with baking soda or ammonia, it forms into a solid rock. This method increases product and produces a quick, intense high when smoked. And, is commonly referred to as “crack”. Both crack and cocaine are highly addictive and offer quick periods of euphoria followed by a crash. So, those who use either substance may keep administering doses, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to stay high in a matter of weeks.
How the Body Reacts to the use of Cocaine
Once administered, cocaine is carried through the bloodstream and reacts with the brain in mere moments. Basically, it interferes with our brain’s natural reward system, which is how we are motivated to eat, reproduce, and survive. This reward system utilizes naturally produced chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, to reward and motivate us to do things we need to survive. Typically, this works by dopamine pairing to the dopamine receptors in the brain so that brain neurons can communicate. Then, the dopamine is released and recycled for later. However, when cocaine is used, this entire process is thrown off. Basically, instead of allowing the dopamine to be recycled, cocaine attaches to the synapse which removes dopamine from the receptors. This causes the surge of dopamine reaction, leading to a short-lived cocaine high.
Cocaine Abuse, Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction
Most individuals who start using crack or cocaine develop tolerance and a physical dependence rather quickly. This may be due to the short-lived high which requires frequent re-administration to keep from coming down. Symptoms of cocaine abuse or dependence may include:
- Runny nose
- White residue around the nose
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Skewed sleep patterns
- Financial issues
- Social neglect
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of judgment
Once physical dependence forms, when individuals stop using, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may not be as severe as other drugs, but they can help to identify a problem in a loved one. Withdrawal symptoms may include exhaustion, trouble with concentration, depression, suicidal thoughts, restlessness, impaired cognition, and an increased appetite.
Cocaine addiction is when an individual experiences consequences of cocaine abuse and continues to use anyway. Individuals struggling with a cocaine addiction may spend increased amounts of time thinking about and obtaining the substance along with neglecting family and friends to use.
Help for Cocaine Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to cocaine, there is still hope. While it may seem like use will never stop, treatment is effective in helping individuals live free from addictive behaviors. Here at Simple Path Recovery, we provide all the tools you will need to develop a healthy lifestyle. You CAN get better, and we can help!