Cocaine is an illegal drug, that can have serious side-effects to the users. It is processed from the leaves of a coca plant. In its pure form, cocaine has a white pearly color and typically appears in a powder form as a salt. The street form of cocaine is often cut, or altered, with other white powders, such as baking soda, dextrose, or a local anesthetic, to make it more valuable to the dealer. After being cut, it can be an off-white or pinkish powder. It can even be cut with methamphetamine or other stimulants, making it more dangerous.
The most common route of cocaine usage is through the nasal cavity, being snorted through a user’s nostrils. This nasal insufflation allows the drug to be absorbed through the mucous membranes that line a person’s sinuses. Cocaine may also be administered by being rubbed on the gums of the user, swallowed, injected, inhaled, as a suppository, or chewed straight from the coca leaf.
Effects of Cocaine Use
Although cocaine was originally grown and used as a medicinal drug, it is now used as a popular recreational drug in many countries. Because of its effects it is often taken as a club drug, that people ingest prior to going out dancing or clubbing. Cocaine can have varying effects depending on the amount ingested, as well as the route of administration. It is a powerful stimulant of the nervous system and the effects can last anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour.
Here are some common effects from cocaine usage:
- Increased alertness
- Feelings of well-being and euphoria
- Feelings of competence
- Elevation of sexual desire
- Increased athletic performance, when sustained endurance and attention are needed
- Paranoia and anxiety can also occur, particularly during the come-down period
- Depression and dysphoria are also common, after the initial high, due to a decrease in the normal amount of the body’s dopamine and serotonin
Although, occasional usage of cocaine does not typically cause social or physical problems, it often leads to more frequent usage and addiction. Additionally, even occasional usage can have seriously detrimental, or even lethal, side-effects when excessive amounts of cocaine are ingested in a single period.
Some of the potential side-effects from an over-dosage are:
- Tremors or convulsions
- An increase in body temperature
- Elevated blood pressure
- Paranoid delusions or hallucinations
Side-Effects of Chronic Cocaine Usage and Addiction
Chronic cocaine usage can lead to cocaine dependence and eventual addiction. using cocaine on a regular basis causes changes in a person’s body from a normal functioning body. Brain cells will often adapt their functionality to strong imbalances of transmitter levels that is caused by the high and low extremes associated with cocaine usage. Excessive use of cocaine can also cause a loss of neurofilament proteins, veisuclar monoamine transporters, as well as other morphological changes, causing long-term damage to the body’s dopamine neurons. As the body develops, in response to chronic cocaine usage, a larger amount of cocaine is needed to achieve the similar side-effects that the person is used to experiencing. The changes that take place in a person’s body, as well as the increase in the amount of cocaine administered, can lead to a variety of, often very serious, side-effects.
These are some of the most common side-effects associated with chronic cocaine usage or addiction:
- Increased appetite or insatiable hunger
- Unpleasant body aches
- Insomnia, hypersomnia, or oversleeping
- Persistent runny nose
- Suicidal ideation and depression
- Vivid and unpleasant Dreams
- Agitation or psychomotor retardation
- Dilation of pupils
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal complications, such as nausea and abdominal pain
- Increased risk of other disease, such as lupus and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, as well as increased risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes, and other infarctions
Smoking cocaine, as the choice of administration, can cause additional negative side-effects:
- Hemoptysis: the coughing up of blood
- Bronchospasm: a spasm of the bronchial smooth muscle producing narrowing of the bronchi
- Pruritus: severe itching of the skin
- Chest pain
- Dyspnea: shortness of breath
- Aching, flu-like, pain
- Sore throat
- Lung trauma
- Bruxism: involuntary tooth grinding that can lead to lead to gingivitis and deteriorate tooth enamel
Intranasal usage of cocaine over time can degrade the cartilage of a user’s nose, causing separation of the nostrils, and eventual disappearance of the cartilage as a whole.
Symptoms of Addiction:
Cocaine addiction, or dependence, is the psychological dependency on the regular usage of cocaine. This addiction has also been known as cocainism. A study of 1,081 U.S. residents found that of the people who have tried cocaine at least once in the previous two years, 5-6 percent of them had developed an addiction. This study also found that women are 3.3 times more likely to be addicted than men and that users who first tried cocaine between the ages of 12 and 13 were 4 times more likely to be addicted than those who first tried it between the ages of 18 and 20.
Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction:
- Mood swings
- Severe paranoia
- Tactile Hallucinations, including a feeling similar to having bugs under one’s skin
- Cognitive impairments
- Panic attacks
- Drastic changes in a User’s personality
If a person that has become addicted to cocaine suddenly stops using it, their body can go through a withdrawal with moderate to severe symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or even months.
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal:
- Dysphoria, or a state of feeling unhappy or unwell
- Physical and psychological Weakness
- Compulsive cramping
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- A deep need for more cocaine
- Nausea and vomiting
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Even after the majority of withdrawal symptoms dissipate, many long-term cocaine users can still feel the desire to use cocaine, especially during times of stress. Approximately 30-40% of cocaine addicts will even resort to other medications or alcohol after giving up cocaine. Luckily, inpatient treatment programs will significantly decrease these chances, as well as give a recovering cocaine addict the best chance to quit their addiction for good.
Inpatient treatment, or residential treatment, is a treatment program at a live-in care facility that provides help from substance abuse, as well as other behavioral or mental problems. In these facilities, recovering addicts live with other addicts and attend daily support groups and daily therapy sessions. Inpatient treatments are typically considered the most effective method of therapy for someone suffering from cocaine addiction.
These are some of the benefits that inpatient treatment can give to a recovering addict:
- Daily access to therapy: Both individual and group therapy sessions are available at in-patient clinics, as well as on-call therapists, in the event of an emergency.
- Interaction with other recovering addicts: Interaction with others recovering from addictions makes recovering cocaine users feel less isolated and thereby overcome their own desire to use.
- Healthy meals: Those who are just recovering do not have to worry about obtaining or preparing their own food. The healthy food provided at inpatient facilities helps to heal the previous cocaine users newly sober bodies.
- Structure: People in inpatient rehabilitation have to follow a strict schedule and conform to a structure that helps to take their minds away from using cocaine and helps them to feel more secure.
- Lack of temptation: In an inpatient rehab, a recovering addict is taken away from the temptations, as well as stresses, that they are used to facing in their day-to-day lives, allowing them to focus on healing themselves and overcoming their addictions.
If you suspect that someone you are close to is suffering from cocaine addiction or withdrawal, it is important to get help immediately. Recovering cocaine addicts that spend more than thirty days in an inpatient treatment facility have a nearly doubled chance of avoiding relapse and new addictions in the future.